Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Striptease and Ageism

In my Metropolis essay, I touched upon the idea of how bodies become objects, sex becomes a part of mechanized society. I wrote: 

Our bodies aren’t a safe haven from mechanization either. As time and landscape go, bodies become objects – a sum of our parts and functions. This is demonstrated in the erotic gyrations of the mechanical Maria. Her movements and objectification are hypnotic to men who fall under the spell of the machine.

A string of events sent me to revisit this idea in more detail. First it was a conversation on a 60 year old woman having plastic surgery, just to “freshen up” her face a bit, that sort of thing. Shortly thereafter, saw a photo in an exhibition of a wonderfully wrinkled old man, and was thinking of the layers of history contained in those wrinkles, and how they could be seen as a kind of beauty. Yet our culture is seduced by a reduction to objects – that beauty is a youthful perfection – only achieved by products and manipulation. This ageism warps our vision, and we fail to appreciate who we are. I see this reflected in Barthes’s “Striptease” – where he talks of the diamond G-string, a symbol of objectification, connecting the woman to the mineral world, “the (precious) stone being here the irrefutable symbol of the absolute object, that which serves no purpose.” Barthes concludes by saying this is how the striptease becomes nationalized. Sexuality is removed, objectification is put forth. – N 

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