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The plot thickens - Tactical Ninja

Dec. 21st, 2010

09:51 am - The plot thickens

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Last night and this morning, the pompholyx flared up again. I've been fish oiling and I am not expecting a result from that for a few weeks yet, but it had been settling down. And it occurred to me that it seems to get itchy whenever I handle the wool - I spent most of this weekend spinning and have been working furiously on Sooper Sekret Project #tiekeandhappy*, and presto! Itchy. ;-/ So this morning I emailed the people I get my wool from and asked them what detergent they use for their scouring. They are awesome and emailed me straight back and said they use budget dishwash from Countdown.

Now, given that Sunlight dishwash does it, and Palmolive dishwash does it, it seems not illogical to assume that budget dishwash also does it, and it's entirely possible there's a bit of residue left in the wool because wool is very hard to fully rinse. And my fondling, pulling, prodding and fiddling intensely with it could be sparking this reaction.

I AM NOT GIVING UP FIBRE ART DAMNIT!

However, gloves aren't really an option so I'm exploring the idea of barrier cream. For those who've used barrier cream, a couple of questions: will it create and maintain a barrier even if I'm handling wool with all its dry friction for periods of hours? And, will it get on the wool and make it sticky/icky?

Please say no.


This morning as I was driving along the Quays, Eminem came on my random-selection, doing Square Dance. It's always been one of my favourite Eminem tracks.

Eminem? Me? Yes. I've always had something of a love/hate relationship with his work. I got into listening it to it when I was running the youth course in Porirua - at that point all the 15 year old boys were into it, especially the white ones, and a lot of my students were 15 year old white boys. It gave an insight into their mentality, and I admit it added to my cool factor (in their eyes) that I knew all the words to his album The Eminem Show. Anyway, it grew on me and I found myself quite liking the album, despite the misogynistic lyrics and violence. Somehow this person was exposing himself to me, ugly bits and all, in a way I could not only understand but found catchy and compelling.

There have been lots of political rappers, intelligent rappers and well-known rappers, but Eminem was the first one to catch my attention. This probably says something about race relations in the US/worldwide - why is it the one white rapper that gets big enough to come to the attention of a thirtysomething youth tutor in lil ol Unzud etc - but it also says something about the demographic of the people I was working with at the time that they identified with him in a way that they couldn't with other rappers, and thus I heard his music and not other music.

And what I found was that despite the misogyny, the hate, the externalisation of his obvious issues with women/his mother/the world at large, the Angry White Boy syndrome, the man's intelligent and articulate and spoke about things that interest me. Square Dance is a great example:

The boogie monster of rap,
Yeah the man's back
With a plan to ambush this Bush administration,
Mush the Senate's face in and push this generation,
Of kids to stand and fight for the right to say something you might not like,
This white hot light,
That I'm under,
No wonder,
I look so sunburnt,
Oh no,
I won't leave no stone unturned,
Oh no I won't leave,
Won't go nowhere,
Do-si-do,
Oh, yo, ho, hello there
Oh yeah don't think I won't go there,
Go to Beirut and do a show there
Yeah you laugh till your motherfuckin' ass gets drafted,
While you're at band camp thinkin' the crap can't happen,
Till you fuck around,
Get an anthrax napkin,
Inside a package wrapped in saran Wrap wrapping,
Open the plastic and then you stand back gasping,
Fuckin' assassins hijackin' Amtracks crashing,
All this terror America demands action,
Next thing you know you've got Uncle Sam's ass askin'
To join the army or what you'll do for their Navy.
You just a baby,
Gettin' recruited at eighteen,
You're on a plane now,
Eating their food and their baked beans.
I'm 28,
They gonna take you 'fore they take me
Crazy insane or insane crazy?
When I say Hussein you say Shady,
My views ain't changed still inhumane,
Wait,
Arraigned two days late,
The date's today,
Hang me!


I think this is brilliant. The bassline is evocative of large, stodgy Russian bureaucracies and everything Americans were taught to fear about the Cold War, juxtaposed with the rollicking melody of a barn dance, symbolic of good and wholesome American culture. And in my mind, anyway, this makes as much of a statement as the lyrics. Who's dancing with who anyway, and what dance are they dancing? Nobody really knows who the enemy is, Us and Them are indistinguishable when put side by side, and written in 2002 it seems Eminem was aware of the way America would tear itself apart from within by turning on its own citizens, even then.

Now I could be reading way more into this than is actually there, but listening to Square Dance in 2010, in the context of WikiLeaks, bodyscanners, the continuation of what more and more people are coming to see as a pointless war, and the Obama administration's inability or unwillingness to reverse the invasion of privacy and freedom inflicted on US citizens after 9/11, this track still seems relevant.

And it's catchy.

Meanwhile, Eminem's duet with Rihanna, Love The Way You Lie, has been slammed as glorifying domestic violence. Eminem and Rihanna both claim that it's speaking out against domestic violence and exposing it for what it is - and you know what? I can see that. However, it also contains lyrics about tying a woman to a bed and setting the house on fire, and if ever 'for mature audiences only' was appropriate, it's in discerning the difference between that statement as exposure or that statement as glorification. And Eminem generally does not appeal to mature audiences. Just saying.

Anyway, I've read a lot about how we are not to judge Rihanna, as a domestic abuse survivor, for her choice to be a part of this. We are to hold Eminem, who wrote the track, produced it, and approached Rihanna to be part of it, completely responsible for everything about it, but most especially the bit where it glorifies domestic violence. His history of misogyny and violence, coupled with his expression of such in the lyrics of his music, make it clear that while Rihanna may have misguidedly thought she was empowering abused women by exposing the thinking behind remaining in such a relationship, Eminem was clearly making excuses for the abuser by exposing the thinking behind remaining in such a relationship. Because Rihanna is an abused woman and Eminem is.. wait.

Eminem is also a victim of past abuse. And while the fact that he is a white man privileges him in a lot of ways that make his experience and life after it very different from Rihanna's (ie he went on to become an abuser himself), it does not make it ok to ignore that abuse as part of the history that culminated in the production of this track. We aren't to question Rihanna's motives but we can be judge, jury and executioner of Eminem's? Hmm..

So, um... does that not make the assumption that Rihanna doesn't have any agency? And are we not disempowering her by making this assumption? Are we not doing what the world always does and assuming that the white man had/has all the power in this and that she is just a weak pawn who can't think for herself? And by disempowering her and vilifying him, are we not doing some pretty arse-backward thinking in terms of gender power relations and how abuse survivors deal with their issues? Why is Rihanna's abuse an excuse for her behaviour but not Eminem's? I am tired of hearing about how her intentions were golden but his were not, purely because she is a woman and he is a man.

They're both out to make money. Just a thought.

Anyway, I didn't write the above as a total defence of Eminem. Fact is, he became an abuser and only time will tell if his claim that he is not that person anymore is actually true. We know he's capable of it. He's another case of a brilliant man who treats women like shit. His tracks still contain misogynistic lyrics (and I mean real misogyny, not just chauvanism). But I am sick and tired of hearing about how he is entirely to blame for everything that's wrong with that track regardless of his history, and Rihanna is above reproach because of her history.


*cough*

Gosh, who knew listening to a catchy tune could spark a rant? Oh wait, I'm Tats. Rants Aplenty, at your service.


* Yes guys, it's for you. It's your housewarming gift. And it's hard to work on it anywhere except home because it will be a surprise, damnit! Also, you might not be allowed to have your housewarming till 2015 mmk?

Comments:

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From:explicitreality
Date:December 20th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)

Agreement

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I am on the same wavelength with you regarding Marshall Mathers and that whole fiasco. I have a hard time listening to some of his songs because the lyrics make me angry with the government here in America. Which they should. Though there is much talk about the ticking time bomb that is this country, there is no one to rally 'round.

silver lining? This might be a terrific birth of a new historical hero, and I feel like I could write something to incite future generations. Ego? What ego?!


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From:thatgirljj
Date:December 20th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
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I feel really fucking awkward about Love The Way You Lie. I end up switching the station when it comes on because I have a lot of the same questions you do.

However, I've called and complained to the station when they play it back-to-back with Chris Brown's Forever. That's just wrong and I don't even care if it's a computer doing the fucking programming, it's inappropriate.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 20th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Whoah, yeah. That's... ew.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 20th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
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That would be awesome. And if it works, where do I get more? Cos I am 5 mins walk away from *some hardware shop* right now, if it's available there.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
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I have to be honest and say the bass coinciding with the stresses in the words made it so I couldn't make out what he was saying. So I looked it up and, um.. I think it's about how people in relationships are all just playing each other and women can't be trusted?

IMO, unless I'm missing something (which is entirely possible), this guy isn't saying anything I want to hear.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
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I think I would have to listen to more to recognise the exceptional talent. Can you recommend some?

Protip: Tats is more keen on hearing his views of the world than hearing about how he will steal someone's girlfriend because she is a hoe.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
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Protip 2: Tats likes lyrics and rappers are no exception. I'll probably take a pass on this guy and go looking for exceptionally talented rappers that talk about things that make my brain boing.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
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From:pythia
Date:December 21st, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
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I hate Love the Way You Lie.

Despite what Eminem and Rihanna may say about it 'exposing' domestiv violence, I can't see that in it. All I can see is it glamourising and normalising domestic violence and abusive relationships. Similiar to Twilight, in that respect...
The line about tying her to the bed and setting her on fire makes me feel sick. Probably doesn't help that i've had that exact thing threatened to me, haha, but still. I think if they really want to do something about domestic violence there are far better ways to go about it other than that song.
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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
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I pretty much agree, mostly because of what I said up there - if adults with understanding of nuance and subtlety are having trouble telling if it's piercing exposure or glorification, then the 15 year olds that actually listen to it are going to have an even harder time with it.

I can see it, but it's no way a clear enough message if that's what they intended.
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From:pythia
Date:December 21st, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
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Yep, exactly.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:December 21st, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
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I haven't seen the song, but it sounds very slightly similar to the controversy around NIN's "big man with a big gun". The line is razor thin.
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From:khaybee
Date:December 21st, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
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I have had a good experience with lanolin as a barrier cream, and I can't see how that would harm wool.It was sold at the pharmacy for nursing women to use on their nipples (as a barrier cream).
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From:tieke
Date:December 21st, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
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Hey ... cool!

Whatisitwhatisitwhatisitwhatisit?????????????????

2015!!! Crikey, we'd better hurry up with the house then!
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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
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Universal peace and harmony. Made of wool.
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From:tieke
Date:December 21st, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
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Wow, that is some pretty special weaving/knitting/spinning/shearing/growing of sheep!
Is it OK if we keep it all to ourselves? Not the kind of thing you'd want to get out, I think - everyone would want one, and then where would we be?

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From:tatjna
Date:December 21st, 2010 06:34 am (UTC)
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You might have to keep it in a lead-lined case. This harmony is pretty potent, can't have it leaking out and infecting the neighbours..
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