Friday, March 16, 2018

Thank God That I'm Pretty

Female visual art persona laments the process whereby she became successful for being a certain kind of good-looking.

Thank God I'm Pretty offers a lot to think about. Ms. Autumn as consumer product, who can and did sell herself based on looks, using a later song to pseudo-lament the earlier process in which she deliberately (and financially wisely) engaged. Ms. Autumn the product was unpopular, un-bought, and could've remained so, but she adjusted her image, put on more makeup, wore skimpier clothing, tweaked someone's "could be a successful product" bone, and became famous enough that she could later croon about how unfair it was that she was good looking and successful. (That's actually the story behind that particular set of sales, if you're not already familiar with it--barring a hidden sexual liaison of some type, it's about a performer who wasn't successful until she adopted a hot-goth-chick appearance to gather more permissions and commissions.)

There's a lot to contemplate in regards this story within a product. It could be her honest critique of her self, her life, her career, or, more scathingly, her fans. Was Ms. Autumn mocking and deriding the "chubby but I'm working on it" synthesis of her concert-goers and product-purchasers, who didn't become her fans until she adopted the troubled goth persona? If she had primarily male fans, she could laugh at them for falling for the trick, but with a supermajority of industry-described (could be lying?) female fans, the song could be an explicit set of insults for how they should've been less shallow, and bought her "singing with violin" records, without her adopting that persona. The female fan's decision to not buy albums or concert tickets from a non-sex-kitten, but then to buy them from a sex kitten, reveals the preference, the fandom, to be about an attraction to sex-kittendom rather than to music. Indeed, given their highly feminist perspectives, her fans' decisions to not be her fans until she'd become a pink-stockinged, heavily made up sex kitten is suggestive as to the disavowed but genuine desires not just for her career, but for feminists and feminism itself.

As a critique for herself, Ms. Autumn's song is incomplete, and a sad buoy in the sea of self rather than a triumphant statement of purpose; given that she still is a sex kitten and selling herself as such, capitalizing on the fame of sex-kittendom and wringing out of it every available dollar rather than rejecting it and trying to use her breakthrough fandom to justify her own musical aptitude. If sex-kittendom is necessary to break through to the notice of a stupid system, now she'd done that; she had the opportunity to sell herself as a talented person who could at least continue, if not begin, being successful without the sexy. In pop culture, that happens often enough to some chance individual--some aspect of "selling out" in which resistance to the standard corporate process is revealed not to be genuine disapproval of the standard corporate process, but merely sour grapes at having not been chosen already--and they embrace standard fame rather than try to save others like them, to make you wonder if threats are involved. But no, of course; it's simply the results of flattery and money, proving that, discounting replacement of rebellious new stars by body doubles, it really was just the message of making money, and not a lengthier thesis, which motivated whatever was seen.

As a social critique, Thank God works, though it still tars the artist with the inherent flaws above referenced; it could be later claimed to have been a statement of personal hypocrisy done for artistic effect, which could be plausible, but more likely is it was just a song about the personal annoyances of being a rich hottie.

And those personal annoyances, seen rather myopically through a privileged lens, are the worst part of it. For that girl's primarily noticeably overweight and unattractive fans, a song complaining about being pretty may offer a venue for critiquing "bothering" being pretty at all--i.e., I choose to overeat and leave chunks of club sandwich stuck on my face because I don't want to have to deal with catcalls--but for those who can think but are genetically barred from such privileges as having other humanoids find them attractive even if they load on makeup, hearing someone complain about being too attractive is like a starving child in Dickensian London watching someone's sorrowful soliloquy of the difficulties of choosing which fourteen course meal to try tonight, since breakfast and brunch are so plentiful, and cook always prepares a hefty midnight snack.

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