Thursday, December 23, 2010

It seems like there has been a series of articles in the UK that are very critical about Burlesque and its ability to empower women?- Do you think Burlesque is empowering?

I thought this article was intensely stupid and underinformed

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1340939/Burlesque-Penny-Wark-visits-artistic-clubs-sleaze-tease.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

And that final sentence is contrived and melodramatic. I've never seen any such moment backstage at a burlesque show, it's moronic.

It is empowering to be able to create performances for which you, the performer, create the character, design the costumes, choose the music, and invent the choreography. You don't have to be predigested and approved by a magazine editor or television agency to be allowed to do this. The low threshold of entry may mean that some bad art gets through, but that's the case with most art anyway.

The comments below the article that are so judgmental actually demonstrate the need for a place where performers who don't fit disgestible mainstream standards can go. The comments are so cruel and inane that it's clear the people in them are not speaking from a place of joy, as many performers and audience members who describe burlesque as empowering are.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

19 comments:

TheLunarLounge said...

I agree! I've been reading so many articles like this lately and it's so infuriating! It's the same as generalising about race or gender. Painting all performers with the same brush is ridiculous. Personally, I get a feeling some of these writers are purposefully writing spiteful and uninformed articles just to create this kind of buzz.

Thankfully there are so many amazing performers in the world who blow these claims out of the water.

Love reading your blog! :D

Luna
www.peachesngin.blogspot.com

hannurrr said...

I'd like to say that any woman who has the courage to perform in a burlesque show is a true role model for bravery and self confidence, and this article from the Daily Mail really is rubbish. I'm glad you picked up on this! Being from the UK I know that the Daily Mail is a highly opinionated newspaper and shouldn't be considered news by anyone with half a brain. I think many performers have artistic merit and I hope this article doesn't put anyone off the wonder tht is burlesque. Thankyou for pointing this out, keep doing what you are doing for all women!

Roulette Rose said...

Here is another ridiculous blog article from someone who not only wrote an article based on what they had read and not fully witnessed, but then they even admitted it!

http://thethingis.co.uk/2010/11/29/the-burlesque-show-is-almost-over/

Anonymous said...

This is typical of the Daily Mail, and anyone with the capacity for independent thinking, considers it right wing trash. Single, working women in their 30s are the scourge of society in their mind, so Burlesque is practically the work of the devil!

Keep up the good work and if turns out you are going to hell in a handbasket then at least you went having fun, bringing fun and looking gorgeous!:-)

Daisy Dukes said...

http://thethingis.co.uk/2008/02/03/burlesque/

"Case in point, the hideous little troll I overheard down my local boozer last week telling two men about how she was a burlesque dancer, explaining (in some detail) her act. The poor thing would have looked vile even in a burlap sack if I had a paper bag over my head. Yet she seemed sensible, articulate and personable — valuable qualities in any person, let alone a potential partner. Why, then, did she feel the need to get up on the stage and do the tassel routine?"

is the thing is trolling us or something?

this article is totally unacceptable.

Burlesque Daily said...

They just think people should look as much as possible like models if they want to enjoy their bodies in public. People who make those kinds of criticisms are always looking for lines that shouldn't be crossed because they aren't comfortable, and they need to have lines behind which they themselves feel safe and appropriate.

Burlesque Daily said...

Also, part of what the "male gaze" critique leaves out, as I've said and I'll repeat, is that what is empowering about doing neo-burlesque isn't having people think you're a hot chick. It's the act of self-creation. It's the ability to design a performance for yourself and do it for an audience that is excited about that aspect of it, rather than judging the performance as an adequate display of commercially digestible beauty and/or entertainment.

D.G. said...

You're REALLY looking for things, Jo. If you compare the recent "The Thing Is..." article and the Daily Mail article, you will see that they are arriving at a lot of the same points, such as the faux nature of the "empowerment" (which "The Thing is..." article rightly calls an "illusion") and the rigged nature of the audiences. I am the author of the second "The Thing Is..." article and I LOVE different body types--part of the reason I love old movies is the massive variety of female body types that they have to offer, especially in the silent era. But I also see through the "empowerment" delusion--you get no "power" from designing your own costume and props and coercing an audience to cheer for you at PC gunpoint (which is not exactly what I would call "joy", at least not for the audience). You may feel good and accomplished and maybe even liked, but there is no "power". I will suggest that the negative reactions in the "Daily Mail" article may in part be the unintended consequences of rigging the audiences to only give positive response--they can't express how they REALLY feel, so they stuff it and vent elsewhere. Welcome to the world of consequences.

Sabina said...

"The low threshold of entry may mean that some bad art gets through, but that's the case with most art anyway."

EXCELLENT point.

I apologize though for not reading the whole article. It lost me after the mention of Cher and the new burlesque movie. If that's that's Penny's best reference, then she obviously didn't do her research.

Burlesque Daily said...

I keep thinking about responding to DG's comments and it keeps coming out one long sigh.

Burlesque Daily said...

Sorry about the deleted comment. I don't think I needed to leave that particular insult on the blog.

Burlesque Daily said...

I will say that there is one thing I find deeply disgusting. Re their comments about violence against women being connected to burlesque, they should study logical fallacies and read a book called "How to Lie with Statistics." It makes me SICK when someone wants to point the finger for violence against women at someone besides the violent. I used to be an activist and I've heard every lame self-seeking explanation to go after pornographers instead of rapists, every emotional theory based on poor research to get funding for programs that don't address the proven problems and give people excuses to sit around at desks or at tea parties talking about how terrible the media is instead of facing the facts. It's hard enough to get convictions for rape and domestic violence without diffusing the blame. Work on improving the justice system, not the media. Don't appropriate the experiences of these women by using them to push your agenda. That's inexcusable.

Pink Boombox Production said...

Uhg.... Really? I mean Really? OMG REALLY?

"Pulling on her mismatched socks after the show, she casts a sad eye over the seedy dressing room and suddenly looks unbearably young."
OMG she was most likely thinking: "Do I have my phone and keys?"

I hate it when writers feel like they aren't doing there job as a critic unless they are tearing something down. Yes we know you can't do it so you're mad. Haters are indeed gonna hate.

The thing that, that person doesn't get at all and will never get is the difference in between simply stripping at a titty bar and a burlesque performance isn't the "empowerment", or even the seediness of it. The Difference is that when you work at a titty bar you're there to be what they want you to be, to full fill other people's fantasies.

Burlesque is about your fantasies, your dreams your body and who you are or who you wanna be for the night.

I hear all the time for burlesque dancers "....Well I'm Not a stripper..." Uh, yes you are you're stripping out of your clothing to music in front of people.

But who are you doing it for?

and end rant.

Love and Excelsior
Lilly Holiday

MAKE UP ARTIST QUEEN BEE said...

I read this article and found it extremely negative and on a bit of a one woman hate campaign! It is very interesting that I stumbled across your review. I found this one this morning which I was pleasantly surprised and happy to read! Puts burlesque in a much better light and deservedly and rightly so:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2010/dec/13/burlesque-dita-von-teese-christina-aguilera

Kitty x

Burly Q Way Down Under said...

I too heaved a sigh at the Daily Mail response on your blog Jo. It's ridiculous and I've spent so much time ranting, venting and blogging on my feelings.

What I really dislike about the articles that have been in the Daily Mail is the assumptions and verdicts made on seeing, what one burlesque show? Sure there's crap burlesque....there's also crap theatre, crap opera....

I also think the empowerment thing that is raised is a furfy Daily Mail. Burlesque can be empowering: challenging stereotypes of how someone should look, what is sexy (for men or for women) is empowering as other aspects of this performance art. But that's just my experience.

I'm sure other performers have different ideas re empowerment, and that's why you don't make vast generalisations and assumptions about a huge variety of performers based on seeing a handful of performers.

Love your blog Jo - keep up the great work!

Grace Cherry

J.N. Urbanski said...

I'm also British and felt the need to comment. The Daily Mail is a conservative (Republican) newspaper and this sort of sneering, myopic clap-trap is typical content. Note that the author says the women are pandering to mens' fantasies. Women also enjoy the show actually!

Jessie said...

The author wasn't biased from the start of the article at all... not... Good post.

Femme Vivre said...

I don't understand how a critic, rather than a performer, can be the one to discern whether or not the act being performed is empowering. The critic is not the one being empowered, so how would they know what the performer finds empowering except to take the performer's word for it? I find burlesque empowering because it has made me comfortable in my own (imperfect) flesh, and confident in my femininity. Many of the great seductresses and courtesans of history were not classically beautiful- it was their intelligence and confidence that made scores of men tumble for them. And the fact is, we in the neo-burlesque era are not performing for the 'male gaze' or the 'male fantasy'; the beauty of burlesque is that we are living out our OWN fantasies, not playing to someone else's. We hope that the audience will enjoy the ride, but, as Jo said, it is about dreaming up and creating your own costumes, sets, props, music, choreography, etc- ie Your Own vision and versions of yourself. It is not about playing to stereotypes of what men like. In fact, in my experience, women most often enjoy the shows even more than men do... because they too find it empowering. And because we have a social message that Every woman deserves to feel attractive and to harness her femininity. I've also noticed that many performers are very well-educated, intelligent, degree-holding women. We are not merely thoughtless attention seekers, we are preserving history and expressing ourselves and our sexuality in a much more tasteful way than you often see on the likes of MTV. There are So Many different types of performances that are skilled, creative, and also pay homage to great icons, musicians, performers, and art movements of the past- it is a great injustice to lump it all together into one uninformed judgement.

On a side note, a bad dressing area has to do with the venue, not the performer. Any other type of actress or performance artist would have the exact same experience with a poor dressing area; the melodramatic last line of the Daily Mail article is irrelevant to the topic. Honestly, it's like the tacked on ending of a film censored by the Hays Code.

Kevin - Joke said...

It most definitely is empowering