Smiley Virus


There’s something about Miley Cyrus that makes her the perfect subject for strange and surreal subversion. Maybe because she was known first as a child actor playing Hannah Montana: a normal girl with an alter-ego and hidden personality. In some way this reflects her own life as the daughter of a pop icon and foretells of her future career. At a young age she was synonymous with persona, image and identity.

That was until she decided to smash the image of an angelic preacher’s daughter with a new and seductive persona. A wild and sexualised vision with undeniable talent who intentionally flirts with controversy. There’s something about the presentation of her image and persona that seems to dovetail so well with postmodern art and the type to flourish online. Maybe that’s overreaching and pretentious but I really like these videos – even if they are intended as a joke.


Blame it on the Pop

Pop music is pretty abstract when you think about it. Working in an officespace beside a radio has forced me to think about it, and how much a value my life as a result. It gives artists poetic licence to spout absolute nonsense so long as it’s catchy. To tread the well worn path of those that came before, and to leave their mark as an empty looping jingle in your brainspace. One that makes you want to go through your eyes to scratch them out. Songs about love and… that’s most of them. New love, lost love, love locked-down etc. There is something truly bizarre about pop music (how bizarre?) – something that everyone seems to buy into and chooses not to acknowledge: the clotheless emperor that appears to you in the car, in shopping centres and in the background of adverts; every time you look around he’s dancing there with his bare naked body right in your face. At first it was my patience being tested now I fear it’s my sanity.

As a genre the defining feature is popularity. So really it shouldn’t be a particular style but an evershifting trend. It becomes somewhat paradoxical to consider how a pop band would start out, or how a pop song is released. How do you predict popularity? It seems many a boardroom has been filled with executives working out how to capitalise on the interests of the public; how to turn an artform into a cashcow – like a team of robots trying to work out the allure of a flower for the sole purpose of catching bees. (more…)

No Ordinary Love Story: The Subverted Romantic-comedy in (500) Days of Summer and Friends With Benefits

The mainstream romantic-comedy has steadily become saturated with genre conventions and narrative devices that seem to have shaped audience expectation. A formulaic love story that relies on certain narrative hooks and character details that become almost interchangeable. This is made more noticeable by the sub-genre trends that seem to overlap as they reflect current attitudes – think the few rom-coms released in 2010 that centred on artificial insemination. The films do not not disappoint rather they play out just as suggested in the trailer. While every genre has its conventions, two recent romantic-comedies Friends With Benefits (Gluck, 2011) and (500) Days of Summer (Webb, 2009) seem to bring attention to, and in some cases overtly criticise, the tendencies of the genre. Most importantly though both films offer the promise of no ordinary love story…  and both films break that promise.

In Hollywood

Recently more films have been challenging the conventions of the romantic-comedy genre, moving away from the uniform portrayal of heterosexual, Caucasian, materialist archetypes. The anomalous box-office success Bridesmaids (Feig, 2011) was viewed as a breakthrough for depicting stronger more rounded female characters – perhaps an affectation of actually being written by women. Although this film challenged certain Hollywood clichés and stereotypes it also appeared to reinstate and reaffirm others – such as the heterosexual, Caucasian materialist. (more…)