Saturday, December 28, 2013

O'connor's open letter to Miley Cyrus

Dear Miley,
I wasn't going to write this letter, but today i've been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your Wrecking Ball video was designed to be similar to the one for Nothing Compares … So this is what I need to say … And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.
I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way 'cool' to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping.
Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.
I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.
The music business doesn't give a shit about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted … and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, 'they' will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.
None of the men ogling you give a shit about you either, do not be fooled. Many's the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn't mean they give a fuck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don't give much of a fuck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don't give much of a fuck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped … and that includes you yourself.
Yes, I'm suggesting you don't care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don't encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and it's associated media.
You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn't see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever … Don't be under any illusions … ALL of them want you because they're making money off your youth and your beauty … which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can't recognise those who do not.
I repeat, you have enough talent that you don't need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn't let them make a fool of you either. Don't think for a moment that any of them give a flying fuck about you. They're there for the money… we're there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.
You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age … which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.
Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn't even ask the question … I've been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. Its really not at all cool. And its sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn't for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.
As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image … whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She's waaaaaaay gone by now … Not because you got naked but because you make great records.
Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that its somehow cool to be prostituted … its so not cool Miley … its dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. We aren't merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers … that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherfucker who hasn't expressed alarm, because they don't care about you.
As posted on

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Solution

RTE must have read this poem Bertolt Brecht wrote after  the East Berlin rising in 1953. He makes the ironic suggestion that the Communist regime should dismiss the people and appoint a new one, which RTE would love to do anyway...
The Solution
 After the uprising of June 17th
The Secretary of the Authors' Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Which said that the people
Had forfeited the government's confidence
And could only win it back
By redoubled labour. 
Wouldn't it
Be simpler in that case if the government
Dissolved the people and
Elected another?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

the song in my mind today...

It's a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
You think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all you won't be free
Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
'Cause when you have more than you think
You need more space
Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
There's those thinking more or less, less is more
But if less is more how you're keeping score?
Means for every point you make your level drops
Kinda like it's starting from the top, you can't do that
Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

Read more: Eddie Vedder - Society Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Friday, July 26, 2013

On the Celebrification of the Academy

Robert van Krieken (University of Sydney, Australia, and ISA Vice-President for Finance and Membership, 2010-2014.)
Source: Global Dialogue: Newsletter for the International Sociological Association, 2 (2012), 4.

In universities today one can clearly see a number of fracture lines that are growing longer and wider, dividing the academic community into roughly three classes: an elite of high-profile researchers with little or no teaching or administrative responsibilities; a “middle class” of teaching-and-research staff squeezed between constantly increasing demands for both more and better research and teaching ever-expanding numbers of students.
The elite research-only performance output is used as the benchmark, but it’s unattainable, so this class is doomed to failure and frustration, and to the pursuit of the holy grail of a research-only position; an expanding proletariat army of casual and part-time teachers and researchers experiencing extreme insecurity and poor working conditions, hoping that they will eventually acquire a full-time and tenured position.
There are a number of ways one can analyze these tendencies, but what I would like to offer here are some reflections on the way in which a particular kind of “celebrity rationality” is also at work. There is a connection between the social and economic mechanisms underpinning the social figures we normally identify as celebrities – actors, actresses, TV personalities, sports stars – and the transformations affecting universities around the world. My larger project has been to reclaim the analysis of celebrity for core conceptual concerns in sociology like inequality, identity, power and governance, and there are a number of ways in which scientific scholarship is a key example of the processes and dynamics of “celebrity society.” There are earlier discussions of celebrity in the writings of Robert Michels and others, but C. Wright Mills made an important contribution when he noted the ways in which the dynamics of all sorts of competition underpins the production of particular individuals as celebrities – that is, highly visible “performers” who function as a cognitive and practical reference point for the rest of the competitive field. In the Power Elite (Oxford, 1957: 74) Mills wrote:
“In America, this system is carried to the point where a man who can knock a small white ball into a series of holes in the ground with more efficiency and skill than anyone else thereby gains social access to the President of the United States. It is carried to the point where a chattering radio and television entertainer becomes the hunting chum of leading industrial executives, cabinet members, and the higher military. It does not seem to matter what the man is the very best at: so long as he has won out in competition over all others: he is celebrated.”
This wasn’t quite right, it’s more the rock star who gets access to the President, but the man with the small white ball still does pretty well. The point is that the broadest possible spread of visibility and recognition becomes a resource or value in itself, independently of what generated the recognition in the first place.
Robert Merton characterizes the problem as the “Matthew Effect” in scientific work, referring to the Gospel according to Matthew 25:29: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” He noted that scientists who had received a Nobel Prize would receive far more attention than their colleagues, no matter the relative merits of their research. Wealth of attention to scholarly performance tended to be self-accumulating, as long as one stayed in the field. This was elaborated by Herbert Simon in 1971, when he pointed out that when there is a surplus of information and knowledge, the resource that becomes scarce, and thus an important commodity, is attention, the capacity to orient cognition in one direction or towards one object rather than another. Attention is the scarce resource or “positional good” in circulation in what Richard Sennett called the “star system” in relation to music, the way in which particular musicians capable of going beyond just being good
musicians to include additional attention-capturing characteristic, end up crowding out the rest of the musical field.
The increasing orientation towards global rankings and the constant refinement of methods of performance measurement and assessment generate similar competitive dynamics among individual academics, among universities, and among countries, and where there is competition, there is the production of celebrities – star scholars, researchers, universities. One could say that the measurement of citations is a measure of how influential a piece of research is, but it is also a measure of its author’s scholarly celebrity. We cite Bourdieu or whomsoever not just or even primarily because it makes much difference to the analysis, but to indicate that we know about Bourdieu.
The current system of academic celebrity operates at three levels: individual (usually researchers, rarely teachers), institutional (universities) and national or regional (countries or clusters of countries). It may be stretching the metaphor a little too far, but in many respects they all want – or are being forced to want – to be the Kim Kardashian of their discipline or the global university system. Just as Kardashian’s visibility affects her capacity to earn through sponsorship and sale of her image and brand, rankings matter to universities because it affects their student enrolments, their social status, and the generosity of patrons, donors, and governments. This is also why universities spend so much time and money on developing their “brand.”
What lessons can be learnt from the sociological analysis of celebrity for ways to respond to these transformations of the university? There is not the space to go into this in any detail here, but I can suggest a few possibilities to begin with. First, recognizing that what we are looking at is a machine for the production and distribution of attention, and that it is attention that is very often the resource at issue, not the scholarly value of what’s being produced, makes it possible to adopt a much more sceptical perception of the status games being played in universities. Understanding that what is presented as a meritocracy is in particular respects really a “celebritocracy” helps us see that many of the crisis tendencies are in fact about the “struggle for attention.” Second, if celebrity is the game we’re in, then we can observe what is happening in the broader field of celebrity and adopt similar strategies in our academic activity. We all know that Andy Warhol said that “in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” but later he said he was bored with that line, and wanted to change it to “in 15 minutes, everyone will be famous.” We can see this mechanism at work in the massive proliferation of different types of highly visible and widely recognizable individuals (aka celebrities) in more and more fields of activity. Rather than accepting the hierarchy of scholarly status currently being machined into place, which resembles the old Hollywood star system, it is possible to generate our own systems of recognition and acknowledgement “from below,” different kinds of “arthouse” scholarship, to stick with that analogy, including a diversity of research networks which may or may not achieve stardom, but which we enjoy and which we think do good and useful work. It is possible to reject the “winner takes all” logic that seems to be running through universities these days, to orient ourselves to each other, rather than allowing ourselves to be seduced by the “centripetal gaze” focused on academic

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

direnis ilham verir / resistance inspires!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

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