GOLDFINE | On Misogyny in Art and Women’s Credibility

In certain intellectual spaces, social and academic alike, it often feels like it’s been decided that talking about misogyny in art and literature is a moot point — an extraneous, distracting, overly orthodox and immature interruption to the real conversation. It feels like it’s been decided that the only inquiries there are to be made about artistic misogyny will inevitably be reductive, simplifying and short-sighted, and that whatever conversation there is to be had about misogyny in art and literature will be a short, perfunctory one; something to be gotten out of the way so that we can get at the real meaning. So, the female student who is preoccupied with, disturbed by, skeptical of or, at the very least, who finds herself unmoved by the aestheticized, unchallenged objectification of a Brian Jones sculpture, the sexual politics of a Woody Allen film or the gratuitous violence against women in American Psycho — and who wishes to engage with and speak aloud about the way she feels — takes a risk of not being heard. As it is with the reactions to many particular realities of being a woman, feeling discomfort and alienation from art is often met with gas-lighting or, perhaps no less toxically, a, “Well maybe, but that’s not the point.”

To voice disgust or reservation; to externalize one’s grappling with gratuitous and unchallenged depictions of female exploitation, violence, abuse, manipulation or subservience in a painting, novel or film — or god forbid, to claim that something is misogynistic — often seems to translate to failure of artistic literacy; an inability to “see past the obvious”: placing critical women on the same intellectual level of the parent who looks at a Jackson Pollack and says, “my kid could do that.”

To be clear, I’m making no claims that any particular art is misogynistic (the examples above are simply art that has been contested on these grounds) and I’m especially not making any claims about what women should read as misogynistic or be troubled by. I’m only saying that, in a patriarchal society, particularly considering that the art and literary worlds have and continue to be extraordinarily male-dominated spaces, women will experience art differently than men — in an endless number of different way, many of which might involve the discomforts of never really having been the intended viewers and readers of the art, at all.

TEST SPINS: Frankie Cosmos — Next Thing

The universe of NYU student Greta Kline’s DIY indie rock project Frankie Cosmos is a warm, velvety one, in which a healthy suspicion of reality and adulthood, and a relentless concern (as playful as it is pulsing) with the personal, the intimate and the female, reigns artistically. Next Thing is a narrative exploration of the love, intimacy, anxiety, dreams and desires that come with being a young person in the world: subjects which Kline first excavated on 2014’s Zentropy, as well as her massive portfolio of Bandcamp-released music. My knee-jerk reaction was that the album sounded identical to Zentropy. However, after a full listen of Next Thing, judging the album’s fundamental sonic and sensual similarity to much of Kline’s previous work seems about as productive as noting that the chapters of a novel, or stanzas of a poem are written in the same style, and follow the same story, of the same deeply compelling character. This reaction reframed as an open-minded observation arguably reveals the greatest strengths (and potentially the titular inspiration) of Next Thing.

GOLDFINE | The Thriving Redefined Girl Power of Mitski

“Girl power” is a tainted term in our cultural vocabulary. It is infected probably first and foremost by the image of Gwen Stefani, bindi-clad, prostrating herself onstage in her “Just A Girl” music video whimpering “fuck you, I’m a girl,” or of Taylor Swift parading around with her #girlsquad of models/singers/very famous people, explaining to Twitter, (mainly when other women criticize her) how very important it is for “women to support each other.” The term, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a self-reliant attitude among girls and young women manifested in ambition, assertiveness and individualism” has been largely debunked as a commercialized white feminist ideology, based on vague assertions of rights and equality, which ultimately boils down to imitating masculinity while still looking hot. So, while explicit performances of girl power like those of Stefani, Courtney Love, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna and the Spice Girls — whose have-it-all, you-go-girl cultural feminist legacy was inherited by Swift and her peers — were subversive in the 90s and aughts, and will always be fun as hell to dance to, it has since become evident that these women’s girl power brands (remember kinderwhore?) were ultimately complicit with the relentless trivialization and eroticization of women within rock culture. In 2016, “girl power” in music is either obsolete, or begging for redefinition. The latter, I argue, is happening, and in an unlikely genre.

Spinning Singles: M83, “Solitude”

Listening to M83’s latest single is how I spent the most needlessly melodramatic six minutes of my day. “Solitude” is a slow, woozy ballad layered with heavy, gummy orchestral instrumentation on top of the French duo’s signature echoey vocal chorus. It’s an awkwardly cinematic and self-serious piece of music, like the final scene in a low-budget action movie: just as you can no longer take it seriously, the hero yells “nooo” in slo-motion and pushes the villain into a volcano — except, like, as a piece of ambient pop. Maybe this sounds promising to you, but unfortunately the track seems to be peculiar for the sake of peculiarity, which ends up being predictably boring. After their bopping, Vampire Weekend-ishly charming and buzzy, “Do It, Try It,” “Solitude” is a tedious disappointment.

Senior Designer Profile: From Pre-Med in Atlanta to Eveningwear in Ithaca, a Chat with Robin Reynolds ’16

Robin Reynolds ’16 believes in the personal, the intimate, the individual — and their capacity to triumph over conformity and conventionality through design. Compelled to pursue a career in clothing design as a result of her experiences as a pre-professional dancer, creating and altering clothing for herself and other dancers, Reynolds seeks to articulate wearers’ multidimensional identities and depth, through her luxurious detail, defining surface elements, textile layering and deliberate construction. Her senior collection will feature eveningwear and lingerie inspired by the shapes and subtleties of glass in its various forms. The Sun had the opportunity to speak with Reynolds about her design aesthetic, senior collection, and the journey of her transfer to the Cornell Fiber Science and Apparel Design from a pre-medical track. The Sun: When did you first start designing? How did you end up at Cornell for design?

GOLDFINE | The Kendrick-Taylor Paradox: What Happened at The Grammys?

On Feb. 15, Kendrick Lamar was unforgivably robbed of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for his superbly produced, lyrically genius, dialogue-inspiring and arresting political concept album To Pimp A Butterfly, which will indisputably be remembered as one of the greatest American hip-hop albums of all time. Also on Feb. 15, Taylor Swift, the most popular woman in the world, deservingly walked off the stage with the Album of the Year Grammy for her immaculately crafted and super-cherished pop opus 1989, to the validation and joy of fan-people everywhere. I find both of these conclusions about what happened at the 2016 Grammy Awards to be equally plausible, and this absurdity is what I think of as the Kendrick-Taylor paradox.

GOLDFINE | Unlearning Everything My Dad Taught Me About Music

In every music-happy kid’s upbringing there’s a parent who they learned about music from. You know — the one you inherited your weird decade taste-quirks, vinyl or (in my case) illegally-downloaded CD collection and general music-related perspectives from. You spent car rides exploring albums together, they shed tears of joy when you got really into their favorite old crooner and you showed them how to use Spotify (which they either never really took to, or began furiously trying to ruin your reputation as a Person with Pretty Cool taste by jacking your account and playing solely the Bee Gees and Mariah Carey). For me (and probably for most of you, although that’s another column), it was my Dad. My dad had a tremendous and hazardous impact, not just on my music taste, but on the way that I thought about music in general.

GOLDFINE | The Walking Dead’s Post-Racial Fantasy: Race Still Matters at the End of the World

In her legendary New York Times interview with Rihanna, Miranda July notes that she hesitated to ask Rihanna what it is like to be a powerful young black woman: anxious that the pop star would be put off by the question because, perhaps, Rihanna felt herself post-racial. When July finally, cringing, brought herself to ask a timid and diluted version of her question, “did you suddenly feel aware of race in a different way when you moved to New York?” Rihanna articulated an unapologetically honest answer which, I hope, shamed July for assuming that Rihanna would be as squeamish to talk about race as she was. The interview, “A Very Revealing Conversation With Rihanna” is undeniably well-crafted, engrossing and charismatic, even moving. It also largely ignores, or at least shies away from the racial difference between its characters. I would say that this is a similar predicament to that of AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama, The Walking Dead.

TEST SPIN: Sleater Kinney—No Cities To Love

Sleater-Kinney, the radical DIY punk rock trio hailing from the riot grrrl scene of Olympia, Washington, was a defining group in rock and roll throughout the nineties and early 2000’s. Punk queens Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (star of IFC’s Portlandia) got their start at Evergreen College screaming about various isms, and subsequently developed into one of the most acclaimed all-female rock groups of all time. Their notorious hiatus finally came to an end after nine years last Tuesday with the release of their eighth studio album No Cities To Love: a hiatus which has paralleled debatably some of the most precarious years for the genre of rock and roll in history. To make one thing clear, rock is not dead — the click-bait eulogizing of entire musical genres being one of the worse hobbies of pseudo-intellectual music bloggers but it has undeniably taken on new shapes in recent years. However, the girls are back in town and No Cities To Love takes us back to a more political and arguably a more dynamic moment in rock and roll, in disarmingly inventive ways.