The way I would categorize this video-essay is hyper-modern self-parody. The text and the visuals and the music are going nowhere fast and this is not intended to be taken too seriously. The video seems out of breath, the ideas a constipated cognition in the head, a bad Deleuzian trip, the bodies on view , male and female, pulsing to a machine generated algorithm, trite corporate sponsored porn.
Iteration is repetition with variation. This was a display of repetition without variation. I saw this style of performance in the urban interracial gay clubs in New York over a dozen years ago. Gay men, with different ethnicities, and different ages, offered one another surrender, not submission, in an underground space that was hidden, and it was transgressive, borders were crossed.
When gay men are doing this kind of movement it means something different than when young heterosexuals are doing it. Very different kinds of history are triggered. Gays have a history of oppression to deal with that is not the same as what heterosexuals have had to deal with. And the gay scene in New York was drawing upon Latin and African influences. There was in those days a feeling of a surge, a shared direction. And there were virtuosos on the floor that could perform brilliantly in many styles. That surge has turned into a cul de sac. Going nowhere fast.
And gay men, when turned on, take risks, play with ambiguity, flowing with testosterone and tenderness, and can flip-flop from bottom to top and back to bottom, breaking though the backroom sodomy circle into something transcendent and ineffable as in the Whitmanian fallen angels rejected by an Angry Patriarchal God. Identity is fluid. And a break within the Masculine Archetypal drama triangle, Father-Son- Holy Ghost is rejected, and a move into something different, where new concepts come out of the closet. Bodies touch a imaginal-liminal zone, reach a threshold, go beyond that-an ecstatic union with an Alien God. The gay underground was a hybrid culture. Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Caucasians were mixing it up, and doing something different. A meta-politics emerges out of the motions of the meta-dancers. That scene has vanished with the flat screens and high rents.
I didn’t get any kind of transgression vibe so obvious in a gay club, from thie video.I’m not sure what the aesthetic values of the video maker are. It appeared to me to be driven by conservative adolescent male fantasies of omnipotence and the females who want to please them through submission. This seems to me a parody. Which is fine but the attempt to bring in Laban and sacred geometry seemed strained and unconvincing. If there was an aesthetic philosophy being argued for I missed it.
It felt to me like a fast tempo set to a metronome without attention to rhythm.It was mindless horniness not passionate lust on display, an attempt to shock, not transform. Style is what your friends like about you and then doing it on purpose. There seemed no personal style in any of these frantic, pelvic thrusts, empty genital gyrations. No complex abstractions. No capacity for foreplay, seduction, vulnerability, danger. It is all perpetual climax and boring.
And what is private and public when everything is so external anyway? I sensed no interiors at all. The dancers are dolls, puppets, automatons, enacting a simulated orgy, not at all able to interrupt the static and noise and re-direct attention to a more subtle and nuanced rhythm. The text and the hurried delivery by a female sex robot, mere roof brain chatter, the bodies are produced by static electricity. A short, unremarkable crackle and pop.
And do I know something now that I didn’t know before this video-essay? Not really. I don’t sense any breakthrough but a consistent holding pattern that is kind of mind numbing.A parody of a Neo-liberalism on steroids acting ‘as if’ it is doing something different. The Pandemic may have changed that dynamic, a huge pattern interrupt. It is too soon to tell. I do hope these young people, as they copy each other, as is only natural, will find the courage to break out of that consensus trance and find alternate ways of knowing, feel the vibrations of a fifth dimension, and bring back to the streets patterns that can re-connect.
Great write up, Johnny.
I tried to keep it descriptive and non-opinionated in the article. Here, I can let loose.
I don’t know what the author was trying to do, but in my opinion:
If it’s a serious study, it’s a failure. It doesn’t even come close to prove the thesis, and said thesis is murky, to say the least.
If it’s parody, it’s brilliant. I laughed out loud several times when I first saw it. And intellectually, I laughed even more.
If it’s a mixture of the two, then the plot thickens. My standards would be higher if this has that kind of ambition. But, I would applaud the effort even more.
In any case, I’m perplexed by it. And I mean that as a compliment.
I agree, as parody, it is very clever. I thought there were a dozen potential good ideas that were not developed. I think the production was well well done and the talent is there but this remains for me an over the top parody. Anything deeper will have to done in a different key. As a gringo from up north it is good to be exposed to new angles. Thanks for posting this, Eduardo, as it gave me much to think about. North and South have a long history of evasion and subterfuge and exploitation. I wonder how this pandemic might shape a new narrative? I believe the video essay reflects the current exhaustion of the old regimes to direct the attention of the masses. And how will the world’s youth handle this deep delimma? What is emerging? I’m not sure. Please keep us informed!
If it is a parody or not goes beyond question, what is it and what is not? Real life institutions are parodies of themselves. At least in Mexico, obviously I know that “northern” people take stuff more seriously, because “stuff” works, or used to work… in mexico, (and probably in latinamerica) everything is so parodic, the dumbest football players become politicians. Reality cannot be approached rationally, as in more sterile areas of the planet, though I would argue that this rational approach is also a superficial one, because rationality is that enterprise that caused third world extractivism too. So why should we try to continue dissecting events in a rational manner? I only see that in first worlders or deeply neo-colonized people. So to answer if it is a parody or not I would say that the author of this video is perhaps trying to approach its subject in a paraconscious manner, to think with both “heart” and “mind” as a single organ. Sentipensar.
Perhaps even the author’s main research topics and artistic goals are far from perreo itself, he may even be newbie in reggaeton research and practice. This makes me think, what would be the response of actual members of the perreo community?
Another question that comes to mind is what kind of an interior would be inner enough for you? Perreos did not ceased to happen in Mexico during quarantine (https://www.facebook.com/events/607029093504871/?active_tab=discussion), this is scary and wild too, because low income mexican youth is fearless. They work from an early age, sometimes robbing and drug dealing, they do not expect to live that long. They do not get scholar education nor have real opportunities for transcend their precariousness.
So even if this phenomena is inspired by the united statian 70’s bump (https://vimeo.com/23987775) as mentioned by John, it is not the same thing. Because even low class new yorkers can afford to possess a rational individual eurogringo structure of apperception. What is the subjectivity that latinamerica young perreadores can afford to posses? The affordances present in mexican low income subjectivization are precarious. To become a subject in such stratum is a process that diverges from the subjectivation that is affordable in a urbanite first world context.
That’s a good question, Chapi.
But I confess I am not sure about what kind of interior would be inner enough for me. Inner/outer, external/internal, interior/exterior are difficult to describe even if the same language is spoken.
The speaker’s tone and speed are mismatched when I am trying to read the English subtitles and they go by too fast for the images that are flashed across the screen, dissolve, and are replaced so I just get a sense of no sense at all. It is a pastiche , a collage, whatever. Not an argument, more of a mood.
Is the speaker reading her own text? Or is she performing someone else’s text? It appeared to me to be written but spoken as some kind of narration but not by a first person narrator. I am suspicious of third person narratives. I felt this was unclear and ambiguous on purpose. I don’t think it was intended to be taken seriously. This is not a deep dive into social research.
This film, about the underclass urban youth in the 80s in New York, is much more like what I call a deep dive into serious creative research. This is the kind of thing I would like more of. I knew some of the persons in this film.
And juxtaposing the moving bodies in the clubs with the early segments on Rudolf von Laban’s dance experiments was odd. Laban was a famous movement teacher, who worked for the Nazi’s briefly and was forced to flee to the UK. There is a rich, occult history that could be linked with the Perreo cultural mix but I had no idea what the relationship between two styles were being pointed out. That’s why I assumed it was parody. Or maybe it was just a product of paranoia, which is wide spread during this pandemic.
Gesture, movement, tone, music, dress, costume, makeup, frames, angles, meta- communicate differences with a verbal analysis.What do you trust? The verbal or the non verbal or something in-between? And not all differences make a difference. That is what I felt overwhelmingly. It was like binging on too much white sugar. I am not saying it was devoid of all entertainment value. And I thought that some of it was very smart. But it didn’t come together. I wasn’t sure who it was mocking.
I felt that the video-essay was too fast for me to follow. I was not sure where my attention was supposed to be directed. And if the artist wants to confuse the audience that is fine. Rigid mindsets of the Neo-liberal kind can be parodied easily. I hope that we can deconstruct the old 3D world and reconstruct some new 5D meta-narratives, as the North and the South are locked down together, along with the East and the West.
I am open to that possibility but don’t insist on it. And parody is a fine way of undermining the Neo-liberal aesthetic. Speed, sex, distraction, consumerism, these are familiar ways of destabilizing those who are already destabilized. There is no need to confuse, in my view, someone who is suffering from vertigo.
I am sure the poor kids gyrating in the clubs know more about social realities emerging than do some bloated neo-liberal economists. I would have loved to hear one of them talking about the scene in their own words.
They do exist. I am one of them.
.Paraconscious…okay. I have paraconscious experiences a lot. I am open to that. I have a lot of off-world experiences. I suspect the maker of the video has had such experiences as well. I am concerned with the subtle getting swallowed up by the virtual. We can be re-imprinted and perhaps implanted with all kinds of para-messages from multiple dimensions. As far as I know there could be subliminal messages in this video installed by the CIA.
And I am open to the possibility that I may have missed something and I can revise what I thought in my first response.
I have not seen Paris is burning, and I will certainly do. I think that voguing is really different from perreo because, voguing is a conscious performance enacted by individuals. In perreos, dividuals appear instead. Assembling bodies out of their neo colonized structures.
Film happening in New York, as good as they may be, have contributed to the monoculturization of the world. And what is curious is that the same conversation have existed around reggaeton. Which is reminiscent for me of theory of the hegemon.
this is interesting and would need more research to understand the ties between Laban’s work and nazi knowledge, but if true, it is even more dangerous than I thought while watching the video essay. I mean, Laban is one of the main figures in movement understanding, therefore this could be a link between nazism and eurogringo monoculture?
What do you mean by 5D metanarratives? In Mexico, as in other “non developed” countries the class differences are polarized and multidimensional, there is a wide diversity of ontological formations. And their complexity makes neoliberal eurogringo mind set look like cardboard. I do not mean this as an offense. I am too an urbanite from a mexican middle class context, and I myself feel to possess a cardboard ontology in comparison to oxacan, amazonian or andean people.
I do not mean this as an offense but the strata of the new york population may be low income for new york standards. But they still get free education, and networking opportunities, something that this perreadores lack.
I do hope you will see it. It is one of my favorites. I believe there is value in comparisons between different inter-generational efforts from within and between different kinds of cultural works. There is a lot going on now and much of it has not been languaged clearly. I resist the tendency to label and dismiss.
And I am looking for some patterns that might connect. I don’t assume that there is anything that can be generalized from this encounter much less about New York realism or mono-cultural cardboard ontology.
And do I think we can have a glimpse of a general reality from analyzing new york realism?
I am not sure we can. I am not sure there is a ‘we’ that we can agree upon, anymore than’ I’ can agree or disagree with a ‘you’ that has shown up on this public forum. I have just met you on this public forum and know almost nothing about you except that you claim to be middle class and from Mexico and that you don’t want to offend.
Who is the ‘us’ that you believe the eurogringo mono-culture individualizes?
Is this eurogringo mono-culture that you believe can individualize ‘us’, have a size or a shape?
And where does the eurogringo mono-culture come from?
And Euro-gringo mono-culture seems cardboard ontology when you compare it to amazonian or oaxaccan ethnic groups?
And if that is so, Chapi, what do you want to have happen in this public forum?
I would have to slow down quite a bit to absorb what has been suggested by you so far. And I appreciate that you don’t want to be offensive.
As I want to respect the intention of Eduardo to dissect this video-essay, that is what I have tried to do. I have admired Eduardo’s work and have had conversations with him on line many times so appreciate his effort to open up a space for dialogue. That is a desired outcome that I share with him.
And I would like to pause and allow others to reflect upon the many topics and vocabularies that are emerging in this inquiry. This could be a useful exercise but I am also uncertain that this can happen. These online networks are very fragile and I am inclined to keep quiet for awhile and let anyone else speak up who has an interest in doing so.