JAGODZINSKI, J. Music in Youth Culture - A Lacanian Approach

July 12, 2017 | Author: Rafael Caselli | Category: Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Psychoanalysis, Science, Philosophical Science
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M  Y C A L A

jan jagodzinski


© jan jagodzinski, 2005. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. First published in 2005 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN™ 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England RG21 6XS Companies and representatives throughout the world. PALGRAVE MACMILLAN is the global academic imprint of the Palgrave Macmillan division of St. Martin’s Press, LLC and of Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. Macmillan® is a registered trademark in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries. Palgrave is a registered trademark in the European Union and other countries. ISBN 1–4039–6530–7 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available from the Library of Congress A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Design by Newgen Imaging Systems (P) Ltd., Chennai, India. First edition: August 2005 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America.

This book is dedicated to my son Jeremy When he reads it he will know why.

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Introduction: Aural/Oral Connections I T C



1. Stuttering In-Between Deleuze and Lacan—Acts of Transposition Lacan Bashing/Bashing Lacan Sexuation: Beyond Sex/Gender Skin-Ego as BwO The Jouissance of the Death Drive Music as Sound of “Matter”: The Clamor of Becoming

7 8 13 18 24 28

2. The Figurality of Noise and the Silence of the Death Drive Musical Transgressions: The Event The Virtual Body and the Real

33 33 38

3. The Uncanny Figural Voice Ethical Paradoxes of the Deadly Jouissance of Postmodernity Forms of Jouissance Perversions and Hysterizations of the Music Scene On Castrati and Divas

45 45 48 51 57

II P  T M S: T B ⁄ B ⁄ B


4. The Perversions of Gangsta Rap: Death Drive and Violence Death Row Records: Taking the Rap? Rap as Rhythmic Repetition of Resistance The Ambiguities of Rap’s Style Racial Profile: The Public Enemy The Gangsta Rapper as Spectre

61 61 64 68 69 72

5. Gangsta Sadomasochism: Tails Yo’ Good, Heads Yo’ Bad The Sadomasochism of 2 Live Crew “I ain’t nobody’s bitch”: Post-Oedipal Fallout Hitting the Target with Word-Bullets Stealing Back Jouissance: Crime as Law, Law as Crime Word Bullets into Golden Eggs: When Rap Turns Empty W(rap)ping Up Rap with Eminem The Schizophrenic Self: The “Real” Slim Shady

77 77 80 81 82 86 89 92



6. Plummeting the Gothic Depths of the Soul: Nü Metal and its Beyond Disturbing the Skin-Ego of Nü Metal: Obsessive Drives Forging an “Ugly” Aesthetic: The Grimace of the Joker Ko}n’s Real Kernel The Biting Noise of Nü Metal Freaks! The Searching Bullet The Bullet’s Death Drive Decadence: A Time to Reap in the Ko}n?

95 95 98 100 101 105 108 109

7. The “Grunge” of Punk-Rock: Slacking Off Separation Woes: The Ambiguous Paternal Function Approaching Psychosis: Kurt Cobain’s Grunge Suicide “Note” Authenticity as Sinthome: Musical Noise as Strange Attractor

111 111 115 118 121

8. Serial Connections: The MM Show Serial Connections Addicted to Scream Columbine’s Holy Wood: Third Strike and You’re Out

123 123 126 129

9. Beyond the Law: The Anti-Slacker as Mass Murderer Unmasking Patricide: Wish Fulfillment Gone Astray Mass Murder and Serial Killers in Fantasy and RL Psychotic Delusions: Mass Murder as Media Glory School Tragedies of Overidentification: 15 Minutes of Twisted Fame

135 135 139 143

10. The New Castrati: Men II Boys Public Castrations: Boy Bands Making of the Band: Inverting the Truman Show More Heaven than Heaven American Idol 2: Pop Karaoke Stardom 101: Hiding in Front of the Obscene Underbelly Cloning Pop Stars for Global Success: Civilized Racism III T H   M S: T G ⁄ G ⁄ G 11. Postmodern Hysterics: Playing with the Virginity Card The Paradox of Dirty Virgin Divas The Dirty Other Feminine Jouissance The Sadean Fantasy of Sexual Equality Midriff Virgins: Spears and Company The Masquerade of Virginity

146 151 151 154 158 159 163 165

169 171 171 174 176 179 181



12. The Dilemmas of Gurlz’ Desires: Perverting the Post-Patriarchal Order Desire and the Law Conflicted Desire in Gurlz’ Narratives The Perverted Maternal Superego Not Just One of the Bois: Being Wild and Free The Perversions of Tin(k)y Desire The Fourth Fetish

187 187 189 192 196 198 199

13. The Good Witch-Bitch: Grrrl Power as the Desublimated Ugly Aesthetic What Do Grrrl’s Want? Lipstick in Your Face: Preparing and then Losing Ground Fly Grrrls: The Erotic Full-Figured Body Femme Fatale as the Color of Red: Shirley Manson of Garbage From Red to Pink: Miss Undaztood’s Schizophrenia

203 204 206 208 210 213

14. The New Virginity: The Nostalgic Return of the Veil Miss America Becomes Virginal! The “Storm” of the Ego Ideal: Teenage Girls’ Loss of Self-esteem Wearing a Chastity “Belt”: Nostalgic Virginity as a “Knockout” Punch The Recodified Veil of the Hejab Re-Veiling/Revealing the Courtly Lady Propping Up and Striping Down Paternity IV I 15. The Fan(addict): The Sinthome of Believing in the Multiples of ONE The Postmodern Groupie Today A Wry Look at the Fan(addict): Galaxy Quest Omega 13: Twisting Time and Space Punkbaby: Silke’s Skin-Ego Silke’s Tattoos A Drummer is Beating The Politics of the Skin-Ego: The Split-Screen Mirror 16. Let’s Rave not Rage! New Age Techno Hippies and Digital Electronica U(h)r Klang of the Real: The Techno Beat of the Machinic Fetus The Paradox of Rave’s “Natural Technology”; Or Technology as Antitechnology Going Back into the Womb to Be Born Again: Posthuman Cyborgs

217 217 219 224 227 229 232

235 237 237 240 243 244 247 249 251 255 259 262 263



C: A E   R


17. An Ethical “Act” in the Real: A Brief Meditation to Close Coda: To Jeremy

269 274







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usic in Youth Culture: A Lacanian Approach is a companion book to Youth Fantasies: The Perverse Landscape of the Media (2004), which examined postmodern youth from a Lacanian psychoanalytic perspective by concentrating on the medias of video games, Internet, and television. This second volume continues to examine youth fantasies specific to music that emerged in the past decade, from approximately the early nineties to the present contemporary musical scene. It can be read as a portmanteau book (mot-valise) within Youth Fantasies in the sense that it exits as an enfolded space within that first volume—bracketed by it, so to speak. In Youth Fantasies, the thesis concerning the post-Oedipalization of postmodernist society was developed where it was argued that there has been a fundamental “enfoldment” of space between postadolescence and adulthood blurring any distinct boundaries between them as a symptom of the subsequent loss of trust in authority of the Symbolic Order. This thesis is dramatically illustrated by the music industry. Odd spelling throughout this book is used to indicate the newly created space of postmodern youth. Bois, Boyz, and Boys are the differential signifiers for the psychic conflicts over the limited modernist hegemonic image of Man used to demarcate the skater crowd from punk-metal-Goth-rap Boyz, which are yet again differentiated from pop culture’s Boy Groups. Similarly, Girlie/Gurlz, girls and Grrrls indicate similar differentiations among females in various postfeminist contexts. These distinctions are developed in an exploration of fantasies associated with virginity and being called a “slut.” This differential array of signifiers is predicated on the cauldron of psychic struggles that are taking place precisely within the enfolded space opened up by the postmodernity of designer capitalism. Purposely (at times), these signifiers have been capitalized to indicate their particular psychic relationship toward libidinal bodily energy referred to as jouissance, which demarcates the experience of intensity through bodily drives. Lacan took a dim view concerning developmental stages that were based on biological growth when it came to youth. Rather, the “bio” of life took a backseat to the way the rhythms of past “psychosocial” events impacted future growth. Talk of stages referred to the libidinal body of the drives; to our oral, anal, sexual, gazing, and vocalizing bodies, which constantly interrupt the regularities of living, making us undergo processes of repression, frustration, and regression. For example, “tweens” may be identified as a


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biological cohort aged nine to twelve, but their struggles are shaped by socioeconomic structures bringing such issues as body weight, bullying, styles of dress, parental desires, and drug abuse to fore at the level of their virtual affective “driven” bodies. These become revealing “nodal points” around which symptoms are structured, and are thus far more revealing of their psychic struggles than the cognitive literature of psychological development based on well-known stage theories such as those of Jean Piaget and his followers, which dominated the modernist theorizing of early child development. At the very least, a psychoanalytic account both supplements and decenters such cognitive accounts as we have already argued in the early chapters of Youth Fantasies. To what extent can this array of music youth cultures be theorized as examples of “becoming-woman” in Deleuzean terms? Are they the rhizomatic and productive mutually transformative results of the impossible gap between the masculine and feminine heterogeneous binary appositions, like Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987, 293) famous example of the orchid (a plant) in exchange with the wasp (an insect) where a becoming-wasp of the orchid and a becoming-orchid of the wasp take place? Is the emerging psyche of youth cultures in the past decade dispersed into hybridic becomings? But, isn’t this all simply another instance of Lacan’s outspoken claim that “desire is the desire of the Other” which also recognizes difference? This last series of questions raise a pressing concern: just how are these psychic struggles to be characterized? Given the claim of post-Oedipalization, does the neurosis of the Freudian familial drama still apply? Many scholars have turned to the schizophrenic account of the capitalist socius (conduct of relations) offered by Deleuze and Guattari with their strong rejection of Lacanian psychoanalysis exemplified in their two-volume work Anti-Oedipus (1977) and A Thousand Plateaus (1987) to theorize another possibility. Becomingwoman, a Deleuzean term, seems to sit uncomfortably within a book that utilizes Lacanian psychoanalysis, who is often accused of transcendental phallogocentrism against the author(s) of empirical transcendent immanence. To what extent, then, do I find myself “Oedipally” still loyal to Lacan, or to his most eminent practioner in the English-speaking context such as Zizek? Gratefully perhaps, an exploration of pop music can result in a productive misreading so, at the very least, some form of “betrayal” can take place that furthers an understanding of youth today? Such questions address my own anxiety when venturing into the space “in-between” two such powerful systems of thought. The first chapter, Stuttering In-Between Deleuze and Lacan—Acts of Transposition, attempts to define my own position. The homonym aural/oral in the subtile characterizes the intimacy of the two drives in youth cultures. It refers to two registers of meaning. First, it brings together hearing and voraciously consuming music together as a way to capture the musical entertainment industry of advanced capitalist countries, which is a haptic event that is performed on a dynamic field that is both unifying as well as disruptive. Second, as developed in the second and

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third chapters, the oral and aural form a hybrid “diadeictical” relation (Lyotard, 1971, 39) between the drive-demand of oral consumption (pure desire) and the desire of the aural voice through the intervention of the death drive as bodily jouissance. This identifies a transgressive stance toward the accepted performed musical codes. The performative side of music since the Beatlemania phenomenon of the 1960s has now advanced into the concert and television spectacle making marketing based on serialization as simulacra the central concept for commodity production. The political economy of repetition, which is how musical industries supplement commodity serialization, demands that a mold be manufactured from which the mass reproduction of an original can then take place (Attali, 1999, 128). It is the labor that goes into the production of the mold by its producers and design engineers (“molders”) where the greatest costs are incurred followed by the costs for its media spectacularization to maintain its currency and demand for its repetition. The costs of reproduction of the commodity are significantly lower as profit is recovered through sales of the music CDs, musical videos, guest appearances, performances, and paraphernalia. It should be apparent that Attali’s conceptual language draws on a Deleuzean paradigm with its stress on repetition and moulds. His conceptualization of “noise,” as developed in chapter 2, however, is appropriated under Freud/Lacan’s death drive when theorizing musical youth cultures. Designer capitalism signifies a repetition and a serialization of all forms of consumption, from fast foods to ready-to-wear clothes. Repetition in music requires an attempt to maintain diversity and meaning for demands. The artist as performer acts in the capacity of a replicant, a form of upgraded social Darwinism when the spectacle of performance becomes repeated so as to act at a point of idealized unity rather than difference. An American, British, Canadian, or Australian “idol” emerges in the currency of the pop music industry where such repetition enables a leveling of power to superficially appear by making the music “popular.” Yet, on the one hand, each Idol is “translated” into its respective culture to make it appear unique. The universal/singular tension seems to be solved through such a repetition of difference. But, on the other hand, power becomes concentrated in the record companies and producers who front the spectacle and invest time and money in it. I attempt to describe this paradoxical process in chapter 10, “The New Castrati: Men II Boys.” Ironically, one might call this a “becomingchild,” after Deleuze. Repetition and serialization contain within it a difference, a conceptual articulation generally bestowed in contemporary philosophy to Giles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida’s notion of différance as the non-presence of the other, which is already inscribed within the sense of presence. However, Lacan’s complex notion of the psychic Real had already explored this same territory in the early 1970s, which Deleuze and Derrida were to claim as their own through their own unique explorations of it. Their debt to Lacan remains, by and large, an uneasy one, dividing scholars in various camps rather than


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acknowledging the many similarities between them when it comes to the realm of the “impossible.” This divisive aspect is articulated, explored, and questioned in the first chapter. The question remains as to whether such repetition by the music industry simply produces “silence” by eliminating “noise” (or non-sense) through the conformity of popular repetition—as Attali maintains. Just when does the repression of noise erupt? The thesis forwarded here is that the eruption of “noise” has taken place through the perversion and hysterization of the performer/audience relationship throughout the last decade and into the new millennium in ways, I hope, that will be surprising to the reader. In the second chapter, “The Figurality of Noise and the Silence of the Death Drive,” I attempt to establish my own position regarding the transgression of difference in music, while in the third chapter, “The Uncanny Figural Voice,” I explore the conceptualization of jouissance in such transgression “against and beyond the Law.” The following seven chapters consist of part II, entitled, “Perversions of the Music Scene: The Boyz/Bois/Boys.” Here, I explore the masculine postadolescent “stretch” as captured by the signifier(s) bois/boyz and boys of Gangsta rap and hip-hop, metal, punk, and Goth, ending with the pop culture of Boy Bands and the making of American Idol. I claim that these masculine musical developments pervert the music scene. In chapter 7 I attempt to make connections to the much publicized school shootings and suicides. This is then followed by Part III, “The Hysterization of the Music Scene: The Gurlz/Girls/Grrrls,” which consists of four more chapters that explore the developments by cultural music forms of postfeminism. I try to discuss the fantasies around the virgin/slut dichotomization and the responses to this. I end the music section with Part IV, an “Interlude” of two further essays, one on the Fan(addict), which maps out our understanding of a new kind of fan that has arisen in postmodernity, and the other develops Techno music as a utopian fantasy of global harmony. Techno music lends itself to a Deleuzean analysis, thereby providing another opportunity for a comparison with Lacanian psychoanalysis. The concluding essay is a meditation on “the ethics of the Real,” hints of which the reader will encounter throughout most of the chapters.


T C

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In Youth Fantasies, an attempt was made to steer a course that incorporated

Deleuze and Guattari where it was felt that a certain transposition between their conceptual systems was possible; namely the concept of nomadology could be transposed as the discourse of the analyst as no-madic research. The no-madic researcher occupies the impossible position of Lacan’s objet a to theorize the drive/desire dialectic, both individually and socially, always in a state of “becoming” to act in the capacity of a “vanishing mediator” so that a fantasy might be traversed. His or her position becomes useless or redundant after such an occurrence. Post-Oedipalization was the term used to transpose their anti-Oedipal stance. But, just how “anti-Oedipal” were Deleuze and Guattari anyway? Guattari, a gay Left activist trained by Lacan, was still a practicing analyst and member of Lacan’s École Freudienne de Paris when Anti-Oedipus was written. If one reads Flieger’s (1999, 2000, 2005) many attempts to sort through their critique of Freud and Lacan, Deleuze and Guattari often begin to sound more Freudian than they would ever admit; their “lines of flight” being less successful than the written bravado of their neologisms would at first suggest. Their critique certainly applies, but only if Freud and Lacan are read as caricatures in the most orthodox way possible. Flieger forcefully shows that Anti-Oedipus brings out the most radical elements in both Freud and Lacan at a historical moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s when Freud’s ideas had become psychologized by neo-Freudians, while Lacan’s concepts had been cast into a structuralist straightjacket. The time was ripe to further radicalize psychoanalysis through their form of schizoanalysis. Atoms now not only “swerved,” as the young Marx had maintained in is doctoral thesis (following the Epicurean–Lucretian doctrine of the clinamen as the “free” declination of atoms) in reply to the atomism of Democritus, but now “molecules” became a flux of “schizzes and flows.” But, by this time Lacan had also moved on. His rethinking of sexuality freed of both gender and identity had already begun to be worked out in Seminar XIX, . . . Ou pire/ . . . Or Worse (1971–1972), and fully developed the following year S XX, Encore (1972) with his formulae of sexuation, the


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very same year when Anti-Oedipus was publicly released. This development, as argued later, contests any easy accusations of binary logic, and offers an alternative to the endless differentiation of sexes claimed by Deleuze and Guattari.

L B/B L When one reads Braidotti (1991, 1994, 2002), Deleuzean theory is proudly proclaimed as anti-Oedipal, and used as a wedge against Lacanian psychoanalysis of the 1950s and 1960s. Alice (in Wonderland), as Deleuze developed this figure in The Logic of Sense (1990), now becomes the non-Oedipal poster child (Braidotti, 2002, 69), as if it were possible to remain forever in Wonderland. Avril Lavigne and Michael Jackson, as I argue in chapter 11, however, are doing a good job at trying to stay down the rabbit hole for as long as possible. Apparently, becoming-woman/animal is not about signification, but about the transcendence of the linguistic signifier. “Expression is about the nonlinguistically coded affirmation of an affectivity whose degree, speed, extension and intensity can only be measured materially, pragmatically, case by case” (Braidotti, 2002, 119). Alice is a special case. In Wonderland Alice’s antics illustrate her “becoming.” Wonderland is a world where present time never “actually occurs” but remains “always forthcoming and already past” (Deleuze, 1990, 80). In the book’s opening pages, Deleuze argues Alice is simultaneously getting larger (than she was before) and smaller (than she will become), caught in the interval of “pure” time (aion). However, should one take the trouble to read Feldstein’s (1995) Lacanian rendering of Alice, the differences between the two approaches seem, once more, transpositional. Feldstein also reads Alice as “an emblematic study of the representation of the representational process itself as it relates to the reconfiguration of Alice’s identity” (152). The difference is that Feldstein offers a sociopolitical questioning of Carroll’s fantasy concerning women. In Wonderland, Alice is deprived of the right to grow up; she remains a child. Philosophers in the Academy are continually engaged in territorializing their tuff by calling on names, while at the same time claiming to be irreverent and disrespectful of them. Disciple-hood is often an anathema, but theft of fragments stolen from here and there is common fare. In the heated intellectual circles of Paris parallel concepts amongst Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, Blachot, Barthes, and lesser well-known figures, were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but their sources disavowed and never acknowledged. In an exchange between Braidotti and Zizek during the final panel discussion of IAPL’s (International Association for Philosophy and Literature) 2002 meeting in Rotterdam, it became very clear that each hardlined their own stance to maintain a distance from one another. Braidotti had published Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming that year, while Zizek was busy writing his own “encounter” with Deleuze, Organs Without Bodies, which came out two years later. Rumors have it that they will

S  I-B  D  L


be now writing a book together to “encounter” their differences! As might be suspected the theoretical claim of this book is to transpose their similarities, which may help in grasping the post-Oedipal musical cultures of postmodernity rather than insist on differences. But, of course, some differences between their ontological systems can never be reconciled. How is becoming-woman to be understood in the context of the proliferation of signifiers for youth employed here (girls, girlz, grrrls, boys, bois, boyz), since Deleuze and Guattari’s term is not itself a gender theory; it is not necessarily a condition of possibility for femaleness or feminine concepts, nor is it biologically, hormonally, or chromosomally defined? Deleuze and Guattari made no claims concerning the experiences of “real women,” nor did they provide any direction to becoming-woman, although they were critical of neoliberalist feminist positions. Rather, their term refers to a nomadic or itinerant machinic vector or force, a “middle-line” in-between a system (logos) and its dissipation—in-between, in their terms, molar and molecular lines of flight—in-between order and chaos, the proviso being that such a “quanta” of energy can “cause” a collapse back into order (molar state of closure) or offer new potentialities. Becoming-woman is thought of as “the first quantum, or molecular segment” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, 279, emphasis added) because woman’s identification is absent: she is Other, unrecognizable under masculine Law that is defined in terms of a “striated” space; that is a homogeneous space of quantitative multiplicity. A form of becoming is inseparable from three specific forms of becoming: “becomingwoman, a becoming-child, a becoming-animal” (Deleuze an Guattari, 1987, 299) because of the asymmetrical binaries of social coding in Western societies: namely male over female, adult over child and rational over animal. For Deleuze and Guattari, sexuality is, therefore, a distributive category rather than a bilateral one. This is contrasted to “smooth space” of becomingwoman, which conjures up an image that is completely opposite to what they mean. Such a space is heterogeneous and rhizomatic like an urban sprawl, characterized by quantitative multiplicity and continuous variation where there is no overarching principle or directionality. Such “lines of flight” of deterritorialization are characterized as open intervals (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, 477–481). In short, Deleuze proposed a state of “pure” becoming (without being) that is extracted from corporeality. Such becoming takes place in the “transcendental empiricism” of time itself, which is the key to understanding the Deleuzean worldview. Transcendental empiricism refers to the actuality of preontological virtual possibilities (potentia), a level of vitalism (life) of presubjective consciousness that takes place prior to conscious experience itself. Like Lyotard’s (1971) figural that coexits with discourse, such sensate life coexists as a “stratigraphic” superimposition with conscious experience. Such a transcendental plane of experience refers to time itself, but not the time of movement (as chronos which he explored in his first book on cinema, Deleuze, 1986), but time as the infinite virtuality of the transcendental field of Becoming, the time of aion as the Stoics developed it. Aion was “the pure empty form of time” (Deleuze, 1990, 194).


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Feminists such as Braidotti (1991, 122–123; 1994, 118) have criticized Deleuze for his failure to directly engage with this question of feminism. Braidotti throughout her writings always takes a stance of disavowal in this respect to his work, which goes something like: I know that I am disagreeing with Deleuze’s claim that there are an infinite number of proximate and singular sexes (n-sexes, or polysexes), which emerge from his insistence that difference is an immanently differential process, nevertheless for a “feminist Deleuzean” like myself (2002, 68), sexual difference is still the primary or defining difference. Such statement of disavowal can be found in each of her books (1991; 1994, 123; 2002, 68). She forwards feminism as the first difference, which certainly politicizes “becoming-woman” and throws it, once again, into the metaphysics of representation—as exemplified by Griggers (1997) whose book bears the very title Becoming-Woman—a position Deleuze tried to avoid. It is precisely this avoidance that has Braidotti (2002, 82) ironically claiming that it is Deleuze (and by implication, not her) who disavows the consequences of his conceptualization of becoming-woman! Where are youth to be placed? Are they not “automatically” becomingminoritarian by virtue of their place in the social order? Oddly, I would agree with Braidotti’s summative claim that comes at the end of a long chapter defending her appropriation of Deleuze within and against Deleuzean followers. “The only way to resist this death-bound machinery [referring to military violence and lethal technologies of death] is to elaborate hybrid, transformative identities working inside and outside, on the majority and the minoritarian front simultaneously” (Braidotti, 2002, 110, emphasis added). The various sex-gendered signifiers throughout this book are not all politicized as “minoritarian” positions, in Deleuze and Guattarian terms. Some forms of music cultures are caught by the molar powers that define their identity, yet there is a desperate attempt to redefine and reterritorialize themselves. In this sense I tend to also concur with Braidotti (2002) when she says: “I think Deleuze [and Lacan] can help and even do a lot, but I would never advocate total reliance on his, or for that matter any other, theoretical framework. This seems to be the age of hybridity, transversal and transdisciplinary connections and non-Oedipal creativity also and maybe especially in media and cultural studies where the intersection of feminist with Deleuze theories can be most enriching for both” (89). In this book the transposition of Deleuzean concepts of “force” and “affectivity,” which are of such central importance to his stance on radical immanence, play a major conceptual role in music. In Deleuze “force” is conceptualized as a degree of affectivity or intensity of an embodied subject, but the contradiction is that the immaterialism of such a “sense-event,” the flow of pure becoming cannot be reconciled so easily with the “embodied subject” who must then actualize this virtual space-time into Being. In this book, the death drive (more below) does the same conceptual work as the immanence of life, in that it has the same intensity (potentia) as well as resistance and constraint (potestas) for transformation. The pulse of the drives is the force of affectivity—“positive desire.” But, why should the “desire of the

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Other”—claimed as “negative desire” or lack, be dismissed so forcefully by Deleuzeans? An overemphasis on positive desire as part of the virtual space of multiple and impersonal singular elements that are not as yet synthesized into “reality”—in my mind a simple transposition of the Freudian/Lacanian drives—does not allow any symbolic intervention between these affective drives and the social Other, outside of repression (see Dean, 2000, 244). Most Deleuzeans who are critical of Lacanian psychoanalysis reduce desire naively to lack, as essentially being negative. Desire becomes images of what we lack; or we desire to be “whole” again, to achieve some sort of nirvana of a lost plentitude at the mother’s breast; desire becomes “other” than life. Then there are criticisms based on representation—conscious imaginary desire, which Lacan never adhered to. Lacan never posited an imaged object of desire, quite the contrary—objet a, the cause of desire is in the Real, not visible and not signifiable. The image of desire is only a lure. Speech and language theorized representationally is what Lacan struggled against. Desire is precisely what alludes language, what is only half said, or slipped up. Unconscious desire is aimed at the impossibility of representation itself—that we can “never” be whole, never complete, a way to “live” with our “flaw.” Where there is lack in Lacan, there is also excess—the bodily drives present the paradox of life and death, of Law and its transgression. Every time one reads “desire” in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, it is just as easily replaced by the jouissance of bodily drives, with the death drive remaining unmentioned but desire (drives) as the flows of productive difference equally “deterritorializing” and destructive of any closed order, as is jouissance. Deleuze and Guattari argue that desire is only successful when it “breaks down,” when it is no longer repressed, destroying and dissolving structures. Geminal influx of intensity (Deleuze and Guattari, 1977, 164) or “geminal implex” (162), sometimes also referred to as “chaosmos” or “intense geminal influx,” is characterized as a “machinic assemblage” moving in one direction toward organization and in the other toward free flow. For Freud the most primary drive was the oral drive. How different is that from Deleuze and Guattari’s first synthesis of a life producing “distionic” intensity—by one flow of desire intersecting with another as mouth/breast? Is not the drive “mechanism”—its circular loop—machinic? The importance of Deleuze and Guattari would be their attempt to update a theory of the drives—what they refer to as positive and productive desire—through an updated biologism of complexity theory. In this sense I would argue they fail to capitalize on the more radical aspects of Freud that surpassed biology and recognize anthropology as a distinct philosophical “science” that pertains to homo sapiens. Despite anthropology’s modernist racist roots, its quest is to think through what is distinctly human. Deleuze and Guattari claimed the virtual field of molecularity as being productive while representation was confined to the molar. The result was the failure to recognize production as the very passage from the virtual to the actual (Badiou, 2000). Representation, for Deleuze and Guattari “is always a social and psychic repression of desiring-production” (1977, 184). This is


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why desire as lack (its negativity) is also required. Without such a conceptualization, Deleuze and Guattari, like Foucault, eschew a theory of fantasy, in favor of a materialism. There is no mediation to complicate the relation between unconscious desire (in the Real) and the social, which Lacan’s Symbolic and Imaginary registers take into account. But, as argued below, Anzieu’s (1989) concept of the skin-ego is a materialistic bridge to Lacan without sacrificing the notion of fantasy. In Youth Fantasies, Lacan’s matheme for fantasy (] a) was, of course, a key consideration, as it is in this book. The book’s subtitle: The Perverse Landscape of the Media refers to Lacan’s inversion of his formula of fantasy into the matheme of perversion (a ]). Fantasies are always potentially perverse and in flux. The lozenge sign (poinçon) placed between the elements allows for the multiplicity of possible heterogeneous readings. The sign indicates the multitude of possible relations between the subject of the unconscious (je) and its object cause of desire (a), which are engaged through the readings of popular music cultures. One site of the Real is interpreted here as the embodied unconscious self (je), the place of affect—what is “feelable” as opposed to what is “seeable” (Imaginary register) and what is “sayable” (Symbolic register). Affect and jouissance, especially when it comes to music, while not completely equivalent, nevertheless, point to similar level of occurrence (more below). They overlap in the affective disruption that jouissance provides. Jouissance is not an experience of pleasure, but is connected to a momentary break from the symbolic fictions that constitute identity. In a skewed sort of way, it can be read as “positive” in the Deleuzean sense. This is where Deleuze and Guattari’s axiomatic statement “[t]here is only desire and the social, and nothing else” (1977, 184) appears to hold, but not entirely for jouissance is connected to the Symbolic Order precisely in the moment when it throws the Symbolic Order into question. As an eruption of “non-sense” it indicates either a hole (or lack) in the Symbolic Order of the signifier or an excess of over-presence in it. In this particular sense jouissance can be interpreted as being “productive” given its transformative potentiality, while desire, caught up in fantasy as a lack, is theorized in terms of reproduction, consumption, and exchange where the narrative structure of the signifier covers up jouissance as sense making. Jouissance can, therefore, be excessive and abundant, or lacking; at the same time it is painful, addictive, and dangerous, outside the Law where the death drive comes to fore. Jouissance can produce an interruption when the subject is completely unconcerned with the Other’s desire. The subject loses symbolically situated identity as opposed to narcissism where the subject’s identity is invested in the Symbolic Order. I fail to see how the theory of the drives cannot be read as “positive” desire, which is the “market” corned by Deleuzean supporters. As I argue below and in chapter 2, the death drive can be read as a “positive” site of transformation as an “ethics of the Real.” How different is Lacan’s understanding of the unconscious from Deleuze’s stance that unconscious subjectivity is a passion-driven network of

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“impersonal” machinic-like connections? Lacan always took the unconscious as a system in-and-of itself, interconnected with the Imaginary and Symbolic. While Deleuze can be read as updating the biological paradigm along the vitalist lines of chaos theory, Lacan’s concept of the unconscious as the site of a “mathematical” acephalous Real, developed further in the late stages of his life, can be marshaled to do much the same work as Deleuze’s appropriation of chaos theory (e.g., Milovanovic’s many writings in criminology and law, 1997, 2002), as can the theory of the drives (Triebe). The death drive, in particular, as immanent to experience, becomes the “zero” that is added to the body. It is inevitably present but unregistered. The drives are transposed as the affective embodiment, and are a transposition of Deleuze’s claim of “positive” desire, which Braidotti always pits against Lacan’s notion of lack, as if lack has been simply theorized one-sidedly as a negative conceptualization rather than the paradoxical “full and empty” at once, which Lacan always put subtly into play. Although Braidotti attempts to maintain a hard line against psychoanalysis by forwarding Deleuze, she slips up once in a while. For instance: “The subject is a process, made of constant shifts and negotiations between different levels of power and desire, constantly shifting between willful choice and unconscious drives. . . . [the subject] is the fictional choreography of many levels into one socially operational self. It implies that what sustains the entire process of becoming-subject is the will-to-know, the desire to speak, as a founding, primary, vital, necessary and therefore original desire to become” (Braidotti, 2002, 75–76, emphasis added). Statements such as these show the transpositional possibilities between the two, often claimed, disparate systems. The issue of sexuality, in particular, is identified as a dividing line between them. Lacan is accused of binarism, while Deleuze and Guattari, for the most part, receive “warnings” and “possibilities” for their potential for feminist and queer theory as exemplified, for instance, by Grosz’s (1994) questionable and hesitant support of becoming-woman “as going beyond identity and subjectivity, fragmenting and freeing up lines of flight, ‘liberating’ a thousand tiny sexes that identity subsumes under the One” (207). How far are Lacan and Deleuze apart on the question of sexuality?

S: B S/G Sexuality, as theorized within Lacan’s “formulae of sexuation” (S XX, Encore), belongs to the category of the Real. It is neither a constructed category (unlike gender), nor can sex somehow be articulated once and for all. Potentially, sex is perpetually differentiated by a gap that separates two logically heterogeneous systems: masculine and feminine. Sex is also not “manipulable” and “pliable” as transgendered and transsexual theorists often claim.1 Every culture has an origin myth regarding the sexes (Moore, 1997). I would argue that this unconscious abyss concerning sex—that is, there is no signifier for sex in the unconscious—emerged as a result of the sex/gender confusion that developed during the evolutionary “rhizome” from the Australopithecines to Homo Sapiens (jagodzinski, 1986–2004). An impossible gap emerges


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between a sexuality still defined in biological terms (irregardless of any updated scientific findings based on the complexity of socio-genetic-biology) and our species-specific sexuality, which requires minimally a psychoanalytic explanation—the path of which was first trail blazed by Freud. Through his theory of the bodily drives (Triebe), Freud offered a philosophical anthropology that steered a path between biology and culture understood in constructivist terms, as strongly anthropocentric. It is the body subject to jouissance, to traumas and the excesses of the drives, governed by the death drive that makes it “human.” Put another way, the mystique of the male penis, the “truth” of which is embedded in the phenomenon of impotency—of imposture as the “failure” or limit of the phallus, of (conscious) fatherhood and authority, and the feminine mystique of the vagina, the “truth” of which is embedded in the phenomenon of the disappearance of estrus—as the “failure” or limit of the chora, of motherhood itself, that is being barren, present the complex of reproductive sexuality. Both phenomena are governed by an unexplainable “will” of their own. A male is unable to entirely “control” his erection, whereas a female, unlike the animal world, is potentially fertile all the time, but neither can she control the moment of her pregnancy. Viagra, artificial insemination, and birth control certainly take the mystique away, but then sexuality becomes desexualized (more below). Having an erection and having a child become instrumental functions with no necessary pretense to inexplicable desire. Designer sex can and does become instrumentalized. At these limits of “failure,” queer positions emerge where the economy of sexual reproduction is no longer necessarily considered primary; sex becomes overdetermined as sexual production in its variety of perverse forms where an inversion of fantasy takes place offering a variety of performative masks (male) and masquerades (female) that quickly confuse any gender/sex binaries or biological claims to the determination of sex. The binary differentiations of being gay/lesbian/transsexual or straight are no longer in tight opposition to each other as designer sex makes everyone queer in some way, illustrating once more Freud’s (1905) position of polymorphous sexuality as developed in his “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.” “All human beings are capable of making a homosexual object-choice and have in fact made one in their unconscious” (SE 7,145) and “[I]n human beings pure masculinity and femininity is not to be found either in a psychological or biological sense” (SE 7, 220). This, indeed, is also Lacan’s position. Sex is therefore a metaphysical category whose riddle will never be solved. So while the phallus-penis slippage is certainly evident in Lacan’s phallocentric formulation, the same may be said of Luce Irigaray’s gynocentric position where the slippage between the vaginal and the transcendental “two lips” is a homologous occurrence. The masculine body as a solid opposed to the feminine fluid body repeats the abyss between them. The visibly tumescent penis and the hidden vagina that hides the usual visible coloring—the heat of estrus—shaped the “sex/gender” confusion of our species. Such a confusion can be theorized abstractly as the impossible relationship between the masculine One (closed system logic) and the feminine Zero (open system logic).

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To stage a “betrayal” of Lacan/Zizek here, I believe both Braidotti and Irigaray are right to continue their insistence on the fundamental impossibility of sexual difference and to question whether the phallus is binding on both the transcendental dualism of both sexes. In his usual brilliant flurry of rhetorical tropes, which continually reverse accepted assumptions until the reader finds him-or herself walking the paradoxical stairs inside one’s head as if caught in an Escher illustration (one is not quite sure if there is a way out, logical directions no longer seem to apply), Zizek (2004, 87–93) defends the phallus, bending and twisting the usual charges (reproaches) brought against it, so that it does double-duty for both sexes. Amazingly, the phallus emerges as an “organ without a body” (87), as the empty signifier of “symbolic castration.” A castration occurs when one enters the Symbolic Order essentially because the signifier (of language) has to “write” the body, the “body” has to find its place of identity, that is to be disciplined by it through the various micro-practices of power as Foucault argued. An identity has to be taken on, and such a symbolic “insignia” or “mask” is made possible by the intervention of the phallic signifier since it “materializes” (enables the creation of such insignia, mask, symbolic identity to take place) by actualizing the “immanent” autonomous asexual senses of the body (Deleuze’s virtuality of the senses). Such a process is best explained through dialectical materialism— as the dialectic between Becoming (the flux of asexual or polymorphous senses) and Being (their actualization as sexuality). The phallus mediates this exchange, says Zizek. If I have it right, the phallus acts like a “vanishing mediator” (in Zizek’s sense) between the paradoxical interplay of a desexualized and a sexualized world of experience. Given its status in the Real, the drive of sexuality is never complete, therefore its appearance is either excessive—when, for instance, the usual instrumental and asexual purpose of an object involved is suspended, all experience can become sexually charged (from the most crass Freudian reading, for example, a cigar becomes a phallic symbol, to the most sophisticated one, for example, the paradoxical link between sex and violence)—or it remains insufficient, left at the desexualized level. If sex is reduced to “fucking,” to pornographic instrumentalism (Hustler’s motto is “lighten up, it’s only sex”) it becomes just another object, desexualized (see chapter 10 on the “dirty virgins”). The Lacanian–Z izekian claim is that sexuality can never directly enter into language (the “body” cannot (entirely) pass into symbolic “thought”; put another way, polymorphous sexuality at the level of sense is only partially, in a skewed way, present in language that enables flirting and a “guessing” game to go on: “Is s/he straight or queer?” “Is she interested in me or not?”). It is always a “missed” approach, either excessive or insufficient, either too soon or too late, but never direct and unproblematic, again confirming that sex is a failure of language. The phallus, which has no signified is theorized as the signifier that sustains this gap—of failure— in other words, of castration. Here is where a turn can be made: Is the feminine castrated the same way as the masculine in the Symbolic Order? Does Woman labor under the same


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or another economy? In the social order, is not sexuality overdetermined through a feminine body rather than a masculine one? Isn’t it more excessive than insufficient? It doesn’t take much to feminize a man, but it is much more difficult to masculinize a woman. The art of bodybuilding is ample evidence of this (see Ian, 1995). Why must the phallus be the privileged signifier, and not recognize that another “vanishing mediator” is also operative? Lacan, himself, posited the ambiguity of the feminine: there is the Woman who is caught by phallic jouissance and the Woman who is mercifully free of the phallus. Does this mean she is not “symbolically castrated,” and as such has no “identity,” identity being the preserve of the Symbolic Order as actualized by the phallus as “vanishing mediator?” Opposing phallic jouissance is the “jouissance of the Other,” meaning feminine jouissance that is not recognized by the Symbolic Order—a jouissance that it lacks. As opposed to the Man, who wears a mask, always fearful of exposure (all the masked comic book super heroes have this anxiety that their “true” identity will be revealed, that they will be found out as being simply “ordinary” men like the rest of the population) and the non-phallic Woman who always wears a masquerade to keep others guessing as to who she “is,” never too worried if she is exposed or caught for her alleged claims to the heights of authority, she can always escape by exposing another face, for there is “nothing” underneath the masquerade—except another face. Oddly, the controversial playing with identity becomes a great strength and ruse in a phallic world. Here, it is possible to read the feminine Zero also as One, challenging the One that is already in place: the feminine as a “supernumerary” element that has no place in the closed masculine order, as a particular subtracted element, which paradoxically claims a universal right for all, referred to as the paradox of a “singular universal.” As the “supernumerary” element, the feminine forces a passage from difference to antagonism since it stands for a “pure” difference that suspends all other differences in the social field (Zizek, 2003, 65). In this sense, those excluded from the social order speak an “objective truth” or a “half-spoken truth” since they are the “objects” (not subjects) that stand for the lack or inconsistency in the Symbolic Order itself—the part that does not exist. They are the “slips” in the system, pointing to the “impossible” of any attainment of the w(hole) truth itself. Theoretically, it would seem, that neither One (masculine) nor the other (feminine) should be dominant, but a static harmonious balance is not possible since the temporality of movement of a system would be dismissed. If masculine and feminine are theorized as opposites, then the possibility of an “outside” appears, for example, a third term such as androgyny, which would make them equivalent to each other, or cancel their difference out. As opposites these two externalized poles mutually rely on one another to maintain a self-enclosed organic definition, like Master–Slave—the masculine is that which is nonfeminine and vice versa. To avoid the quagmire of such logic is to posit a gap within sexual difference itself as Lacan does. Namely, that there exists a “minimal difference” between them, the Real of an antagonism, an irreducible gap that causes a distortion, which never settles into a harmonious organicism.

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This is where Z izek (2004) points out a crucial difference between Lacan and Deleuze when it comes to an understanding of difference. If more than a fundamental binary antagonism is posited—more than the immanence of two, that is, if a multiple of antagonisms (or differences) is claimed, as does Deleuze, then a “logic of nonatagonistic One-ness” appears. A homogenization occurs as these proliferating multiple of antagonisms “exist against the background of a neutral One as their medium, which is not itself marked or cut by an antagonism” (67, original emphasis). “Against the plane of immanence, the pure flux of Becoming as encompassing a single plane, the Whole or One of Being, governed by the Aion of Time we have Lacan’s meaningless Real, where there is no One, but only pure multitude, the vast infinite coldness of the Void” (Zizek, 2004, 29). Historically, the irresolvability of this gap (the gap between Zero and One) has led to all sorts of metaphysical speculations and resolutions within specific sociopolitical and historical conditions. The postmodern decentering of One (as the masculine Same) and the theorizations of non-One as the feminine multiple within itself by Irigaray and her followers is yet another instance of a rethinking of this impossible asymmetrical gap. From a Lacanian–Zizekian point of view “there is no ‘primoridial’ duality of poles in the first place, only the inherent gap of the One” (2004, 65, original emphasis). The One in this statement should be interpreted as nothing. In chapter 14, which articulates the fan(addict), I also introduce the signifier ONE, but this time it is a dispersed and decentered ONE, which refers to the way fan(addicts) elevate and center themselves around a particular soundscape (the ONE) so as to differentiate themselves from the inexhaustible variety of available soundscapes generated by what can be referred to as the “clamor of becoming” as developed below. For Lacan, masculine and feminine as conceptualizations are failed attempts to achieve some sort of totality, wholeness, or final teleological unity. Sexual difference is not one of an opposition but an effect of incompleteness. They form a fundamental irresolvable antagonism. The masculine closed system is open through an impossible exception (The Man). The feminine open system is closed by an impossible exception (The Woman), neither one of which can “exist” since they are Real non-visible and non-signifiable concepts— simply unconscious fantasies. Their impossible unity forms a dissipative system that is constantly in flux. Chaos theory also characterizes Lacan’s latter writings in the 1970s. These are not binary, dualist, or dialectical conceptualizations as is so often claimed. Such terms are imaginary and apply to a two system gendered position, but not to the vicissitudes of sex in the unknowable unconscious Real. Sex in Lacan’s late formulations is equally as “distributive,” multiple, interconnected, and in constant flux as Deleuze stance on polysexuality because of the failure of fulfillment of the two positions: The Man and The Woman. The infinite gap between masculine and feminine result in endless possibilities of imaginary representational sexualities. Given that The Man and The Woman “do no exist”(both are cultural myths, since there is no perfect empirical ideal in either system), the various paradoxical contradictions that are generated within the “formulae,” from the attempted but


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always failed interaction between a closed (masculine) and open (feminine) system, result in a finite array of sexual representations within a historical period. While other representations are possible, the material conditions for their emergence is always in a state of becoming. The dominance of the transcendental phallic signifier (as One) is a historical development (see Goux, 1992), not some teleological or prescriptive claim that is often charged against Lacan. Further, while Braidotti (2002, 77–80) argues that Deleuze’s position of becoming-woman presents an “unresolved knot” in his relation to feminine: on the one hand, it is the prerequisite for all becomings, on the other hand, it then dissolves into poly-sexualities. Braidotti is unwilling to accept the paradox and insists in forwarding feminine difference as primary, privileging it as Deleuzean “minority-becoming.” Lacan’s formulae of sexuation also presents a paradox on the “feminine” side, which preserves on the one hand the impossibility of masculine–feminine sides from falling into a whole (One) by positing a dualistic understanding of the feminine. There is the “phallic woman” who labors under a phallocentric regime (the sedentary molar woman in Deleuze terms), as well as the “true” woman (see Miller, 2000, 17–20) who does not, a woman who searches for her own feminine jouissance (the molecular or nomadic becomingwoman). Lacan preserves the impossible asymmetry that Braidotti protests (2002, 81) while Deleuze does not. There is no discrepancy with Lacan’s position when Braidotti writes that the feminine “is radically and positively other”(82) from the masculine. How far does then such a transposition take us away from a similar division between striated, molar, closed territorialized space as opposed to smooth, heterogeneous, deterritorialized, molecular open space? Are not Lacan’s “formulae of sexuation” a web of rhizomatic interconnections? Are not the possible sexualities, which are generated just as nonlinear and complex when their failed logics are articulated? The multiplicity of sexed subjectivities and the differences in degree marked between them, it seems to me, are but different lines of becoming.

S-E  BO In Youth Fantasies (2004, 105–106) it was suggested that Deleuze and Guttari’s conceptualization of “positive” unmediated and unregulated desire of the primary processes of the libido—the flow of immaterial becoming, the delirium of unconscious libidinal flows—is transposable with the drive forces of jouissance that are no longer prohibitory in a post-Oedipalized milieu of designer capitalism. A confusion of terms occurs between the two systems in Deleuze and Guattari’s rushed zeal to differentiate themselves from a psychoanalytic orthodoxy so that it appears as though the Lacanian paradigm has very little to say about bodily materiality (everything is reduced to representation via the mirror stage), while Lacan’s statement that the “unconscious is structured as/like a language” is reduced to a naïve representational structuralism, replaced by an unconscious that is structured like/as a machine (more specifically, an open system machine that involves heterogeneous,

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independent parts—machinic in their operation). The unconscious is now based on production/formation rather than representation/writing. Their term, desire, as free-floating energy, has the same equivalency as Freud’s bodily libido, Nietzsche’s “will to power” and Lacan’s drives. “Desiring machines” are nothing more than the pulse movements of the drives, whose description has been updated along open-system terms of a decentered biological vitalism, as the ebb and flow of intensity at the molecular level. Such an updated scientism is often referred to chaos and complexity theory (or nonlinear dynamical systems theory), the two developments are not necessarily identical with one another, nevertheless both are post-structuralist open-system orientations, which attempt to grasp autopoesis (self-organizing systems) and states of disequilibrium, Ilya Prigogine’s “dissipative structures” (see for instance, Taylor, 2001). Desiring-machines, like the drives, are partial-objects. BwO goes in tandem with desiring machines as a “plane of consistency,” a surface latticed with “longitudes and latitudes, speeds and haecceities” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, 266), on which flow “pure intensities, free, prephysical and prevital singularities” (58). Desire is a “pure multiplicity” that cannot be reduced to a unity. It remains pre-personal and pre-individual. BwO, therefore, becomes “the field of immanence of desire, the place of consistency proper to desire” (191). I am inclined to transpose BwO with Didier Anzieu’s (1989) notion of the skin-ego as developed in Youth Fantasies and utilized in the course of this book (see especially chapter 15). Anzieu first developed the notion of the skin-ego in Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse, published in 1974, which is approximately the same time frame as Anti-Oedipus. Given Deleuze and Guattari’s description of BwO, the “ego” in skin-ego seems contradictory, for this already seems to be a “molar” representation and not a molecular one. Does it not already suggest a body image? This would be the most obvious reproach, but what if the skin-ego is theorized similarly as a plane of virtual potentiality, as an active “material surface” before a “picture” of the psychic Ego becomes registered—as a body ego without an image? For critics such as Tyler (2001), who challenge Anzieu for his alleged deficiency in not sufficiently attending to social differentiations of skin, fail to recognize that he is not dealing with representation as yet. This would be my reading of the skin-ego’s conceptualization. By skin-ego Anzieu means “a mental image of which the Ego of the child makes use during the early phases of its development to represent itself as an Ego containing psychical contents, on the basis of its experience of the surface of the body” (40, emphasis added). The operative terms here are “make use” and “surface.” The formation of the imaginary ego takes place always in the past tense, drawing upon experience that has already been affectively felt or not felt, as in trauma. The bodily envelope (skin-ego) is always-already in-tension figurally (cf. Lyotard) with the drives, the erogenous orifices of the body, which not only include the most obvious ones—mouth, anus, ear, nose, and so on, but also the pores themselves where touch plays such a significant role in human psychic formation; that is, the skin-ego heterogeneously coexists as an “invisible image” of the self, activated


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through the drives (Triebe) in a similar “repulsion and attraction” that arises between the desiring machines and the BwO. The pulsations of the drives in conjunction with the skin-ego can be read similarly as the functioning of a multiplicity of intensities one moment, and a zero-intensity the next, as these pulses become registered on the skin-ego. Multiplicity comes before the Zero, making these concepts transposable. Anzieu goes on to say that such a bodily ego is “not recognized by the subject as its own” (therefore it is prepersonal and preindividual) and “the cutaneous and sexual sensations which emanate from it are attributed to the workings of an influencing machine in the service of a devious seducer/ persecutor” (40, emphasis added). This statement, it seems to me, not only has the same machinic sensibility about it, but also obliquely refers to the “demon” in Deleuze’s scientism, the “dark precursor” introduced in Difference and Repetition (1994, 119–120), which mysteriously functions as a differentiator of continuous variation, an “object  x” that lacks place and identity. This “dark precursor” acts to maintain perpetual difference. It plays the part of a “differenciator” between two heterogeneous series, the “in-itself of difference,” or the “differently different.” Such a formulation has Zizek (2004, 81) claiming that this is simply a euphemism for the phallus—the signifier without signification! But, back to Anzieu. What Anzieu is referring to by mentioning seducer/persecutor are two heterogeneous intensive systems that act on the skin-ego; namely, the paradoxical interplay between primary narcissism and masochism, between wellbeing and suffering, which then become secondarily eroticized through the constitution of the skin-ego (BwO). The shift from primary to secondary masochism and narcissism is constituted by the same continuous “breakdown” as desiring-machines (see Deleuze and Guattari, 1977, 8). Primary masochism and narcissism can be interpreted as coexistent but different orders of intensities that are temporally dispersed by the skin-ego of the infant through the contact with the mother or caregiver, which communicate excitation and signifying information in a logic of both/and since there is a confusion in the early stages of infancy as to which is which. Deleuze and Guattari’s (1977, 76) articulation of a “disjunctive synthesis,” or “inclusive disjunction,” which allows impossibilities to coexist paradoxically applies here; that is, not as either/or but as “either . . . or . . . or,” what I would deem as the logic of both/and—the excluded middle. Alternations between overstimulation (satisfaction) of contact and deprivation of physical contact (frustration) with the infant by the “influencing machine” (i.e., usually the mother or her substitutes, but it could also be the social environment per se) results in the topography of primary masochism—the skin-ego’s jouissance (its intensities) are governed by an envelope of excitation and suffering. In secondary masochism the fantasy of a skin surface that is common to both mother and child results in an exchange of sensory stimulation, while the unconscious fantasy of the “flayed” body underlies the behavior of the perverse masochist. Primary narcissism, on the other hand, is also governed by the fantasy of a common skin surface to both mother and child, but the

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topography changes. The skin-ego is an envelope that acts as a protective shield of well-being. Its caregiver meets the baby’s needs; the illusion being that the infant has an omniscient double who reacts immediately in a symmetrical fashion to its every signal. Anzieu makes the case that skin-ego, which develops in a narcissistic direction, transforms the fundamental fantasy of a common skin into a secondary fantasy of a skin “reinforced and invulnerable” (44); while a skin-ego that develops in the masochistic direction, transforms the fantasy of the common skin as being “damaged, torn-off.” These insights are of use in the discussion of the fan(addict (chapter 15) where we discuss the skin-ego of a particular fan, Silke. Such a direction also raises the “desire of the Other.” What does the Other want of me? What is the Other’s demand? Thus drawing the question back to Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the “quasi-cause” that is explicitly linked to Lacan’s objet a (1977, 26–27) as the non-sense that is inherent to sense. The “quasicause” is a signifier without a signified in as much as it presents an impossible transcendental plane of ideal identities that are striven toward, so claims Massumi (2002a), a key translator and interpreter of Deleuze and Guattari’s oeuvre. If this is so, the “quasi-cause” registers as a Freudian “slip” in Deleuze’s disavowal of Lacanian signifying system. The advantage (or disadvantage depending where one positions oneself on the postmodernist landscape) of Anzieu’s formulation of skin-ego over Deleuze and Guattari’s BwO is that their post-structural biological scientism of the unconscious as a “factory” or a “production machine” of various assemblages is based on the template of the psychotic experience of a “fragmented body” (psychotics experience parts of their bodies as separate entities), and the schizophrenic experience of catatonic states and multiple personalities, while Anzieu brings the materiality of the body in line with its anthropological human specificity. In Deleuze and Guattari’s terms, the relationship of repulsion and attraction between desiring machines and BwO is modeled on paranoia as extrapolated from Freud’s case concerning Judge Schreber (Deleuze and Guattari 1977, 16–19), whereas Anzieu retains the question of human suffering (masochism) and love (narcissism). We might think of their difference in terms of an egg, a “tantric egg,” which Deleuze sometimes referred to make his points. “The body without organs is an egg: it is crisscrossed with axes and thresholds, with latitudes and longitudes and geodesic lines, traversed by gradients marking the transitions and the becomings, the destinations of the subject developing along these particular lines (Deleuze and Guattari, 1977, 19). For him, it was not the embryology of the egg (its development) that mattered, rather more interesting were the dynamics of its “kinematics” or “morphogenetic movements” such as the stretching of its cellular layers, invagination by folding, and so on. The egg in Anzieu’s (1989) terms is more a psychical “container” where depersonalization is bound up with the image of an envelope capable of perforation. Primary anxiety becomes a flowing away of vital substance through holes, “an anxiety not of fragmentation but of emptying . . . as an egg with a broken shell being emptied of its [yoke]” (38–39). The libidinal quality and intensity of


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the bodily care and its failure identifies a specifically human dimension that the question of the affective skin-ego raises, especially important to music. Does this sound too sentimental in the time of the “posthuman” where the anxiety of subjectivity produces a self that can no longer be properly distinguished from the multiplicity of circuits that traverse it? The performance artist Sterlac and the cybernetic scientist, Kevin Warwick are perhaps the exemplary cases of such futuristic possibilities? The cybernetic account of subjectivity updated by complexity theory, informed by nomadic schizophrenia suits designer capitalism very well. Baudrillard, Jameson, Deleuze, and Guattari, are all in agreement that designer capitalism breeds schizophrenic subjects of one form or another with the emergence of a hyperbody that intends to leave the organic body behind. In particular, good old-fashioned sexuality of the flesh is abandoned for a hypersexuality that escapes genital and biological referencing, creating desires that are no longer describable in sexual terms. The skin-ego is perforated with new erogenous holes where nanotechnology is inserted into the body as an electronic prosthetic. The circuitry of “thinking” (autopoetic) machines are symbiotically integrated with the human body. We could call this “becoming metal” to add to Deleuze and Guattari’s generalized list of “becomings,” claiming that flesh has always dominated the mind. But there is no need to continue this cyborgian line of flight since it has had overexposure. More important are the consequences. In Lacan’s notorious essay “Kant with Sade” (1989[1962]), he shockingly shows that these two positions are but two sides of the same Enlightenment coin, as inversions of each other. Kant’s categorical imperative, the striving to reach a universal moral principle leads to the impossibility of a purified body. It becomes a detached morality confined to the rationality of the mind, which is inversely congruent to Sade’s universe of radical evil where the body is elevated to a universal principle of sustained pleasure (jouissance)—also an unattainable possibility. Could not this eerie parallelism equally apply to Sade and the new enthusiasm for the posthuman? In a little known essay written by Paul McCarthy (1992), which could just as easily bear the title “Deleuze and Guattari with Sade,” McCarthy forcefully argues that there is an epistemological affinity between Deleuze and Guattari’s two-volume schizo-feast and de Sade’s Juliette. In brief, their schizophrenic body of desire (drives) updates de Sade’s jouissant body, already prefigured as the “matrix of maleficent molecules” (de Sade, 1968, 400) along inhuman scientist lines. “Juliette’s machinic organizing conjoined sadism and code-breaking to raise the level of excitation of the nervous system, so that the experience of pleasure is heightened in intensity” (Paragraph 17). In Chapter 11, I discuss this Sadean wager in relation to the claims of sexual equality. To be fair, in one sense Deleuze and Guattari have updated Lacan’s own project concerning the unconscious, which was also thought of as an acephalic machine. This is evident in his continual “matheme-atization” of unconscious process, his typological charts and diagrams. The appendix to Bruce Fink’s (1995) The Lacanian Subject is evidence enough of Lacan’s own scientism. However, Z izek (2004, 102–103) has identified two

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additional conceptualizations of the Real. The Real is not only mathematical (the world of quanta physics—a “symbolic Real”), but it also has an imaginary possibility as to what is nonvisible, that which is non-seeable and sublime (Imaginary Real), and a “real Real,” which refers to das Ding, the primordially lost object. Nevertheless, one wonders whether the endgame of the free ranging productive libidinal energy of unconscious desire, which unleashes the productive “subject” that is so often celebrated in Deleuze and Guattari’s writings, does not end in postmodern terror, where the anarchic and threatening transformative powers of transgression are at work “full bore.” Is not terrorism a “joyful” and “creative” act par excellence? The sadism of its jouissance celebrated by its devastating effects? Are not terrorists exemplary of the perfect nomadic schizophrenic subject, characterizing the subject of postmodern warfare itself ? Al Qaeda is the perfect example of an open-system organization with their “cell networks,” being the “singularities” that are so thoroughly theorized in their work? In this regard Deleuze and Guattari’s oeuvre can be appropriated for both capitalist and terrorist ends, as inadvertent apologists to their respective system of harnessing creative drive energy. Becoming “minoritarian,” their ethical stance against the molar powers of the state is to intensify this schizophrenic tendency of capitalism to the point where the system shatters. In such logic, terrorism would be sanctioned as a creative Event. 9/11 can simply be called a “traversal or mobile diagonal line” (Deleuze, 1988a, 22), an example of an ethical act producing the New, as a “fourth person singular.” But, the same can be said of G.W. Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention any number of U.S. global and political interventions in the past that have taken place on sovereign soil. The novelty of “difference” presents “life as a work of art” (Deleuze, 1995, 94), and one wonders whether the destruction wrought by terrorism is not simply the disavowed consequences of such thinking? The Event of terror presents the horror of sublime beauty. The suicidal Al Qaeda operatives present a “literal” death of the subject, which too is not “mourned,” but in fact celebrated. Deleuze and Guattari’s stance toward the sociopolitical possibilities of their minoritarian position remain ambiguous, despite attempts like that of Patton (2000) to shore them up by drawing out possible rethinking of aboriginal land rights and colonial “capture” based on their conceptualizations. But as he admits, “Deleuze and Guattari do not offer a concept of the political as such” (133). More disturbingly, in Spinoza: Practical Philosophy (1988b), Deleuze’s incorporation of Spinozian ethics is along ethological grounds. Is this not a fall back to a biologism? Human affections—feelings, emotions, action states of the body—are treated in terms of power rather than addressing morality, that is, the forces of the body are mapped against any system of laws and judgments. Deleuze asserts that for Spinoza ethics replaces morality: a “typology of immanent modes of existence” replaces an axiology, which “always refers existence to transcendent values.” In this suspended deontological dimension there is no “Law” and no superego. The “animal” is encountered in the force of a thought or statement, not “reduced” to a


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meaningful value. But, as one reads Foucault’s endorsement in his forward to Anti-Oedipus, this was “the first book of ethics to be written in France for a long time” (1977, xiii), its appeal based on its anti-oedipal life style. A moral ideal does not enter Deleuze’s discourse on the grounds that an Event is always a becoming. The ethical responsibility becomes a practical affair. The embodied subject is left to his or her being, mode of existence or style of life. “There are never any criteria other than the tenor of existence, the intensification of life” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1994, 74). It is statements such as these that has Z izek (2004) characterizing Deleuze and Guattari as offering an “ontological ethics, an ethics of ‘is’ without an ‘ought’ ” (41), the consequences of which present the evacuation of “life-denying negativity.” The subject is offered an insight into the empirical necessities that have a determining affect on life style; that is, eating fatty foods will cause a build up of cholesterol and lead to possible heart failure, but there is no injunction not to eat such fatty foods. Such an ethics, for Z izek, is a rather somber indictment of the indifference to “guilt and feelings of moral outrage.” It is troubling to think that Goodchild (1997, 49), a keen and perceptive commentator on Deleuze, ends his essay on ethics by referencing of life’s active joy and friendship which “ends in the joy of flight: death by self-defenestration” (49), a thinly disguised reference to Deleuze’s suicide of leaping out of his apartment window to fall to his death because of a profound illness that caused him so much pain. In light of this, Zizek’s accusation has a chilling reverberation when Goodchild writes, “philosophy is a preparation for death, an acceptance of fate, so that the philosopher appears to be unaffected by whatever events occur” (47), echoing Deleuze’s own stance that the goal of life should be led “so intensely . . . that death, always external, is of little significance” (1988b, 41). For Deleuze, death does not define human existence (as it does in the philosophical systems of Heidegger (being-toward-death) and Derrida who follows him in his The Gift of Death (1995)) (see Baugh, 2000). It is “an impersonal event provided with an always open problematic structure (where and when?)” (Deleuze, 1990, 145). “Germinal life” defined his system. All this raises the difficult question of an ethics when it comes to a place of stutter between Deleuze and Lacan for both sought an ethics of the unconscious. However, I have relied on the Freudian–Lacanian understanding of the death drive to generate an “ethics of the Real,” which ends this book.

T J   D D Deleuze’s sensate “body” is often interpreted biologically, in vitalist autopoetic terms. This vitalism should be understood as the libidinal body of the surface, of the erogenous zones that operate on the skin-ego as was argued in Youth Fantasies. Put another way, the boundary of the skin-ego is itself a retroactive loop or an autopoetic logical bootstrap, with one differential difference from the biological world as theorized by the ground-breaking work of Maturana and Valera (1980, 1992): it is subject to the death drive and the

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jouissance, which characterizes it. The difference is that Deleuze and Guattari’s vitalism fails to recognize that the “first symbol in which we recognize humanity in its vestigial traces [already with Neanderthals] is the sepulture, and the intermediary of death can be recognized in every relation in which man (sic) comes to the life of his history (Lacan, 1977, 104, emphasis added). While I recognize this to be an anthropocentric position, only humans elevate death to a symbolic function. Jouissance is libidinal satisfaction, cast in human terms. The drive as a “compulsion to repeat” is a transposable concept with the “short-circuit” of Deleuze’s “minimal difference,” thought as the intensity of a punctual line, always interstitial, involving the interval, which throws the organism into a state of becoming. Symptomatic repetitive actions are only meaningful by the force of their repetition. They are “beyond the pleasure principle” in the sense that they do not satisfy desire as defined by the Law, but neither do they put an end to desire. Rather, they derail the human being into states of pathological disequilibrium. In this sense, the death drive “seduces” the autopoetic reflexive Deleuzean self (the acephalic flow of prelinguistic vitality and intensities) into “beyond the pleasure principle.” The subject is caught by an “element,” a non-sense attractor that sticks out (objet a). The immaterial excess of potentiality, Deleuze’s virtual, is short-circuited. The realm of conscious freedom is foreclosed in one sense, but in another sense transformative freedom is open as the Symbolic Order is no longer an infringement. We might call the death drive the moment of a subject’s “dissipation,” like Prigoggine’s dissipative structure, a moment of difference. If language causes an entropy because it devitalizes the body of jouissance by exteriorizing it through the sexual drives, to recover a little “bit” of lost jouissance requires going “beyond” the pleasure principle as confined by the Law. The human being can be caught up in the deadly bodily jouissance to become a mass of frightening flesh, like the suffering of so many obese people plagued by fantasies of thinness brought on by the inexplicitly stated ideal—the “quasi-cause” to use Deleuze’s term— of the Symbolic Order that idealizes a particular unattainable body image, or those suffering from the various available forms of substance abuse—from legalized drugs like alcohol, to semi-legal drugs like codeine enriched Tylenol to the whole host of illegal drugs, as so many ways to numb (or hype) the sensate body, to chemically dampen (or intensify) the drives. The death drive for Deleuze and Guattari is not given any special anthropological consideration. “Every intensity controls within its own life the experience of death and envelops it” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1977, 330). They oppose Freud’s elevation of death to a transcendental principle. “The death instinct is pure silence, pure transcendence, not givable and not given in experience” (332). So, the question is whether the human being should be given special consideration, that our species “self-enjoyment” is such that a certain “discipline” is required because we are subject to Freudian death drive, a violent excess that is absent in the animal kingdom, which is why there is a need for education. Entry into language installs the Law and primary repression (Urverdrängung). Deleuze and Guattari do not reject primary


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repression outright, rather they recast it into the cybernetic terms as “repulsion.” “We are of the impression that what is ordinarily referred to as ‘primary repression’ means the repulsion of desiring-production by the body without organs” (1977, 9). The drive forces are not “biological” and “instinctual,” rather they occur retrogressively. It is only after the subject’s entry into the Law that they come into existence. The death drive is therefore an artifact of culture, of existence itself in the Symbolic Order, which then attempts to mask it. Without the Law there is no need for the drives. If there was nothing forbidden there is nothing to desire. The death drive represents the absolute refusal to conform to the Law. It consists of “pure” pleasure. It is this paradoxical death drive that plays such an important consideration throughout this book on music. The stutter in-between Lacan and Deleuze recapitulates what was for Freud an irresolvable historical constant: namely, the preservation of civilization was predicated on the repression of the drives. A deadlock exists between the liberal potential of the drives as furthered by capitalism and the more conservative position of accepting repression (Zizek, 1995, 12) indicative of post-forms of religious fundamentalism (see chapter 14). Most obviously, the signifier “death” in “death drive” seems to be in stark contrast to Deleuze’s productive “life drive” (machinic desires) where “negativity” has no place. The death drive is a paradoxical construction, which takes into account the complexity of life and death without privileging one (Deleuze) or the other (Heidegger, Derrida). I follow Copjec’s (2002) thoughtful analysis to support my claim that Freud/Lacan escape the path of a reductive biologism offered by Deleuze and Guattari, which, at best offers a life style of immanent “joy,” and at worst, a cybernetic scientism that can wrought sadism through its potential indifference to judgment, or put another way, where judgment may come too late (May, 1995, 11; D’Amico 1981, 71–72). Could such desperate readings of Deleuze be two sides of the same coin, revealing a hidden antinomy? The paradoxical claim of the death drive by Freud is that the “aim of life is death,” summarized by Copjec as: “while the aim (Ziel) of the drive is death, the proper and positive activity of the drive is to inhibit the attainment of its aim; the drive, as such, is zielgehemt, that is, it is inhibited as to its aim, or sublimated, ‘the satisfaction of the drive through the inhibition of its aim’ being the very definition of sublimation” (30, original emphasis). I have tried to illustrate this in chapter 6 through Ko} n’s music video, Freak on a Leash. Life is cojoined to death, figurally or heterogeneously, through the drive’s repetition of its own trajectory. The drive has no goal, no “object” per se, only an aim to repeat itself so that satisfaction (jouissance) is achieved. The drive is indifferent to external objects. The name Freud/Lacan give to the signs of these “objects” as apprehended by the psyche is Vorstellungrepräsentanz. The concept refers to how these imaginary partial forms (objects) “appear” or are registered in the psyche, commonly translated as “ideational representations.” Such signs are paradoxically non-visible representations. They do not belong to the Imaginary psychic register, which would give them representational

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status, rather they exist in the “imaginary Real,” one of the three modalities of the Real (as mentioned earlier) by Zizek (2004, 102–103).2 The registration of these partial objects in the psyche constitute a distinctly “human” body of jouissance, which the skin-ego delegates. The skin-ego, therefore, confirms Freud/Lacan’s materialism, the way body and mind are linked equally and heterogeneously together. The death drive applies to a distinctly psychic human body of “unnatural excess”—of libidinal energy as “enjoyment” that is theorized throughout this book as being “against and beyond the Law.” The jouissance of the Other becomes an enigma all human beings face: What does the Other want from me? On the one hand, the body is disciplined through desire in the way fantasy formations and the Law catch it, in the way the drives sublimate excessive jouissance through their aims, which continually turn around their object. On the other hand there is a “beyond” of castration—a desublimation, where human finitude is transgressed and the Symbolic Order is disregarded, the Other falls away. In Youth Fantasies (2004, 82), rightly or wrongly, the concept of zoë, as “bare” biological life; that is, life common to animals and men denuded of any political protection, was interpreted as the presence of “youth” as such; that is, as the libidinal energy of the body that is to bring its possessor immortality—to stay forever young. The scene was recalled from Zemeckis’s Death Becomes Her (1992) where Lisle Von Rhoman (Isabella Rossellini) opens up a vial that contains this mysterious elixir of life (zoë). Not insignificantly, the scene is presented in its Gothic context in support of the claim that the fantasy of the divine or innocent child of modernity was a fabrication of Romanticism. Also not insignificantly, it is the star system as represented by the two competitive actresses in the film—Madeline Ashton (Meryl Steep) and Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn)—which supports such a drive for future immortal fame: to have one’s “star” appear on Hollywood Boulevard cast in concrete so that is never fades, or to be forever immortalized by the flicker of one’s former ghostly shadow on the film screen long after one is dead. If Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818) can be read as science’s dream of creating life from “dead” body parts, thereby overcoming and staving the advent of death itself, a postmodern Gothic film like Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990) becomes an ironic comment on such a dream where living organs are replaced with (non)functional mechanical ones that limit and confine the body’s performativity and cause it self-injury. Edward is forever cutting himself in the face, unable to touch his own body or anyone else’s. Edward can be read as the monster created by schizophrenic capitalism, reduced to the “intensity” of the part-object that controls his body, which is in stark opposition to his gentle, kind, and trusting nature. His scissor-hands can only self-mutilate and cut, and when they are sublimated, all they are capable of is trimming uncontrollable Nature into a trite aesthetic—sculptured hedges and exotic hairstyles. To recall the distinction first made by Agamben’s Homo Sacer (1998) (see chapter 2), which marks the difference between zoë (libidinal life) and bio (life characterized as a way of living within a political sphere), both of which


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were conflated by the life science of the nineteenth century. It is life as zoë, the pulsation of the drives, which is responsible for creation through sublimation and desublimation, characterized throughout this book as being “against and beyond the Law.” In sublimation, “[t]he object of the drive is never identical to itself ” (Copjec, 2002, 39). Rather, due to the constant repetition of the drives the object itself changes. In Deleuze’s sense, sublimation, therefore, creates a “minimal difference,” a “pure difference” that differentiates an element from itself, that is, from its own bounded place of inscription. However, the drive can also be oversaturated by its object, pulling the subject into a vortex of excessive consumption, emptying desire, but forwarding the impulses of the drive, causing a desublimation, which devastates the subject through addictive “enjoyment.” Zizek, throughout his many writings and Internet postings, often references Adorno and the Frankfurt School by forwarding their thesis of “repressive desublimation,” a term which seems to be a contradiction in terms. How can desublimation be repressive, when generally it refers to a liberalization of drive energy and possibly social liberation? For the Frankfurt school there was a consonance between such narcissistic liberalism and advanced capitalism. Repressive sublimation specifically refers to “postliberal” permissive capitalist postmodern societies where transgression “beyond the Law” is encouraged. No longer are the libidinal drives repressed, but “derepressed” or desublimated through the superego’s command to enjoy! But, just as there is this uninhibited release of unconscious libidinal creative energy (zoë), there is equally as much trauma introduced by way of an “anesthetization” that comes with the price of consuming goods unconditionally (Welsh, 1990) and psychasthenia (Olalquiaga, 1993) that plagues urban living. Such a thesis was followed in Youth Fantasies.

M  S  “M”: T C  B In the Deleuzean paradigm, most obviously, music provides subliminal intensities at the bodily level, what Brian Massumi (1996) has called the “autonomy of affect.” The musical pleasure we experience as listeners, which is incidental to the ideological import of the signification of an accompanying text. The affect of music has to deal with extremes, like the death drive itself. On the one hand it points to the impossible excess of pleasure, at the same time there is a repetition of the Same, which is to say that a certain centering is involved in the very repetition of behaviors and habits that “fix” us into symptomatic stasis and inertia. The subtitle references both Deleuze and Guattari (“terribly disturbing sound of matter,” Anti-Oedipus, 1977, 19) and Badiou’s book on Deleuze, The Clamor of Being (2000). Such as clamor is transposed as “noise” in this book—noise as the chaos of matter that is harnessed in a particular way by music. Noise again raises a paradox. On the one sense there is no such thing as noise; that is, noise as discounted nonmeaningful information is simply another order of meaning in another register; on the other hand, noise may

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be theorized as “cosmic” vibration. “Noise is the inarticulate, the confused mass of vibration, in which sound relaxes and dissipates. Perception requires a contraction, but noise is the uncontracted. Imperceptible, insensible and sense-less, noise is the depth which gives to be contracted. . . . Sound is a modulation of difference, a difference of difference. This eternal return of difference, noise, is what gives to be contracted, but is not in itself contracted. . . . [Noise] makes sense or gives sense to sound, by providing sound its direction and by focusing sound to a point of clarity. Noise is the reservoir of sense, the depth in which sounds connect to each other, the background, the difference whose modulation is signal” (Evens, 1997, 702, emphasis added). Again, before the binary surface/depth is too hastily applied to Aden Evens’s formulation of noise, it is once more better to grasp noise as non-sense, as being on a heterogeneous plane on which sound is already taking place: that is, the fused sum of all vibrations that reaches a zero point in time and space. Uncontracted noise and contracted sound have a “diadeictical” coexistence (Lyotard, 1971, 39), the gap between them being silence that mediates their interactions like a vanishing mediator. The paradox of the heterogeneity of these systems of difference (their figurality, see chapter 2) is perhaps best captured by Deleuze’s interesting statement from the Logic of Sense (1990). To avoid any notions of organicism or harmony between the two systems, or two parts, so that their singularity is preserved he says: “But this is not a circle. It is rather the coexistence of two sides without thickness, such that we pass from one to the other by following their length” (21–22). Deleuze and Guattari’s stance on music has been usefully summarized by Bogue (2003), explored by Murphie (1996) and given editorial attention by Buchanan and Swiboda (2004). As might be suspected, their theory, developed mainly in A Thousand Plateaus (1987), is rooted in the post-structuralism of chaos theory, offering an ecological perspective that draws on the biological base of the “in-human.” There are, once more, many transpositions to be made with the death drive. In their section, “becoming-music” an explicit link is made to “music[’s] thirst for destruction, every kind of destruction, extinction, breakage, dislocation” (1987, 299). “Is that not its potential ‘fascism’?” they ask. “Whenever a musician writes In Memoriam, it is not so much a question of an inspirational motif or a memory, but on the contrary of a becoming that is only confronting its own danger, even taking a fall in order to raise again: a becoming-child, a becoming-woman, a becominganimal, insofar as they are the content of music itself and continue to the point of death” (299, emphasis added). Sound is the “cutting edge of deterritorialization” (348). It “invades us, impels us, drags us, transpierces us. It takes leave of the earth, as much in order to drop us into a black hole as to open us up to a cosmos. It makes us want to die” (348). Such a tone directly addresses music as “for and against the Law,” which we theorize through Attali’s (1985) theory of noise (without incorporating his pessimism toward pop music) and Lacan’s drives. In a nutshell, music for them is “the active creative operation which consists of deterritorializing


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the refrain” (300). Territory as musical refrain is intimately linked to music’s ability to also deterritorialize this relationship—refrain referring “to any kind of rhythmic pattern that stakes out a territory” (Bogue, 2003, 17). Bogue identifies three types of refrain that shape their respective territories: a point of order or stability that presents a locus of order in a nondimensional space; a circle of property or control, and an opening to the outside as a line of flight. These three functional refrains can be thought of in another way: First, the point of order of stability is the musical refrain that creates a home in our hearts amidst chaos, thereby it stabilizes and calms a person/group/ society, like the lost child who sings to him or herself in the dark on the way home. Second, as a circular refrain it creates a home we can return from the lived chaos outside. Third, as line of flight to the outside, it points excursions away from home, into the chaos, as when traveling and adventuring. From this an entire complex is developed where territories are milieus and rhythms that are created out of chaos; chaos being “the milieu of all milieus” (313), as the plane of immanence, the virtual world of potential (of life) from which emerge identifiable things, while a milieu is a directional space, a “coded block of space-time”; this code itself being defined by a “periodic repletion” (313). Murphie (1996) attempts to apply this elaborate schema to some aspects of popular music maintaining that an ethics emerges in the way refrains connect territories and bodies, since the refrain also has the power to break territories or change the very nature of the body and its connections. The form of the refrain becomes the site of ethics, case by case, since music is capable of both connection and an escape from sovereign domination. For Murphie an ethics of popular music “consists of knowing when to make a territory disappear and when to create one” in specific communities. Deleuze and Guattari speak of comic sound, of the impermanency of territories when it comes to music: the “forces of an immaterial, nonformal, and energetic Cosmos” (1987, 342–343). The late twentieth century has entered “the age of the Machine, the immense mechanosphere, the plane of cosmicization of forces to be harnessed” (343). The distinctions between territories are collapsing as the connections between milieus are expanding globally. The assemblage of such a machine is the synthesizer, which “makes audible the sound process itself ” (343). The synthesizer has become the technological instrument to harness this cosmic energy, as well as the “nonsonorous forces such as Duration and Intensity” (343). “It unites disparate elements in the material, and transposes the parameters from one formula to another. . . . its synthesis is of the molecular and the cosmic, material and force, not form and matter, Grund and territory” (343). While Mackay (1997) theorizes music as a “phonographic diagram.” The diagram referring to Foucault’s development of it as the mapping of the forces and the distribution of power to affect, as well as be affected, in a particular sonic formation. For instance, “the contact between vinyl and hand, the technique of ‘scratching,’ is an interface between temporal systems: rendering the abstract tactile . . . , this unplanned interaction makes audible more about the technology than even its designers were able or willing to realize” (251–252).

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Through a dry, almost machinic syntax (reminiscent of Deleuze in his classic Difference and Repetition), Mackay lays out the implications of sound that has been technologically synthesized, sampled, and digitally archived (through CD technology) utilizing the Deleuzean concepts of sonic assemblage, diagram, abstract machine, and so on, to strip music of its humanistic metaphors. This is transposable to Lacan’s stress on the way language can become the “dead letter” of the Law, just technological abstract matter, alien and exteriorized from the body, owned by no one, the cold signifier mortifying the body as it pleases—psychotic rather than schizophrenic. Anzieu (1989) conceptualizes a “sound envelope” or a sound mirror or audio-phone skin (158) as a concept that complements his notion of the skin-ego. Again, this refers to a space-time before its representation as an “acoustic mirror,” theorized by Silverman (1988). It can again be asked whether such a concept is simply “too humanistic” given the way music has been “exteriorized,” the materiality of synthesized sound manipulated by sonic engineers in pursuit of “escap[ing] from molar commoditization by means of a constant flight underground” (Mackay, 1997, 256). Hip-hop’s sampling techniques generate a “subterranean diagonal,” which acts on the body “accelerating BPMs (no time to understand [the music]), reprocessed percussion (neither harmony nor noise), timestretching (violating the chronogenic homeostat of pitch/duration) and sub-bass (sound becoming uncompromisingly physical) retune the neuro-auditory apparatus to awesomely intricate and dense abysses of sound, and permeate the body as an amnesiac addiction” (256). In chapter 16, Let’s Rave not Rage! techno music is explored in light of Deleuze’s “cosmic” claim of a “sonic phylum.” In this chapter I have staged a confrontation “of sorts” between a Lacanian and a Deleuzean reading of the technologization of music into its posthuman forms. This tension leads to the last chapter, which argues for an ethics based on Lacan’s Real.

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M T: T E Given all the popular cultural possibilities that young people engage in: going to movies, sports, dress, playing video games, surfing the Net . . . all take a backseat when it comes to the music scene. Why is this so? From a Lacanian viewpoint there can only be one answer: Music is the pivotal place where the voice exceeds the word so as to transgress and go beyond the Law. This is where the drive meets desire, where excessive jouissance meets logos, excess or “surplus enjoyment” meets satisfaction rather than metonymic deprivation. To unravel and support this general claim regarding music, in this chapter the death drive, and in the next chapter the phenomena of lethal affective pleasure Lacan identified as jouissance are described. Jouis-sense, or enjoyment-in-meaning, was Lacan’s neologism for the moment when meaning is eclipsed, inverting into the excesses of a consuming self-enjoyment. In music, the glimpses and attempts at a pre-symbolic agency unbridled by the Law of castration are opened up for singers, as well as their fans. In the contemporary music scene such transgression against and beyond the Law is staged across a number of registers offering unconscious fantasies that directly cope with the de-Oedipalization of postmodernity with its paedomorphic extension of youth cultures well into their late twenties and early thirties. Some forms, as we shall see, submit to the Law of the signifier (especially Pop music and Boys Bands as we develop it in chapter 10). They constitute forms of repetition and serialization in the commodity market, acting as unifying master signifiers—the moulds of identity for youth to mimic. Other affective forms such as Gangsta rap, Punk Rock, Goth, and Heavy Metal have attempted forms of transgressions to introduce a dissonance for youth rebellion and resistance against the Symbolic Order. The more difficult question of what is “beyond” the Law is developed in chapter 9, “The Anti-Slacker as Mass Murderer.” While we propose a dangerous pathological link in this chapter between suicidal “acting out” and more radical death metal music, this is not the only way to grasp this relationship. Beyond the Law can also be understood as a “proper ethical act,” a wager that Zizek has developed throughout his many writings.1 Here the


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death drive is put in the service of an individual or group action that can lead to political change. How different this is from Deleuze’s sense-event will be left for another occasion. It concerns an act of “total” or “absolute” freedom. The subject2 commits symbolic suicide whereby s/he withdraws from symbolic reality so that a new beginning may unfold. A point of absolute freedom is reached where the ground for life’s meaning looses its value with no regrets. A double “loss” is incurred. The “destitute” subject becomes aware that s/he has nothing to lose in the loss of symbolic ground. This is unlike an actual suicide where the subject attempts to send a message to the Other for some form of recognition, acknowledgement, warning, or guilt. In an ethical act proper the subject is radically transformed, as if redemption has taken place and the birth of a new subject has emerged.3 Where difficulties begin to emerge as to whether an act was properly ethical or not is in its consequences, which often remain radically unaccounted for. The consequences cannot be foreseen in the way the existing symbolic space is transformed. More difficult is how to identify an act or event that furthers social democracy or hinders it. Each rupture is a singularity that requires a historical verdict that is never entirely settled. The dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an event ; an act proper since the Symbolic Order was forever changed. But was it an evil act? Robert Oppenheimer thought so, but he was out-voted. The Jewish Holocaust and the Mai Lai Massacre, on the other hand, are clearly acts of evil. 9/11 has been judged as an evil Event globally changing the West’s relationship with Arab speaking countries in its “war on terrorism.” But that same Event has led to the horror of the Afghanistanian and Iranian wars, and the clawing back of human rights by the United States in the name of protectionism from preemptive terrorist strikes. Since the act is always a “crime” or “transgression” of the limit of the symbolic community to which one belongs, how is it to be judged? Transposing this conceptualization to the music scene, does Gangsta Rap qualify for an ethical act proper within the culture of hip-hop? Or, is it outright evil within the hip-hop movement that sought social awareness through nonviolent means? Is this a restaging of the Malcolm X versus Martin Luther King controversy? Both were driven toward change beyond the Law but through opposite means. How is a figure like Kurt Cobain to be judged? Does he constitute a proper break in the annals of punkrock where a new point de capiton (new structuring principle) emerges causing a “symbolic death” to the socio-symbolic field of music “behind” him? In the “high culture” of music should John Cage be identified as the spoiler of musical aesthetics, redefining music as simply “sounds we hear,” the realm of aisthesis (sensation)?4 The final possibility of answering these questions because of the radical indeterminacy of the act is precisely what makes an act or event in the Real point in the direction of justice, which strictly speaking, always lies “beyond” the Law since it challenges rather than disturbs it. But the price paid may indeed be more than merely symbolic, but a physical death as well. Transgression in contrast is not “beyond” the Law; rather it recognizes the Law in its very transgression, and wishes that this Law reveal itself. We can understand the relation between transgression to the Law in terms of

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chaos theory, as a form of “turbulence.” Musical transgression as turbulence or “noise” is stochastic behavior; that is, random and aleatory within the broader structure of hegemonic music. In contrast a true event dissipates and changes the structure. The point is, no one knows just when a particular transgression as noise will “cause” an event. Beatlemania, rock ’n’ roll, and rap, arguably, were events. They changed the way music was heard and the way the body responded to the changed refrains. A new affective force was introduced. Hence, both order and disorder have laws. Transgression as “musical noise” has increased in contemporary youth cultures in their desire to be recognized and heard by authority (Law). Significantly, Tricia Rose’s (1994) brilliant study of rap music and Black culture in contemporary America is entitled Black Noise. The clamor of “noise” in the disturbance and violence it brings to the accepted Symbolic Order is a form of imaginary transgression. At what point does it lead to an ethical act proper to cause an obvious break or limit in the established order always remains indeterminate and contingent. There is, for instance a “White Noise” movement in Sweden, which began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which was nationalistic and anti-Semitic, celebrating the mythology of the SS and warrior violence. No one would support that their racial claims are ethical? But, did Grrrl culture (chapter 13) cause such a rupture in rock music? Or, was it confined to forms of male mimicry? Should Gangsta Rap then be identified as an ethical act “beyond” the Law, rather than merely transgressing it? To limit an ethical act only to a revolutionary event (as does Zizek following his influence by Alain Badiou5), identifies it with an argument formulated in different ways by Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) and Stephen Jay Gould’s notion of syncopated evolution; an unexplainable break in history always occurs due to creatio ex nihilo. History “proper” is an unpredictable and nonlineal array of events. Transgressive antecedent acts have their own political import. In terms of chaos theory, one never knows just which one becomes an event, an ethical act proper. In Deleuzean terms, a potential is always available in the virtual before it becomes actual. As Attali (1985) maintains, in all cultures noise is associated with the idea of weaponry, blasphemy, and plague, becoming a source of fear and pain. The terror of noise always brings with it anxiety, death, and the concern of power to control it. As language is the “murder” of the object in Hegelian terms in the way it removes the speaker from any direct grasp of the linguistic referent, music might be thought of as the “murder” of noise. It tames and harmonizes what are taken to be non-sense signifiers into pleasing form. Mothers sing to their babies to sooth the demand of their temper tantrums, giving form and containment to the baby’s crying; they rock and sway their bodies to calm them down. Music tames the “beast,” the demands of the drives. For Attali music becomes “a simulacrum of sacrifice [and] an affirmation that society is possible. . . . The code of music simulates the accepted rules of society (29, original emphasis). The paradox, of course, is that noise is a source of mutation carrying with it—although the new sound is strange at first—new information with its absence of meaning


M  Y C: A L A

actually challenging the accustomed auditory sensation, thereby freeing up the listener’s imagination. “What is noise to the old order is harmony to the new” (35). A new order of noise dissipates the old structure. There is chaos in harmony and harmony in chaos. The music scene is always already conflicted by unbound noise, which is usefully theorized by Freud’s death drive as reinterpreted by Lacan in S VII, Ethics, and again in S XI, Four Fundamentals where he demonstrated that the death drive holds a paradox. While the aim of the drive is death, it achieves its satisfaction precisely by failing in this very aim. The drive’s inhibition as a failed satisfaction is none other than an act of sublimation. The “true” nature of the drive is, however, desublimation, a constant becoming, to find a satisfaction that is different from its aim. The question is how subversive is this desublimation to the established musical order? The critique made by the Frankfurt School (Adorno) maintained that this creative energy of desublimation would be appropriated by capitalism to further an economy of consumption. Adorno, in his piece “On Popular Music” (1941) was well-known for his distaste of popular music. As opposed to “serious” music, pop music was standardized, offering only passive escapism from the dullness and repetition of work under capitalism. It would appear that the consumption of popular music for economic gain is obvious globally, but, as we shall see, this is only part of the story. The death drive of noise is (de)sublimated by counter-hegemonic forms of music not caught by the circuits of desire. Counter-hegemonic cacophonic noise still belongs to the Lacanian Imaginary psychic register of the ego in the sense that it consciously insists in its attempt to shatter the harmonic frame of established music, which as an entrenched form of signification, belongs to the psychic register of the Symbolic Order. Noise invades the established fantasy as the taken for granted soundscape that conveys stability, wholeness, structure, reliability, harmony, and so forth. However, noise is also “driven” by an unconscious and unrepresentable force of primary (basic or fundamental) fantasy,6 in the Lacanian psychic register of the Real where silence expresses the disarticulatory power of the death drive. Within the gap of the dialectical relationship between noise and acceptable music we find a kernel of silence, an intervening force that destroys the established sonic body of meaning by opening up a new temporality and spacing between the oral and the aural, between the voice and the ear. An entirely new performing, hearing, and listening becomes possible. This takes place below the level of language and the imaginary, at the site/sight/cite7 of the audiophone skin-ego (Anzieu, 1989, 158), the bodily threshold that mediates the outside from the inside, as an affective intense feeling (more on the skin-ego below). This silence of the death drive is already found in the heart of intractable noise that has already been filtered out (exteriorized) by socially acceptable musical forms. It is a repressed and inhibited “sound sense” not registered, amplified, nor formed into soundscapes of significance, and hence, there is an implied ethics of its demand, which we address as the chapters unfold, but more fully as an “ethics of the Real” in the last chapter of this book.

F  N  S   D D


Silence is the “cause” of difference in repetition of sound (Lacan’s famous objet a) that undermines any concept of structure with its uncanny force. While noise de-forms the accepted musical landscape, its “cause” as non-sense lies in the unheard Real psychic register. Transposed to the language of quantum theory, silence forms “black holes” of enfolded bundles of potentiality from which new intensities emerge that clamor with the Eros of negentropic noise as creation ex nihilio. Such silence is a contingent temporization of space that resides at the heart of music as an unconscious force of the death drive. As a “pulse” or drive of negentropic energy, its effects intervene between sense (awareness, intuition) and meaning. But how can death (Thanatos) “cause” life? Death forms the backdrop of our existence, a source of negentropy (the background cosmic noise of the big Bang), the unknown silence before creation of the universe. All we know of death is that it will happen—Real knowledge. Such cosmological speculations bring us into the realm of “string theory” of quantum gravity, which admirably speaks to the paradoxical tensions of effective silence. String theory has close ties to the complexities of music and Lacan’s theory of the drives (Triebe). It speaks of tension, intensity, and the excitation of an infinitesimal relativistic string only a Planck length long (1033 centimeter long, about a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter), which vibrates and moves “warping” space-time relative to a unique observer. String theory posits open and closed loops of vibrating strings with quantum particle differences attributed to variations of vibrations. Superstring theory as supersymmetry has an open string (bosons, particles that transmit forces) coming together with a closed string (fermions, particles that make up matter— a particle being like a note played on a string). All of this is “pure” imaginative mathematical speculation, no one has ever “seen” a string. In the context of what is being developed in this chapter, this is not unlike Lyotard’s articulation of a “diadeictical” relation (Lyotard, 1991, 39), a variety of a dialectic which is qualified not in terms of binary contradiction, but as a paradox where no emergent Aufhebung occurs in the interaction between two systems, only an incommensurable gap between them during an exchange. What I have in mind is the “diadeictical relationship” between the demand of the drives and the desire of fantasy that is mediated by the ego-skin where they “touch” (exchange) with one another. The sense of touch is most apt in this case given the indistinguishable relationship between what is touching and what is touched as Merleau-Ponty (1968) developed in notion of the “chiasma,” a metaphor for the hyperdialectic exchange, which differentiates and unifies opposites in a continuous movement.8 The fantasy of the mutual skin shared between mother and child is an example. Similarly, Anzieu’s (1989) notion of skin-ego follows Merleau-Ponty’s notion of “flesh,” which allows for the mutual interaction and exchange of the “world” (environment) with the body. To allow oneself to be touched means dropping bodily defenses—one’s “posture image” in Charles S. Peirce’s terms. The skin-ego as “flesh” acts as an “index sign” of the body, registering affective memory traces as a synesthetic bodily experience composed of graphic, acoustic, haptic, and


M  Y C: A L A

Figure 2.1 Demand and drive as intertwining toruses.

kinetic bodily registrations. However, in the digitalization of post-photography, indexicality disappears. To apply such a process metaphorically to the body’s construction of an image, I feel, pushes in the direction of becoming-metal, which might have some validity when it comes to body piercing.9 Following Lacan, demand and desire are linked together like two torus forms (doughnuts) intertwined, one torus (doughnut) fitting into the hole of the other (figure 2.1). This would be a model of enfolded space-time of Thanatos (demand and death) and Eros (desire and life), which in string theory is currently set at nine spacial dimensions with time being the tenth. Such speculation will necessarily continue to fall short and remain reductive of the hypercomplex exchange between the incommensurable closed and open loops of life and death. No final answer is ever possible because death is the final limit. The death drive, paradoxically, is not the simple termination of life— although it certainly can lead to suicide, but rather addresses death’s transgression as an animating dynamic principle of life through sublimation and desublimation: Eros and Thanatos are intimately bound together in hypercomplex ways as represented by figure 2.1. Every birth carries within it the seeds of its own death. Another way of saying all this is that death is “enfolded” into life in a space-time of the Real, which Lacan identified by the neologism “extimate” (extimité) to capture such possibilities. The prefix ex refers to exteriority (extérieur), while intimate (intimité) refers to interiority. There are no hard lined boundaries between them as much as affective intensities that become exchanged, like the process of a left glove inverting itself into the right one and vice versa by pulling each inside out. Freud’s term, the uncanny (unheimlich) is an instance of this Real extimate spacetime since it posits something strangely opposite already embedded in what is comfortably understood. The moment of its realization sends a shock, a shudder to perception. The “silence of noise” is that very uncanny dimension that dwells in music. As “dead silence” it is a “frame” that does not exist. It can’t be heard, yet it structures the sounds of life.

T V B   R Lyotard’s Discours, figure (1971; see Rodowick, 2001), offers a theory of the death drive in aesthetic matters through his notion of the figural in discourse. The figural is theorized as part of the primal fantasy, as a force that erodes

F  N  S   D D


the distinction between letter and line; the letter being a closed invariant line while the line opens the letter that is closed. The line, like noise, is the “Other” of discourse, referring to the realm of visual art, which has remained a separate sphere from textual writing in Western aesthetics. Lyotard proceeds to deconstruct their opposition through the force of the figural. The figural then is the chiasma between text and figure. The aesthetic force of the figural derives from the ineluctable and uncanny disorderly repetition of the death drive, just as silence plays the same function between transgressive noise and established popular music. The figural silence, if it can be put that way, belongs to the time of the future anterior (Rodowick, 2001, 19); it is untimely and indeterminate, but when it occurs it reorders the past memory. Lacan in Seminar XI makes a distinction between repetition (Weiderholung), which is a missed encounter with the Real when time metaphorically stands “still”; that is, a missed encounter with an existential moment, and a repetition (Wiederkehr) where difference is encountered. (Kehr in German means a turning around.) Something “happens” that throws the normal reoccurrence of representation and lineal time into disarray. Like Bill Murray in Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day (1993), the deadly repetition comes to a halt, and an escape from the time-loop of automatic repetition occurs. It is a sublime moment filled with pain and pleasure as the imaginary frame that holds the conceptualized reality together gives way to a new beginning. A new signifier is invented. We might say that Bill Murray’s repetitive movements to get out of the loop in time only occurred when the object cause of his drives changed, enabling him to confront the Real of his desire. The “diadeictical” and paradoxical relationship between bodily interior and exterior, which can be theorized in any number of ways as a non-deconstructable relationship between hate/love, demand/desire, umwelt/innenwelt, and so on, is mediated by a virtual body of the developing skin-ego. The skin-ego presents the space-time of an excluded middle between the body’s inside and outside, a vacuum zone as a field of forces that is filled with potential for exchange. This is the enfolded space-time of fantasy. Fantasy is virtual, and hence intimately intertwined with the Symbolic meaningful order and the nonsensical Real, which is where the affective states of the body are registered but remain unprocessed. This virtual envelope, which makes possible an alter ego or imago, can be likened to Winnicott’s notion of “transitional space.” Lacan called it an “extimate” space (while Merleau-Ponty identified it as a chiasma) to indicate the paradoxical exchange of opposites that goes on through the body’s skin membrane. Laura Marks’s Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (2002) for instance, is a brilliant exposé of the way haptic visuality brings the eye and touching together in video and film. And, so it is with music. The oral and aural are intimately linked as well through the audio-phonic body of the skin-ego. The mouth and the ear are mediated by voice forming a sonorous virtual body formed by the continual vibrations of the skin-ego, at different “speeds” as Deleuze would say. This acoustic body (Silverman, 1988; Chion, 1999) can float on its own, making the physical body seem to “disappear,” leaving the listener only with a


M  Y C: A L A

disembodied voice, which houses a paradoxical beautiful sublimity in its striving to achieve such an “impossible” dismemberment. The Canadian singer Rita McNeil, grotesquely overweight, almost hideous in appearance, her body seemed to disappear when she began to sing. It was her voice, and nothing but her voice that mattered. There is a scene from Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Name of the Rose (1986) where the monk Salvatore, sporting a truly Medieval face, unclean, unwashed, toothless, and grotesque, turns virtually angelic as he begins to sing when fire is set to the pyre he is about to die upon. Such moments show us the sublimity of the disembodied voice, like in a operatic aria, when it seems to have a magical presence all of its own. Brian Massumi (2002) from a Deleuzean perspective has explored the space-time of this virtual body in his commendable book, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. The virtual body of fantasy is formed recursively, within a half-second “missed” interval or relay formed when the mind anticipates a sensation, and when that very sensation is then perceived and qualitatively organized and registered. Following in the footsteps of Deleuze’s Bergsonian roots, the brain and skin are conceived as a “resonating vessel.” It creates a virtual space, which depending on the intensity of the experience, happens below the level of consciousness, traumatizes or shocks the narrative continuity of the body as cognitively and consciously registered in short and long-term memory. Acupuncture, for instance, is an obviously minor example in the way that the body’s energy flows can be temporarily reorganized by disturbing the fantasmatic virtual space-time of the skin-ego. Tattooing, however, is more permanent in disturbing established bodily signifiers, while high perfomance piercing becomes the most radical way the skin-ego undergoes intensity to change the imaginary ego. The temporality of the body’s lived narrative, much like Deleuze’s articulation of “timeimage cinema” where the linear certainty of space-time is confounded through the rearrangement of narrative sequences, can be usefully thought through nonlineally to incorporate conditions of “deferred action,” what Freud identified as Nachträglichkeit experiences. The half-second interval Massumi identifies, which appears falsely (Lacan would call a méconnaissance) as a direct conscious registration of sensation by the ego, harbours within it a bodily memory that can be repressed indefinitely once trauma has taken place. We can illustrate this enfolding of space-time on the body simply through a looped reflexive arc of experience (figure 2.2.) Line A represents the flow of repetitive linear time as unreflected experience. Our bodies register various sensations continually from the environment (Other) at the psychic Real “beyond” image and language. Point B is the past moment of a reflexive arc or loop (minimally one-half second long in duration) where we consciously process these sensations and give them meaningful signification by willfully editing them. We hear certain words, ignore others, perceive and frame our reality. The space-time of the loop marked as C is therefore in the present “tense” of the body—which essentially exists as a potential vacuum in a state of vibration—a transitional extimate space-time. Thus, the body’s presence of being is potentially always

F  N  S   D D


Minimum 1/2 second delay C Enfolded virtual space Potential vacuum A B

Libidinal experience


Conscious bodily registration

Figure 2.2 Reflexive arc.

open to change. It represents the imaginary virtual body, which will be represented by our idealized fantasy formation of it (bodily imago), as well as the nonsymbolizable Real. This virtual space can be theorized as our skinego (Anzieu, 1989), a “thinking body,” which mediates the Imaginary level between the deadly effects of the impossible unknown Real and the discursively known Symbolic Order. Deadly jouissance is bodily presence raised to a vibration beyond what is a pleasurable limit. The loop breaks and is unable to “reflect,” to close itself. A marks a point where the reflexive turn takes place. This means that the segment of sensual libidinal experience (segment B through A) of potential presence has a paradoxical existence. Part of it will have been consciously registered by the Imaginary and given a representation through the Symbolic, and part of it will remain as an excess, which will not be consciously registered as filtered through memory traces. This excess belongs to the Real. It is that part which has been unconsciously registered already in the Real of the body forming our unique symptoms.10 This excess of unregistered sense (or nonsense), therefore, is subject to another dimension of time, to the future anterior. It “may” be picked up, revisited sometime later in the future changing the established virtual body so that our symptom is eventually confronted. The loop contains within it a potential that is to come, a potential that can be revisited in the future to make a difference to the unconscious psyche, not as a Wiederholung but as a Wiederkher, which requires an encounter with the Real. This means that the 1/2 second empirical interval has imbedded and enfolded in it contingent and indeterminate sublime time. This leads us to figure 2.3. Figure 2.3 is a reflexive arc that is not closed, exposing the effects of the Real. It is the representation of a drive that has not been sublimated by meaning or caught in a repetitive loop of painful satisfaction in its failure to achieve its goal. An encounter with the Real means that an extreme event has taken place as registered through the membrane and orifices of the skin-ego. This opens up a potential space-time for “traversing” the fantasy space of the virtual body as represented by the broken line B, marking an encounter that installs a difference. This is an “act” in the proper psychoanalytic sense where


M  Y C: A L A


Previous reflexive arc

B C⬘ Encounter with the real A⬘ B⬘ Contingent occurence


Traversal of the fantasy


Figure 2.3 Open loop of potential.

the unconscious Real Self ( Je) is affected and a new beginning achieved. The open loop C represents the potential to confront our symptoms where, once again, such an act raises ethical considerations. The time of B is unpredictable. Once achieved the line segment B—D presents a transformation of a traversed fantasy and a new beginning. The two loops viewed three dimensionally present a dynamic spiraling vortex of change, a figure whose traces are evident throughout Nature’s creative growth and decay. This is the turbulence of chaos theory at work as open-system dynamics. What triggers such a meeting with the Real, a past trauma for instance, is always a contingent event, which has much to do with the chaotic vagaries of “fate,” as Lacan argued in S XI, Four Fundamentals. As discussed earlier, Lacan’s late seminars in the 1970s, which further developed his speculations of the unconscious Real, already adumbrates and explores the Deleuzean and Guattarian paradigm, which came as a direct criticism of his structuralism in the early 1970s. As Jerry Aline Flieger (1997) has usefully argued, Deleuze and Guattari’s groundbreaking book, Anti-Oedipus (1983), the first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia is misnamed. It is neither anti-Freudian nor even “anti-Oedipal.” She proceeds to dismantle the distance that they claim to be making from the Freud–Lacanian paradigm by turning their own theoretical apparatus in on themselves. Their attack is better understood as a mode of disavowal.11 What emerges from this stunning work (and their follow-up volume, A Thousand Plateaus) is an emphasis on the positive and “productive” force of desire, rather than being caught by metonymic “lack” as in Lacan. But such a formulation is nothing more (nor less) than first, a recognition and then, a theorization of the death drive (or “pure” desire) that becomes “productive” in its “dismantling” of Oedipalization as embedded in designer capitalism through forms of production based on specific consumerist fantasies of familial desires. Our claim throughout this book is that the musical noise of youth culture is one such dismantling site/ sight/cite staged through the perversions and hysterizations of the oral and aural drives. The death drive (Todestrieb) is concerned with affective bodily extremes that refer to an impossible excess of pleasure, as well as a morbid repetition

F  N  S   D D


of the same to arrive at a “ground zero.” This is where such repetition “stumbles” on to the place of oral/aural silence in the Real—the unheard piercing note where the protective “glass” of the ego-skin is shattered. The “cause” of such temporal stoppage, like the Siren’s call, issues a warning death cry. In contemporary terms we might understand this as the limits of the symbolic drama masks that have gone awry. On one side we have hysterical laughter as an experience of intense pleasure when transgressing and going beyond the Law; and on the other, the uncontrollable intense cry within us as the depressive suffering of our symptoms. These limits are not to be understood classically as boundaries or fixed definable borders. There is no “point” reached; rather it is best to think of limits as being asymptotic and virtual. A body’s limit exists as a field, which cannot be occupied. It intensifies through the body’s vibrations to the point of death, which is its “true” limit, not a spurious one. These limits are moments of psychotic and paranoid madness, as the imaginary ego becomes undone. Both ecstatic happiness and depression coexist simultaneously in the unconscious. As Lacan (1988, S II, The Ego in Freud) put it, “the death instinct is only the mask of the Symbolic Order” (326). Without symbolic ways to contain it, the affect of the Real would overwhelm us. In other words, language represents (constitutes) us, but who we are, our “true being” exists elsewhere—in the unconscious Real where our unique simthomes lie. What is missing from this discussion thus far is Lacan’s conceptual understanding of jouissance, the psychical energy that circulates between and within “musical” bodies of self and Other. For Freud human beings strove to attain an “impossible” desire. The search for absolute happiness, which took many forms, including hypothetically absolute sexual pleasure as experienced in incest; a fantasy of complete symbiosis with a mythical figure (be that Mother, Father, a mythical character, God, the Devil, or one self ), which may have nothing do with actual familial ties. But such an Other does not exist. The incest fantasy meant that one is never complete, but longs for completion through love. As Lacan was to provocatively put it: “The sexual relation does not exist.” That is to say, there is no absolute symbolic relationship between the sexes because there is no absolute signifier for jouissance. Masculine and feminine are but two failed attempts for self-completion. Endless love songs are composed to bridge the impossible gap that exits between them through the Imaginary psychic register. Absolute desire, born in the erogenous zones of the body, therefore cannot be fully achieved. Total jouissance is impossible. It must be repressed generating a painful state of psychical tension. One wants something so badly, but is unable to get it; yet the drive has somehow to be satisfied. The more repression that is placed on not being able to get the desired object, the more psychic tension that is built up, the more desirous the object tends to be. Eventually, a point is reached where this drive energy is discharged, but never totally and completely. One part is satisfactorily “freed,” overcoming repression and becomes dissipated (as a symptom, a slip of the tongue, a dream), but another part is unconsciously retained and conserved as


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excess bodily energy. Jouissance, in this regard, is always sexual. We have passionate attachments to things. But this sexually erotic attachment is not to be understood simply as being confined to the genitals, rather it refers to polymorphous, as well as synesthetic libidinal attachment to things; the body’s affective investment in them. Music and voice are two such cathexed objects. In the next chapter we work out the significance of jouissance for music.

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E P   D J  P Jouissance is defined in relationship to Freud’s notion of the “pleasure principle,” which is a reduction of tension to an agreeable level. As Freud (SE XVIII, 1920) was to show in his reexamination of his earlier thesis on the pleasure principle, there was a realm, which exists “beyond” it; the realm of the death drive where a certain form of enjoyment emerges defined by a paradoxical mixture of both pleasure and pain. This death drive was associated with the “polymorphously perverse” body of the drives (Triebe) governed by libidinal intensities that circulate around various erogenous zones of the body. Lacan identified such extreme pleasure as jouissance. This aspect of pleasure is at once unpleasant, harmful, and disturbs the equilibrium of the pleasure principle. Although it would make full sense to avoid its clutches, it also offers a form of avoidance, but incorporates the paradoxes of masochistic pleasurable pain and sadistic painful pleasure. We are hooked by it through our symptoms; at the same time we “love” and enjoy the suffering unwilling to change. There is pleasure in the experience of pain, and pain in the experience of pleasure. Jouissance indicates a realm of human suffering, which is not desirable because it leads to self-destructive behavior, but this is only half the story. The etiology of existence posits a longing for an undesirable something that would destroy the subject in its attempt to be subjectivized, addressing an impasse within the species Homo sapiens between human and inhuman. Jouissance is a realm of “too much,” an inhuman exception that arises simultaneously with the “cut” of the Law. This exception is then judged and maintained since sovereignty must rely on such an exception to create its rule. It is the rule of Law, which gives rise to the exception, and not the exception, which is somehow subtracted from it. The exception, therefore, is the foremost juridical element that is imbued with jouissant enjoyment, for it is either transgressing the Law or going beyond it in its quest for recognition, even if that means physical or symbolic death. The moment jouissance is reached as a limit, the subject can withdraw, recoiling from its force and the pleasure principle comes into operation once again. An oscillation takes place between the extremes of “too much” and “never enough,” acted out in


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relation to an internalized superego, placing us into the conflict of obeying or transgressing the Law, repeating our symptoms over and over as this limit is reached. This excess of jouissant pleasure should always already be perceived as “negative.” However, the symptom that transgresses and/or goes beyond the sovereign Law should not be immediately deemed criminal, for an ethical question continually emerges. Jouissance is foremost a judicial concept in the way that it becomes restricted pleasure in relation to the Law of the Symbolic Order. We are allowed to “enjoy” only in legitimated sublimated ways, although the dividing line between public and private promiscuity continues to blur. There is, therefore, another way to grasp the importance of jouissance with relation to the death drive and hence to jurisprudence, the Law and justice, and that it to equate it with zoë the “naked life” of the animalitas. In the important critical oeuvre by Giorgio Agamben, beginning with Homo Sacer (1998), the usually accepted Foucauldian thesis of the rise of bio-power of the modern state in the seventeenth century is radically rethought to Greco-Roman times where zoë, as “natural” or animal (biological) life becomes opposed to politically and culturally qualified life (bios) as constituted by the polis. Zoë belonged to the private sphere of the household (oikos) while bios had everything to do with the “good life” of the public sociopolitical sphere. Zoë is unbridled animated life, what Lacan termed lamella— “pure life” instinct. Therefore, what is “animal” in humans—as the jouissance of unbridled and desublimated Triebe (and not Instinkts)—is included in the Symbolic Order (polis) through exclusion, as an exception. Zoë as “bare life” (vita nuda) is identified as the part that is “inhuman” in us, not seemingly subject to rational logos—in our terms, as desublimated drives that are “beyond” the Law. Desublimated drives seem to be acephalous, uncontrollable, having a “will” of their own because they are caught by mere “survival.” They are “uncultivated,” taking any “object” to satisfy their craving—debased as “animality.” A sublimated drive, in distinction, is not blind animal thriving but compelled by the demand of an ethical compulsion. The Law of Symbolic Order demands that drives be civilized. “Pure life” or “pure desire,” therefore, is just another name for the death drive where “survival” dominates, animated with zoë and the “bare living” of the oikos (family household). The “sacredness” of reproductive life in Greco-Roman society in relation to the Law is excluded. Women and slaves became the originary “included excluded” inhuman exceptions, a point many feminist historians and political analysts have developed for quite some time (Elshtain, 1981; Pomeroy, 1975). The “sacredness” of life is abandoned, rather than being protected by the polis/state. Being abandoned means being placed in an ambiguous position inside or outside the judicial order with women and children being the most obvious fallout of such a policy, while animals are not given much consideration. This sacredness of life as zoë with its associations to the divine and its separation from the realm of the profane was eventually constituted in archaic Roman law with the figure of homo sacer (1998, 71)—a “sacred man”

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outside both the juridical and religious spheres who could be licitly killed because of crimes committed. The sacredness of “bare life” was always treated as an exception as deemed fit by the sovereignty of the state. In contemporary times the “inhuman” life of zoë is suspended in the “survival” spaces not recognized as part of the legitimated bios of the Symbolic Order, what Agamben generally calls “camps” (l’aperto): refugees (in camps), immigrants and rejected asylum seekers (detention facilities), the homeless (on the streets), Alzheimer suffers who seem to be suspended between bios and zoë (in nursing homes), as are criminals (in jails), the HIV-positive (in isolation), the brain dead (on life-support systems), porno stars (neither considered stars nor actors), and transsexuals (neither fully masculine nor feminine, neither fully gay nor lesbian). In Youth Fantasies it was argued that postmodernity is characterized by the “culture of the drive.” In this sense we follow Agamben in his general thesis that (post) modernity is a movement of bios to zoë, a withdrawal of the state, which is yet another way of saying that the superego demands that we “Enjoy!” From the outset, Agamben argues that the democracy of the polis attempted (unsuccessfully) to reassert the freedom of natural life (zoë) into the qualified life (bios) of the polis in the name of freedom, liberation, and happiness, but the tension between bios (human) and zoë (animal) could never be fully overcome. A reconciliation of the two poles ends up in a reification of human “essence,” a closed exclusionary system where rationality and reason (ratio, logos) comes to terms with animalitas. Those deemed as exceptions to the logos are therefore inhuman, whereas a reconciliation the other way can be identified as a Levinasian turn.1 Levinas turned his attention to the pre-ontological “face” of the exceptional Other as an ethical call, directing such an ethics to their inhuman suffering as zoë, which escapes state recognition. Such a move into singularity highlights once more the impossibility of the reconciling zoë and bios since it conflates “human essence” with animality. Animal rights are given a “face” as well through various forms of ecologically informed Green political movements. Such an impasse confirms Lacan’s fundamental ontology that we are split subjects. The inhumaness of zoë is precisely that part of us that characterizes us as an “unfinished” species making “human” an open democratic concept without a telos. This diadeictical tension between “animality” and “humanity” is answered by Freud–Lacanian concept of the drives, which are neither “animal” nor “human,” since both framing terms cannot be definitively fixed for they hold the very dialectic of our species being. The circulation of drive-demand and desire is the “humanizing” ethic that escapes the “anthropological machinery,” which Agamben warns us about. Zoë as jouissance, the order of the drives, is the contested zone of postindustrial capitalism. On the one hand capitalism’s thirst in the name of personal freedom and liberalism continually opens up and then colonizes the private and personal sphere of oikos through new forms of medical technologies that attempt to capture life as unmediated jouissance in the womb itself through cloning, stem cell research, and artificial insemination; as well as


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through “reality television” that exploits human survival and human relationships in the name of entertainment, further encouraging excesses in consumerism, pornography, and waste so that profit dollars may be made; on the other hand desublimated jouissance is the very threat that the sovereign Law must continually manage in forms of transgression against and “beyond” the sovereign state where the human from the inhuman is always managed through various forms of abandonment of life as zoë, through neoliberalist policies, that continually claw back social security, even old age pensions. In this regard the pure death drive as zoë, as naked life, could be productive threat to capitalist globalization as speculated and suggested by Hardt and Negri (2000, 366) in Empire.

F  J The above peculiar reading of desublimated jouissance as zoë raises the question of feminine jouissance as being the exception, always excluded from the polis as bio-power constantly territorializes her body in an attempt to include her. What strategies are left in this “exceptional” space? As we continue to explore Lacan’s various uses of jouissance, it will be suggested that two strategies of postfeminism in the music scene prevail where the possibilities of feminine jouissance emerge. One is the attempt to exploit the body as a “body double,” while the other is to do away with the body. These two strategies are presented as strategies of the drives. Lacan identified four partial drives as the primary sources of jouissance—issuing from the body’s cavities that are open to the Other. The first is the oral drive of the erogenous zone of the mouth where sucking in the exteriority of the environment (the Other) by the infant originarily happens at the breast. There is also abject pleasure in refusing food and spitting it out. Next, the anal drive of the erogenous zone of the anus where expelling the interiority of the body takes place, feces being the originary object of expulsion. Again, there is abject pleasure in retention and not letting things go, hoarding and collecting and accumulating what is “mine.” Someone “anal” can be fastidiously clean and orderly. The oral and anal drives are intimately related in the dialectic of bodily incorporation and expulsion as it mediates the Other (environment in the broadest sense, including the caregiver most often the Mother). The first two drives are pre-Oedipal and subject to the demands of the Other. The infant must eat and expel the processed food, but these biological functions are written over by a bodily erotic in the infant’s relationship with the mother. These first two drives occur during what Lacan identified as a period of “alienation” when the infant begins to vocalize holophrastic speech acts, but has not yet learnt to “talk back.” The body is subject to a nonsexualized jouissance because these drives are not yet subjected to castration; that is, to a meaningful signifier of language and socialization, which then makes the complete jouissance of the mother an impossibility. Separation from the mother as the second phase of development has to take place, otherwise there is the danger of psychosis—the complete refusal of

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socialization. This is a crucial point for our thesis, which we explore in chapter 9 on the link of death metal music to high school shooting tragedies such as Columbine. The next two drives: the scopic drive and invocative aural drive involve the erogenous zones of the eye and ear where the gaze and voice subject the infant to desire, and hence to Oedipalization of the Symbolic Order. It is the “diadeictic” between these two sets of drives which are of particular interest to the thesis we are developing in the following chapters to develop the perverted and hysterized musical fantasies of postmodern post-Oedipalization. In a nutshell, the hybridization of the post-Oedipal positions of boyz and gurlz consists of the various perversions and hysterizations of the “driven” body of jouissance and the sadomasochistic pacts between performers and audience that take place in the music scene through transgressions to and beyond the Law. Lacan referred enjoyment within the Law as phallic jouissance because language causes entropy, devitalizing the body of its jouissance by exteriorizing it through the sexual drives. Enjoymeant is found in song sublimating the drives. This phallic jouissance is located at the intersection between the Real psychic register (non-sense) and the Symbolic psychic register (sense). Jokes, for instance, are an obvious example of “legitimately” getting a laugh at the expense of the Other. However, “full” or “pure” jouissance ultimately means death since a fictional virtual body either has not yet been formed, or partially formed as in autism, through meaningful signification; or the existing virtual body is unable to sublimate the effects of the Real, as in psychosis or suicide. There is no “protection” from Real effects of the drives. The social order via the Mother’s prohibition and then the Father’s “No!” has not yet fully “written” and mapped the body, socializing it both culturally and uniquely for each and every infant. An infant without language, for instance, “gets off ” his or her bodily jouissance through the “pleasure” of hyperactive sensori-motor explorations. This is the way it defends itself against anxiety and its bodily drives. Any partial drive can be destructive and self-consuming with no representational object (no symbolization) to put a halt to it. Jim Carey, the lawyer in Tom Shadyac’s film Liar, Liar is (1997) is a “runaway mouth,” his oral drive controls his body. This is an unbridled jouissance not caught by the Law, often referred to as the Other jouissance in its link to the Real body (Lacan S XX, Encore). Carey is dangerous to himself as well as to those around him. The slippage of the signifier between liar and lawyer is that of the drive and desire. Normally the “law” (as desire) protects you from the “lie” (the drive). Here, the situation has been inverted to reveal a particular “truth,” that the trust in the Law is waning. Lawyers are liars when they manipulate the gray zone of what is permissible under the Law. Lacan identifies another form of jouissance as lalangue, written as one word to identify the affective babbling associated with the mother tongue. Rap as a music form is impregnated with the jouissance as lalangue in the way it immediately “speaks” the body’s community. Perhaps the Black political


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activist and poet Amiri Baraka (a.k.a. LeRoi Jones, Imamu Amiri Baraka), once a key figure in the Black Arts Movement (BAM), is an exemplary in this regard. His poetry continually plays with non-sense sounds that are grounded in Black culture like the “scatting” of jazz musicians where meaningless syllables are continuously improvised. Language as signification is intimately intertwined and intervened with unconscious affective lalangue in the form of lallation of the mother tongue. This is a body jouissance before castration, sometimes referred to as the “Other jouissance” because it cannot yet be qualified as genital. Its location is at the intersection of the Real and the Imaginary psychic realms, at the level of the bodily skin-ego discussed earlier. This Other jouissance of the body’s drives is both traumatic and anxiety provoking. Phallic jouissance, which is contained by the Imaginary– Symbolic desire, serves as a “protection” from its Real effects. Lastly, there is also a jouissance located between the Imaginary and Symbolic psychic registers, a jouissance of meaning written as jouis-sense, an enjoyment-in-meaning. Here the voice uncannily detaches itself from the body, a phenomenon that we discuss later in reference to musical transgression. Is there a jouissance “beyond” the phallus, a jouissance that is attributable only to the feminine? Raised as a possibility by Lacan in S XX, Encore, the issue remains in dispute amongst feminists. Our wager is that aspects of postfeminist musical performance can be identified as non-phallic and feminine, as well as when an artwork becomes an event as discussed in our last chapter of this book. The ontology of the human being is theorized starting from ground zero, like the imaginary number of the  1 ; an existence in the polymorphous sexual Real that non-Lacanian theorists like Daniel Stern (1985), for example, call “the kernel of the self.” Both theorizations amount to the same conceptual understanding. Being, for Lacan, is posited as both empty and full at once; an unconscious state of coexistent Thanatos and Eros. The infant is in symbiosis of non-differentiation with an Other, referred to as das Ding (Thing) in S VII, Ethics, which is normally the mother.2 Because all infants undergo socialization of one form or other, they must give-up (sacrifice) some part of their jouissance, their feeling of completeness and omnipotence, to the Symbolic Order by way of language and naming and come into desire of the Other. They must face what it is that the Other desires; that is, what the mother both wants and desires as the first Other of the signifier. This means infants must eventually separate from their Thing, from their mothers, unable to make a “return” to her in the future. Complete symbiosis is lived only fleetingly in the sexual rapport of love on the imaginary level. Sexual enjoyment is partial and situated outside the body. We are all castrated in the sense that we must accept a fundamental lack within ourselves and be subjected to the desire of the Other. Because the Symbolic Order is unable to provide a complete answer to satisfy who one is or what is the meaning of life, the absurdity of existence itself comes to fore. The subject is left attempting to recover the missing jouissance through fantasy formations offered to it by the social order.

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P  H   M S This is where the postmodern social order, more fully elaborated in Youth Fantasies, becomes interesting. In a consumerist postindustrial society the demand of the superego is to tell us to “Enjoy!”3 The general tendency of the social order is to tell its populace to consume, to make the economy function for capitalist profit. There is a pressure and an expectation, as evidenced through the various media of television, film, leisure industry, fashion, and commodity consumerism, to actively seek out “lost” jouissance. Such a demand for “enjoyment” ends up being progressively sought for more and more in forms that are “beyond” the accepted “pleasure principle” as defined in a modernist society, unleashing the effects of the death drive. Life has intensified and a hyper-narcissism has emerged. The painful pleasures of various forms of body modification and extreme sports by youth cultures as acts of differentiation and resistance is, of course, an obvious manifestation of unleashed jouissance. Drug use and its resultant death through overdose is a common occurrence in transgressive and resistant cultures of music. Contrary to popular thought, in many cases substance abuse is taken to “protect” against the death drive, against an anxiety of being overwhelmed by a Social Order they are unable to cope with (Loose, 1999, 91). This was the case, for example, with the writer William S. Burroughs whose heroine addiction prevented his fall into a complete psychosis. We try to illustrate this point through the tragic life suffered by Kurt Cobain in chapter 7. As we argued in our previous volume Youth Fantasies, the postmodern is defined by a drive culture that is characterized by extremes of “pure” desire. With this in mind we can see why the bodily drives have been perverted and hysterized, unleashing deadly forms of jouissance so as to avoid or undo the castrating effects of the social order. In its everyday use, perversion is a pejorative term, which connotes not being “normal.” In contrast, as a psychic structure, it refers to a particular relation to the Law with its accompanying jouissance. In S XI, Four Fundamentals, during one of the question periods, Lacan defined the structure of perversion as “an inverted effect of phantasy (sic). It is the subject himself as object, in his encounter with the division of subjectivity [being a split subject]” (185). Musical perversion or père version as Lacan wrote it, is a response to the loss of trust in the centering of symbolic authority by young people—mostly by males in their response to the authorial Name-of-the-Father as represented by grand narratives of success, happiness, and progress in modernity.4 While musical hysteria, mostly by women, is a refusal to accept the authority of the Symbolic Order that offered them certain defined roles. Both perversion and hysteria rearrange the “normative” structures in the way jouissance is curbed by the Law of desire and held in check by the signifiers of language, releasing jouissance by remapping the virtual body at the level of fantasy. Releasing jouissance means releasing repression, again a “positive” sense of unconscious desire in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms.


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There is a refusal of castration, a refusal to accept the Other’s desire, an unwillingness to sacrifice his or her castration to the Other’s jouissance, which is to be understood as permissible phallic jouissance allowed by the Law—the legitimate ways to “get off ” as with most pop music. The result has been to pervert the pre-Oedipal drives and to hysterize the Oedipal ones. The oral and the anal drives have inversed into insatiable “pure” desires while the scopic and invocative aural drives have reversed into insatiable “pure” demands, both processes releasing increased violence and deadly jouissance. Such a possibility can only happen if there are ways the Symbolic Order itself is decentred, and that is precisely what post-Oedipalization is about, the decentering of the Oedipal edifice that maintained more coherent nuclear family structures and more definable age cohorts. Now, generational boundaries have blurred—youth extended to the iconic heights of a Michael Jackson, an ironic example of “becoming-child.” Intergenerational media participation has become the norm. Such a decentering of the big Other is enabled by the formation of numerous fan audiences that form many smaller Others, which we call ONE’s, as developed in chapter 15 on the fan(addict). Perversion of the pre-Oedipal drives is mainly a male preoccupation, but not exclusively; perversion inverts the struggle of separating from the Mother and establishing masculine authority by calling on the Law to assert itself. The first is a backward-looking gesture where an attempt seems to be made to give the (m)other satisfaction, while the second is forward-looking in that it attempts to prop up or supplement the Law of the Father (Fink, 1997, 272 ft. 39). The pervert transgresses the Law by reversing the fantasy structure of desire as happens in normal neurosis by maintaining his own satisfaction (occupying the position of objet a in Lacan’s terms), and not allowing the mother’s desire to serve as a cause of his own. There is seemingly a refusal of the Law in not wanting to give up satisfaction, it is a “will to jouissance” as exemplified by hyper-narcissism. Rather than being the phallus for the mother, an object that completes her, he attempts to have the phallus. Even when it seems the pervert is letting the Other (e.g., a fan) “get off ” on him, his aim is altruistic. This is the backward-looking gesture involving a perversion of the oral drive in the way the demand to consume becomes perverted as a “pure desire” to please oneself in consumption—a consumptive tantrum one might say—to be consumed or overwhelmed by an envelope of musical noise might be one such expression. The forward-looking gesture concerns the Law itself and the struggle with the father. In post-Oedipal families with the extension of postadolescence and failed responsibility to achieve adult life by youth, the perverted position of the son remains attached to the mother with a “soft” or weak father who is less likely to intervene to help in his complete separation from her. Although severely criticized, the men’s movement with representatives like Robert Bly (1990) who search for an essential masculinity through the “Iron John myth,” and institutional organizations like The Promise Keepers, who vow a return to nuclear family values, is an indicative counter manifestation of the contemporary father who struggles with his own problems with

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authority. He believes that fathers should not wield power over their children but be their friend; that children are rational creatures who can understand adult explanations, and usually prefers that his wife discipline the children so that he can be loved rather than feared (Fink, 1997, 180). The anal perversion toward authority given such a father, who in many cases is absent or has left home, is illustrated in the music scene through numerous references in song lyrics to being gay and calling others gay exemplified in punk rock. The provocation is to make the father fulfill his paternal function. MTV’s Jackass and the movie by Jeff Tremaine (2002) with the same title can be understood as a perverse anal fantasy of “reality” TV. The film’s disclaimer is that professionals do these stunts when it’s amateur hour all the way. The male body and its genitalia are treated nonsexually, as a “piece of meat,” subjected to various forms of mutilation (electric shock, pounding, hitting) and pain. The joke is to laugh at the stupidity of masculinity itself, at the same time to reassert and draw a line as to its lawful existence through the stupid bravery required to do these nonsensical stunts in the first place. To face the inevitable pain of broken bones, burnt and cut skin, and obvious bodily discomfort. Johnny Knoxville and the boyz “dump” all over the social order so that they can be reprimanded, humiliated, and sometimes arrested by the Law. Memorable “gross-outs” include shitting in an unplumbed toilet in a plumber’s shop. Shoving a model car wrapped in a condom up the anus and asking a doctor what to do about it. The anus has historically been colonized as a “sight” of male creativity, as Laporte (2000) has argued. Capitalism turns shit into gold through its marketing strategies, “retaining” its capital. Males, at the same time, “crap” out nuggets of wisdom through their clever schemes. Honoré Daumier even drew a cartoon of Louis Philippe, the Citizen King as Gargantua, sitting on the “royal head,” swallowing bags of money and then crapping out legislation meant to further enrichen his moneyed investors. Laporte’s own book is not free of scatological humour in the way he reduces the body to an oral (mouth) and anal drive, an input–output circuit of Deleuze and Guattari’s BwO (body without organs), which knows no alienation. The boyz seek no models of identification to which the Symbolic Order strives to mould them into. They act like the abjected shits that they are. The Jackass boyz’s disgusting vulgarity and carnivalesque grossness present yet another example of the postmodern repetition of the Bakhtinian medieval carnival as argued by a number of sociologists (Stallybrass and White, 1986; Shilling, 1993). As a form of perverted scatological laughter they provide a direct opposite to forms of high art and literature in terms of identity formation. Their psychic investment is in forms of identity transgression that characterize de-Oedipalization. While these transgressions are masochistic responses by letting the Other “get off ” on their antics by sacrificing their own bodies to bring the audience to witness an enunciation of the Law, there are also perverted sadistic and sadomasochistic (fetishistic) responses. I discuss these in relation to music in the following chapters as well. The failed response of separation from the mother can result in the


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foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father leading to a psychosis, which is a transgression not against the Law but beyond it. When it comes to the hysterization of the Oedipal drives by mostly females, we argue that the various ways of “becoming-woman” in contemporary youth cultures of postfeminism focus on the question of the virgin and slut opposition. One explanation for this is that hysteria “ ‘opts’ for an over-phallicisation because of an anxiety about the vagina” (Verhaeghe, 1999a, 158, original emphasis). With the phallus as the basic signifier of the Symbolic Order, the hysterical anxiety emerges because of a lack of a feminine equivalent. The hysteric demands an answer from the father, master, or phallus as to why she lacks. In chapter 14 I discuss how the “new virginity” is a way for her to avoid castration through the fantasy of a primal father, which I refer to as the ONE in postmodernity, who can provide The Answer. In chapter 15, such hysteria is identified as belonging to being a fan(addict) of this ONE—a decentered ONE, to be sure, but nevertheless this is gravitation toward an authority that provides a sense of belonging. Such a fantasy enables the hysteric to reduce the deficiency of her father and maintain the illusion of the possibility that an Answer to her lack exists (to bridge the gap between her paternal and symbolic father). At the same time such a hysterical fantasy enables her to refuse being the object of desire for the “old” patriarchal regime, to be reduced to filling the lack of the Other. Her desire for knowledge as “truth” is urgent, appealing to the Other in order for him to produce knowledge, which by definition, will remain unsatisfactory. Such post-Oedipalized hysteria has increased because the mother has desires outside her children, but the father is usually inadequate to fulfil even the slightest part of such desires. Psychosis would, again, occur if the mother had no desire beyond her children; the child filling up her desire entirely. But what if there is a way around this hysterical anxiety? I argue that the “new virginity” presents an ambiguity that does not completely follow the above hysterical scenario of the symbolic Father as Guru—the search for the right “imaginary” father to answer sexual identity as reviewed by Verhaeghe (1999a) in the thought of Freud to Lacan. Although ambivalent, the position of Eros in the “new virginity” holds the kernel of a feminine jouissance beyond the phallus. In chapters 11–14, I argue the jouissance attributed to both characterizations of being a virgin and slut is “stolen” back from patriarchy. Whether this theft can be identified as “feminine” (non-phallic) jouissance remains a contested issue amongst feminists intergenerationally. In Seminar XX, Encore, Lacan posited a feminine jouissance outside the order of the phallic signifier, which hysterical feminists like Luce Irigary have explored. The controversial thesis is presented that a particular kind of hysterical jouissance is one such possibility.5 Developments in postfeminism consist in the possible nascent recovery of feminine jouissance by a third generation of women en soi (in themselves) but not yet pour soi (for themselves). In one sense the maternal breast has been perverted into its silicone exaggerated implant in women’s refusal to give suckle to the infant, becoming an object of narcissistic possession, which sexually empowers the feminine body

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as a femme fatale who transgresses the Law. As femme fatal in the classical noir, the hysteric opts for a masculine line of development since she can only inscribe herself phallically in a negative way, but that brings forth an ethics of the Real concerning her complaint. What is the insistence of her drive that compels her to repeatedly encircle the site of a lost cause that longs for something that she believed has been overlooked, missed, shattered, and forgotten? The postfeminist neo-noir femme fatale of the new millennium (Lena Olin as the hitwoman in Romeo Is Bleeding ; Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction) “doubles” her body in hyper-narcissism by so obviously displaying her own insatiable desire for sex and seduction when sadistically destroying the male ego.6 While bordering on a pornographic discourse, the obvious enjoyment of her own femininity escapes any possible male gaze in this context. All is not necessarily reduced just to her hysterical demand for an object that would fill her lack, which is never enough. The “dirty virgin” of popular rock plays a similar game as the femme fatale of neo-noir. But there is a danger of falling into the trap of the pornographic Sadean woman, which I discuss in chapter 11. Second generation feminists paradoxically took their clothes off to become desexualized, a strategy well-known in performance art, which had marginal success given the overdetermined image of the nude in visual art. Postfeminist performers seem to be staging a “doubled body,” by intentionally staging femininity for their own ironic purposes. Regardless of sex/gender, we are all “hysterics” in a general sense, given that we are all split subjects who forever lack, caught by our own dissatisfactions. But, feminine jouissance, if it can be successfully argued that it indeed does exist, emerges from the hysterical drive that does away with this castrated lack. Since the concern is now with the scopic and aural drives of the already Oedipalized feminine body, the strategies of resistance to the Symbolic Order concern themselves with power—feminine power. The hysterization of the scopic drive has been inverted into a transgressive look that stares back, a look that defies any easy appropriation by males. Her Eros is selfwilled and controlled to reclaim sexuality, and to use it in her own seductive ways. The scopic gaze becomes redoubled, so to speak. Not blocked or resisted, which happens performatively as well through mimicking the male body in female bodybuilding (as will be discussed in part), but used in a typically mimetic way to accentuate the fantasy Woman of male desire for a jouissance of their own choosing, which admittedly many feminists would still claim to be phallic. But the question is raised whether such a mimicked double masquerade is a transgressive pleasure that is creatively “feminine”? Does scopic desire turn into a woman’s demand through her double mimicry—an exaggerated play with what is expected of women? Like Cindy Jackson who spent 10 years and $100,000 US dollars on 20 cosmetic surgery procedures to become a perfect Barbie doll—an obvious addiction to the jouissance of the death drive; or, Angela Vollrath, “Miss Barbie Deutschland” who has followed Jackson’s lead. Are their cosmetic surgeries any different than the surgical operations of the performance artist Orlan who claims to be developing an anti-Babrie stance toward surgical cosmetology? Certainly there is a profound


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ideological difference, but these postmodern hysterics dip into the same well of sublime jouissance. If this is an “all body” jouissance to avoid castration, then there is the hysterization of “all voice” where the body disappears; the paradox where the “fat” large body or the “small” frail one produces a voice that stands alone. Singers such as Rita McNeil, Ruben Studdard (a.k.a. the “Velvet Teddy Bear” and the “The Mound of Sound,” winner of American Idol 2), opera singers in general like Pavarotti, full-figured African American “Fly girls” and so on, seem to produce a sound that makes their grotesque bodies irrelevant both to us and them. Mark Herman’s Little Voice (1998) presents the other side of this paradox where a shy quite girl is able to sing like Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and Shirley Bassey. The ghost of her dead father seems to animate her singing. Or, the uncanny beautiful voice that emerges from the grotesque body of Salvatore (Ron Perlman) as he is burning at the stake in the film version of Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. It’s as if, in these instances, the entire body jouissance is invested in the voice itself, making it an object of sublime beauty. Their oral drive inverses into the “pure desire” of the aural as the consumptive drive-demand of the hysterized body becomes invested and disappears into the voice. Only the jouis-sense of the voice remains. Chion (1999) identifies and isolates this voice in cinema calling it the force of acousmetre (invisible sounds). It becomes sublimely beautiful both in its force and in its impossible reach; operatic arias being the tragic death notes of love, tragedy, and suffering. Admittedly, the selfconsuming voice of jouissance that sends shutters up the spine is best felt “live,” close up in a concert situation. Its penetrating power is often lost through televised performances. However, there is also the disembodying of sound from music made possible through synthetic techno music at its most deconstructive heights. Echo effects made possible through both analogue and digital synthesizers allow hallucinations to occur. Forms of perception emerge that further delocalize sound, experiencing it as a paranoid schizophrenic might. In chapter 16 I discuss such techno music that sends an audience into another aspect of the sublimity of the death drive purely on physiological grounds. The claim is made that the search for an “Ur” sound goes paradoxically right to the heart of silence in its loudness. The question is how technology, working on strictly the physiological Real body without organs (BwO), can send one into the recesses of sublime frightening beauty? The performance group called GRANULAR-SYNTHESIS (Kurt Hentschlager and Ulf Langheinrich) work with 30 kw of 40 DHz sub-bass using specific tones and pitches to trigger physiological effects on the body, evoking deep psychological resonances. This sound is coupled with sustained single frame, long sequence video effects that, together with light, video, and audio projections, bombard its audiences to states of overload by the sheer materiality of sound that penetrates their bodily egos leading to states of affrontation, seduction, and fascination. Their performances are described as disturbing, frightening, seductive, and erotic. Like the jouis-sense of the object voice, these

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performances have to be “lived” live to suffer the throws of their death that is felt in the pit of the stomach.

O C  D To briefly recap then, the “diadeictic” of the death drive circulates and continually regenerates the Imaginary and the Symbolic psychic orders. “The death drive does not possess its own energy. Its energy is libidinal. Or, better put, the death drive is the very soul, the constitutive principle, of libidinal circulation” (Laplanche, 1976, 124). This has major implications for youth fantasies and cultural studies in general. It provides us with a sort of general theory in the way transgression both against and beyond the Law (as a politics), as well as an ethics of jouissance that surrounds the psychic Real register, are played out. It should not be surprising why music as an art form, above all other youth activities is where such transgression is best exemplified. Music is known for its power to seize the body in the Real. It’s disruptive potential, as Attali (1985) has shown in his analysis of the political economy of “noise,” has been felt throughout history. Both Dolar (1996) and Zizek (1996b) provide brief historical accounts of the fear that music in its transgressive role of the self-enjoying, self-consuming voice (as jouis-sense) has for the ruling moral elite, especially the Church, which periodically claims its effects are the work of the Devil.7 Both Dolar and Zizek point out that Derrida’s famous deconstruction of voice/writing, while commendable, fails to recognize this more originary split in the voice itself. Dolar and Zizek’s favorite examples are the diva and the Castrati. Both achieve the status as “full” subjects by paradoxically annihilating their own subjectivity, to become “pure voice.” For the diva to achieve this “object voice” is always a risky business. There is the danger of failure; as a prima donna, she has to subject herself to physical suffering much like a ballerina who aspires to become “pure” body in her dancing. The Castrato’s mutilation (removal of testis), curiously enough, enables the “object voice” to emerge precisely because of the way the virtuosity of his voice haunts its audience (Zizek, 1996a, 149). His voice as fetishistic object becomes a reminder of our usual disavow of symbolic castration each one of us has to suffer so that sexual difference is possible. A sort of reverse phenomenon takes place with the Castrati. The physical castration the Castrato has suffered, the physical loss of part of his sexualization, makes it possible for him to “steal” back this original lost jouissance of symbolic castration through the grandiose display of his voice. The argument could be made that this is precisely the jouissance that is “beyond the phallus” in Lacan’s sense. Also a feminine jouissance that is experienced as asexual, reaching the pure life force of the “lamella,” Lacan’s mythic state of zoë (life) that has no experience of death as yet. It is asexual for sexual difference is disavowed. This talk of divas and Castrati seems dated in this day and age of postmodernity. The cultural practice of the Castrati has been stopped and one hears little talk of “divas” nowadays. So why bring it up? In a number of


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chapters that follow I explore the “Virgin” pop divas and the “New Castrati,” arguing that a perverted version of this phenomenon is still present in pop music today. Music is always split into these two voices: the voice of imaginary fantasy, which covers over its other Real voice of paradoxical noise, and silence that lies at its heart. About this deadly silence we know nothing. The music of the imaginary, what we enjoy listening to unproblematically, acts as a shield against this other voice. In Deleuzean terms, this “other” voice is the BwO screaming silently. While the first voice is the sublimation music performs, as does art in general. A music culture holds itself together through a particular fantasy formation. But why, it must be asked, is there always a recurring anxiety by the defenders of the moral Law around its production? The answer is obvious: the impossibility of ever controlling the voice’s excesses. It should be pointed out that we are not simply referring to affect as emotion when referring to this more dangerous side of music in the manner of well-known cultural critics of music like Grossberg (1997), for instance. For him affect “refers to the quality and quantity of energy invested in particular places, things, people, meanings, and so on. It is the plane on which we anchor and orient ourselves into the world . . . producing configurations of pleasure and desire . . . (111). Massumi (2002, 260 ft. 15) also takes issue with Grossberg’s understanding of affect as emotion. In contrast, for us jouissance is an affect with an effect, a force in Deleuze’s sense. Unstructured and unformed, it lies before the qualitative properties of music as emotion, and is in direct opposition to the quantitative registration of effects by recording skin galvanometers for it is tied to the symptomatic virtual body—a fantasmatic body unique to each individual. There is a point were affect goes beyond anchoring desire, beyond pleasure and desire. It becomes a dangerous voice imbued with the death drive. In the next two chapters I begin to explore the jouissance of Gangsta rap where the Todestrieb is barely sublimated.


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D R R: T  R? What can be possibly written about gangsta rap that hasn’t yet been said before? Written in 1994, Patricia Rose in Black Noise captures the African derived rap music and hip-hop culture succinctly, providing many insights as to why its repetitive rhythms and recontextualizations constitute a cultural difference, providing an expressive outlet for disenfranchised black urban youth in the core cities of capitalist America.1 Such difference is to be found both within its own forms of musical expression that rely heavily on samplers as “looped” tracks to highlight repetition, the manipulation of rhythm, bass frequencies and music breaks; and difference from Western classical music based on triadic forms of harmony. With its prioritization of high-volume and low frequency sound, often with shouted lyrics, her term “noise” was an apt description—a tactile sound. At the outset many rock musicians didn’t consider rap “music.” The conservative press refused to legitimate rappers as composers; they didn’t play “real” instruments. But it soon became obvious rap’s oral/aural drive was intimately tied to the latest technological innovations, which were exploited parasitically for its own ends, breaking the rules of established sound. Rose’s fine work stops just short of the escalating controversies that continued to intensify around gangsta rap in the mid-1990s, ending her epilogue with a reflection on the South Central riots in Los Angeles after the accused policemen were exonerated for the beating of Rodney King. LA gangsta rap, as a popular cultural form is perhaps one of the most explicit exemplars to illustrate the aggressive predisposition of the death drive, raising questions of ethical demands for injustices that are perpetrated daily. As a countercultural practice gangsta rap proved to be both controversial and contradictory even among its staunchest supporters. The trial of Snoop Doggy Dogg for driving a getaway car during the murder of Philip Woldemariam by his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, was the first of many such incidents that placed gangsta rap at the center of media frenzy, raising questions concerning its alleged critical voice. Snoop claimed that it was in self-defense as Woldemariam was always stalking him. Following his performance at the


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MTV Music Awards in September 1993, he turned himself up to the authorities. As a major star of Death Row Records, then under the co-ownership of Michael Harris and “Suge” Knight under Time-Warner label, Snoop was acquitted of murder, but not of voluntary manslaughter by the efforts of Death Row’s criminal lawyer, David Kennen. Eventually, the judge declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. The controversies surrounding Death Row Records took off when “Suge” Knight eventually took over ownership with Dr. Dre in 1992 as Michael Harris was jailed on counts of manslaughter. This partnership is usually considered to be the time when gangsta rap came into its own. The debut multiplatinum album, “The Chronic,” featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre’s patented G-Funk sound (produced late that same year), became a pivotal moment that infected the future of the hip-hop scene. But under Knight’s influence this led to a series of incidents, which was to make gangsta rap a particularly ambivalent form within the broader hip-hop community. Within Death Row Records yet another struggle for ownership began. Dr. Dre eventually sold half his share to Knight and then started his own label, Aftermath Records. Dr. Dre had had enough of the gangsta controversy; he went on to be “The Producer of the Year” of 2001 for Rap Music.2 Gangsta violence was further fueled by the antics of 2Pac (Tupac Shakur, the San Francisco Bay rapper and former member of the Digital Underground) who joined Death Row for “protection.” Having been arrested and shot five times in Times Square in 1994, he turned to Death Row’s hired criminal lawyer David Kenner to help him get off—unsuccessfully. 2Pac spent eleven and a half months in jail, returning to Death Row Records in 1995 to produce a platinum record, “Me Against the World.” 2Pac then began a feud between East (New York) and West (Los Angeles) rappers, which led to his eventual killing on September 7, 1996 in Las Vegas. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times journalist Chuck Philips this was a Crips/ Bloods gang incident that had also involved B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. Christopher Wallace) from the East Coast. Smalls was also gunned down in downtown LA on March 9, 1997 while visiting Soul Train Music Awards. The clash between the two rappers was over rival labels: Death Row and Bad Boy. Both crimes remain officially unsolved. In the meantime, “Suge” Knight was eventually convicted for breaking probation by kicking and beating Orlando Anderson in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel the night 2Pac was killed. The incident, caught on surveillance tape, led to his conviction. In the LA Times, Philips claimed that Anderson was 2Pac’s killer, which was why Knight had broken parole. This time Death Row’s lawyer, David Kenner was unable to do much. Knight was sentenced to nine years and then released in 2001. If we were to add to this sketched series of incidents other gang related drive-by shootings, and the controversies of censorship surrounding rap musicians, we find ourselves, as Rose (1994, 2–4) admits, on a conflicted and contradictory territory that ranges from gangsta rap to its very opposite: liberal “alternative” rap that preaches social responsibility and how to get along, pitched to middle-class whites and

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blacks in the 16–25 years age group (Rodrick, 1995). By about the end of the millennium, however, a point had been reached where gangsta rap began to parody itself, an issue that I explore throughout this chapter and the next. It was not unusual for Death Row Records to eventually become a branch company of Interscope Records, which had 400 million dollars in seed money from Time-Warner, a corporate giant that was being criticized by a whole contingent of conservative politicians for its involvement in selling gangsta rap (especially Snoop Dog). This maneuver by Time-Warner seemed to settle the criticism temporarily; they were perceived as being good corporate citizens. As Tricia Rose (1994, 6) points out, by 1990 virtually all the major chain store distribution was controlled by six major record companies: CBS, Polygram, Warner, BMG, Capitol-EMI, and MCA. However, it was the independent labels (indie labels) that were able to generate sales for hip-hop and rap music, whereas the major record companies could not get together to dominate the market. Rather than competing with street-savvy labels, their strategy changed to buying indie labels, allowing them to function relatively autonomously. They provided them with seed money, production resources, and access to major retail distribution. Death Row Records, in this sense, could be interpreted as the obscene supplement of capitalism, its illegal seedy side. Gangsta rap, in effect, did the dirty work for Interscope who never interfered but reaped the profits from the ensuing controversies. To what extent was Death Row Records becoming too powerful in the music industry so that their activities needed to be curbed? Conspiracy theories abound. In the end, all the owners but Dr. Dre ended up in jail. A number of star rappers had been killed, while Ted Field and Jimmy Iovine, the creators of Interscope Records banked the money from selling a half interest they bought back from Time-Warner to Universal/ Seagrams for 200 million dollars. Later, they merged with Green Records to form Interscope Geffen A&M Records. From the start then, hip-hop and rap music could not lead an independent existence apart from the corporation-controlled communication and culture market machine that distributed the records, set up the independent record companies, involved MTV media access, provided video recording, and performance venues. Rap and the hip-hop style eventually went mainstream. McDonald’s, Burger King, Coke, Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, Reebok (once endorsed by Queen Latifah), clothing chain stores, MTV, movies such as Colors, New Jack City, Boyz in the Hood, Menace II Society (see Dyson, 1994), and various campaigns against drugs and violence have used and abused gangsta rap and hip-hop’s social trajectories. Compromise and anti-rap censorship are as much part of the media hype as is gangsta violence. No one, of course, can deny that it is precisely because of such global market machinery that a Black American voice of the ghetto has been heard. But can rap any longer be considered “noise”? Can it “fight the power?” Can the fantasy of “authenticity” of the streetwise gangsta be maintained when a new class of Black nouveaux riche has emerged as a result of the rap and hip-hop industry?


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R  R R  R One way to understand gangsta raps’ psyche is from the psychoanalytic viewpoint developed by Homi Bhabha (1994) in his discussion of colonial mimicry. The possibility to resist and subvert the dominant system of representation is to occupy a space that outwardly seems to be the same but inwardly remains different. The “hybrid” maintains a different set of values but acts for the gaze of the Other under proper spy-like conditions. This seems, at first glance, to explain the complicity rap and hip-hop found with large musical corporations. Why there was a necessary pretence of adopting structures, which could later be exploited for their own ends. There was no other choice when facing the monolithic power of the big six corporations but to buy in and resist in various ways. Death Row Records was one obvious site of resistance; some say the main focal point of differentiation. I shall argue a little later that it was primarily through rap’s rhythmic repetition that such mimic resistance was maintained. However, the more difficult question remains: just when does such mimicry lose its resistant form and transform itself into a sham, a mockery of the very resistant stance it once set out to maintain within the “heart” of the enemy? In this sense gangsta rap music and the rap music industry should not be collapsed into one another. Rap music’s roots came from the spirit of hip-hop culture in the 1970s, which maintained an edge when raising African American social urban issues. Rose (1994, 2) maintains that it began in the mid-1970s in the South Bronx in New York City as both an African American as well as an Afro-Caribbean youth cultural movement that was defined by graffiti, breakdancing, and rap music. It was a life-style choice that included its own style of dress, graffiti, dancing, DJ-ing, MC-ing, and a critical reflective philosophy of nonviolence. Rap was just one aspect of this broader hip-hop movement (Walker, 2001). But it reached a point were its affective stance lost its effective voice, falling into violence, sexism, and seeking profit dollars. Performative mimicry does not answer the internal violence amongst rappers themselves. The subjugated black man in the form of the figure of a gangsta with a gun is no parodic hyperbolization, although it can of course be read this way. The pretence of Snoop, along with other major rappers, including the more militant Ice Cube and more articulate Ice, is that they considered themselves to be in the same league as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Public Enemy paid direct tribute to Malcolm X a year and a half prior to the twenty-fifth anniversary of his assassination in 1965 by shooting the video and song “Baseheads,” in the (then) dilapidated and abandoned marquee and entrance of Audubon Hall where he was killed. These rappers claim their struggles are against white racist America by addressing poor, black unemployed and working-class inner city youth. Verifiably, this is the sociopolitical power of rap’s “noise.” This ethical stance is puzzling, however, and difficult to reconcile given that gang warfare, machismo, blatant misogyny against black women, drugs, and pimp-inspired subjectivity form as much of their identity as their claim to be evoking an “attitude”

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(Niggas with Attitude, NWA), a commodified black rage against middle-class whites and yuppies. Do the true “colors” show themselves if such rage turns out to be more a case of class envy rather than social concern? The gangsta rapper simply wants the Good life the Other is said to have. Such a proposition emerges uneasily given the obvious racism, poverty, unemployment, and criminal incarceration of black youth. But, there is some truth to such a possibility when the ostentatious and gratuitous display of wealth becomes nothing more than a spectacular display for show: “I’ve made it.” It is often fashionably argued that the subjectivity of gangsta rappers are “decentered.” Grant (1994) for instance writes: “The radical decentering of the subject, either through the use of drugs or through the use of semiautomatic weapons (and what could be more decentering than ‘a hole in your fuckin’ head?’), which finds its expression in rap, a decentering celebrated by poststructuralists and postmodernists everywhere, results from an intensely decentering material configuration of the real” (47). But it seems more likely the case that it is the very consolidation of subjectivity that is sought for through the Imaginary psychic register—from the power of the lyrics down through the rapper’s various changing styles like the “hoodies,” “snooties,” “tims,” warrior apparel, and “triple fat” goose down jackets. The meaning of a “decentered” subjectivity is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. Rap music is perhaps the best possible example as to the way that postmodern subjectivity directly manifests itself in lyrics and music itself. Its form is exemplary in this regard. It is characterized by the complete abandonment of the classical understanding of grammar (e.g., the use of commas, capitalization, semicolons, change of tenses in the lyrics); rap sentences are short and easy to grasp; the scenes move from one to the next in nonlinear fashion; the “mix” of “samples” confuse past, present, and future tenses given that songs from all decades come together; music samplers are taken from the whole available archive of music (like postmodern architecture); the latest sound-mix technology is always used; there is constant use of repetition and symbolic reiteration; its recycling of nursery rhymes, sometimes numbing repetition of phrases and acronyms bearing restricted codes (e.g., “Cube’s got the 4-1-1,” “get outta here man, 5-0,” “suck a D.I.C.”). Are not all these characteristics hyperbolic exemplars of pastiche, camp, and irony that have slowly become part of the dominant Symbolic Order as such? That is to say, that side of postmodernity characterized by the fragmentations of television and computer game landscapes, temporal instabilities, historical confusions, moral ambiguities, an emphasis on vision and orality rather than the written text, as well as a general loss of authority that encourages transgression. Rap, in one sense, conforms perfectly to the dictates of an electronic and entertainment culture—a mimicry of designer capitalism that it tries to manipulate for its own ends. This is not “decentered” subjectivity as much as a complexly collaged identity around an unstated, taken for granted fantasy of “authenticity.” The claim to be “real,” which cannot be articulated, only “felt.” It is the use of decentered forms to create a new centering—with the proviso that such


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a recentering or resignified subjectivity will always be conflicted. It is never stable and complete, but another misrecognized imaginary structure of the ego. Rap’s hyperbolization and sensationalism of urban life is metaphorically developed by drawing on a repertoire of African American oral traditions and musical practices, which are characterized by contests and one-upmanship that enable artistic forms to emerge, and which sublimate the marginalized community’s collective pain, joy, anger, and humor. Such signifying practices as “boasting,” “signifying,” and “playing the dozens” display a sense of verbal wit, word innovation and invention, and sarcastic put-down in order to strengthen the psyche against the harsh realities of the dominant racist culture—a form of psychic protection to harden (numb) their skin-ego. In this way the community’s collective jouissance can be vetted—its suffering alleviated through forms of exaggeration, humour, enormity, and outright falsity. During colonial times the disparaging term “nigger,” for instance, was re-signified as an endearing term. Only a “nigger” could call another black person a “nigger,” its inflections resounding across a broad range of semantic landscapes indicating compliance or resistance to the racist order. “Toasting,” a practice by incarcerated inmates who jeer at one another, offers the same psychic “hardness” homologous to physically working out with weights, in the sense that the skin-ego becomes hardened and protected, like the tattoos and the practice of skin cutting that is typically practices by hard core criminals and lifers.3 Through such historically cultural signifying practices the fantasm of the “nigga” emerged in rap music as a new master signifier, displacing the former signifier “nigger,” which became identified with Black Americans who supported White interests, like the “Negro” during colonial times. The gun emerged as the objet a of this centering, the fantasmic object with its power to decide between life and death, making subjectivity complete. (“Mama didn’t love me, All I got is my nine,” in “Turn Off the Radio,” Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted.) It became the temporary embodiment of the very “soul” of the “nigga,” the kernel of his Real Being. As the rapper Nas put it: “My Body is cold steel for real”—“driven” as if it were a gun. Yet, through the displacement of the gun in the form of a microphone, and bullets transformed into the ludic “realism” and “crudeness” of words in rapping couplets, a poetic distance began to emerge from the violence in the hood and the drive-by shootings in the streets. The boasting raps—where an Ak-47 or Tech-9 was transformed into a microphone—drew on a long tradition of classical black jazz where melodies and instruments were used as metaphorical weapons. The saxophone was an “axe” used “to cut” the competition in musical jousts or duels known as “cutting contests,” a form of sublimated violence and a way to deal with the inner painful jouissance brought on by social oppression and racism. “Shout-outs” began to replace gang shootings. Paradoxically, near death experiences during gang warfare often made a transformation of the self-possible. The rapper Nas writes in his song, “It was Written” (I Gave You Power) about the failure of a gun going off, and he is about to be killed. In that frozen moment he feels nothing, “but

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what I feel never mattered,” “I didn’t budge.” Then there is a transformative realization as a point of his “subjective destitution” is reached, as if the constituting fantasy of being a gangsta is breached. He continues his rap of being “sick of blood’ ” . . . and “sick of the next man’s grudge,” what the killer did was to “pull out” . . . “a newer me in better shape before he left.” The street or hood as a liminal space is a place of both death as well as redemption. For the “gangster” of the street to become a “gangsta” of rap a certain “traversal of fantasy” has to take place. A minimal distance has to be achieved through the sublimation of the destructive impulse into the form of a rap between him and his repetitive jouissance that comes with the thrill of the kill, the “kick” that comes with the drive-by shooting or the chase. Rhythmic repetition and the “cut” seem to be analogous musical structures to the violence of the hood and its sublimation into the rap form. Rhythmic repetition is not simply sameness; rather the bass line or the drum kick is copied into a sampler, along with other desired sounds. It is then looped so that the circularity of its rhythm can be “cut”; that is, a “break beat” can be introduced to rupture the equilibrium. But, this “break beat” is worked back into the rap by being looped yet again, and repositioned as a repetition. This has the effect of highlighting ruptures while at the same time introducing (paradoxically) equilibrium. The “break beat,” which is unpredictable, accidental, and contingent as to when the “cut” is made is analogous to the cultural life (as zoë) led in the hood where life is similarly unpredictable. This rhythmic repetition is unlike the repetition of a “steady” job that leads to capitalist accumulation and growth, rather it is allowed to circulate freely. As Snead (1981) develops it, Western or European appropriation of repetition is the belief “that there is no repetition in culture, but only a difference defined as progress and growth” (147). Black culture, in contrast, appropriates an antithetical grasp of rhythmic repetition, one where accident and unpredictability must be dealt with since it informs their lives. It is a “nonprogressive” culture when viewed against the backdrop of progressive Western Enlightenment. In Western music, a song was defined by a “particular combination of harmony, melody and lyric,” which gave it legal protection. What was not copyrighted was timbre and rhythm, qualities that became central to pop pleasure with the rise of recording. This was precisely why black rappers were able to get around copyright laws with their samplers. Their new way of mixing sounds lay outside the legal definition of music by European standards (Frith, 1988, 121–122). It was simply noise, beyond the Law, until that is, rap began to be “recognized” by the big Other and publishers began to ask for user fees. Given this way of grasping rap, there is a remarkable analogy between the “cut” (break beat) and Freud’s Wiederholungszwang (repetition compulsion), which Lacan identified as tuché in S XI, Four Fundamentals—a repetition “that occurs as if by chance” (see Snead, 1981, 150). There is, therefore, something “fated” in rap music; a recognition that life (zoë) is extremely unpredictable and vulnerable. The “cut,” like Freud’s repetition compulsion is both idiosyncratic and immediate; it does not relay on memory, but erupts


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as a restaging of the past in a ritual reenactment. It is an obsessive acting-out of repressed past conflicts that brings the patient (rap performer) back to the scene of drama (some aspect of life (zoë) in the hood). Gangsta rap can be said to be a traumatic acting-out of black culture’s repressed desire in a hegemonic white society. It is its own repetition compulsion, symptomatic of black culture’s cycle of repression and desire, expressed through the organizing principle of rhythmic repetition, with improvisations continually made by picking up an ongoing beat.4 Traversing the fantasy through rap that defines the gangsta in this way is not to eliminate jouissance; the masochistic painful pleasure does not go away, rather, it is transferred and channeled into a form where its destructive force can be reckoned with. Ice-T’s didactic raps that address black youth do just that. The gangster either transcends the hood by suffering a “subjective destitution” of the death drive becoming transformed on the “other side” or he dies, sooner or later.

T A  R’ S Besides the importance of rhythmic repetition and the “cut,” rap is also the constant slippage between metaphor and literalness, the flipping of metaphor with reality, producing an ironical look at sociopolitical life (bios). It is a slippage between the Symbolic and Imaginary psychic registers—of the word and its image—as the in-between space of the signifier and the signified known as the “bar of signification,”5 where a transformation of identity can take place through the re-signification of meaning of a word. Unhinging signification is a common strategy. A gap of uncertainty opens up, and the abyss of the Real is exposed. It is this antinomy between image and Symbolic Order, what is “made up” and what is “real life” (RL), which produces a mimed hyper-social realism that results in the ambiguities of gangsta rap’s reception. The apotheosis of this ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding gangsta rap is reached with the full exposure of the Real when “death (and not life) imitates art.” This is where the veil over the horror of death is lifted only to show the horror of the veil itself—the hood. Da Lench Mob’s single, “Who You Gonna Shoots Wit Dat,” rapped in 1992 was cited by the prosecuting attorney as adumbrating the motives for J-Dee’s (Dasean Cooper) 1993 murder of his girlfriend’s male roommate at a party, as well as T-Bone’s (Terry Gray) murder of an individual at a Los Angeles bowling alley. Both were members of Da Lench Mob. 2Pac’s (Tupac Shakur) song, “Crooked Ass Nigga” was claimed by Ronald Ray Howard as being the motivational force behind his killing of a Texas police officer (in MacLaren, 1995, 11). What emerges is a paradoxical “heroic criminality” where the fantasy of being “more gangsta than gangsta” produces a rap style of a voice gone astray as fiction and real life (RL) seem to cancel one another out. The uncanny effect is reached where the rapper becomes psychotic. The rap is no longer able to sublimate excessive jouissance. With rap, words can be produced spontaneously on the spot, a form of unconscious free association, adumbrating the next couplet—the words

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inflected by the syncopated rhythms and the ironic cutting of the “samples.” The rapidity of words brings the audience to a point of rupture—the words reach the frontiers of the Symbolic and Imaginary registers, and implode in their targets. The insistent line of the voice—as an oral drive—loops back, again and again, as it strives to attain its object. This constant insistent address to the Other is exemplified by the multi-repeated empty shifting signifier/Yo/throughout many rap songs, which reverberates unconsciously between “You”—as a direct interpellated imperative to the audience, and “Yes”—to confirm an agreement with it, as well as conveying caution, shortcircuiting any need for didactic references. The bricolage of mixed “samples,” associations to nursery rhymes, television and film characters, and black sports stars form an associative background that again reaches out to the styles and sensibilities of black ghetto youth. Gangsta rap illustrates perfectly the way outbreaks of violence emerge when the very core of symbolic fiction that guarantees a community’s cohesion and hegemony is threatened. Ruling class violence emerges as an “essential by-product” (Zizek, 1996b, 120 n.14) when its CNS (central nervous system) is disturbed. The sleeping giant “awakens,” so to speak, and strikes back. As a cultural form of resistance, rap music first emerged in New York’s inner city in the early 1980s to give voice to black ghetto youth, waking up the sleeping giant. Ghetto youth differentiated themselves from white and black bourgeois values alike by celebrating their own antithetical vices and reterritorializing the ghetto as a place of fecund creativity (Rose, 1994). The hood (South Central, Watts, Compton in Los Angeles; Roxbury in Boston, Overtown in Miami) became a specific site/sight/cite of resistance, which at times, exceeded skin color by a class consciousness of inner-city workingclass males shaped by police brutality and repression, intra and interracial violence, poverty and joblessness. With the structure of Oedipal family in ruins, it should come as no surprise as to why the contradictory figure of the criminal hero should become the new authority figure; nor why the new genealogical affiliations rest on “brotha” and “sistah” regimes.

R P: T P E Public Enemy, formed in 1982 in Long Island New York, has been one of the strongest and most persistent of voices to differentiate this “attitude” from other Blacks whom they perceived as “sellin out,” pejoratively becoming “Oriole cookies” (black on the outside, white inside) as middle-class black professionals or black nationalists.6 Chuck D, the lead rapper set the standard for the political terrain for rap music, diverting anger at corporate capitalism and the government and away from other rappers and gangsta rap’s ambiguous politics. The last album Public Enemy released was in 1994, but they left a legacy of social criticism that has had few rivals. In “What You Need is Jesus” and “Politics of the Sneaker Pimps” (album, He Got Game) they ridicule black basketball stars who have “made it,” and the corporations (Adidas, Nike) that they work for. “If You Don’t Own the Master, the


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Master Own You” is their main message (“Swindler’s List”). In Fear of a Black Planet, perhaps one of the best known albums, they ridicule Hollywood for the roles black actors find themselves in (“Burn Hollywood Burn”). In their feature song (the album’s title), they bring up various scenarios where white fears of daughters and sons marrying into black families are played on, jeered at, and then finally rejected. “Man, calm your ass down, don’t get mad. I don’t want your sister.” “But supposin’ she said she loved me” repeats itself over and over as if the father’s worst fears had come true. “Did you know white comes from Black,” which can be interpreted as the birth of a child into a mixed marriage whose skin happens to be a “white shade” of black. Even more controversial than Public Enemy’s attack on middle-class blacks, however, was the rap single, “Fuck Rodney King” by Geto Boy Wille D. King’s infamous plaintive plea, “Can we all get along” is seen as an act of treason, as if King was at war and didn’t even know it. The Black Man with a Gun came to be feared; “a public enemy” who remained cool as “ice” became NYPD’s racial profile. Public Enemy’s logo of a silhouette of young black male caught in the hairlines of a rifle site remains one of the most powerful images of the 1980s. “I’m the epitome—a public enemy, used, abused without clues. I refused to blow a fuse” (“Don’t Believe the Hype” by Public Enemy in It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back). Each rapper tells his own story as to how he came to chose his rapper name. The signifiers point to fantasies of hyped boasting and toasting (e.g., Brother Marquis, Dr. Dre) and being “cool” (Ice-T, Ice Cube, Fresh Kid Ice, Easy-E, DJ Kool Herc). As alter egos, their a.k.a.’s present a black youth that struggles with the Law by perverting it. The sense of being “cool” embodies the kind of knowledge of the obscene side of the Law; as if a rapper knows its seamy side thoroughly; then you’re “good” ’cause you feel you know how to manipulate the Law, or be “above it,” like the a.k.a.’s suggest. The accepted value system is inverted as the ghetto youth takes himself as the object of desire, the self-narcissism of the body as a fortified ego that seemingly is devoid of anxiety. “No sweat,” being calm under all possible interrogation. The sweat comes off on the basketball court. In short, it is an attempt to repress the superegoic Law as much as possible so that the ego doesn’t “break down” and “fess up.” It also means that the body’s borders abject the feminine as well, a hypermasculine ego defensive structuring is desired. This has been especially troubling for black women “in struggle” who did not wish to be associated with white feminism. At the same time, many black women rappers remain(ed) silent about the misogynist lyrics, caught as it were by the question of race as the deciding signifier of identity over gender (Rose, 1994, 176–178). The image differentiations in New York were repeated on the west coast, in South Central, Los Angels by Ice-T in his Iceberg/Freedom of Speech album (1989). In the feature song, “Freedom of Speech,” Ice-T tears into the censorship issue as spearheaded by Tipper Gore (“Think I give a fuck about some silly bitch named Gore?”), trying to recode the censorship label on the record for his own ends. (“The sticker on the record is what makes ’em sell

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gold. Can’t you see, you alcoholic idiots, The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get.”) It is in the rap “This One’s For Me,” that Ice Cube vets his anger on a black LA radio station that refuses to play his records: “I’m tryin to save my community, but these bourgeois blacks keep on doggin me. They don’t care about violence, drugs, and gangs. KJLH, you ain’t about nuttin. You just a bunch of punk bourgeois black suckers, and this one’s for me.” In his AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted album, especially in “Tales From the Darkside,” Ice Cube paints an all too familiar picture of LAPD’s image of the “nigga.” (I’m a nigga, gotta live by the trigger . . . Every cop killin’ goes ignored, They just send another nigga to the morgue, A point scored—they could give a fuck about us.) The brutality of the LAPD was long in effect before the L.A. rebellion in 1992 (Kelly 1996). Given this insistent battering on both white and black bourgeois communities—through gangsta rap’s irony, its ridicule, humour, and jeering— eventually the words get through. One never knows just when the giant awakens, but the giant we have in mind is not made of flesh and bones, rather, just the opposite: it is the “giant” of the psychoanalytic Real that is stirred—a sublime event. Something that gets through that is “beyond” words, that no longer keeps the symbolic fiction together, and the fantasy image collapses. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” so goes the well-known childhood rhyme recited often in the playground by girls, against mostly boy bullies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always apply. Words do hurt. The performance of “hate speech” aims at the very heart of the enemy’s symbolic universe, its grounding fantasy that keeps things peacefully hegemonic. LA Gangsta rapper’s such as Ice-T, Ice Cube, Easy-E, Tone Loc eventually were able to disturb the blindness to the destitution of poor working-class black youths by economic and cultural upheavals of global capitalism to the point where both sides: black and white bourgeois interests came together. The archconservatist William Bennett, George Bush’s first drug czar and former secretary of education for Ronald Reagan, teamed up with African American political activist, C. Delores Tucker and Barbara Wyatt, the head of the Parents’ Music Resource Center (Tipper Gore’s replacement). Together they were able to collectively shake up Time-Warner to the point of selling off Interscope Records in 1996 (Katz, 1997). It should not be forgotten that the foundations that led up to this incident were already set in motion some four years earlier. Both George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton made gangsta rap an issue in their 1992 presidential election. Clinton, in particular, attacked the New York radical community and social activist, Sistah Souljah, for her lyrics in “The Final Solution: Slavery’s Back in Effect,” which presents an image of a world where African Americans fight a fictional police state that wants to reinstitute slavery. Sistah Souljah was demonized as a hate propagandist particularly for her comments before and after the LA riots. “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Such statements ruined her career. Her latest LP was immediately taken off shelves (Keyes, 2000, 259). Perhaps it was her limited following that made her a scapegoat to lure more conservative


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Whites over to the democratic slate given that there were many more male rappers who referred to racism in America in equally demonic terms.

T G R  S For a white fantasy the black man stands as raw power, uncontrollable and uncontrolled drive, dangerous—not to be “fucked with.” He is an object “out of place” in the Real of their perception—much too close to be able to gain perceptual control over him. His rage and disparity disturb a perceived tranquility. Gangsta rap, in this very precise way, strikes at the very disavowal of the social antagonism that exits beneath the seemingly safe middle-class homes and neighbourhoods where “nothing happens” but the repetitiveness of work, the endless flow of television and the peaceful raising of children; and where prosperity and equality are taken for granted. Like the digital codes of meaningless combination of 0s and 1s that structure our received images, the binary oppositions of this social antagonism structure America’s unconscious fears, anxieties, and desires. In the early to mid-1990s the fear of the black man as gangsta reached an all time high. It lay in the very heart of America’s national Thing: the belief in the power of an invisible apparition who perverted the working of the law by remaining uncastrated. The more he was hunted, the more threatening he became, growing in stature and profile. Films like John Singleton’s Boyz N the Hood (1991), which stared Ice Cube as Doughboy, and Albert and Allen Hughe’s Menace II Society (1993) hit the panic button. It was the fantasm of the gangsta rapper as objet a that griped the fears of white racists, an anxious object who was out of place, running amok in the social Order, killing and threatening, making America as a nation feel uneasy. The intervention by Bennett and Tucker and the censorship question by Tipper Gore are “proof ” enough of the “truth” of the rapper’s ethical complaint. Their reaction to the anxiety of such a figure had been manifest to the point of “painful” mental anguish. Tipper Gore’s fantasy of gangsta rap’s threat was so strong that it could only be addressed through a form of censorship that remained within the Law—as parental warning labels. She could easily dismiss Ice-T’s characterization of her as a “false” image that did not belong to the symbolic universe he tried to locate her in. In “Freedom of Speech,” Ice-T positions her as someone who rejects the constitutional First Amendment. The rapper’s use of outrageous ludic words (e.g., “tell-lievision” (television), “lie-bury” (library), “head-decay-tion” (education)) that are addressed at bourgeois Blacks and Whites reach a point where his couplets cannot be meaningfully integrated into a field of meaning of the Other. To do so, it would be necessary to take his intent seriously and address the social problems that exist politically. They remain noise. But when such noise breaks through, the rapper’s machine gun lyrics are effectively able to collapse—if only momentarily—the fantasy, along with its universe of associated meanings, that situates the black man “in his proper place.” The gangsta rapper’s jouissance emerges the moment when this

T P  G R


break with meaning is reached—when the Other experiences pain— especially the mental pain of humiliation. Then there is a release of pent-up jouissance; black pain reverses itself into pleasure. The attempt at censorship only further feeds this jouissance, for it shows clearly that no counterargumentation is possible, no reasoning can be reached. The “symbolically” injured Other is stunned into silence, but not inaction, for it most often leads to violence and outrage by self-acclaimed moralists like Bennett. It is this very failure in meaning that the rapper knows that the Other is “listening.” He has got their “attention” and hit a nerve, confirming that he has become objet a of the Other through his transgression by exemplifying the structure of perversion. The significance of the black gangsta as a social “spectre” should not be underestimated when it comes to class struggle. “Reality” (RL) as a symbolically structured myth is never a closed system; it is never an objective correspondent structure but an incomplete open system that always represses its inherent antagonism to make it appear complete (see Zizek, 1996b, 113, 115). This is its stabilizing fantasy, a fiction that rests on the impossibility of acknowledging its abjected Other, its underside or underbelly. The “nigger” could not exist without the “nigga.” Given that the primary social antagonism is repressed in the Real, the place where ideological struggle “truly” lies, the spectral fantasy of the gangsta rapper emerges as a figure to be eliminated, censored, and disavowed so that the symbolic fiction of an organic society can be preserved. This suppresses the social need to address their legitimate complaint, as an ethics of the Real would insist. This spectral apparition of the gangsta rapper is the destabilizing, destructive fantasy, while the organic Symbolic Order is its stabilizing fantasy. Theorizing this Other psychoanalytically provides some insight as to why hypermasculinity, misogynist braggadocio, and homophobia define black youth rappers with “attitude.” Attitude, as their structuring jouissance, is directed to the imaginary Other of the formal structure of law and order of hegemonic white society, and those of color who support it. Under “normal” circumstances, this big Other cannot be “heard” directly given that symbolic castration makes it inaudible. There is no omniscient authority that “knows” all the answers. A certain pretense must be maintained. Paradoxically, in order to assert “phallic” authority means relinquishing any pretense of omnipotence, and thereby enabling the social Order to speak and act through its representative. The judge’s authority comes only in this way. The Law works through a judge, even when s/he may be a weak personality. With proper sartorial attire and the context of the courtroom the Law is enacted. In this sense the Symbolic Order seems to be a motor run by an “absent cause.” When something unexplainable happens, such as an accidental death for instance, the search for an explanation from this big Other begins, even though a definitive answer will not be found. Our loss demands a mournful reconciliation. Or, we treat an accident as a “sign” that comes from the Other to rationalize and confirm an event about which we have no explanation for—a magical sign. (The appearance of a bright star in the night


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sky (a comet perhaps) is taken as a sign that a savior, Jesus Christ, has been born. A totally irrational explanation.) But when the rapper “hits the mark,” so to speak, there is a suspension of symbolic castration. He feels like a “full” subject by having made the big Other pay attention to his plight. In a sense he becomes that spectre, which exists paradoxically both inside and outside the Symbolic Order through willful self-abjection. A direct intervention then shows itself in the social order. It may be directly violent state intervention, or it may be structurally violent such as an attempt by authority figures to assert symbolic castration through various forms of censorship or profiling. Gangsta rap is ultimately a rebellion against the failure of the symbolic Law to measure up to its promises, and its inability to contain racial violence. Gang structure, as “brotha against brotha,” whether it is drive-by killings, hood violence, or sublimated rap jousts, marks an absence of Law (Name-ofthe-Father). Who “rules” the gang depends upon who is the strongest and most violent. This ONE becomes the Ideal Ego to be emulated. To be initiated into a gang, the fledgling member must kill someone or go through a hazing ritual of being beaten by other members. (This is spoofed in Spike Lee’s early classic, School Daze, 1988.) A blood sacrifice is the price of admission. To continue in the gang means to gain respect by reasserting masculinity through more violent acts. Sanyika Shakur, as a member of the LA Crips, was given a “mission” to empty eight gunshots into a crowd of Bloods as an act of initiation and a rite of passage to manhood (Shakur, 1993). The imaginary a.k.a. names (Ice-T, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Scoop Doggy-Dogg, Eazy-E, 2Pac) signify the rejection and perversion of an identification with an authoritative paternal father. Lacan made a distinction between an imaginary Ideal Ego and a symbolic Ego Ideal as the difference between how we like to see ourselves and an externalized point in the symbolic social order where we are being observed, which dominates and determines the image that we appear likeable to ourselves. The symbolic external identification is not only confirming, but also an ideal, which is impossible to achieve since it is a point that eludes both resemblance as well as imitation. We can only desire and strive to reach and find the subject position where we are rewarded for our actions by the institutional representatives in charge (e.g., to be the perfect practicing Catholic, student, police officer, lawyer, doctor, etc.). To receive accolades for trying to live up to the Ego Ideal by being “knighted” into a nation or a society’s various reward systems—where merits of honor, special titles and privileges is the quest. In gangsta rap, that symbolic ideal, the external point of observation by the hegemonic white gaze of society is rejected, replaced, and dispensed with their own imaginary identifications. What symbolic identifications could possible rebind (in the sense of religare, to tie up in a spiritual sense) these various imaginary identifications? Figures of Black leadership such as Marlin Luther King, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and Jesse Jackson have emerged with contradictory agendas with no ONE centering possibility, but a decentered variety of ONE’s. Various competing discourses reach out for the

T P  G R


“soul” of Black youth indicative, once more, of the loss of trust in authority figures. Baptist Christianity clashes with the conservatism of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and the Five Percenters, as do class distinctions between welloff Blacks and the ghetto poor. The question of peaceful resistance or violent protest falls into the enigmatic questions concerning justice, which are always “beyond” the Law as complexly explored in Spike Lee’s early film debuts, School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989). But what exactly is the right thing?

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G S: T Y’ G, H Y’ B 

T S   Live Crew Bravado black hypermasculinity—the raw libidinal insistence of the drive—is a way that symbolic castration is continually disavowed. Belonging to a gang establishes a counter authority that is based on loyalty and defending local territory, being a Home Boy and Fly Girl.1 On the whole, women as bitches, bizzos, and hos are an abjected irrational element which is feared. They are only to be “fucked.” 2 Live Crews’ notorious 1990 album, As Nasty as They Wanna Be, is one long, repetitive misogynist rant, complete with nursery rhymes (Dirty Nursery Rhymes). Jack and Jill, Goldie Locks, Little Jack Horner, Humpty Dumpty, Little Red Riding Hood are rewritten to becomes raw, sexually explicit acts of oral, anal, and straight sex. If fairy tales from the Middle Ages were rewritten by middle-class literati to introduce a new set of moral values for children, as Zipes (1983) first argued, here the cautionary tales of sexual exploitation of middle-class sensibilities have been twisted to ironical proportions. Such a countercultural tactic was defended by Gates, Jr. in 1990 (1995) during the trail to censor the album. Gates argued that the Crew was parodying and exploiting the virile black man that had been a historical white stereotype. Contrary to offending and being violent, the album was ironic and even laughable. The Crews performance belonged to the traditional way black men have intervened in dominant white culture. Can Gates’s defense be accepted? Or, is this a reconciliation of middle-class black intellectualism with a “wanna-be” ghetto romanticization? Martin Kilson, political science professor of Black Studies at Harvard University, now emeritus, who was in the same department as Gates, Jr. would have thought so. Kilson (1999) accused Gates for his verbal trickery which, at times, is caught by its own cleverness. Gates, he says, acts as an “intellectual entrepreneur,” at times taking on what could be characterized as a “deconstruction for deconstruction’s sake” attitude rather than attending to the ethical import of what is being critiqued. A case for an oral culture can clearly be maintained, but can Gates’ entire defense hold up? The African American oral tale of the Signifying Monkey (see Gates, 1989) had many versions with no one author, much like


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the Homeridae, but it is the aggressiveness of the toast tradition from which rap draws its inspiration that remains problematic. How is communal authorship being retained in the tradition of oral societies when rap and record labels are associated with specific rappers because of their biographical “authenticity”? Black women rappers, on the whole, were silent with regards to 2 Live Crew’s misogyny. Rose (1994, 177) attributes this to their solidarity to the cause of racism. But, perhaps there is more to it than this? In their rap, “If You Believe in Having Sex” the “ladies” in the crowd are asked to repeat, line after line, words that subjectivize them as sexually insatiable and “bad,” whose job is to only service “niggas.” Perhaps one way to understand this self-blatant humiliation is that it provides a psychic hardening of the female black imaginary in the context of gangsta culture; as a way to push back the white gaze, which already cynically positions black women as exoticized hos ready to be had for a bit of “black pussy.” Women are pushed to the floor during performances and water poured over them to confirm their low status in the white order. Hard core women rappers, like Man Hole (Tairrie B with the nü-metal band My Ruin, Century Media Records), seem to have excepted this label. While such a reading seems “far-fetched,” it becomes more probable if the Crew is read as executing such jouissance onto black women in the context of a sadomasochistic performance where the hystericized female as “bottom” has found a sadistic “top” who “says it like it is.” He has the power. By exposing the rawness of phallic power, rappers like the Crew treat women as “equal” sexual predators (as hos), thereby executing a Sadean pact—the promise of equal sexual satisfaction of the body. It is possible to read “2 Live Crew” as signifying “two live sexes” defined by their eroticism (zoë) alone. “Booty rap” with its obsession for sex and perverted eroticism is Sadean through and through. Besides Manhole, Bytches with Problems (BWP) in New York, Hoez with Attitude (HWA) in Los Angeles also sprang up. The former produced singles like “Fuck a Man” and “Is Pussy Still Good?” The latter released “True Hoez” and “Hoe I am,” then a later album Azz Much Ass as You Want. In BWP’s “Two Minute Brother” the attempt is to ridicule the sexual performance of her partner. Two minutes is the extent of his lovemaking (Perkins, 1996, 26–27). Both groups exemplify the Sadean woman. Crew’s album vivifies the difference between demand and desire. Demand belongs to the drive, which in this case remains insistent: there is no staging of fantasy of desire for the object. Women are put in a perverse position by direct address. The Crew as sadistic perverts are Sade’s agent-executors of women’s will. Women are asked only to be the objet a for the Crew; to satisfy the Crew’s sexual drive—as an object. In turn, they are the objet a for the ho who can have her sexual desires satisfied. The Crew emerge as “pure” drive with an unconditional demand. By “telling it like it is” in their raps, they are merely the objective “instruments” of “truth”; as if black women are merely exoticized “pussy” for white tastes, but they can be the sexual equals with black men such as the Crew. Their performance is not a “social realism.” “Telling it like it is” holds no sympathy, only “raw” reality. There is no fantasy

G S


being staged for the gaze of, say, the rich to gain sympathy in the manner of World Hunger Vision, for instance, that features poor and starving African children on television. The Crew lacks nothing; they ask for nothing. There is no lack named because they stage their own enclave of fandom. They appear to lack no lack, as if they were not castrated. We would theorize this as being the ONE, an authority unto themselves, offering a redemptive answer to ghetto youth by creating their own substitute social order governed by their own sexual code and rituals of authenticity. Such a perverse nihilistic position explains what might be called a “selfloathing,” or self-hate that manifests itself when one “nigga” calls another “nigga” for there is an identification with each as being victims of an unjust and unforgiving social order. Being called a “dog” affectionately, or taking on Dog as part of one’s rap name plays on many registers of meaning in this regard. It can refer to the “dog-eat-dog” existence in the hood, or the idea of being a “stray-dog” with an unruly independent voice. When such dogs bark and growl, the dogcatchers are dispatched. Then there is even a Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Jim Jarmusch’s (1999) quirky film about a hired killer who lives by a warrior code, who always goes it alone. Perhaps an ironic unintended meaning of dog is the classical reference to the Cynics. The Greek name for dog, attributed to Cynics like Diogenes of Sinop who believed in virtue yet led a “dog’s life.” Here zoë is clearly excluded from the social bios. Then there is the hip-hop magazine Murder Dog that features the b-boy image of the gangsta, the 2002 year end special featured 50 Cent on its cover. For the Crew, of course, it’s a dog in heat (Me So Horny). One of the Crew’s rappers is named Brother Marquis. Of course, Marquis refers to a foreign nobleman ranking somewhere between a duke and a count, which fits well with the boastful overtones as rap’s strategy; at the same time it can be read as a reference to Marquis de Sade. Within the context of our thesis such a reading cannot be avoided. In his often cited essay “Kant avec Sade,” Lacan (1989/1963) points to the irony that the Sadean ruse of claiming sexual equality by sharing “body parts” in an “objective” way amongst equals through sadomasochistic practices and pacts is a categorical universal comparable to Kant’s “categorical imperative” for a universal moral obligation, which was also objective, rational, and freely chosen. The formal logical structures between the two philosophical systems were identical; their difference being the perversion of the Law by substituting Kant’s “spirit” with a willing “body.” Sade forms the underbelly of the Enlightenment. The Crew’s unending demand for sex and its accompanying jouissance is not unlike the Sadean scenarios where the male organ seems unlimited in its capacity to fornicate. But, again the irony here is that such fantasies mask the very desire for the Law itself, so that a limit can be placed on this unlimited jouissance. The Crew, by provoking censorship and having their act shut down accomplish just that—they force the Law to set the limit. In 1990, thanks to a Broward County, Florida Judge, “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” became the first record in America to be legally obscene, which was appealed in May 1992 on the First Amendment, their right to free speech.


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“I ’ ’ ”: P-O F Ice Cube’s album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, quotes the Crew with the same references to nursery rhymes and to women (“Women they’re good for nothing, no maybe one thing; To serve needs to my ding-a-ling”/ in “It’s A Man’s World”). At the same time he cautions them against nigga pimps in the rap, “Who’s the Mack?” This once more opens up the misogyny of black youth culture. Booty-rap style is a revival of “mackin,” etymologically derived from the French word maquereau, meaning pimp. The profile of the mack style as strong-willed and aggressive male who disdains women, wears heavy gold jewelry, and drives a custom Cadillac, while a stereotype, is also another version of ghetto “authenticity,” which plays well on videos and in the fantasy scenarios of young black men. “Pimp” is used interchangeably with gangsta, as is “Mack Daddy,” “Daddy Mack” and “hustler.” Popularized by Michael Campu’s blaxploitation film, The Mack (1973), it featured Goldie (Max Julien) as a hustling ex-con who ends up being the kingpin. The pimp is represented as an ambivalent figure; neither all bad nor all good, but someone who “gets along,” just doing what he has to do to make a living. Kelly (1996, 142) speculates that young black men identify with the pimp because he is the representative of the ultimate dominator, “turning matriarchy on its head.” Masculinity is strongly defined against anything feminine, classically patriarchal. Not even the Sadean option is available to these women. Rather, it exposes Sade’s myth. “Findum, Fuckum, and Flee” was Dr. Dre’s pimping attitude (album, Efil4Zaggin, NWA). After all, in MTV’s television series, Pimp My Ride, it is the black man who remodels old wrecked cars so that white boys have a sex-machine to score their lady. The statement by Ice Cube, “I ain’t nobody’s bitch” (The Nigga Ya Love to Hate) is perhaps the definitive and most telling of the fear of the feminine that haunts the black youth’s unconscious. This is not unlike those heroic Western narratives where to fall in love with a woman would mean instant domestication and symbolic castration, the freedom to “ride” taken away. Ice Cube’s innovation, unique among L.A. gangsta rappers, was to incorporate a female rapper’s voice (Yo-Yo) in his AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted album who then contests his own lyrical putdowns. Such a move raises some ambivalences around the gangsta-pimp persona, but on the whole the response to femininity all too perfectly points to the loss of authority that has emerged in postmodernity where fathers of many young black men have left them abandoned. The post-Oedipal fall out has meant young black men struggling with the authority of their mothers and the absence or violence of their fathers. While there are some raps that directly deal with domestic violence (Ice-T’s “The House” and “Fuck My Daddy” on Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed by W.C. and the MAAD Circle), rape and incest (“Brenda has a Baby” and “Part-Time Martha,” by 2Pac on 2Pacalypse Now) (Allen, 1996, 158, n. 75), on the whole, the gangsta-pimp genre remains fearful of women’s power.

G S


The homophobic tendencies and often the total disrespect of women are a primary indicator of boyz attempting to separate from their mothers. One wonders to what extent the predominance of “mutherfucka” in gangsta rap is a confirmation of the presence of a “weak” father? The father is repressed in their lyrics. There is no direct address to him. There is an obvious disavowal of the father’s desire, his name (as obvious in the change of names as a.k.a.) and the Law. Perhaps the standard joke that the Mafioso loves his mother should not go unnoticed against the context of the gangsta. Recall that Tony Soprano’s mother, Livia (The Sopranos), wanted to get rid of him because he was becoming “too soft,” visiting a psychiatrist where a possible breach of trust could occur. In a politically defensive move, the gangsta metaphor is applied recursively to people and institutions that control their lives, especially politicians, state and police departments, and not to themselves. The “real life” (RL) gangstas are the police. For example, Ice-T’s “Street Killer” is not a gangsta but a cop (Kelly, 1996; Rose, 1996).

H  T  W-B The sadistically perverse rap seems to be the most prevalent response to invoke the Law. A masochistic response, like that of Nas mentioned earlier is more rare. In Nas’s case the rapper beats on his own body to get a “grip” on himself—practicing self-masochism as a defiant victim. The sadistic response, as we have already seen, attempts to make the Other “speak”; to hit the kernel of the Other’s Real Being, to strike the right psychic “nerve” so that he thinks that through him some higher ideal is being executed. Cruelty is given an excuse in the name of a higher will. In the 1987 album Straight Outta Compton, Easy-E, a former drug pusher who was eventually shot and killed, and Ice-T came together as N.W.A. (Niggas with Attitude) and produced the song “Fuck tha Police,” under their Ruthless Records label. With no support from the radio, the press, or MTV, the rap became an underground hit resulting in the FBI warning Ruthless Records and its parent company, Priority, of possible consequences. Such indignity toward the Law can only escalate until the point is reached where the “normally” invisible border between “real life” (RL) and fiction becomes exposed opening up the gap of the Real. Killing a cop so the pain of the widow and colleagues becomes a direct proof that the Other indeed does exist while the killer remains uncastrated, in full enjoyment of his transgression, is the worst of all possible crimes. Ice-T’s infamous rap, “Cop Killer,” the mere mention of such a deed seemed to have had the same effect on the law community as an actual killing—an implosion of fiction and reality. The provocation was just too much to bear. The rap’s power resided in the very viscerality of the words as pulsive embodiments of the material Real. Those committed to “law and order” become subjectivized in such a way that they hear the lyrics as a form of hate speech. The collapse between actual violence and virtual violence in this case becomes an inverted form of the usual “copy cat” accusations that


M  Y C: A L A

are aimed at the media. The first policeman shot in gang violence already opened up the space for Ice-T’s spiteful rap at some point in the future. Yet, for the gangsta rapper this vicious word attack is an act of “radical evil.” It has the paradoxical status of being a “good” for the community. Its virtual violence provides a minimal distance from an even more radical evil, the taking of a life (zoë). It is the rapper’s “duty” to “tell it like it is,” and in so doing there is a sadistic enjoyment that emerges from executing this higher duty. The sadistic rap is only achieved when it strikes at the loss of objet a in the Other, as in the typical melodrama where the villain’s aim is to destroy the one object that gives him life (zoë)—the woman he loves. Or, the reverse scenario—to make the one object appear that can destroy the Other, that defines the very inner core of his or her Being, like the Kryptonite that can destroy Superman. It is the one substance that is too close to “home” because it is home for Superman, an uncanny substance. Kryptonite is like the objet a that the sadist aims to produce in the Other. Here, the shooting of a “cop”—its abbreviation objectifying the policeman or law officer—that is the sadist’s target. We see why many “cops” can fall in sadistic behavior as well, for they can begin to enjoy the pleasure in letting their victims (black men) know of the lose of freedom that comes with incarceration; or, they take pleasure in beatings, interrogations, and killings. Here is where social reality locked by binary definitions can just as easily reverse roles. When it comes to the drug wars, police corruption is not uncommon. Cops become recidivist felons forming small gangs to commit police crimes while on duty, a problem experienced in many major cities of the United States.

S B J: C  L, L  C There is a particular poignant pathos attached to the service sector where a master–servant binary operates that reaches beyond the criminal-cop dependency. Guards are as much prisoners as the prisoners themselves, as brilliantly exposed in Mac Foster’s Monster’s Ball (2001). In Frank Oz’s comedy, What About Bob? (1991), Dr. Leo Marvin, a psychiatrist, is equally defined and caught by his patient Bob “Bobby” Wiley (Bill Murray) who never wants to leave therapy, becoming Marvin’s shadow self. We can perhaps understand the complexities of rap’s masculinity and its relationship with the Law by making a slight detour through some filmic examples that explore this very dependency. The gangsta is, after all, an ambivalent figure. On the one hand, he is admired for his “crimes” because he challenges the Law, which is seen as corrupt; on the other hand, he is a ruthless killer. The pimp is placed in a similar ambiguous border. He is both a womanizer— smooth, suave, cool—and a woman hater when crossed. The ambiguity between Crime and Law emerges fully in the postmodern period where Authority, as I maintain, is on the wane. Police officers see themselves as vigilantes “above the law”; the line between Law and Criminality becomes

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rather fuzzy as it raises its own ethical questions, not unlike the question of peace and violence we referred earlier in Spike Lee’s films. An excellent example of these contradictory mirrorings is Michael Mann’s film, Heat (1995) where a duel is staged between Al Pucino as Vincent Hanna, the “good” detective cop, and Robert de Niro as Neil McCauley, the “good” bad thief. In the narrative McCauley (de Niro) lives by the motto: “Never have anything in your life that you can’t walk out on in thirty seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner.” This “nonattachment” to objects presents him as a rather odd and cold figure in relation to the Law, for his sole purpose of existence as a thief seems to be his duty to cleverly steal the jouissance back that the Master stole from him in the first place, so that he would not be symbolically placed within the Law and be castrated. He wishes to remain an outLaw. (How different is this from the gangsta rapper who also remains unattached to the state and women, also to avoid castration?) The jewelry and luxury goods he steals are precisely in compensation for what he believes the social order “owes” him so that one day he may (mythically) retire and be a Master himself. (To what extent is the ostentatious display of clothes and goods by gangsta and pimp rappers a repeat of this very attitude? A number who made it now live up on the Hollywood hills looking down at the ghettos they left behind.) De Niro’s character, in this sense, lacks nothing. He is no “fool” when it comes to the Law. His jouissance is found in tricking or getting “back” at it, making it suffer by cleverly outwitting its main representative—Vince Hanna. His 30 second rule assures that he doesn’t fall into the trap of being caught by his own jouissance; namely the satisfaction derived from stealing the objects, rather than the jouissance that involves scoring money. His is a calculating logic that says, “just one more job and I can retire.” But, of course, that ideal state of idylness is never reached. Retirement would mean undergoing a “subjective destitution” of his fundamental fantasy, namely giving up the satisfaction (the jouissance) of the “theft” itself. It is the theft of the Other’s jouissance that enables him to “get off.” De Niro’s character is an exemplary example of a hypernarcissistic individual. His “duty” to enjoy also presents him as a paranoid ego who is afraid to let anyone into his life in the fear that his own jouissance would be stolen, and hence become symbolically castrated. In Frank Oz’s The Score (2001), for example, de Niro, is once again cast as a master thief, Nick Wells, who outwits a younger more aggressive thief, Jack Teller (Edward Norton), in his attempt to “steal” the jouissance from Master Wells. Teller wants to prove that he is the “best” by “setting up” Wells for a “fall” with the Law. In the end, outwitted, it is Teller who remains the Fool; a Fool being someone who only deceives himself into thinking that he can steal from the Master without the Master knowing it. Teller’s plan “backfires” on itself, burning his ego. This exchange between Wells and Teller is not unlike a shout-out between two rappers engaged in a toast, as continuous one-upmanship to show whose Master. The double entendre on the word “score,” as both a prize and the jouissance attached in outwitting an opponent, sums up perfectly the game that


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is afoot between a Master and servant. Getting the best of the Master—be it the Law, as in the case of Heat, or the Master Thief himself, as in The Score— involves a theft of what is most precious and self-defining in the Master’s unconscious. In Heat, de Niro’s character wants to position the Law, as represented by the figure Vince Hanna (Pucino), as a Fool. Hanna comes dangerously close to illegal clandestine activities “to get his man.” (As did LAPD’s Chief Darryl Gates who would draw out gang leaders by leaving suspects on enemy turf, intentionally spreading incendiary rumors, and provoking gang violence by writing over Crip graffiti with Blood colors, and vice versa, Davis, 1990, 274.) With the Master Thief, it is his paranoiac fear of being outsmarted by allowing someone into his life whom he begins to trust and love that jeopardizes his relation to the Law as an outsider. “Trust No one” would be the motto that he lives by. In The Score Norton’s character, Jack, is able to seemingly win over Wells’s trust. He appears to act as an eager apprentice, and it looks like a father–son bond could develop. In Heat, de Niro’s character falls in love with Justine Hanna (Diane Venora) who, in effect is a femme fatale that “castrates” him. She seals his fate. (Her last name adumbrates his fate, although she is not related to Vince Hanna.) Once castrated he must die for he has broken his “30 second rule” to rescue her, the very sinthome that forms the core of his Real self that centered and gave meaning to his life.2 He would have done anything “but not that!” But, with Justine he does do “that,” spelling his death. We see once more how the masculine hypernarcissistic ego fortifies itself by abjecting all that is feminine and nurturing. The relation to the Maternal Thing in Lacan and Freud’s terms is one of fear and terror. As Kristeva (1982) develops it, one can say that the feminine sublime must be thoroughly abjected if the boundary state of primary egoic narcissism is to be maintained. The various forms of viscous fluids—breast milk, ear wax, semen, vaginal secretions, menstrual blood, saliva, mucus, excrement, urine, pus, sweat, and so forth—as secretions, which exist in an in-between state of fluids and solids blur the inside/outside borders of the body. For the heterosexual masculine subject they hark back to the “maternal horror,” and must be abjected so as to differentiate a separation between self and mother. These secretions are considered dirty and soiled because they are produced when the body is “out of control.” The body’s unconscious “memory” (or in Anzieu’s, 1989, terms, its skin-ego) has a “life” (as zoë) of its own independent of our consciousness, which is subject to libidinal drives, and biological stresses that must be symbolically contained. These substances bridge the dirty/clean binary and hence are the abjected reminders of a certain helplessness and nurturing that is required if we are to grow up mentally and physically healthy. Even the ejaculation of semen can be read as the fear of the feminine, as a “petit mort” (a little death) as Bataille referred to it, for it requires a certain surrender, a letting go, to be more open, more homologous with feminine ejaculatory spasms where the inner pelvis both expands and contracts. The male cannot stay erect, hard, and tumescent forever. Yet, for the Master, ejaculation—going limp just once—can spell death.

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(Loosing your “cool.” Unable to pull the trigger.) The Jouissant Father avoids any signs of frailty. To repress this anxiety of a body out of control, both films illustrate the “clinical,” operative and cautious approach to the inaccessible “treasure”— the careful planning (blueprints, models), the “dry” runs and rehearsals of difficult bodily maneuvers, the instrumentation (newest technological gadgetry to pull off the heist), precise timing, and step by step procedure—as if the thief was approaching the unknown void of the Other itself that is sealed and seems impossible to reach, spelling either his complete satisfaction in its achievement or his complete devastation. There is no in-between. The television series Mission Impossible and its big-screen adaptations are exemplary in this regard. A bungled job results in the horror of Quentin Torantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992), where the four remaining jewel thieves, in order to save “face” and avoid suffering a complete self-devastation of their egos, must find the informer amongst them who “ratted” them out. De Niro’s character in both Heat and The Score remains “cool,” no mater how much “heat” is on. The body boundary is fortified so that no anxiety emerges. The operative heist is “no sweat.” No nurse is about to wipe his brow. The similarities with gangsta rappers are apparent when dueling with mics or on the streets as gangsters. Vince Hanna (Pucino), on the other had, in the name of duty to the Law, hides his own narcissistic obsessive jouissance that demands that he tenaciously pursue the object (de Niro) that gives him the full satisfaction of living. He has abandoned all attachments to objects except this one. His marriage is in ruins, his relationship with his daughter leads to her attempted suicide, he smokes and drinks too much. McCauley (de Niro) is his objet a— in order that he feel “alive” rather than dead, he must destroy him. He refuses to accept that this objet a lies at the very kernel of his Being and completely defines him. The only way he is able to separate from it, is to destroy it. In effect, by destroying the objet a that the character de Niro represents, he destroys himself; and undergoes his own “subjective destitution.” We see this in the end of the film where, once the pursuit is over and McCauley is dead, he is once more reunited with his daughter. The question is, of course, whether another McCauley will emerge to take his place? Has Hanna “truly” traversed his fantasy? Has the objet a been truly “destroyed,” or has Hanna’s drive merely been satiated for the moment? Is the turn to his family simply an interlude in the action? These questions remain open because Hanna’s sinthome is defined by an obsession not to be made a Fool. Like McCauley, there can only be one Master in the house, and there will always be another challenger on the horizon displacing his family. Hanna as the Oedipal father who is recuperated for a moment at the end of the film, comparatively speaking, is presented as a rather boring and dull figure. . . . somewhat Dead. In an analogous way, the conservatist and patriarchal organization Nation of Islam (NOI) established in 1978 under Louis Farrakhan promises black youth a millennial vision and creation mythology of World Order so that they can commit themselves to strict rules and discipline to get out of the hood, to


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break their cycle of violence, and not repeat their symptoms of abuse. While the new NOI promises African American youth a centering myth that is said to bring them economic self-sufficiency and psychic health, the Five Percenters, while still drawing on the same fantasies of redemption do not subject themselves to the same strict rules, nor do they recognize a leader. Most rappers are inclined to join the lesser hierarchical Five Percenters (Allen, 1996). Both organizations represent attempts at recentering and restoring authority to a ghettoized youth they see as having turned to the devil (“dead niggaz,” that is non-Muslim blacks) by offering a theocratic alternative consistent with neoliberal ideals (I-Self-Lord-Am-Master), conservative family values and a strict moral code (see Gardell, 1998).

W B  G E: W R T E I return to rap with the recognition that the relation to the objet a defines a particular ethics in its relationship to jouissance, to the satisfaction of the drives. 2 Live Crew’s sadism and booty rap fails as an ethical relationship to the Real by falsely promising a sexual equality based on mutual exploitation where the Sadean woman is sure to lose. The porno industry is one such loss. The ethical complaint by rappers such as Ice-T also raises difficult questions concerning Good and Evil, but they are not so easily resolved. Aren’t sadistic rap jibes equally damaging? And, at what point does rap as a general phenomenon fall into a stylization where such an ethical complaint becomes empty, its hip-hop roots of nonviolence long abandoned? This was the question raised at the beginning of the previous chapter. What relation must be maintained to keep the rap “alive” as a social force? It is here that a differentiation presents itself between “authentic” rap (“Program directors and DJ’s ignored me, Cause I simply said fuck Top Forty,” Ice Cube in “Turn Off the Radio,” AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted) whose gaze is still meant for ghetto youth, and its emptiness as a form. Ice-T is able to still “sting” his enemy, while a more decadent rap’s primary interest is to “steal” a little bit of the Real back from the Master who took it away by acquiring all the accoutrements of stylized living that have been denied. Have the two positions collapsed into one another? A “real Nigga” has to be a product of the ghetto. This still seems to be the defining feature of “authenticity” for over a decade. The “ghetto fantasy” remains the primary way to sell records. Highly autobiographical, the rap has to be “authentic.” The Queens’ rapper, 50 Cent (a.k.a. Curtis Jackson) made a name for himself in 2000 for his song “How to Rob,” a crime rhyme that mocked celebrity rappers like Jay-Z, Big Pun, Master P and Timbalan. The song envisions him sticking them up in the street and taking their jewelry—another Master-Fool confrontation. Since then he has been stabbed, beaten with a metal crutch, and shot nine times, including once in his face near his grandmother’s house. Thus, 50 Cent drives a bullet and bomb proof SUV, which he politely provided a tour for MTV. He has been

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arrested countless times for carrying loaded guns in his car. His Get Rich or Die Tryin (2003), from Interscope Records CD, backed by Eminem’s Shady Records and Dr. Dre Aftermath Records, sold 872,000 copies in the first week, the highest sales ever for a debut artist. The killing of DJ Jam Master Jay, the founder of the Scratch Academy, in his studio in Queens, New York on October 30, 2002 raises the ideological clash between those in the hip-hop nation who (like Jam Master Jay and Run-DMC) advocated nonviolent values and a turn to traditional scratching and mixing, and gangsta rappers, like 50 Cent, who continue to perpetuate the “ghetto fantasy.” The irony is that both positions continue to be exploited. Adidas went on to market a limited edition of 5,000 Jay Master Jay UltraStar sneakers, issued on what would have been his thirty-eighth birthday. At 100 dollars they sold out within days. Designed by his three sons, all proceeds were to go to Scratch Academy. Run-DMC had already recorded his fidelity to the company with the rap, “My Adidas” in 1988 when UltraStars first came out in an exclusive deal with the rap star. That same year Run-DMC was already a movie star in Rick Rubin’s Tougher Than Leather, furthering his profile. Now 50 Cent’s fame as an authentic “positively street” gangsta is constantly promoted by the media machine, appearing on major covers of hip-hop magazines like The Source, Murder Dog, and XXL (with Eminem and Dr. Dre). The “blood hounds” of gangsta rap are as popular as ever. Yet fans are constantly being reminded in the hip-hop magazines: “it ain’t the money,” “money still ain’t a thang.” Many rap/hip-hop videos are infested with the fetishized commodities of stylized Lincoln and Cadillacs decked with leopard skin interiors, stretchlimousines, fancy clothes, gold jewelry, fashionably available women, and lavish homes as signs of Mack status. The telling feature of such an empty rap is its overexaggeration as a performance of mimetic hyperbolization, for it is performed for a gaze that no longer perceives it as a threat, as much as a titillation, a voyeuristic tamed peek by a white audience at an aestheticized gangsta world that often overflows into a pimp’s paradise of ostentatious luxury and available women. It has become an aestheticized “porn” of sorts, completely stripped of its once subversive intent. I am reminded of the same phenomena that occurs in many tourist infested countries where the Aboriginals (First Nation peoples) stage their time honored rituals and customs to earn their pay from the tourist trade. The Mudmen masks in Papau New Guinea, for instance, took on more and more exaggerated features to please their audiences. Their dances became emptied of their spiritual and medicinal tribal benefits, replaced by the theatricality of the show. Has gangsta rap simply become all show? Debased to the likes of the World Wresting Federation (WWF)? Flipping through hip-hop magazines one finds clothing endorsements, all the major running sports manufactures represented, dispersed with pictures of scantly clad women (in the style of Maxim), with mean-looking rappers posing to look tough, signifying being “out-of-control,” on the edge of rage. Queen Latifah is better known for her movie career (Set it Off, Chicago, Living Out Loud, The Bone Collector, and


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Bringing Down the House) than for her rap lyrics. It seems that the “noise of rage” has become more and more entertainment, the myth kept alive for commercialism than the once promised message: “fight the power.” It has gone morally bankrupt, at least the commercial side of it has. With perverted rap, paradoxically a certain impotency emerges despite all the available sex as the apparitional figure loses its subversive complaint against the social order and becomes simply a parody of itself, defusing dissent. “Authenticity” turns into artificiality, and the black gangsta rapper becomes exoticized as performing for the crowd. The ever present danger of being accused of falling into the nineteenth-century minstrel tradition as exemplified by the “coon song” remains a permanent and dangerous possibility that has to be guarded against. How does one judge the fast-talking street-wise character of comedians from Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy to Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Chris Tucker, who draw on the oral tradition of “playing the dozens”? Can it be said that they too are engaged in a game of survival where the black community—as marginalized by Hollywood—is being transformed and elevated through their brand of humour? Or, do they remain contradictory figures unable to escape the discourses that write their bodies historically? When exactly does the figure of the Fool emerge, which is so often cautioned against by so many rappers? The Fool hysterically steals back the jouissance that the Master took away; the fetish objects, which are stolen back, act as substitutes for the pride, integrity and having giving up on desire not to sell out the spirit that drove them toward impossible ends in the first place. It is in the space of where these two forms—the authentic and the artificial— remain undecidable—controllably uncontrollable—that white envy emerges most strongly. The sprinter, Greg Johnson, world record holder for the 200 meters and Olympic champion in an advertisement for Ray Ban sunglasses sports the glasses in a direct address to the viewer, his naked torso glistening with sweat amplifying and carving out every muscle of his well trained body. “Take a good look at this!” The advertisement’s slogan captures the ambiguous uncontrolled power in the sports arena that flashes back to the boxing ring of bearably self-contained rage as exemplified by the Mike Tyson’s of boxing history. The black body is seen as a site/cite/sight of jouissance in the way it “gets off” through its “risky” behavior, style, and flash. The vibrancy and libidinal drive of life (zoë) in the hip-hop dances (Tick, Float, Wave, Handglide, Headspin, King Tut, Windmill, and Flow) are viscerally felt and copied. While the transgressiveness of “authentic” gangsta rap enables a voyeuristic kind of white “slumming” to take place by vicariously participating in the transgression against authority. More white than black youth buy gangsta rap CDs. Then there is MTV’s television series, Pimp My Ride, hosted by the Pimp Master of Ceremonies, rap singer Xzibit. White teens, who have run down cars have them transformed into pimpmobiles through the wizardry of Black makeover mechanics. This is the envy of “enjoyment,” of the Other’s jouissance. For white youth the Pimp is the Other who is able to more fully participate in the “satisfactions” of sexual life (as bios) than he; it is the Other who “enjoys.”

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Such postmodern racism complicates the situation. In the American context the black subject as the white’s Other signifying chaos and instability is caught by the discourses of both subversion and subjugation. The binary that emerges is difficult to deconstruct because the hegemony of White’s refusal to proclaim themselves as a visible color; they remain transparent, while Blacks cannot de-invest themselves as a visible color because of the vested history of race relations of colonial slavery. Although, conservative black politics attempts to do just this, claiming that there should be an equal playing field despite visible color differences; more often than not, such a ruse fails.3 The resultant symbolic deadlock continually replays itself in outbursts of violence. The black man as a “signifying monkey” (Gates, 1989) is the embodiment of pure drive whose mask is the “grimace of the Real” (Zizek, 1991, 172, ft. 2); as the “excessive disfiguration of reality” that is not symbolically hidden but exposed directly on the surface. It does not take us too far afield to see the homology between the fixed grimace of the death mask and the black gangsta rapper as a Joker whose horror is to be found in the dizzy mocking laugher and ironic play of his rap. The status of his mask is not imaginary nor symbolic in the sense of the role he is supposed to play. It is Real, if we consider the rapper’s “grimace” as a perpetual “signifying monkey” of the African American tradition—paradoxically laughing and crying at once. His death drive is situated Janus faced beyond theses borders, in the recesses of the “extreme,” sounding his ethical complaint whether through the bite of his rap, or through his hysterical comical laughter. It is his libidinal drive (zoë) that refuses to be socialized, to the degree that is has been compromised (as bios) through the entertainment sell-out, the force of rap and its ethical thrust has been lost.

W() U R  E It seems the success of white rapper Eminem (a.k.a. Marshall Bruce Mathers III) at MTV Video Awards (Best Male Video and Video of the Year/“The Real Slim Shady,” 2000; these two awards repeated yet again in 2002/ “Without Me”), and his controversies with the Law (a two-year probation sentence for carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a deadly weapon on a man he saw kissing his wife outside a Detroit nightclub) have made him a marketable superstar with gangsta-like credentials. His two-year probation was considered by most observers of youth courts to be a light sentence, yet another example of a two-tiered justice system where well-off youth (especially Caucasian) are given a “break” by the Law compared with their African American counterparts. There is no lack of “authenticity” here. Or is there? The gun was not loaded, and so his street credibility has become suspect— all talk and no action. Maybe the incident was not unlike ’N Sync’s shameless throwing of WWJD. bracelets into the crowd to reassure the Moral Right that they believe (even when they don’t)4—an empty gesture needed for his gangsta rap image that requires a bad boy attitude if his rap was to sell. And sell it did, as his profile grew. Divorce, an attempted suicide by his


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wife Kim, his relationship to his preschool daughter Hailie Jade Scott, his mother suing him because she felt offend by his single hit song “My Name Is,” a line of which says that she smoked more dope than he did, have provided Eminem with even more “authenticity” to work with. “Authenticity,” as painful–pleasurable jouissance, comes through in his lyrics with abundance. Critics can’t figure out whether to call him a satirical genius or a sexist homophobe. Gay and lesbian activists have no difficulty, however. But it is precisely his masochism, a mixture of trash-talk, violence, and his own self-effacement, which personally (w)raps him up as much as his fans, that make his lyrics so appealing. This aspect of his brazen attempt to “tell it like it is” and be willing to suffer the consequences for his insubordination— which never seems to come—makes him appear heroic. No matter what “bad” things he does, it is turned around and rewarded as an exposition of “truth” and authenticity. How? Suffice to recall the very funny scene from Jim Carrey’s superb performance in Tom Shadyac’s Liar, Liar (1997) where Flecher Reede, the lawyer/ liar is unable to tell a lie, because his son, Max, had wished so on his birthday. The narrative is thus an acting out of such an “impossible” desire. His rival in the law firm, Miranda, overhears Flecher saying to his secretary, Greta, that he cannot lie. Upon hearing this, Miranda believes she has a way to have him fired so that she can climb the ranks in the law firm. She brings Flecher into the board meeting expecting him to be fired for telling the “truth” about his boss, Mr. Allan & associates. Flecher begins by exposing the boss and then each of his associates for the assholes they really are. At first Mr. Allan is stunned. Is Flecher serious? Is he joking?—or what? Being hit too close to the truth (his objet a) the corporate boss breaks into hysterical laughter and interprets this as a “roasting,” which, of course, has the rest of the board laughing as well. Flecher is perceived as an insightful, brilliant lawyer, who will be promoted. Miranda is devastated. This is precisely the psychic mechanism that is at work in Eminem’s lyrics. They are like “Fishisms” on the hit television series, Ally McBeal where the Law is spoofed and perversely laughed at. Richard Fish (Greg Germann) is able to say absolutely blatant politically incorrect “truths” about the corruption of the Law because it is “safe” to do so. No one truly knows if he is just kidding or telling the truth. Fish is another variation of Fletcher, as is Eminem. Eminem attacks are on an entire set of structures that “makes” him who he is, raising a similar kind of bafflement. Is he only kidding us or is he really so mean-spirited? On his controversial slams on gays, Eminem claims that he is not homophobic. A “gay” to him signifies being a coward, a sissy, and an asshole. So he writes, “Hate fags? The answer’s yes. Homophobic? Nah you’re just heterophobic.” Here are several other examples: “You think I give a damn about a Grammy. Half of you critics can’t even stomach me, let alone stand me” (The Real Slim Shady). On the music industry in the way they manufacture stars, Eminem attacks the record industry, criticizing them on their marketing practices: “Now follow me and do exactly what you see. Don’t you want to grow up just like me! I slap women and eat ‘shrooms

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then OD. Now don’t you wanna grow up to be just like me!” (Role Model). Concerning gay protests: “Have you been hated or discriminated against? I have been protested and demonstrated against. Picket signs for my wicked crimes” (Cleaning out My Closet). On his wife’s suicide attempt, which now becomes a violent death of a woman with the same name that he stuffs in a trunk: “You can’t run from me Kim. It’s just us, nobody else! You’re only making this harder on yourself. Ha! Ha Gotcha!” (Kim). On his fans and their imitations of him: “I’m bout as normal as Norman Bates, with deformative traits” (Role Model). Finally the power of the media: “And all of this controversy circles me. And it seems like the media immediately points at me. So I point one back at ’em. But not the index or the pinky or the ring or the thumb” (The Way I Am). The MTV awards he has received for dissin’ out this p(l)ain-full “truth” speaks to the way the music industry is caught in its “search” for virgin authenticity—their objet a. When this object screams its demand, it has to be rewarded. In a perverse way, Eminem is MTV’s unwanted baby. But now that they have him, they have to deal with the very object they unconsciously wanted to produce—an enfant terrible. His mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, in defense of her son’s bad mouthing her admitted in an interview with Trevor McDonald on the Tonight program5 that as a single mother she had given him all that she could. He was a “spoiled brat” who was prone to temper tantrums to get what he wanted. Obviously they worked then, and they continue to work now. Whether his mother was covering up her own inadequacy or not, is not the issue here. It is Eminem’s “raw” masochistic self, like a Francis Bacon portrait, which is always open to self-mutilation—cut up and sliced verbally, which has been acknowledged. Here Deleuzean parallels readily appear. Like “Bacon’s scream, an operation through which the entire body escapes through the mouth” (Deleuze, 2003, 16), Eminem’s rap is just as raw, hitting a zone of “meat” that is beaten upon. Perhaps Eminem stirs up the racist history of a “white” contender trying to beat the “black” man as his own game in the ring/stage? Dr. Dre’s portrait appears as a missing person on a milk carton in one of his videos. “Dr Dre is dead, locked in my basement,” raps Eminem. But, that’s a scam as well since both Dr. Dre and Eminem collaborated together to produce 50 Cent’s debut CD. Perhaps he is someone who will erase the disaster of the last white rapper, Vanilla Ice, whose album Hard to Swallow was just that, hard to swallow. Vanilla Ice couldn’t validate himself as being “authentic,” lying about it only brought out the wrath of the hip-hop community. Some critics feel that Marky Mark was the only other white rapper who had successfully managed to stay in the game because of his direct homage to Black culture (White, 1996, 194). Others felt that Marky Mark, like the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice were just the tip of a “blackface parody.” Only the now defunct white Brooklyn rappers 3rd Bass made the grade (Perkins, 1996, 37). “The secret is attitude and the attitude must be shared before any mannerism can be copied” (White, 1996, 194). This was precisely Eminem’s ploy. He signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. No one can deny that he hasn’t


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“made it” into Black Rap culture. And, no one can dispute that his lyrics aren’t clever. The bitter taste of the M&M candies he gives are left lingering in the mouth by their sting. He is talented, with a sharp wit that “cut’s like a knife” as the cliché goes. His lyrics in “White America” are disturbing. The video has many allusions to neo-nazi symbolism as Slim Shady, his a.k.a., makes a rap “speech or address” to suburban kids. The rap touches on free speech, censorship, the fact that his looks bring him fans, and then on to Dr. Dre’s support and acknowledgement (e.g., Shady knew Shady’s dimples would help, make ladies swoon baby, ooh baby! Look at my sales/Lets do the math, If I was black I would’ve sold half). Above all he sets himself up to pose a threat to parents and the authority of the government. (And piss on the lawns of the White House and replace it with a Parental Advisory sticker/To spit liquor in the faces of in this democracy of hypocrisy/Fuck you Ms. Cheney! Fuck you Tipper Gore!). For this he has received music awards!?

T S S: T “R” S S The Eminem Show album is unquestionably another brilliant example of self-reflexive masochistic angst, facing squarely the objects of his anxiety. The song, “Cleaning Out My Closet” touches on all the controversy that “dogs” him: his divorce with Kim, his love for his daughter Hailie, his bitterness toward a father who abandoned him, his smarts not to have put bullets in the gun that he carried, and a vehemently stated hate for his mother that is conflicted with an apology in the refrain—all in one single aptly named song! “Authenticity” here walks a fine line between his own autobiography (as the alter ego, the “Real” Slim Shady) and the generalized malaise of white urban youth, which necessarily must remain an open unspecified and unarticulated affective feeling. Eminem draws and personifies so-called white trash. He is a clear example of what we refer to as hypernarcissist—a schizophrenic splitmirrored self; a doubled ego composed of himself and his alter ego Slim Shady, incessantly talking to each other. The reflexivity of rap is especially evident with his work with D12 where he appears as one of the six rappers—Proof, Bizarre, Kon Artis, Swift, and Kuniva. D12 are Eminem’s boyz from the Detroit hood—his posse. The number 12 comes from the a.k.a.’s that each has. Eminem remains Slim Shady. Their debut album, Devil’s Night, has a (humorous?) warning on its cover about profanity, contempt, and vulgarity. The lyrics are there, it says on its cover, “just to fuck with, you.” It succeeds in its juvenile sadism. Anal sex, rape, slams on rich white kids, and such lines as “all the independent women in the house!/Show us your tits and shut your motherfuckin mouth!” (Aint Nuttin’ But Music). In this last song a whole range of pop idols and television stars are viciously put down. Slim Shady visually rapes Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears; Bizarre then “disses” N’Sync, Backsreet Boys, the cast of the television show, Different Strokes (Gary, Todd, Dana), Michael Jackson.

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Mr. Furly, Laverne and Shirley in what can be read as a drug-orgy feast; Kon Artis pipes in with the couplet already mentioned, and Proof names Robert Downey, Robby Brownie, Whitney Huston, Jesse Jackson, George Michael, Tevin Campbell, PeeWee Herman for all their hidden indiscretions—drug use and sex scandals. All this is done in the name of “authenticity.” (We all fart and piss and cuss out our bitch.) To what extent does Eminem deal with the “ethics of the Real”? To what extent does he speak the “truth” of today’s white (trash) youth? Perhaps, Eminem is where Kurt Cobain left off, the voice of white urban youth of the twenty-first century? Cobain is mentioned in “Devil’s Night,” the title song of the CD, but disparagingly. For Eminem, Cobain’s music converted the kids into “ ’caine users” (cocaine users?). To what extent will his sharp devilish tongue be w(rap)ped up by Hollywood remains to be seen. It is a question that centers around Eminem’s rage—his sinthome—which is now being dispersed and transformed onto the big screen as a charismatic young man (age 28) who is softer, more gentle, and concerning. The video track “Lose Yourself” (Album; 8 Mile O.S.T.) captures this ra(n)ge perfectly. The release of Universal picture’s 8 Mile (2002), directed by Curtis Hanson, is once more strongly autobiographical, the kernel is his life story growing up in 8 Mile Road, Detroit. Eminem stars as Jimmy Smith Jr. (a.k.a. Bunny Rabbit to his friends), a white kid from the poor black side of 8 Mile who immerses himself in rap culture so as to escape from his alcoholic mother and a factory job that is going nowhere. His “real life” (RL) is as dysfunctional as is his screen life. His mother was 15 when he was born, his father left when he was 6 months old, and as a child he traveled back and forth from Detroit to Kansas. The film draws on many clichés. Rabbit’s posse is composed of the “fat” boy, the misfit, the intellectual brain, and the DJ who believes in his talent. His one love interest, Alex (Britanny Murphy) is portrayed as street smart girl who knows exactly what she wants and how to pull the “dick” around in the manner of Hoez with Attitude. Eminem has now arrived at a point where the actor and rapper have collapsed on the big screen—effectively Rabbit is Eminem, yet another alter ego that he can play with. It provides him with enough distance from the inner rage within himself. To the extent that he keeps looking in the mirror and facing what he doesn’t like to see, to poor white urban youth he will remain a charismatic force, speaking directly to their and his own jouissance. This is his “gift.” When and if, however, this same biting wit and rage finds an outlet in an alter ego not of his choosing—in other words, when he is asked to truly “act,” the step has been taken toward his own demise, for no longer will he be able to trash-talk to those who try and control him, but the safety of his alter ego will disappear as well, loosing his anchor of selfmutilated performances. I am reminded here of the tragedy of Kurt Cobain, who ended his life because he felt he was “selling out” at a time when this fans though he was on “top” of his career (see chapter 7). In summary, gangsta rap is a symptom of urban black ghetto youth; a manifestation of post-Oedipalization where the loss of authority, especially in


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the state and the police, was so visibly evident in the ensuing violence in the hood, on the streets, culminating with the Los Angeles rebellion in 1992. The question remains how long can the “authenticity” card be played within the context of a commercialized hip-hop market? The Mack style has a way of mitigating the ethical complaint, which, however conflicted, is surely there in the desire for justice and fairness. I have suggested that rap’s initial noise has been muted in its contemporary marketed form. Rap and hip-hop have gone mainstream to the point of spectacularization. Their noise has turned to music, which is not necessarily a mournful loss since it has opened a space in the Symbolic Order for black culture, but at a high cost. The spectral haunt of the gangsta rapper is now staged through the media, the magazines and concert spectaculars. Many rappers have become movie celebrities and walking billboards for sports shoe corporations and clothing companies. This does not mean that there aren’t many forms of conscious raising rap around, there are. But these rap sessions tend to stay underground to preserve their own particular “authenticity.” Gangsta rap’s death drive, its insistent ethical drive has not been lost. It has made its interventionist mark, leaving behind a legacy. But, it seems that the lure of money to steal back “a bit of jouissance” has left many fat rather than the lean and hungry dogs they once were. Many would say that Chuck D’s, the intellectual voice of Public Enemy, radical message of “surviving” has been lost. “If I could make two requests of every black person that reads this, they would be, one, pick up as much education and information as you possibly can about surviving the system. Surviving, as opposed to ‘prospering’ or ‘overcoming’ or ‘taking part.’ Yes, because surviving is basically what you’re going to do. If you ‘prosper’ that means you ain’t sharing your shit around” (quoted in Perkins, 1996, 22). In some cases survival has become anal not oral, retentive rather than open and sharing.

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D  S-E  N M: O D Perhaps no site/sight/cite is more telling of the post-Oedipal fall-out than the “therapeutic” way young men as Boyz1 have approached the libidinal excesses of their drives through the various forms of Metal music (Black, Death, Heavy, Speed, Thrash, Grind). Its nihilism and anarchism, as well as its biting satire and astute social criticism in its various Gothic forms can be characterized by a pop-psychologism: “bad on the outside, but good on the inside,” and “good on the outside, but bad on the inside.” David Draiman of Disturbed, for example, can be characterized as representing the first type. Bright, articulate, a college degree in the Arts (philosophy, political science), engaged in aspects of esoteric religions (neo-pagan, hedonism, Judaism), the band addresses pain, suffering, and death through lyrics that are filled with angst, rage, and redemption. His philosophy of “sickness” (album, The Sickness) is based on aspects of hedonism, individualism, and self-development that are said to be empowering. “The Sickness” refers to the addictions of the flesh. His songs like “Fear,” speaks to complacency and ignorance; “Down with Sickness” deals with empowerment by facing one’s own anxieties; “Stupefy” addresses prejudice, while “Violence Fetish” is a rage against the state. “Remember” is an indictment on the music industry, while “Awaken” states his disgust of “wallpaper music.” “Dehumanize,” “Bound,” and “Intoxication” are about his failed romantic relationships. Such a mixture of existential angst and social commentary provide the lay of the land for (mostly white) postadolescent youth struggles. They form a complementary response to the gangsta rap and hip-hop of black youth cultures. Draiman’s struggles with schooling (five separate high schools, and an Orthodox Jewish boarding school) and the parental disapproval of his lifestyle seem to confirm the de-Oedipal malaise he is working through his music. The video to their song, “Stupify” is exemplary of a masochism that haunts his music and Goth fans in general. “[The video] represents my inner child.


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My inner child has been warped in a sense by life experience, marred by life experience. It looks to the world and sees a world that’s dark and frightening and mysterious, and full of ghosts and specters that still haunt him [Draiman] from the past,” so admits Draiman when discussing this video.2 The theme of “inner child,” of a state of being “pure again” is part of a gothic sensibility. Such sentiment makes his music “authentic.” He has no interest in money, but in the pursuit of his “authentic self” without any authority figure telling him what to do. As with rap, this is the slippery slope Draiman wishes to avoid—the fall into performative irony of the music market where the “edge” is gone. Dysfunctionality as “freakism” has become packaged as Nü metal. Linkin Park and Papa Roach, whose lyrics seem to evoke pop-psychology and teen angst, self-consciously parody it. Papa Roach’s album, Infest (2000) went triple platinum thanks to their single “Last Resort,” which is a song about the contemplation of suicide. Nü metal seems to have reached its own hyperbolic forms of emptiness like some gangsta rappers. Is it is by accident that Draiman’s name is semantically linked to Daimon, and Demon? Draiman presents the obscene side of neoliberalist politics and philosophy—an anarchism that is not often acknowledged by the Law, an ethical complaint that things are not right with the world. The Goth scene “brings to dark,” so to speak, the obscene supplement of designer capitalism. Ozzy Osbourne, a long time practitioner of “shock rock” (Ozzfest3) has said this rather poetically in his 2002 song release “Dreamer” (album, Dreamer), a longing for a better world that just does not seem to come. The song was accompanied with two separate video releases; the difference between them makes a significant statement concerning Ozzy’s dream of the future. The first is typically Gothic and dark, addressing one of its central values: all what modernity represses so that the world appears normal and ordered should be celebrated.4 The video starts with Osbourne at the piano singing, appropriately dressed in black, but then he mystically finds himself in a forest—in his dream world—where it is snowing and there is a thick mist on the ground. Shot with a blue filter, the otherwise black and white scenes are considerably warmed up despite the prevailing “blackness.” Children magically begin appearing from out of the mist, and Ozzy begins to play with them like a little boy (inner child). Eventually, they form an orchestra and begin playing stringed instruments as Ozzy sings along with them. It is a lyrical, moving video that lulls you into singing along and dreaming of a more romantic world. Children hold its promise, but they are also “lost in the woods.” The second video to “Dreamer” is a complete contrast. These are video outtakes from “The Osbourne Family” reality TV show. What is so hilarious is that these short scenes deal with the pettiest of incidents and the everyday chaotic struggles of life: Ozzy telling his kids (Jack and Kelly) not to get too drunk, and to protect themselves when having sex, his back and forth repartees with his wife Sharon (Queen of Darkness), mostly of the four letter kind, and the hilarity of his kennel of dogs who shit on his rug and bark unexpectedly. He calls them terrorists. The dream of a better world is always tempered by

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life’s chaos, the latest of which was then Sharon’s cancer and chemotherapy treatments. This fantasy of utopian innocence mixed with the harsh realities of life present the conflicted kernel of Gothic sensibility. It draws its roots from Gothic Romanticism, in a belief of the “magical child” who is creative because s/he has not become jaded as yet by society, made famous by the educational theory of the eighteenth century Romantic, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Life as zoë (Nature) is very much part of this self-redemptive utopian transformation that is sought for in Goth culture. It is a “return” to the child. As Marilyn Manson, a long time member of Ozzfest put it, “That’s what ‘Smells Like Children’ [CD, 1995] was about. It was a metaphor for wanting to be a kid again, and wishing that I hadn’t been exposed to all the things I had been exposed to, so that I once again could be pure.”5 And again, “The more you go through the more you leave behind. It may sound bizarre, but while rooting in the mud pool of life I feel myself getting cleaner bit by bit. I would like to become as pure and immaculate as a child. The boy I once was, but got stained by life. Exceeding myself to everything was mostly a way to straighten out my youth.”6 Finally, “It’s like a re-birth. It’s like being an infant, everything’s bright, everything’s very painful.”7 And more hilariously, “About eight years ago, I used to take LSD and go to Disney World, because it kind of transported you back into time, and you’re like a child again.”8 This is a world where ignorance is bliss, a prelapsarian state where the split-subject does not exit, freed of deadly jouissance that torments and brings suffering. If this is the masochism of being “bad on the outside, but ‘good’ on the inside,” then what of the other part? There is a sadistic side to this masochism, which comes out with fandom. It is the complementary “good on the outside but bad on the inside.” Even though there is a sublimation of the rage of the drives, there is also a sadomasochistic pact that is made with fans,9 as a certain pleasure in the abuse that they receive as “bottoms” to the band’s “top” position. One has only to think of Ozzy’s past stage antics and the glee of spraying the crowd with a paint-gun, acting out an urination fantasy by “pissing” on people. The sort of “beating” I have in mind has much more to do with the skin-ego. The members of Disturbed remember an incident in Grand Rapids, Michigan where they encountered a fan who had all four of their faces tattooed on his right arm and lyrics from their songs winding through the portraits. He wanted them to sign their autographs on his left arm so that he could have those tattooed as well (Wiederhorn, 2002). It captures the sadomasochistic pact that has been unconsciously made between the band and the fan without them realizing how strong an im(pact) they had made. Who then is the more “disturbed” here, the band or the fan? This incident somewhat unnerved Draiman, not surprisingly since his own symptom—“sickness”—had come back to him in an inverted form in the figure of the fan. The fan indeed was “more” disturbed than Disturbed itself. For one moment, Draiman was facing the Real of his ethical complaint. What should be his responsibility to those fans who don’t “figure” in his anarchistic politics of self-empowerment? It would mean recognizing


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the symbolic Law. Such a fan has become too close to Disturbed’s own fundamental fantasy. This sadomasochistic unconscious pact will be of the utmost importance as I develop these chapters further because of its significance regarding high school violence that leads to such tragedies as Columbine.

F  “U” A: T G   J The tattooing incident with Draiman is a microcosm of a general trend in youth culture. To “protect” itself from the “outside” (the Symbolic Order) a Metal body has taken on the arts of piercing and tattooing to re-signify the body’s image, and to form a Nü sense of tribal identification and attachment (jagodzinski, 2002a, 2003a). Such a virtual body begins its semiological slide into another imaginary self when the “bar” of signification, which holds the signifier to the signified, begins to be incised and etched by the tattoo artist’s stylus, or pierced with a hook or a spike. The painful–pleasurable jouissance felt by such body alterations is not unlike that of a beauty operation that reorganizes an ideal ego as well. The performance professor, historian and artist Orlan, whose anti-beauty operations require months of recovery, is paradigmatic of a hysteric who is transforming herself into another woman complete with a new name, who is deliberately “ugly.” This re-signifying of the skin-ego addresses the way the body mediates inner and outer life through the porous, membryonic, and “warped” surface of the body (Anzieu, 1989). By using the flesh as a medium, piercing, cosmetic surgery, and tattooing psychically re-map and re-member the body differently with sexually different bodies require different inscriptive tools to etch their different surfaces. Such extreme skin games are an attempt to “answer” the hysterical question of identity in a postmodern world: “Am I a man or a woman?” The tattoo and the pierce has become the “cut” of belonging to a gang, a Cause, a musical group, a Nation, and so on. These tattoos of belonging to a small Other (or ONE), not only anchors the group but carries a magical protection as well. In each different case the isomorphism of the inside and the outside of the virtual body image—cathected with libidinal intensity so as to hold the body’s Imaginary and Symbolic psyche together—is opened up, torn asunder, and anamorphically skewed to form another screen-image of a new alter ego. While cosmetic surgery attempts to live up to designer capitalism’s projection of the idealized Ego Ideal, especially for women who strive to reach its “impossible” dimensions, the junkie piercer and tattooist are engaged in trying to ruin this Ego Ideal by becoming an “ugly” body within it; not to draw its gaze, but to avert it. As Marilyn Manson put it, “My desire is to be pure again and not dirtied by the world. But it’s my duty to be as ugly and filthy as I am, so that the audience can experience what I have. . . . Maybe our fans are starting to fall into the ideal of Marilyn Manson and finding beauty in things that the rest of America or society decides is ugly.”10 The grotesque “flaw” is what is beautiful, a sign of creating one’s own standard.

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It is a transgressive stance that so many Metal-Punk bands exhibit, what might be called “the grimace of the Joker,”11 where their alter egos permanently look awry, locked in a painful smile. When CMJ Magazine (Issue 64) asked Marilyn Manson whether it was possible to distinguish between him and his persona he replied by saying that his personality had many levels, each with a specific purpose. “But for me there’s not one that’s Marilyn Manson and one that’s not. It’s all the same.” Effectively then, Brian Parker (a.k.a.) is unable to “take-off” his mask, caught by it like Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) in Chuck Russell’s The Mask (1994). Uncannily, the metal of piercing materializes punk-metal’s musical effects in the way they register on the body’s erogenous zones to assert their defiant stance against the Symbolic Order—the pierces of the tongue, eyebrow, nose, ears, nipples of the breast and chest and genitals increase the body’s “surface” enjoyment, extending perverse pleasure. Draiman sports his own pierces and tattoos as well. But, how successful is this ruination of the Ego Ideal remains an open question since the “freak” is becoming a marketable commodity as well. The Nü James Bond figure is Xander Gage, the triple X threat in Rob Cohen’s film xXx (2002). In comparison, Vin Diesel makes Pierce Brosnan look and act like a choirboy. Gage, like Draiman, is pierced and tattooed; he is the skater Boi all grown up, one of the fully fledged Boyz. Xander Cage, however, is not wild and free. He is already held hostage as a secret agent by government forces, doomed to do their bidding or forfeit his obsessive “extreme” behavior. Not surprisingly, this is why the figure of Agent Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), who blackmails him, is coded black. It underscores the incarceration of the Black man in America, but now the roles have been reversed. Gibbons is like a warden of a prison who takes sadistic pleasure in watching Xander do his bidding because he knows just what button to push: incarceration would take away Xander’s anarchistic freedom, the very “thing” (objet a) that defines him. Figures like Xander and the Boyz that he represents are caught by the obsessive question: “Am I dead or alive.” Xander is “dead” if he is incarcerated. He is only “alive” when facing danger—a sublime aesthetic. He doesn’t want to be caught “dead,” as the saying goes. His law breaking stunts are filmed as if they were video performances, played over again and again, like a video game, to relive their thrill. So, here we have the inversion of dead and alive that Gothic influences and Heavy metal inverts. To be “dead” is to be alive through the transgressionary sublime aesthetics of the Real; to be “alive” is to be dead, caught up by the Symbolic Order, which for them is already “dead.” School is boring, the jobs are unfulfilling, parents are totally oblivious to their lives, girlfriends are equally difficult to be with, so they become bitches and hos as well. There are no authority figures around, except figures like Augustus Gibbons who “has been there, done that.” Gibbons sports his own ugly scar on his face, a marker that he has lived “authentically,” been in the face of danger and risk as well. He wears it like a saber scar left on the cheek, a fraternal sign of bravery and manhood required for recognition as a member of the club. It can be read as a sign of tough masculinity; that’s how


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one gets respect. But it is also a sign of impotency, a ruined tattoo of his own emasculation and humiliation, castrated to be a recruitment officer for the military and, in turn the state. Like Xander Gage, to remain “alive,” MetalPunk bands must continue their performances as well. So it is for Disturbed. As Draiman says, the stage is addictive. Off-stage he tells his interviewers he is unable to party day after day, and available women are hard to come by. The Boyz are often left to entertain their own pornographic fantasies; impotency is the other side of the masculine mystique, like the figure of Gibbons, just waiting around the cor(o)ner.

K]’ R K The connection between Heavy-Punk Metal and Gangsta Rap in relationship to Authority and the Law is not, unsurprisingly, distant. Ko}n, one of the best known heavy metal bands have had a close working relationship with Ice Cube (as well as with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, and Tre Hardson of The Pharcyde). Its sound is a hybrid of rap-metal—Nü metal. It almost seems that Ko}n picked up (ca. 1994) where rap’s “authenticity” turned a hyperbolic parody of itself, and grunge metal had exhausted itself after Kurt Cobain committed suicide, also 1994. Ice Cube performed the song, “Children of the Ko}n,” with Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of Ko}n during their “Family Values” tour (Follow The Leader, album), and Ko}n in turn provided the instrumentation for, “Fuck Dying,” on Ice Cube’s War and Peace, Vol. 1 album. The songs in Follow The Leader album illustrate quite dramatically the homophobic tendencies and the psychic struggles many Heavy Metal Bands have with the Father of Enjoyment, the Anal Father of Postmodernity.12 Jonathan Davis seemed to catch the ear of frustrated and rejected youth who were dealing with broken homes, bulling, homophobia and drug abuse, providing a therapeutic release for their aggressive frustrations. Coming from a divorced household, Davis at first grew up with his mother with weekend visitations by his father, moving in with him and his step-mother (whom he disliked) at the onset of junior high. This left Davis conflicted with emotional scars not unlike those felt by many teenagers in the early 1990s. Added to this initial psychic turmoil was an incident of sexual abuse when he was 12 years old by a female family friend, as well as his outside status in high school, being bullied and called a “faggot.” Davis sports an “HIV” tattoo on his arm that dates from this time, a revealing resistant sign of being labeled an abjected kid without a social group, an “untouchable” (also the name of their 2002 album that refers to the caste system in India). Davis also has a fascination with death, violence, and serial killers. His plan was to eventually open a Museum Of Justice and Oddities (MOJO) to showcase his memorabilia of collected items like guns, toe tags to identify murdered mobsters, and Ted Bundy’s Volkswagen where he had brutalized over fifty women. He worked in the Bakersfield mortuary as part of a work experience program during high school, which he eventually left, requiring

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therapy because he was unable to handle the grieving and suffering of loss by family members.13 It may well be that these “morbid” collected items as cathexed objects, like the HIV tattoo, are another coping mechanism to deal with the trauma of his school experience. He has drawn on his jouissant symptoms to produce a voice, which identifiably brings together a sublime sound of anguish. It might be characterized as an “anguished scream.” Davis manages to produce this visceral scream through a combination of scat singing, whispering into the mike, straight-ahead singing, and a full-throated guttural shouting; this combination of voices is found in each song. According to his father, Davis’s hard singing has resulted in a triangle-shaped gap in the middle of his two front teeth, which (if this image is to be believed) fits the wire mesh screen of a Shure handheld microphone! To “corn/Ko}n” someone is an act of brutal anal penetration utilizing the rough, dried, and hardened corn as the instrument. It also connotes receiving a vicious beating. An otherwise common cereal grain is turned into a macabre instrument of destruction. The unconscious association between the signifiers/corn/and/coroner/should not go unnoticed. It was Davis who “named” the band. Their first CD cover featured a young girl (Davis’s persona?) playing on a swing, with the “R” in Ko}n spelled backward14 emulating a child’s scribbled handwriting, which could connote Reflections, Remembrances, and Reminiscences of childhood. A menacing shadow of a man is seen approaching her, as if something dangerous is about to happen. In this debut album Davis confronts his traumas and psychic pain of his childhood. Their first two albums, Ko}n (1995) and Life is Peachy (1996) resound throughout with sexual abuse especially in songs such as Daddy, Clown, Fake, Lies, and Divine (Ko}n 1995). In “Faget” on the same album, Davis’s persona is split as he directly addresses the “faggot” inside himself, and at the same time introduces the voice of the homophobe who hates him. In the song, “Children of the Ko}n” (with Ice Cube), this theme of homophobia and sexual abuse is repeated as Davis persona is now split between a direct address to the Anal Father and himself as a homosexual (a little girl). In this song, Ice Cube directly addresses the Anal Father: “Your Children of the Ko}n was born, from your porn and twisted ass ways, now you look amazed.” “Ko}n Kids,” as his fans began to be called, could relate to Davis’s anxieties as an outsider with emotional “hang-ups,” a kid lost as to what direction he should take. Davis admits to being suicidal during his high school days, after graduation things even got worse for Davis and his girlfriend. They became poor and lived in squalor.

T B N  N M The soundscape of Ko}n might be characterized as a “biting noise,” a devouring aurality/orality that both gargles up imagery and spits it out. Davis’s words wrap around the notes making their meanings fade into virtual inaudibility. It is a foreboding feeling. “Head” (Brian Welsh) and “Munky” (James Shaffer), the two lead guitarists use seven-string guitars to achieve


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this effect; the extra string (a low B) enables a lower range of tonality to be reached and a greater versatility of lower power chords to be played. By tuning their guitars a whole step down to a different pitch (a low B becomes a low A), together they achieve a discord between hard-biting low tones and shrilling high tones by emphasizing the minor second, tri-tone, and major seventh chords which disturb the ear. This discordance is supported by the bass sounds of “Fieldy” (Reginald Arvizu, Jr.) who also added an extra string to his bass (A D G C F), and then tuned it down to a lower pitch, which enabled him to use produce percussion-like sounds by striking the strings (hammering) and dampening them. In 2001, the music company Ibanez produced a seven-string guitar (K7) and a five string bass (K5) exclusively marketed to musicians as a Ko}n model. Ko}n’s lyrics are often intentionally incomprehensible, unless one is a fan and “in the know” or has taken the time to “really listen.” This enables the otherwise narrative and comprehensible meaning of words to be exploded and exploited for their affective sound quality alone—as noise that bites and screams. Ko}n never printed their lyrics inside their CD covers as most bands did. The frequent use of profanity (fuck, shit, pisser, pussy, asshole, “faget”) with its affective loading of reducing a person to a biologically uncontrollable function usually provokes moral outrage by authority figures. Deleuze’s conceptualization of “becoming-animal” seems quite appropriate here. Against the definition of Man as a rational animal in the Heideggerian sense, Ko}n’s exploration of the edges of voice and sound explode hermeneutical representation. The Heideggerian model of “Ek-istence” where Man is capable of standing outside himself (sic) to connect to the truth of Being is shattered by a Nietzschean attack on such a temporal consciousness. Ko}n’s soundscape is parasitic to a “downward” movement rather than a transcendent one, toward forces that are predatory and self-obsessed, immersed in a network of nonhuman relations that are never mastered or completely controlled. Nü metal music, in general, can be said to call on a perversion that scrambles up the object choices of the drives that are normally and socially (Oedipally) acceptable. In the mid-1990s Ko}n set up a website (www.KornTV.com), which provided behind-the-scenes stream videos of their upcoming albums. With MP3 technology, which continues to make pirating albums easy despite the music industry’s crackdown to stop downloading, Ko}n cleverly provided an insider’s view into their lives through Internet technology, strengthening the bond of being one of the “Ko}n Kids.” An online pay-based fan club emerged where site visitors were asked to pick songs for upcoming shows. By developing an E-mail database and a list-server to keep fans informed, Ko}n exemplifies, yet again, the ONE symbolic support group teens could identify with and feel they belonged. Album/CD cover design contests were also held, enabling fans to feel like they even had a say in Ko}n’s visual representation. Alfredo Carlos was paid 10,000 dollars for his illustration of a worn-out rag doll with a missing eye with stuffing billowing from a gash on its torso. It looked like it had been

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roughly handled, abused, and then tossed aside in an act of neglect and rejection. This was the “official” Issues cover, but three other finalists were also honored with limited-edition runs of their own designs. Carlos’s doll illustrates perfectly the vectors of aggressive intentions as Lacan (1977) outlined them. “These are the images of castration, mutilation, dismemberment, dislocation, evisceration, devouring, bursting open of the body, in short, the imagos that I have grouped together under the apparently structural term of imagos of the fragmented body . . . One has only to listen to children aged between two and five playing. Alone or together, to know that the pulling off of the head and ripping open of the belly are themes that occur spontaneously to their imagination, and that this is corroborated by the experience of the doll torn to pieces” (11, original emphasis). These infantile psychotic states find their sublimated forms throughout Ko}n’s music and help explain Davis’s fascination with serial killers. The use of dolls in artistic representation, such as Hans Bellerm’s poupées, Cindy Sherman’s doll parts, and Iris Klein’s photo negatives of dolls, have a close affinity with their literalization in episodes of serial killing, where victims more or less become human dolls that are “taken apart” (Selzer, 1998, 141). Marilyn Manson, for instance, has a collection of prosthetic limbs, mostly arms and legs. He admits his attraction to “deformity and amputeesarebeautiful.com.” In these cases it is the Real body that is being addressed. The slippage between sublimated fantasy and actual pathology indicates that “the psyche might be murderous in itself . . . [that] murder is potentially present in the very regulation of the drives” (Rose, 1993, 53–54); or, as Zizek (1991) puts it, “in our unconscious, the [R]eal of our desire, we are all murderers” (16, original emphasis).15 Each member of the band in his own way addresses the thematic “void” of pain in the Real—their wounds, either instrumentally or vocally. Ko}n’s soundscape, and each heavy metal band has its own affective signature in this regard, illustrates quite well what Julia Kristeva throughout her oeuvre terms the “semiotic affect” that can overwhelm the Symbolic Order’s meaning for its “revolutionary” potential, the dangerous jouissance of music as already discussed. Heavy metal sound for most parents is simply a lot of loud screaming and noise whereas for fans, who wildly participate in the mosh pits and repeat the otherwise incomprehensible lyrics, are fully dwelling in the affective transference that this animalistic “noise” solicits. The words, heard as phonemes, are the “vanishing mediators”16 between the drives and the Symbolic Order. They mediate between the Imaginary and Symbolic registers and form for the fan an “acoustic mirror,” to use Silverman’s17 (1988) phase here, in the way these “pure” and “empty” sounds are heard in combination with their aural and oral qualities within a binary hierarchical system of harsh/pleasant; sad/upbeat; affectless/passionate; melodious/discordant, and so on. To say that Ko}n’s particular heavy metal sound mixes hip-hop, rap, and 1970s funk music is to identify the historical traces of their particular mix whose affective soundscape “speak” to a segment of youth who identifies with


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their angst and anxiety through an attunement of empathy and understanding. In Ko}n’s case, this is jouissance at the level of lalangue Their transference is not unlike a mother and her infant whose affective protolanguage is an attempt to “read” her baby’s needs, demands, and desires below the level of consciousness. What catches the fans of any music group are the one or more songs that enable an identification to take place with the excessive jouissance a particular soundscape produces, enabling a transference of desire to occur. How often is an entire CD bought only for that “one” song? Isn’t that precisely why the marketing of “singles” has been discontinued so as to increase sales? And MP3 downloads of specific songs so popular? To characterize this as a sublime aesthetic (following Lyotard, 1989), points to the intensification of the semiotic elements in music, its incoherent excesses produced through the tonal (phonemic) qualities of sound. What might be referred to its Nietzschean–Dionysian chaotic qualities, their “force” in Deleuze’s terms that overwhelm its Apollonian structural definitions of form, narration, and meaning. The musicality of the Imaginary psychic register at the expense of the Symbolic register brings us closer to the anxieties of the Real, and the unknown void that lies at the heart of subjectivity. Ko}n’s affective noise addresses directly the “wounds” suffered by youth who find themselves not recognized, confirmed, and supported by institutional structures. Such bands as Ko}n present a perverse masochistic subject position in their response to the “loss of Authority” and the emergence of the Anal Father, which places them in a feminized position, unable to separate early from their mothers. There is a need for the symbolic Law of the Father to intervene given the weak or absent father (which was the case in Davis’ childhood). A singer such as Jonathan Davis “offers himself up to the Other’s jouissance” (Fink, 1997, 186); meaning, he seems to be “sacrificing” himself for the enjoyment that comes when the Law (as Other) punishes him, and tells him this is “enough!” “You have transgressed the limits of what is socially acceptable.” In the album, Follow the Leader, his duel/dual songs with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, and Tre Hardson of The Pharcyde provide an explicit example of the excessive jouissance that these “leaders” take in their complementary corruption of authority as a rebellion of separation from their mothers. Limp Bizkit implies an impotency and emasculation, while Pharcyde plays on “far side” directly addresses a jeering, outlandish, and sometimes sadistic humor. The provocation against authority is made explicit by Ice Cube at the beginning of the song, “Children of the Ko}n.” His imperative voice tells parents to report to their local therapist, their local church, and their local police department for, “It’s goin’ down!” The paternal superego is provoked to do its job of symbolic castration, psychically displacing the Anal Father that haunt’s Davis throughout his songs, a Father who did not create a symbolic space for his son in the social order ; a Father who took away his childhood. Ko}n fans easily relate to this symbolic loss. Davis’ unconscious desire is for the Law itself. It is only when the anxiety of the Other (police, parents,

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therapists, and teachers) is reached which imposes a limit that the Law appears. The perverted masochistic solution to painful jouissance calls on Davis’ unconscious desire to enable a Father substitute to legislate punishment. Davis’ lyrics present him as victim, yet the performance of such transgression remains ironic. It is only when “Parental advisory” stickers appear on the jacket covers of so many Punk and Heavy metal groups can it be said that masochistic jouissance has been satisfied to some extent. This is a proof of the music’s authenticity by being “alternative.” Like the sadism of gangsta rap, it indicates that the big Other is indeed paying attention. The symbolic space that enables Jonathan Davis to “separate” from a vicious repetition of his own tormented jouissance is found in the recognition and acknowledgment of his music by an institution like MTV, although many “alternative music” purists feel that this is already mainstream co-optation; that “alternative” is what is not heard publicly but experienced “live” in intimate contexts.

F! T S B Davis admits that it was easy for him to relate to the perpetrators, Dylan Klebord and Eric Harris, of the Columbine High School shootings on April 20, 1999. He has said he had entertained fantasies of going to a school with a machine gun to kill students and teachers who had laughed and made jokes about him, calling him gay. It was through his music that his rage was sublimated. Ko}n’s album, the Untouchables (2002) indicates, once more, that Davis can not find the necessary distance of separation from his symptoms: “I try but I can’t taste, Memories they always fuck with me, So why do I create just to be swallowed?” in “Hating (Everything That I Could Find).” Almost the entire album is once more inspired by a depressed life, one tortured by abuse, drugs, fame, and anxiety. But the album also features the video release of “Thoughtless,” Ko}n’s attempt to address the Columbine tragedy. The boy in the video—Jonathan Davis’s alter ego—is shown as a tortured soul, picked on by school gangs. In an interview on MTV, Davis tells of his personal problems of being an outsider, a freak in his school, not belonging to any group. What makes this video so outstanding is the way his inner demons that torture him attempt to escape out of his body, emerging as masks that stretch his skin, but are held in check by his skin-ego. This same skin-ego motif emerges in the stage set where Ko}n is playing. Faces attempt to emerge and push their way through, what look like skin pores. (Imagine a face attempting to push through a flesh colored nylon fabric, with the fabric perfectly molding each face.) The video ends on a vengeful note. Jonathan Davis’s alter ego is all dressed up, sporting a sexily clad girl by his side, crashes the high school crowning of the prom king and queen, and proceeds to vomit all over them. The bile is white and spurts out of his mouth like water out of a fire hose, thus ending the fantasy with students and teachers knocked down from the pressure of its force and rolling on the floor. Again, it is Davis’s oral/aural drive that has been sublimated.


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The concept of the skin-ego as developed by Didier Anzieu (1989) provides us with a way to theorize the struggle of Davis’ alter ego to contain his anger; the highly complex way in which the fantasmatic bodily image mediates the exchange of its outside environment with perceptions of its inside environment through the skin’s membrane as it registers the affective beat of Ko}n’s sound. Because of its porous nature we can imagine this skinego once more as the “bar” which separates and mediates the impossible gap between signifier and the signified of the virtual body. The concept also helps us to better understand the idea of “writing on the body” as the “semiotic signification” of Ko}n’s music. It is their musical signature as a force of noise—of becoming-animal—which is felt internally, the musical signifiers being affectively loaded with feelings that ra(n)ge from song to song— relentlessly like the drive (Trieb) itself. In the video, the skin literally bubbles with the rage of his inner demons—the drives that are emerging and gaining force. They are on the verge of all coming together as One: as a desire for death, just barely held in check by his skin as he struggles to hold-on. When that skin-ego bursts, the Real is let out. Davis’s alter ego then becomes a psychotic killer with a devilish laughter; the bile that he spits at his classmates and teachers could just as well have been a spray of bullets. In the video, “Freak on a Leash” on an earlier album, Follow the Leader (1998), Ko}n makes a statement about the love of guns in America. It is one of their best works. The video opens up with a Manga cartoon. Boys and girls of elementary age are on a “dare.” They illegally jump a barbwire fence and move toward the edge of a dangerous precipice. A hopscotch game is drawn right up to the edge of this cliff and a marker is thrown to which a girl is about to hop. This is the dare (not unlike the album itself, which features Davis’s version of a rap shout-out with Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit). In the meantime, a guard on duty awakens and sees the kids all gathered to watch. He pulls out his gun and runs toward them. He thinks that the little girl is in danger and starts running toward her. But he trips and falls. His gun flies out of his hand, dropping on the ground and discharges. The bullet heads toward the little girl who now stands on the precipice, just missing her head. The video follows the bullet in slow motion as it comes out of a wall into “real life” (RL), again just missing the same girl who appears as the last frame of the cartoon pinned to the wall. The bullet breaks the membrane between “reality” and fantasy, reversing what is “comic” life and what is “real life” (RL). In other words, the “time” of the bullet explores their interdependency. The camera continues to follow the bullet, which seems to have a “mind” of its own, as it penetrates walls and hits what and where it wishes, narrowly missing people as it bursts through a bedroom light, a cookie jar in a kitchen, grazing past a mother attending to her kitchen, bursting through three balloons at a birthday party, a glass of milk in a self-serve restaurant, a can of artificial cream in a kitchen of a restaurant, a water bottle in a large office environment, a mobile phone, a six-pack of beer, and then enters a room where a young man is weightlifting. Generally speaking, it is destroying what might be considered to be the positive things in life. The bullet after

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entering into the weightlifter’s bedroom penetrates into a poster of Ko}n hanging on the wall, a still picture of them playing the song “Freak.” This stray bullet has yet to find its target. We don’t know what it is looking for. As the bullet pierces the poster it enters the space where the band is playing. It stops and hovers around each member of the band, who are playing on a stage set with a backdrop of bullet riddled walls. Like search lights, beams of light penetrate at them through these holes. Obviously, many other bullets have entered this space. Metaphorically it represents Ko}n’s Imaginary inside, their fantasy space. “Freak on a Leash” is their “inner” song embodied in the shape of a bullet—Ko}n’s (or Davis’s) externalized alter ego. The bullet hesitates in front of the face of each band member, and each member in turn “stares it down.” Davis then yells out, “go!” The bullet turns around, and then loops back on almost an identical trajectory from which it came from. This time it seems to be destroying some of the more negative social influences: television, coffee, a porno magazine, a parking meter, it narrowly misses a fat youngster who is about to do a “canon” splash in a swimming pool, and then it narrowly misses a young girl swinging in a playground (an allusion to their debut album). The bullet continues its backward journey into the room where the bedroom lamp stood, which is shown still shattering, and then it goes back through the same hole in the picture of the cartoon girl standing over the precipice. The video warps space and time—fantasy and reality—stretching the nanosecond of its journey out and back during the “actual” time that the song is played. The bullet now stops in front of the girl, who looks at it, grabs it, and makes it disappear as if by magic. The video then ends. This is a positively stunning presentation of the way fantasy, as represented in the fictional world of the comic strip, supports the “reality” of what the bullet does in “real life” (RL). It puts to question the false illusionary separation between reality and fiction. Equally as stunning is the way it comments on the contingency of an event by warping time and space, the impossibility of ever controlling the positive and negative influences on life by the use of a gun. The guard wanted to help the little girl who was perfectly safe on the edge of the precipice; on the journey out, the bullet seems to destroy all the good things, even a six-pack of beer is included. On the journey back, the bullet narrowly misses the girl swinging in the background, pointing out that the gun can’t be controlled. All this in a span of three minutes and forty-eight seconds! The denseness and the intensity of these two videos demonstrate why they need to be played over and over again to “get it.” And, while Ko}n’s lyrics are difficult to follow, it is the effort required to download them, or to buy the CD, to then be able to hear just how clever their signifiers work through these images, a task best left to the readers if they so chose. The effort required to grasp their lyrics is yet another way of keeping authority out— and fans in. Kids know that parents usually won’t bother to make the effort, and if they do, they won’t “get it” anyway. The warning label is mostly what they look for to make their decision. As Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit screams


M  Y C: A L A

in the chorus on “My Generation” (Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, 2002) “ . . . so go ahead and talk shit about me, go ahead and talk shit about my generation, cause we don’t, don’t give a fuck and we won’t ever give a fuck until you, you give a fuck about me and my generation.”

T B’ D D The bullet illustrates perfectly the mechanism of the drive (Trieb) that Lacan illustrates diagrammatically in section fourteen of S XI, Four Fundamentals (1979, 178), where he explains the workings of the partial drive and its circuit. The video provides an opportunity of grasping the full impact of the death drive in its suicidal form. The bullet as death drive must first be aimed, let out of the body that contains it (the gun). It searches for its goal, which is satisfaction—the actual satisfaction as the disappearance of a tension (Drang), which appears at the surface of the regulated openings and closings of bodily rims, showing the void to be its source (Quelle). The aim is the drive’s (bullet’s) itinerary, its mission, or process constituting its own goal.18 Its aim is simply the course (detour or impasse) it takes. But, its goal, in this case, is known—it desires the satisfaction of death, which is the zero degree of tension. This death drive/bullet seems to have a “mind” of its own. But it is stupid and acephalic. It runs around not knowing exactly what it wants as it constantly and blindly searches for death, destroying everything in its path. What is not known is what particular product—the object (Objekt) that will embody its goal of death, but as a partial drive that doesn’t matter. Any object will do to satisfy and gratify its aim as it short-circuits itself; that is, as it loops back and returns in its failure to achieve its goal. Satisfaction is only partly achieved by the havoc and menacing destruction the bullet has created. That, in-itself (en-soi) is enjoyment (jouissance)—seeing the explosive force that penetrates and shatters objects. This satisfaction is auto-erotic, masturbatory, and self satisfying. Lacan refers to Freud’s metaphor of a single mouth kissing itself; the satisfaction of pulling the trigger, shooting the bullet, and watching its destructive aim, so lovingly followed by the camera in the video. But how can a bullet “return?” Doesn’t it go on and on, eventually embedding itself in an object? The warped space of the video of its return can only be understood in one way: as another bullet ready to be fired, as a repetition of the same action, the same mechanism—again and again, but this time by each member of Ko}n willing its return. That is the pulse of the drive. As a partial drive—a single bullet—always “misses” its target, its goal. It only accumulates “points,” we might say. Another one has to be immediately fired, until its goal has been reached, and the object killed. By killing the object, a male killer has effectively killed himself; he has destroyed the object (in the Real) of his anxiety. The full impact of the Real as the death drive has overcome and overwhelmed him. Here lies the difference between a sublimated drive and the death drive of the bullet. The goal is inhibited in the first and uninhibited in the second.

P  G D   S


In sublimation the aim of the drive is satisfied at the same time its goal is inhibited. This means that sublimation is a defense mechanism because it transforms erotic corporeal drives (anal, scopic, oral, aural) into the production of culturally recognized sublime objects (in this case, music). A sexual aim is exchanged for a desexualized aim to stop the circuit of gratification. The drive is inherently perverse since it has no normative purpose or telos. It is not oriented toward a “real” or “actual” object as a natural or biological need. Drives are malleable and plastic. They are indifferent to how satisfaction is obtained. Drives can even be satisfied through deliberate non-satisfaction by inhibiting its aim, delaying gratification. Its objects are fantasmatic while its satisfaction is hallucinatory. The functioning of the drives when we desire is always partial. They have been sublimated, so that the object of desire that we try to grasp is always partial as well. It’s structure remains metonymic, a part of an indefinable whole. Such objects are only lures, they embody metaphorically only a “bit” of the Real—as objet a. The drive attempts to grasp this object, but always fails. It always encircles and loops around the object, but only achieves partial satisfaction in the process. It is a “missed” encounter with the Real, as Lacan puts it—a Wiederholen (repetition). In the bullet’s case, when an encounter with the Real does occur, it is with death itself, the bullet has found its goal. It does NOT loop back. It does its destructive work. At that moment of anxiety when the objet a is experienced as the full force of the death drive— the lure or veil drops away—is precisely that moment that we DO encounter the Real. Lacan calls this a Wiederkehr—a repetition but with a difference. Our ego-skin is shattered. We can either face our “subjective destitution” squarely, and try to figure out the “strangers”— the “demons”—that dwell in our unconscious, or we can aggressively lash out and kill—partially or fully maim. Jonathan Davis has turned this aggressive impulse in on itself in both videos. It is a masochistic and not a sadistic gesture as we saw with 2 Live Crew. He has sublimated it, turned it into a harmless fantasy. In the first, the venomous killing has turned into an ironic laughable incident, an immature childhood prank of barfing on someone; in the second, the dangerous bullet is caught by a little cartoon figure of a girl and made to disappear. In brief, Davis has performed as Wiederkehr of his killing fantasy. He has managed to reel in the “freak on a leash,” and made him disappear. Like Freud’s grandson playing the fort/da game, Davis has made sense of his non-sense; veiled the threat by the cloak of fantasy.

D: A T  R   K]? Ko}n’s entire oeuvre has been to sublimate the aggression of their (Jonathan’s) death drive. To say that the albums are dark and suicidal is accurate enough. Some reviewers have suggested that Davis was actually anally assaulted by his father, as his mother looked on because of the explicit lyrics in the first album (Ko}n), and that he is gay since this theme emerges again and


M  Y C: A L A

again throughout many albums (see Ian, 1997). However, it seems that these were spectacular unconscious fantasy formations which emerged from being an outcast in high school, continually being put down for dressing weirdly (wearing kilts, playing bagpipes, and coloring his hair), bullied by both teachers and students, and even sent to a therapist to cure his gayness. Davis has gone on record a number of times denying any sexual abuse by his father. Slash fan fiction, on the other hand, can be found on the Internet with virtually all possible homosexual relationships possible between the band members and Orgy, a band retained by their Elementree label. There is a moment, like in gangsta rap, where a point is reached that the genre begins to parody itself. Linkin Park begin to sound like a parody of Ko}n and vice versa. With bands like Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Creed, Smashing Pumpkins, Disturbed, and Deftones as rivals in the rap-metal genre, Nü metal becomes congested, falling out of its “alternative” category. The “freak image” is becoming packaged as a stylized “authenticity,” losing its edge. The financial success of Ko}n has left the group even more unhappy. Despite the new houses, sushi restaurants, recording studios, and their own label (Elementree Records) most band members are left wanting. It is as though Davis and the band members need their symptoms to continue to write music. Davis is now divorced, and has a son, Nathan who is in kindergarten school. Davis made headlines for almost immediately dating and then being engaged to a porno star, Deven Davis (they are not married) who is the spokesperson for the porn company Jill Kelly Entertainment. She is a former Penthouse pet and Playboy centerfold, the pictorial shot by Davis himself. It seems Davis has come full circle—from being called gay to boasting a love for pornography. His intense like for sadomasochism and bondage (as a voyeur) reaffirms the perversion to the loss of authority. As he said, “It makes him feel better” (Gardner, 2002). Such Nü metal “authenticity” has come at a high price. Alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines continue to be the order of the day. Ko}n members openly admit to their drug abuse, therapy sessions and d(r)ying-out retreats. Such excesses fuel their fire. Davis claims that he no longer does drugs, but admits to being a workaholic and suffering depression he controls through Prozac consumption. Virtually all the band members are now divorced. This sort of “decadence” leaves us with the paradox that they are continually “shooting” themselves to induce a masochism of painful pleasure that continues to repeat their symptom and provide the necessary material for its sublimation, yet another version of the “philosophy of sickness” as practiced by David Draiman.

T “G”  P-R : S  O

S W: T A P F The transgressive behavior of youth where perverted masochistic fantasies are expressed through Nü heavy Metal music point to the inability of many young men to name what their mothers desire. Something is “not present” for them, and that “something” has to do with sex, which too has not been named. It remains ambiguous. The Mother does not seem to want the Father. Because the mother’s lack has not found an object of desire, the young man is faced with the perplexity of her “lack of a lack.” In not knowing what she wants the child is left facing her demand as a “phallic mother” who is all-powerful and omnipotent. In perversion this naming or symbolizing for the child as to what the mother lacks does not occur. There is no relief from the anxiety of a child acting solely as the complement to the mother’s demand, to always please and provide her with complete satisfaction. Such a familial situation can be detected in metal music, along with an absent father or an abusive Jouissant Father. If the father is absent there is always a danger that the mother totally assumes the symbolic lawful burden, which is then disavowed by her children. If the father is abusive, she is often blamed for not protecting her children and the paternal Law is once more disavowed. Either way, the mother is the loser where authority has been weakened. Without the mother lacking, the child is unable to separate from her and form a desire of his or her own choosing. A symbolic universe is not opened up for her child. The transitional space between them is closed. The paternal function in Lacan, which he refers to as the Name-of-the-Father (Nom-duPère), is meant to intervene and stop the mother from engulfing her child. This is a symbolic function; the father is a representative of the Law and authority. An individual father need not necessarily represent such a paternal function, nor does it mean that the absence of a father in single mother or lesbian family structure (or through death and divorce) automatically insures that the symbolic paternal injunction will not be in effect. The paternal function can take place along other lines for it is entirely symbolic in its capacity to act as a


M  Y C: A L A

“third” in the necessity of separation. I am referring to the general tendency of a decentering of authority of the paternal function in postmodernity: the decentering of ONE into many smaller ONE’s. Lacan, for instance, rereads Freud’s analysis of five-year-old Little Hans’s phobia of horses (SE X, 1909), not as the fear of his father, but as a way to supplement or prop up the debased symbolic function of the Father so that he might resolve his tension with the devouring desire of his mother.1 It is only during Oedipalization, when the Imaginary mirror stage is ratified through the recognition, approval, and acknowledgment by parents, that the child forms an Ideal Ego of its self. The child internalizes its parental ideals and then judges itself according to those ideals. Oedipalization initiates symbolic castration ushering in language and the concerns with the Law, authority, guilt, goals, achievement, and desire. It is around the genital zone that polymorphous sexuality eventually becomes Oedipally organized through the various hetero/homo familial attachments of desire, but genital Oedipalization is never entirely and fully an accomplished phenomenon. It is always subject to derailment. In the perverted position this polymorphous sexuality is not organized by the domination of the genital zone, rather it is organized around the earlier, oral and anal pre-genitive drives. The scopic and aural (invocatory) drives belong to Oedipalization. The erogenous zones of the lips, anus, eyes, and ears and their correspondent partial objects—breast, faeces, gaze, and voice, characterize these four drives respectively. In postmodernism a ratification of the Imaginary ego by the parents has taken place but the installation of the symbolic Father remains ambiguous. The perverse behaviors of the pre-genital drives attempt to restate the failed or weak Symbolic Order through transgressions of the Law. It is a disavowal of castration, a continual projection toward a “beyond” of castration. For the perverse position the paternal function does exist, but since it has been delegated to the mother, paternal authority remains uncertain and ambiguous. The mother has been given the locus of symbolic authority, as the so-called phallic mother. This maternal Law is taken to be unjust, not fully warranted. If the maternal omnipotence was fully recognized this would lead to a psychosis rather than perversion. Such an authoritative stance commands the pervert to transgress her Law in order to sustain the Law in his own fashion. The Symbolic Order exists, but its existence is only recognized through the pervert’s own will to jouissance. By transgressing he becomes the locus of jouissance himself and is recognized by the Symbolic Order by becoming an object of its jouissance. This is the pervert’s own reconfirmation that the Other ultimately lacks authority (the Phallus) (see Dor, 2001). From this perspective parental warning labels on CDs are simply treated as a “joke.” Ko}n’s lyrics dramatically illustrate a perverse position. Davis addresses an “oral sadistic father” (and not the Symbolic Father) in his search to prop up the Law. Such an imaginary father consumes Jonathan Davis’s inner being. In “Daddy” (album, Ko}n) he directly addresses this ambivalency toward his mother over his father’s abuse. On the one hand he asks her forgiveness by making the sexual abuse public, and on the other hand he is angry that she

T “G   ”  P-R 


simply looked on and did nothing to stop the abuse. Davis’s references to his father as a “mother fucker” is a repetition of gangsta rap’s often repeated “motha fucka.” These incestuous overtones are a reminder of the failure of the primary repression, the prohibition against the mother, the child’s primary source of satisfaction and jouissance, which creates desire. The satisfaction that comes with the pleasurable contact with her body, her cuddling and warm embraces and kisses, soft wooing voice must be given up, especially by heterosexual males, but not by a gay sensibility where the feminine is not mourned away.2 Davis lived with his mother up until junior high when he moved in with his father and stepmother whom he disliked. He had a very ambiguous relationship with his father, Rick, a former keyboard musician who spent a great deal of his time running a music instrument store and never paid much attention to his son. Upon his divorce, he visited him only on weekends. Davis’s relationship with his mother is seldom mentioned. Davis’s anxieties of the fear of the feminine in relation with the ambiguous relation with his mother and father are echoed throughout many heavy metal-punk bands. Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is perhaps one of the best examples in this regard. From his 1987 debut album, Appetite for Destruction, Rose was on a collision course with death. “Nighttrain” and “Out ta Get me” present a conflicted self, paranoid and desperately seeking sanctuary from a world he cannot tolerate. In “Paradise City,” (same album), Rose perceives himself as an outcast, a “street urchin” who desires a “paradise city” full of pretty girls where the “grass is [always] green.” Five years later, with the release of the double album, Use Your Illusion I and II, the titles continue to speak of his struggles of separating, unable as yet to free himself of a depression that griped him. In “Bad Obsession,” he struggles with a drug problem, cursing his mother, “Back off Bitch.” Women threaten him as a “nasty ball breaker.” In “Coma,” the very last song on the album based on Axl’s own near-death experience during a drug overdose, sounds like a death wish that came to a final couplet that speaks of “survival.” A parallel can be drawn here between Freud’s (SE XXI, 1928) interpretation of the biography of Dostoevsky, where Dostoevsky’s epileptic fits (which were so severe that he appeared dead) were a form of self-punishment for wishing the death of the father he hated. “For the ego the death symptom is a satisfaction in fantasy of the masculine wish and at the same time a masochistic satisfaction; for the super-ego it is a punitive satisfaction—that is, a sadistic satisfaction. Both of them, the ego and the super-ego, carry on the role of the father” (164). Axl’s comatose condition signifies a similar selfpunishment; in wishing the death of another person he himself becomes dead. In an interview in Rolling Stone around the time that the Illusion Albums were released, Axl Rose confessed of being the victim of child abuse (my dad fucked me in the ass when I was two). Whether this is true or not always remains a question, but unlike Freud who saw such sexual abuse by parents as the sexual fantasies of the child, the increase in child abuse as presented by the American popular media seems to support our hypothesis concerning post-Oedipalization.3 But how is this to be interpreted?


M  Y C: A L A

Emerging in the early 1990s, precisely during the time that a generation of youth (Gen X) were said to be “lost” (as the thirteenth generation), the hoax surrounding the False Memory Syndrome (FMS) complicated the Metal scene. FMS, profiled around media stars such as Woody Allen (accused of abusing his children) and Roseanne Barr, who claimed she had been abused by her father, made it more likely for Metal lyrics, which had specific references to parental abuse, to be taken literally. The “boogey man” youth were struggling against was the “Father of Excess.” It is more the case that the sinister jouissance of the parent—the Anal Father in Axl’s case and the Oral Father in Davis’s case function in the capacity of their superego. The problem is to cope with excessive jouissance. The superego demanded that they enjoy their freedom, independent of authority. It is an incestuous relationship that young men struggle against, to free themselves from the s(mother) of their mothers. The fear and anxiety of the feminine comes out as the phallic hardness of rock. In metropolises everywhere many nightclubs open only after midnight and close early in the morning. Sleep, a sign of dormancy and boredom, as well as feminine engulfment, is precisely what is to be avoided. The night signifies revelry, movement, action, excitement and a space away from the Symbolic Order of day, work, and responsibility. Turning day into night and avoiding sleep through amphetamine use, or sleeping only when it is absolutely necessary, belongs to a youth culture that has an ambiguous relationship to the Law. As Cobain (2002) writes in his journal, “It’s eight o’clock in the morning. I’m on this ridiculous sleeping schedule where I retire in the wee hours of the morning and successfully avoid any hint of daylight. My skin has got rock pale” (131). The “thrash” and “death” metal band, Metallica, over the many years, exemplify this fear of the feminine best. The cover of their 1991 album, Metallica is black, The Black Album. Black is the void itself, the plunge back to the Mother, which is to be avoided at all costs. Its opening song and video, “Sandman” speaks about the dread of falling asleep. In their closing track, “The Struggle Within,” is all about a struggle with boredom. The anxiety of the feminine distinctly emerges in their misogynous lyrics in “Am I Evil” (Garage Inc., 1998) where the mother is a witch who is burned alive, and “Die Die My Darling” (same album) where the woman’s future belongs “in an oblong box.” Perhaps the “hardest” metal band around in the United States today is the Des Moines, Iowa nine-member band, Slipknot. Their first album sums up the thrust of their music: Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat, all actions of the drive that “repeat” in the aim of their object for complete satisfaction against the feminine. There is no goal, no desire in Slipknot, only an aggressive rage that they “stage” through their costuming, masks, and yelling. Corey, who writes almost all their lyrics, presents a suicidal, nihilistic, anarchistic world where nationalism is rejected. Their music at times borders on being psychotic, although many lyrics relate to an inward beat of feeling persecuted and unloved. They exemplify the “ugly” aesthetic referred to earlier. In sum, the misogyny found in Nü metal where women end up being insane and “fucked up” is no different from gangsta rap.

T “G   ”  P-R 


A P: K C’ G Unlike the perverted position where there is a disavowal of the father figure resulting in an ambiguous and often spiteful misogynous relationship to the feminine (mother), as young men strive to separate and achieve a place in the Symbolic Order without an exemplary father figure to open the way, the psychotic position presents a complete foreclosure of this symbolic function of the Name-of-the-Father. The Law is not instilled. There is nothing to stop the mother from engulfing her child and the psychotic dream of being a full subject, lacking nothing. Here the fear of the feminine prevails as the young man is feminized as a “soft” male. In Lacan’s terms, the child remains in a state of primal alienation with no separation possible. There is no parental recognition of the child’s Ego Ideal, no ratification of the child’s place in the world. Access to the symbolic remains inaccessible. The child is caught living in an Imaginary psychic register with the effects of the Real (complete subjective destitution) a hair’s breath away in the figure of the mother as Thing, Thanatos, death. The discussion of psychosis is important in the context of punk-metal-and-rap music given that many rock stars come to display what can be identified as psychotic behaviors that are indistinguishable from the perverted ones that have been developed. Already in 1967, Jim Morrison of The Doors, provided a psychotic death wish in his song “The End” (The Doors, 1967). Morrison in the song, comes to a [bedroom] “door,” “looks inside” and says: “Father, yes son, I want to kill you, Mother . . . I want to . . . fuck you.” Unlike the “doubt” that plagues “normal” neurotic behavior, a psychotic “hears” a clear inner voice and often perceives himself as being “chosen,” the one who is the bearer of a message that only is revealed to him. In this way language is said to “possess” him, as if it were coming, not from inside, but from an outside force. Language becomes “material”; psychotic language is devoid of metaphors where substitution of one word for another would be possible, becoming neologistic and “thing-like.” Rather than having rebellious complaints against authority figures such as parents and the Law, or be concerned with issues of self esteem—which indicate that there is a conflict between his Ideal Ego (how he perceives himself ) and the Ego Ideal (how significant other’s judge him)—the psychotic feels persecuted by competitors, rivals, and lovers on the imaginary level only. Axl Rose seems to suffer from such paranoia (one of the psychoses) from the threat of back stabbing women, record biz puppeteers, and various media scum who are out to get him. One wonders whether one of the best well-known and most infamous incidents in the annals of rock ’n’ roll, the suicide of Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana who shot himself with a shotgun on April 5, 1994, wasn’t a psychotic induced incident? “Grunge” music, centered in Seattle Washington in the early to mid-1990s, was a fusion of punk and heavy rock, which seemed to touch many of the so-called “slacker” generation; the term suggesting that they found no place in the Symbolic Order with which they


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could identify. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nevermind 1991) sold a staggering six million copies by the spring of 1992. Eventually it was to go seven times platinum. The song (and video) spoke to a “slacker” generation of 1990s American teens like no other. Although “slacker” is, questionably, an overgeneralized term, it specifically points to a psychic state of mind where rebellious resistance to paternal authority characterized the “grunge” scene. Being a “slacker” speaks of aimlessness and an ill-defined existence of not wanting to take one’s place in society and become responsible. Cobain’s youth typifies the experience of “white trash,” a pejorative term for the trailer park and the poor of American society, yet another example of extended adolescence with no “adult” world on the horizon. Cobain’s life as teen-idol with whom young fans identified with was tragic. His lyrics did not speak to a neurotic desire that questioned the meaning of existence as in some sort of self-reflective diatribe and one’s place in the social world; rather the songs were sparse in metaphors, repetitive and short, especially their album, Bleach (1989). The lyrics spoke of inertia, boredom, and Cobain’s obsession with his own personal imaginary struggles, which were often exaggerated in the journals that he kept. He claimed, for instance, that he had slept under a bridge near his home in Aberdeen to survive; that he had sold his mother’s (Wendy) boyfriend’s guns that she had thrown in a lake to buy a guitar, and so on. Neither of these incidents was true but perhaps delusional and hallucinatory. Kurt Cobain’s Journals (2002) have been published “as they were written,” each page separately photographed. A cursory glance through his journals stunningly reveals Cobain’s antiauthoritarian stance, his thin differentiation between his exaggerated journal thoughts and the music he played and composed, and his death drive. “I’m going to fucking destroy your macho, sadistic, sick Right wing, religiously abusive opinions on who we as a whole should operate according to YOUR conditions. Before I die many will die with me and they will deserve it. See YOU IN HELL, love Kurt Cobain” (111). Such aggressive acting-out in his journals, which is frequent, is a marked contrast from what appears like a soft-spoken Cobain. But such anger continually boiled in him. How much of the writing was drug induced is difficult to ascertain. Heroin is mentioned regularly throughout. Cobain is constantly splitting himself as an alter ego throughout his writing, at times seemingly contradicting himself in his logic, but absolutely insistent in wanting artistic freedom through punk rock expression. Self-masochism is evident as well. Suicidal and depressive he writes, “I can’t speak, I can only feel. Maybe someday I’ll turn myself into Helen Keller by puncturing my ears with a knife, then cutting my voice box out” (115). The music is to be felt. The lyrics are usually incomprehensible to grasp. Like Jonathan Davis after him, it was Cobain’s “pain” that spoke to Nirvana fans. This came across in a stunning way in MTV’s Unplugged concert where Nirvana performed as was required, only with acoustic guitars; Cobain stretched himself, both vocally and musically, to almost soulfully express the pain of his life-experiences. As Hard Harry says in Allan Moyle’s

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Pump Up the Volume (1990), “You look around, you see nothing real. But at least pain is real.” For Lacan, pain is Real, for psychic pain does have the immediacy of an object but the cause remains elusive. Suffering does not go away, but chronically repeats itself. As has been noted, depressions and suicide of American adolescent youth (including both sexes) have steadily risen since 1980 (Strauss and Howe, 1993, 83). Kurt Cobain was also “fatherless.” The first 100 pages of Cross’s (2001) book, Heavier Than Heaven, perhaps the definitive biography on Cobain’s formative years to date, tells a wrenching and tragic story of an artistically talented young man who was both saved and then destroyed by the music he created. The divorce between his parents when he was seven-years-old deeply affected him. Cobain said he never felt liked or secure since their breakup. A hyperactive child, he was turned into a quiet and silenced student through Ritalin. Cobain’s suicide note repeats this childhood trauma yet again. His relationship to his parents was tortured and conflicted. Both parents could be sarcastic and mocking, which constantly betrayed his fundamental belief in them. They warned him that he would get a lump of coal for Christmas if he wasn’t good, then left pieces of coal in his Christmas stocking every year as a prank. Obviously, Kurt was already causing them difficulties in his early childhood. In his journals, Kurt was to construe this as yet another example of parental betrayal. His father, Don, was strict, while his mother, Wendy was, at times, less than caring. When the Cobain’s divorced, Kurt stayed with his father, but that brief moment of happiness, as father–son tried to come to grips with the family breakup, was short lived. He felt continually betrayed by both his father and mother, and wrote in his journal that he hated them both (Journals, 214). Cross tells the harrowing story of him moving from relative to relative, staying at friends and neighbour’s homes, sleeping in hotel hallways and in cars. Cobain had moved a sum total of ten times before he ended up in his own (rat-infested) apartment. Since the age of seven he was unable to come to terms with his symbolic Father, and may well have established only an imaginary relationship with Don. He was totally antiauthoritarian—with a brief brush at being a Born Again Christian to help anchor him. But that was short-lived. The police were no strangers; Kurt was always in trouble. From Cross’s biography, it is evident that Kurt’s death drive was already present throughout his formative years, especially after the family divorce. Talk of suicide, attempted suicide, and a macabre sense of humor in his art, jokes, and aesthetic tastes were all there. He never fit in the usual high school cliques—preppy, stoners, jocks, and nerds, remaining a loner. A drug dependent kid (pot, alcohol, acid, LSD and, at times, he was reduced to sniffing aerosol cans, and then eventually heroine) who wore a trench coat no matter what the weather was like—which now sounds too familiar since the Columbine shootings. He grew his hair long, which he seldom washed, and sported homemade T-shirts with names of punk bands on them—one of which was “Organized Confusion,” the fantasy slogan for the first band he hoped to form (Cross, 2001, 48).


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S “N” Cobain’s conflicted self is readily evident in his suicide note, which clearly indicates a confusion between seeing himself as being hateful to others, and at the same time, claiming that he was “too” sensitive and empathetic, afraid of his fans’ empathy. It was fitting into the social order that threatened him most. What emerges from this suicide note is his reluctance to perform in front of crowds because he felt that he was now “faking” it. He had reached a point of inauthenticity, afraid that he would lose being “true” to himself. The “guilt” that he expresses (“I feel guilty beyond words” . . . reads the suicide note) is not one of neurotic repression, rather it is due to the collapse of his imaginary identification. He no longer feels “authentic” when performing in front of a crowd’s gaze, to confirm his transgression. Guilt, a neurotic function, is a relation to the social Law. A subject feels guilty because a belief is maintained that the big Other is an ideal order that assures meaning and consistency to a subject’s actions. The Law is just. It recognizes you as a subject (capable of guilt and transgression), and you recognize and legitimate it through guilt and/or transgression. The question is how much of an “out law” was Cobain? It seems that shame rather than guilt troubled Cobain. He was ashamed of being an “asshole” (if we take Cross’s book Heavier than Heaven into account), which is an imaginary function. His paranoia of others, including his sadism to his friend Jessie, and his fear that Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl (the two other Nirvana members) were not doing enough, that it was all up to him, indicate a self-narcissism of a bloated self-importance. It may well be that Cobain managed to stave off his psychotic breakdowns through his heroine addiction, constructing an imaginary world through the plethora of notebooks that he wrote (they document his planning to be a star); as well as his art work, song writing, and music that was loud, distorted, and devoid of melody. He described himself as feminine and passive (“I’m too sensitive,” says his suicide note), which is yet another indicator of the feminization that occurs in psychosis. The band wore dresses in their video for “In Bloom,” mocking hard rock’s masculinity, but also “they were bringing out the original meaning of punk: a feminized sexually passive boy” (Reynolds and Press, 1995, 97). Throughout his youth, masculinity had always been an issue. He refused to be the macho male his father, Don, wanted him to be. He was defiant in this regard. He disidentified with the redneck “white trash” of Aberdeen, which included his mother’s previous boyfriends, and his new step-dad. By Aberdeen standards, his first sexual experience came late. An earlier experience of impotency had prolonged his virginity. As Cobain (2002) wrote in his diary, “I am a male, age 23 and I’m lactating. My breasts have never been so sore, not even after receiving titty twisters from bully-school males. They had hair down there long before I stopped playing with dolls. I haven’t masturbated in months because I’ve lost my imagination. . . . I’m seriously afraid to touch myself ” (128). His pubic hair had arrived later than most boys, a fact that his mother threatened him with if he didn’t stop yelling at her during one of their many rows.

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How much of this hate and conflict with his parents was repressed is physically evident by the stomach ulcers that he developed. It was his inability to entirely separate from his mother, which is the more telling story. In this regard Cobain’s alienation in language and impossible separation from a pre-Oedipal Imaginary world is well illustrated by the cover of Nevermind (1991), which features a baby swimming underwater reaching out for a dollar bill on a fish-hook. The dollar-bill as the lure of the symbolic—of the social order where desire awaits is precisely what he didn’t wish to “sell-out” to. He wished to remain in the space of the Imaginary— floating in the water—suspended between the terror of the Real, the Thing as represented by his phallic mother and his own imaginary “authentic” world. More revealingly their 1992 album was entitled Incesticide. The band’s name “Nirvana” seems to confirm this imaginary fusion with the Other (just like Axl Rose’s song “Coma”), which signifies an impossible plenitude, to be had only in an Edenic imaginary, as in the idealization of a psychosis and/or in religious ecstasy. (Interestingly, Axl and Cobain had a small tiff at a trailer park during one of the concert tours where they happened to be performing together. They never liked each other. Telling, perhaps, of being too much alike, and wanting to differentiate from each other?) Cobain was obsessed with heaven (according to his biography Cross). He believed in Jainism, a Hindu religion that believes in seven heavens and seven hells. Their 1993 album, entitled In Utero, seems to confirm his infantized and emasculated subject position, caught in the struggle of trying to maintain his imaginary world or falling into a complete psychosis. (Perhaps, not surprisingly, in the first sentence of his suicide note Cobain identifies himself as “emasculated, infantile complainee.”) In “Heart-Shaped Box,” Cobain is caught in his mother’s “magnet tar pit trap” and asks for an “umbilical noose” so that he can “climb out.” In “Scentless Apprentice” Cobain is a “scentless” rejected baby who asks to be thrown “in the fire” so that he might survive. Scents, smells, and odors are pre-Oedipal. They return us to the intimacy of the Mother, to the Real self where there is no distinction between the infant and her proximity. As these songs indicate, in Cobain’s imagination his mother has rejected him. This again comes across in his biography. He hated the boyfriends his mother dated and/or married. The only woman he was close to was Iris, his grandmother on his father’s side. Only she supported him. This overwhelming invasion of jouissance can be noted again in his suicide note where he writes of “sad little sensitive unappreciative pieces.” Cobain’s suicide was already adumbrated in his journals. “I kind of feel like a dork writing about the band and myself like this as if i were an American pop-rock idol, demi god or a self confessed product of pre packaged, corporate rebellion. But Ive read so many insanely exhaggerated (sic) wise tales and reports from my friends, and ive read so many pathetic second rate, freudian (sic) evaluations from interviews, regarding out personalities and especially im a notoriously fucked up heroine addict, alcoholic, self destructive, yet overly sensitive frail, meek, fragile, compassionate, soft spoken, narcoleptic, NEUROTIC,


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little, piss ant who at any time is going to O.D, jump off a roof and wig out, blow my head off or all three at once because I CANT HANDLE THE SUCCESS! ” (185). Cobain continually acknowledges and disavows what is being said of him in a classic structure of fetishism. This would be the standard reading. He claims that he is no heroine addict and that his stomach ulcers are not caused from stress but that he has a rare stomach disease, which he calls “COBAINS DISEASE” because medical doctors couldn’t provide a suitable explanation (185). This entry in his journal (185) holds a special significance. It is one of only three typed pages that appear throughout his many handwritten journals (some of which were stolen), the other two being short and not as reflexive. In this entry Cobain seems to both deny and confirm his symptom, and it is here where the term sinthome can be applied. It seems that Cobain identified with his symptom. He did not believe there was an interpretation for it, a cure. In this special page he recognizes his “subjective destitution,” and seems to traverse his own fantasy only to accept it for what it is. His “art work,” which included his diaries, drawings, music, and music videos formed a sinthome; that is, an invented signifier as a way to creatively function without the signifier of the Name-of-the-Father. This imaginary world was a hair’s breath away from a psychotic structure that would foreclose the Name-ofthe-Father. He became an authority in-and-of-itself through his own creation.4 Can this “invented signifier” outside the phallic order be an instance of feminine jouissance, as zoë ?5 Cobain, however, could no longer hold onto a coherent imaginary ego, the Symbolic Order invaded causing a psychotic break as his imaginary support system collapsed. Lacan claims that every psychotic break is caused by an encounter with the symbolic Father, the pure symbolic function of the Law. In February 1992 Cobain married Courtney Love, and it seemed that Cobain was increasingly forced into playing a role as a social/political/juridical father. Trouble within the band erupted shortly after his marriage, Cobain suddenly wanting the majority (91 percent) of the songwriting royalties. There was pressure to be more of a “moral” spokesman as controversy developed around his song “Rape Me” (In Utero, 1993), which was repeated during an actual rape. Then there was the birth of his daughter, Frances (Fanny) on August 18, 1992 forcing Cobain to once again face his own childhood and the question of what it means to be a “father,” which he never had. A letter to his father, Donald (Journals, 213–214) confirmed his love for his daughter and his “contempt” for both parents for failing in their duty and responsibility to him. (His suicide note directly addresses his daughter who reminds him of what he used to be like. Cobain doesn’t want her to become “hateful” as he has; she will be “happier” with him gone.) Revealingly, as he put it in his song, “Serve the Servants” (In Utero, 1993): “I tried hard to have a father, but instead I had a dad”—dad being his sustained imaginary relationship. These series of incidents surely had their impact in sustaining the battle zone of Cobain’s imaginary world. It finally collapsed. In a way his fans were half-right: “fame” as the encroachment of the Symbolic Order did kill Kurt Cobain.

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A  S INTHOME : M N  S A One of the most startling aspects of the last four chapters has been the importance of something called “authenticity.” But this “authenticity” has nothing to do with an “authentic self” or an “authentic subject.” Authenticity is to be found in the Real of the body and the drive. Such “authenticity” is staged as an unconscious disinvestment with the established social order, an identity that struggles not to be swallowed up by the Symbolic Order, to remain uncastrated and beyond the phallic order, often unsuccessfully. This is the “unary” point that defines gangsta rap, Jonathan Davis’s Nü rap-metal and Kurt Cobain’s punk rock grunge. Cobain’s journals are replete with the fear of falling into a situation where his music would become passé, outdated, and no longer meaningful. “I’ve always felt it was kind of necessary to help out the ‘now Generation’ internally destroy the enemy by posing as or using the enemy” ( Journals, 255). He refuses to give Rolling Stone an interview because “ex-hippie-turned hippiecrite (sic)” now read it. “Hope I die before I turn into Pete Townshend [The Who]” appears twice in his journals (185, 255), a play on Townshend’s “I hope I die before I get old” from “My Generation.” To grow up then, means to have bought into the establishment. Likewise, Davis, again and again, comes back to issues of abjection (“the Untouchables” of society), while gangsta rap continually aims at the issues of “the street.” Rage against the Symbolic Order is their defining sinthome since it is a “suppletion” for the lack in the Symbolic Order. Their “authenticity” is a turbulence fueled by the creation of a “dissipative musical object” as their sinthome; structuring a unique and singular jouissance (as zoë) of each subject.6 Such a musical “dissipative object” is enigmatic for it provides jouis-sens as the ultimate support of who they are as subjects, the particular way they “enjoy” meaning, the way their painful-pleasure is felt and expressed through their music. In doing so, their music acts as a “strange attractor” to their fans and to them alike, since it maintains the order of its aim “chaotically,” as an ethical complaint that never repeats the same movement. Thinking of the sinthome as an artistic event, where jouissance as zoë is creatively used outside the Symbolic Order leads, paradoxically, to an art form that escapes the dialectics of power. Nevertheless such artistic “noise” has power precisely because it refuses to participate in the established Symbolic system. It is power-free (Macht-los), related to the possibility of releasing or letting free a position otherwise than power.7 When this happens it creates an event beyond the Law in the sense that, as “turbulent noise,” it is not a counterpower as is usually thought in dialectical terms, which would make it still operate within power (and powerlessness). Rather, it has a certain ethical resonance of its own.8 It opens up a space for new power-free relationality. Art as an event in this sense is “less and more than praxis”: it is less than praxis because it doesn’t “do” anything, and more than praxis because it denounces and underwrites praxis. It is political by being apolitical. It doesn’t take part as “work” (Macht), which was what the


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“Slacker generation” celebrated; that is to say, it doesn’t participate in the manipulative power of technology, although it uses technology for its own ends. Musical noise is poiêtic in the way it calls into question the power modalities of being (like gangsta rap, Slacker grunge, and the anxieties of Nü metal) thus being politically transformative by being paradoxically power-less. For these musicians to become hyperbolic parodies of themselves means that their attraction has become predictable and repetitive—no longer “strange.” Transposed in chaos theory, this means that their music as a particular genre or system falls into a predictable point of attraction where it stops being innovative—it becomes “pop.” Such “pop” attractors exhibit a “limit” cycle; they come to a resting point (like the Nirvana principle), or go round and round where repetition introduces no difference. A strange attractor, in distinction, is able to generate a new signifier of difference. Hence, the fear is that what “drives” these “noise” artists is that their sinthome, as their Real core selves will disappear, and they fall into a mindless repetition, a “sell out” (Cobain’s fear), or be “cured” and become “happy” (Davis), or become complacent and well-off (gangsta rap). The symptom is a Symbolic construction built around a Real kernel of jouissance. For Freud, the symptom was “like the grain of sand around which an oyster forms its pearl” (SE VII, 83). There is no subject without a symptom. Both Freud and Lacan discovered that the root of the symptom in the Real is impenetrable to interpretation. The dream of some sort of final “cure” was not possible. Psychoanalysis was “interminable” in this respect. A psychoanalytic cure removes repressions (the symbolic component of a symptom) and lays bare drive-fixations, but does not lead automatically to a removal of these drive fixations (fixations of a jouissance), which are already fixed as a child. Jonathan Davis was already “banging” on everything in sight at the age of three according to his father; Cobain was a hyperactive child who suffered a terrible trauma at the age of seven, which left him alone and abandoned. And, one can image the traumas suffered in the ghetto setting of the ’hood that hothouse the desperation of gangsta rappers. What can be changed is the position of the subject toward the drive processes. As argued, gangsta rap can be sadistic and sadomasochistic; Nü metal and grunge masochistic, all perverted subject positions that challenge the Symbolic Order. Zizek (1992) put this sardonically as, “Enjoy your symptom.” Ultimately, then, what is an ethics of “enjoying” your sinthome, a question raised in the last chapter?

S C: T MM S

S C One of the most disturbing conclusions of Mark Seltzer’s remarkable and important study, Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture (1998), is “that the only difference between the normal subject (the psychic killer) and the pathological one (the psycho killer) is the passage from fantasy to act” (146). The psycho killer is the one who does what others merely think, or in this study, make “noise” about. He (usually male) collapses the distance between private desires and public acts. An identifiable profile for the serial killer is not possible. Much more disturbing is Seltzer’s argument that the serial killer is “the mass in person,” as he puts it. The collapse of the distance between fantasy and act, between private and public, between the thing and its representation, between the “inner” and “outer” self, is a collapse of the self and Other, of the individual and the “mass” outside himself. A fall into psychosis, in Lacanian terminology, is a collapse where the Real overwhelms the person. The person becomes a “blank,” facing his own void where there is no ego structure any longer to imaginatively frame the symbolic discourses. Paranoid logic “literalizes a general logic of rivalry.” Quoting Lacan, “If it’s you. I’m not. If it’s me, it’s you who isn’t” (S II, Ego in Freud, 169). The psychotic becomes Everyman who no longer is able to “personalize” or “enliven” the language of the Symbolic Order, make it his own, and live with its lack. Language, instead, becomes lethal, invading him as dead inert matter—which it is. Against a pop-Foucaldian account which overgeneralizes the “constructed body” of discourse, Seltzer maintains that the fascination with the spectacles of bodily violence as graphically illustrated in Foucault’s opening scene in To Discipline and Punish have not gone away. Rather, it is impregnated in American media and its music culture as public sex and public violence. Marilyn Manson said it more prosaically; “We’re not feeding people to lions for entertainment anymore. The times aren’t more violent, they’re just more televised.”1 The psycho killer becomes a pole of fascination and attraction because he realizes what, in our view, “drive culture” already demands: namely, the collapse of the “normative” gap between private desires and


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public acts to accumulate commercial and spectacular “mass.” He represents precisely this threat of private/public collapse where the individual is invaded by the institutional “outside” (by mass social forces and technology) to the point that he “snaps.” The logic of designer capitalism demands that we tap into the aggressive “murderous unconscious” of our drives (Triebe) to achieve individual gain at all costs. But, to do so brings us ever closer to psychotic and paranoiac psychic formations. This, again, is the Anal Superego of the Father of Enjoyment talking. The imperative is to live out our unconscious fantasies unbridled, to “have our jouissance and eat it too.” Seltzer’s thesis speaks directly to our own view of “drive culture” of post-Oedipal postmodernity as maintained in Youth Fantasies (2004). In this chapter and the next I try to fill out the promise of the importance of the unconscious sadomasochistic pact between Metal-Punk bands and their fans as introduced earlier. The unconscious “beating” that takes place in the exchange can go either way: it can be therapeutic and masochistic as in the transgressive acts of père-version, or it can turn suicidal and sadistic as a psychotic act “beyond” the Law. The link between masochism and sadism as Giles Deleuze (1989) pointed out, does not form a complementary couple. A sadist believes he is answering the call of a higher ideal. (The majority of sadists are male but female sadists are on the rise in the United States as well, according to the National Mental Health Association, NMHA.) The sadist tortures his victims merely as an executor of such desire. In contrast, the masochist searches for an executor who will torture him (or her), whom s/he can instruct as to how, as a victim, s/he is to be beaten. In a Rolling Stone interview Marilyn Manson bluntly said, “I have people come up to me and ask me if they can cut me while I cut them, or if I can put out a cigarette on their face. I can understand that people are trying to make a first impression, but I think a lot of people don’t understand what Marilyn Manson is about.”2 Such masochistic behavior can go to bodily extremes. Marilyn Manson’s autobiography mentions two young girls who would follow him from concert to concert, sit in the front row with the words “Marilyn” and “Manson” carved on each other’s chests, with blood dripping down their tank tops from their selfinflicted wounds. Metal-Punk-Goth fan relationship is mostly sadomasochistic, but there are exceptions. In light of this, it may not appear so strange to raise the figures of the serial killer and mass murder, whose psychosis is complete, where authority has been totally foreclosed. It will help us to grasp the violence and tragic shootings that have happened in many large cities and several high schools throughout United States, Canada, and Germany. To come to such a discussion, hopefully, will not seem so surprising as it becomes developed in this chapter and the next. It should be recalled that several members of the politically correct group Pearl Jam, a “grunge” band that formed in Seattle in 1990, were formerly with a group called Green River who took its name from the serial killer of over 40 women in the Kent area of Washington. The band Macabre (“where all the ‘bad’ shirts go”) in their album Sinister Slaughter (1993) pays homage to 21 of the worst serial

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killers around the world. And, of course, Marilyn Manson (a.k.a. Brian Warner) who eventually became recognized at first through his persona of the Antichrist, took his name directly after a serial killer and combined it with the sexuality of Marilyn Monroe, two American icons. His name suggests the very feminization and impotency developed in the last chapter on punk rock. Manson explains it in terms of Eros and Thanatos: “ ‘Marilyn’ [Monroe] as the white, positive aspect—the light—with the word ‘Manson’ [Charles] which is the black, negative aspect. Without darkness you wouldn’t know light and without evil, you wouldn’t know what’s good.”3 Sex and violence that form the logic of his name, and with which he plays with in his musical performances, illustrate perfectly the impasse that exits between them in a media culture that lives and breaths their spectacles. Sex and violence provide the crossroads between desire and power where again the tension between the private and the public emerges. The merger of sex and violence, when a collapse of their distance takes place, makes them “indifferent” to one another in the form of “sexual violence.” Such a collapse presents an undecidable dilemma as to whether this is strictly a sexual or a social act? Whether one form substitutes for the other; namely, there is no sex in violence and no violence in sex? The issue is further problematized when sexual difference is thrown into the mix, with some feminists arguing that men are sadists at heart. Men almost always commit sexual violence. Marilyn Manson’s (designated now as MM) performances exploit these impasses. MM unmasked (like Jonathan Davis unmasked) would be a sexual killer on the loose. He, rather his persona, claims to “present the ugly truth about society, warts and all. . . . In the world that I envision, Marilyn Manson isn’t necessary. But that’s not the world we live in.”4 MM, of course, cannot takeoff his mask. That would surely “kill” him. His death drive is what paradoxically gives him life. MM comes across as the “bogeyman” precisely because he comes too “close” in presenting the collapse of sex and violence. He presents a socially reflective mirror scratched by the nonreflective “stain” of the Real, making his performances disturbing and a relentless target of campaigns launched by the religious Right from the latter part of 1996 through the fall of 1997. His band was picked in 22 separate cities, including Ozzfest 1997 and their Canadian tour (Crowley, 1998). MM’s fans wear black-clad outfits, their faces are painted white, with black eyeliner and black lipstick, but some men also wear fluorescent dresses and frilly lingerie. The protests that appear by a concerned public, wherever MM is set to appear, are precisely the gaze he and his fans are looking for to give them the recognition they need to raise, in their minds at least, social issues and concerns in America. Both ironic and sardonic, as well as being a brilliant observer of social life, his mask speaks directly to the repressed American psyche concerning family values (Portrait of an American Family, 1994), hypocritical religious fanaticism (Antichrist Superstar, 1996), spiritual vacuity (Mechanical Animals, 1998), capitalist consumerism of Hollywood which packages transgression (Holy Wood: In the Shadow of the Valley of Death, 2000), and fascism and decadence (The Golden Age of Grotesque, 2003),


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enabling his fans to find a release for their own feelings of transgressive rage, despair, and search for identification in what they also see as cynical world of confusion and lies. MM’s Gothic quotes cannot be denied. Like Ozzy’s Black Sabbath, there is an obvious and explicit critique of capitalist excesses. But there are Gothic subcultures who would dissociate themselves from his particular sadistic lashes to their more apolitical masochistic ones. Gothic music has its own internal divisions as well—Industrial, Ethereal, Rock, and so on. Unquestionably, they, like MM, probe the repressed side of modernity through a sublime, dark, aesthetic vampirism and a celebration of sensuality (Hodkinson, 2002).

A  S MM is a hyperbolic exemplification of what Mark Seltzer (1998) calls a “wound culture,” a culture where, as he argues, trauma has become coterminous with “the category of the subject tout court.” Such a model of the subject has been “worn out.” “But the wearing out of this model of the subject has become the alamodality of the subject: trauma is nothing if not in fashion today” (285, ft. 33, original emphasis). MM exemplifies such a “wearing out” of the traumatic subject. His theatrical performances are either seen as shocking, outrageous and disgusting or hilarious and amusing, sardonic and ironic. He is a hybrid half-monster and half-avenging angel. Like a number of sci-fi movies (Copycat, Virtuosity, Strange Days), MM as the “mass in person” provides the site/sight/cite of confusion between the near collapse of the “inside and outside” where a mimetic identification takes places between self and Other. In the equation of “abused and victimized as a child,” leads to “abusive and victimizing as an adult” (257), it’s as if MM is excused for his atrocities because of the trauma of his childhood. This side of MM displays his worst drug induced sprees of nihilism: dragging naked girls around on stage on a dog leash, performing acts of self-mutilation (450 scars up to the time of his autobiography written in 1998), his threat of killing a band member, and tying a naked woman to a cross. The list goes on, but more as fiction than fact. As Seltzer puts it, “One can [no] longer tell whether this switchboard of the soul is the literalization, or realization, of interior states (the delusion of the reference of the influencing machine) or the impact of the literal technologies of mass mediated public culture (machinic influence)” (263). This could well be the summation of MM’s second theatrical performance, Mechanical Animals (1998), yet another instance of Deleuze’s becoming-animal. “One can no longer tell whether this is a mater of (self-)representation or (worldly) reference, psychosis or sociology” (264). This indistinction between inside/outside, that is, the “endless switching between them,” which is held apart by the thinnest of margins at times by MM’s acting out, provides an insight as to why he was falsely accused of being linked to the Columbine shootings. MM is the postmodern update of Batman’s Joker, complete with a permanent white death mask, lipstick, mascara, stringy hair, milky contact lenses,

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huge platform boots, occasionally sporting “man-boobs” and stilts, and laughing hysterically at the Law through his performances. Like the Court Jester, he is no Fool, but often a brilliant social critic who gets away with his outrageous acts by playing an ambiguous role. On stage the persona of MM as Antichrist or Omega, his rage is clearly felt; off-stage as MM he is articulate, insightful, clever, and never short of displaying a wry sardonic wit. Brian Warner (a.k.a.) is effectively dead. MM addresses himself in the third person during interviews making him appear as only a constructed self, confirming Seltzer’s observation of the psychotic/social subject who has walked through Alice’s “looking glass” and decided to stay there, in a state of constant becoming, an exemplary schizo subject in Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) meaning of the term. He is a living self-therapeutic work of art. MM’s autobiography written with Neil Strauss, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell (1998) appeared 2 years after the success of Antichrist Superstar (1996). It provides graphic evidence for a series of childhood traumas manifest as nightmares, dreams, and empathetic numbness from which he suffers. He had an abusive and absent father who was a victim of Agent-Orange in Vietnam. Warner was a skinny-mental white-trash geek kid who was beaten up and bullied at school; at the age of eight he was both repulsed and fascinated by his cross-dressing grandfather who masturbated to bestial porn in (no less) his basement while a model train disguised the noise of his sexual activities. Warner also suffered from self-mutilation, cutting his body so that he could “feel.” All this was then topped off by private schooling in a strict evangelical Christian school (Heritage Christian School) which grounded his hate for fundamentalist religion. Add to this remarkable picture his bizarre sexual and drug experiences with a group of small-town-Satanists living in Canton, Ohio, and it becomes even more remarkable that he came to fashion himself as he did. In this respect, the book is appropriately titled with its reference to Dante’s Inferno. He indeed did crawl out of his own hell leaving him with a cynical attitude toward dominant reality, taken simply as the current constructed belief system. “It takes one bullet to kill the whole world because it’s all in your head.”5 In a revealing interview regarding his latest performance, The Golden Age of the Grotesque (2003), MM states to Barbara Ellen of The Observer, “I think one of the reasons I got on stage was because I have a hard time relating to people. It was a matter of being invisible as a kid [a ‘worm’ with no selfesteem as stated in his autobiography]. I didn’t have to create an alter ego. I had to create an ego because I didn’t have anywhere I could be. That was part of the reason I created Marilyn Manson in the first place—to believe in something. I couldn’t find Marilyn Manson in the world so I made him up. . . . Whatever I do, whatever I say, I am Marilyn Manson now. I can’t turn it off.”6 MM lives his mask, unable to take it off. It is his sinthome. Without the mask, he becomes unraveled, moments of slippage happen all the time with his constant claim of being insecure in his interviews. He is afraid that he might be swallowed up by the social Symbolic Order, or worse, that he can no longer maintain his perverted position; that he would no longer be


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hated, no longer able to define himself against the Other, but obey its demand. But, he always presents an articulate front. MM’s attendance at a private Christian school, where he initially fostered his animosity toward organized religion, had, at the same time, instilled a peculiar set of Christian values, which he claims to still live by. As a work of art, MM can be interpreted as enacting a fantasy of redemption that shaped itself from those early experiences. He perceives himself as a messenger, and although there are no hints of hearing voices in true psychotic fashion, he claims to have “known” as early in high school (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) that he was to deliver an Antichrist soteriology that would give him leadership and power. He also made the statement that he suffers from being a “delusional self,” believing “that every coincidence in your life is related.”7 MM is continually testing himself in his redemption fantasy. “Things need to go to a point of extremism in order to be born-again. Things need to go past that point as far as they go, and then we’ll be innocent again. It’s my job to sort of cleanse the world of all its sins. I’m offering up as a sacrifice to the world to become innocent again.”8 Again, this is the Romantic notion of the innocent child. Christ, for him, was both the first rock star and a revolutionary, while the Bible became a source for mythology and interpretation. He credits the Christian Right as having made him a far bigger star through their boycott antics, exposing their hypocrisy of a double morality of exterminating “evil with evil.”9 Once again, his perverse position calls up authority, and it is this Symbolic Order that encroaches on his freedom. “I fear being a completely acceptable sheep in society.”10 MM’s “industrial metal” is his dislike for mentally “weak” people and his own fear that he would lose control of himself, become his own “bogeyman” so to speak. It is a fine edge that he walks which borders on psychosis. “If I hadn’t found a way to express myself through music, then I would have ended that way [as a serial killer]. They’re [serial killers] just people. There’s not much that separates us from them. That’s why people are fascinated with them.”11 To commit suicide in the name of MM would be a sign of ignorance, “one less stupid person in the world.”12 To do this is to have missed the point of his music, which is precisely to “save” fans from suicide. “I think that people like me are writing music for people like that as an escape, to make them feel like ‘You’re not alone, I grew up feeling the same thing.’ In some cases, that’s probably the only thing that gets a lot of kids through their teenage years. When I was a kid, music was the only thing to hide with, if you don’t like the world around you. For me, I hid in books and I hid in music, and that was what made me feel better about myself.”13 MM offers no “answers” but “just tr[ies] to make people think,” and not “to shock them or scare them,” but to “try and get them to question” so as to enable self-discovery.14 MM grew up never “fitting in,” hating his father (a furniture salesman), while his mother, rarely mentioned in interviews, is said to be a fan of Boy George and Elvis Presley. Like Jonathan Davis, MM was a “pimply-faced white teenager who [got] beat up in school everyday.”15 “I attract outsiders

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and misfits because I am one. I think I voice a lot of their alienation because for a long time I felt it. Still do.”16 The song and CD, The Nobodies expresses this well in its refrain. “We are the nobodies/we wanna be somebodies/ when we’re dead/they’ll know just who we are.” This was taken as an adumbration of Columbine. For MM, this song “encompasses the way I felt growing up, and the way I think a lot of people feel—that you can just never be good enough for people’s standards, and it’s a sort of ‘fuck you’ to that.”17 He perceives himself as strong-willed and smart because he alone pulled himself out of depression and high school bullying through his music. In this sense he comes across as a hypernarcissist, getting what he wants, or pursuing something until he gets it, being moody and difficult at times. As the ONE, he forms his own standards, which are either accepted or rejected. “I ain’t here to condemn or condone. I’m here to go against the grain. I’ve transformed my world so that I am my own work of fiction, with no boundaries to what I can do no limits. I’m saying anyone can do that. Anyone.”18 Ironically, as MM admits, he is able to “fulfil the American Dream and be whatever I wanted to be,”19 the very neoliberalist goal of designer capitalism that he rages against and attacks in his Holy Wood (2000) theatrical production. Like Draiman of Disturbed and Cobain, MM perceives his inner core as being “sensitive” with a “hard shell” around him to protect his fragility. This inner core of innocence is his “inner child” which is equated to creativity as well as to God. It is his driving force—the simthome of his jouissance. As zoë (life), it becomes the impossible place that needs to be protected. This is a subject of gothic revival; the soul lives in the basement of a fortified house, a direct perverse response to the forms of “highly industrialized mechanization” which heavy industrial music refers to. “In some ways, I’ve remained this Peter Pan, trapped by my desire to live in my imagination than the standards people impose.”20 Like Cobain, his grasp on the Symbolic Order is tenuous. MM’s imaginary persona (Seltzer’s “the mass in person”) is held together through his musical performances, which collapse the “outside” onto himself as a conflicting storm of alternative perspectives on morality, sexuality, stardom, violence, and authority. The private fantasy as public act is done in the “safety” of the theatrical space of the stage, if “safety” is the right word since there are plenty of moments where control has been lost.

C’ Holy Wood: T S  Y’ O MM came onto the music scene effectively in 1996 when Antichrist Superstar made number three on the charts, a surprising and unexpected result given the failure of Portrait of an American Family (1994). Its success can be contributed in part to the talents of Nine Inch Nail’s star, Trent Renzor who produced the album. But MM and Renzor have had their differences since that moment of collaboration. Antichrist is an apt representation for MM. The traditional bourgeois family of modernism consisted of a patriarchal head, the virginal receptive mother and one sacrificial son


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who would eventually inherit his father’s fortune. MM refused to make the “sacrifice” to this family, rather he perverts the position, sacrificing himself to a new redemptive “world.” He identifies instead with the anti-father who takes sadistic pleasure in the sacrifice of others, especially his children. Antichrist Superstar is a revisiting of MM’s childhood trauma of a dysfunctional family. Part of the trauma was inflicted on him by his sixth grade teacher, a Ms Price who said that the Antichrist was coming; for MM this meant the end of the world, a literal interpretation of the Bible. According to Ms Price, Episcopalians like his parents, and Catholics worshiped false idols. All this led to his recurring nightmares and insecurity. Antichrist Superstar was a confrontation with that traumatization by twisting the fantasy in his own way by becoming the persona of Antichrist. The Antichrist can most obviously be interpreted as the Biblical figure of Lucifer, the fallen angel as MM claimed.21 However, it can equally be read as MM’s interpreting the historical heroic figure of Christ in own grotesque way to deliver his warning and message concerning the sickness of the American way of life in a(wry) way. “Extreme contradiction” and “paradox . . . has always been the basis for Marilyn Manson,” he wryly admits.22 “I think on Antichrist Superstar I really split the left and right halves of my brain.”23 It is Christ’s flaw as a human being, subject to temptation and the fall to the “flesh,” like Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), that MM exaggerates. “I consider it [Antichrist] to be a record about individuality and personal strength, putting yourself through a lot of temptations and torments, seeing your own death and growing from it.”24 “The record is about seeing death and growing from it. In the end, its about being Strong and being Alive.”25 Antichrist Superstar examined the herd mentality of glam rock ’n’ roll by staging a controversial fascist-like rally where the crowd gave straight-arm salutes, and swastika-style flags flew. It ended with a pyrotechnic display where banners come down while MM stood at the podium and Mastered the energy of the boisterous crowd. “In making Antichrist Superstar, the point was to become that ultimate villain in America. But I think that it was for everyone to learn something, including myself.”26 MM willingly sacrifices himself, like the figure of Christ, to deliver this message. It is an act of masochistic self-martyrdom, a giving of his body to make his statement. MM has consistently claimed that he doesn’t intentionally “shock,” but tries to make his audience think. It is another example of where “shock” proper that traumatizes and the “shock of everyday life” in terms of media violence that is available are obviously separable, but also very much related as to the possibility of their exchange because of their very visceral intensity. MM optimistically believes that his theatrical productions help transform society into its teleological endgame, which can paradoxically be the utopia of an Armageddon. Arriving at such a point where positive and negative cancel one another out results in “the beginning of a new one [world] that’s better.”27 It’s as if MM was attempting to stage or describe an event, as discussed earlier; a moment where the system dissipates and changes. Antichrist Superstar was to change the world “like the Manson murders did during the Summer of

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Love” in the sense that, like Manson, “media and politics” were to make him “the scapegoat for a whole generation.”28 MM continued with a persona change from Antichrist to Omega in Mechanical Animals (1998). Here he explored the obsessive fantasy of being “dead or alive” in a technological age. He concludes that one is only truly “alive” by conquering one’s own fears. The question is raised in his performance whether the machines will take over since, for MM, humanity is already “dead” so to speak; people are turning into animals by losing their “souls.” In a wound society, however, the problem is that the “soul”—what MM takes to be his personal God or creative expression—may already be mechanized, and simply a digitalized simulacrum of externalized representations. In MM’s view, “we numb ourselves with drugs, we numb ourselves with television, we numb ourselves with the Internet, with prescription drugs, with whatever we can find, because everyone’s afraid to be an individual.”29 “A pill will make you numb/A pill to make you dumb/A pill to make you anybody else/But all the drugs in this world/won’t save her from herself ” (Coma White). We have become “mechanical animals,” “shells without souls.” MM claimed that this was the first time he was able to “feel” anything, experiencing emotion on a new level. Mechanical Animals expresses well enough, and yet again, the anxiety around the collapse between machine and the human being Seltzer’s work refers to. The posthuman “terminator” as machine is the relentless serial drive (Trieb) of the automaton-killer caught not by desire, but unleashed to kill its ultimate target—the Mother—natural reproduction itself. The antimodernist romanticism of MM points again to a perverse fascination with wanting his girlfriend to give her aborted fetus to him in a jar, a reminder of the birth–death cycle and his turn away from “family” values. The mechanized killing of a fetus in abortion clinics seemed to echo his mechanical animal theme of a postapocalyptic earth. This is a dead and cold landscape symbolized by “Coma White,” the “white” referring to the spiritual vacuity and inertia, while the “coma” is the state of suspended animation, a state induced by television and advertising. The song, “The Dope Show,” raises the question, “What does it mean when everyone is a star in a bad B-movie?” The performance introduced MM as Omega. Turning to glam-rock to make the production work, he appeared on the front cover with prosthetic female breasts, an additional finger on each hand, and an androgynous cod piece—a transfigured alien. It was a direct quote on David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” This turn away from the heavy industrial sound, ended up alienating many of his Goth fans, who thought he had lost his way. Holy Wood, performed in 2000, completes the trilogy that began with Antichrist and Mechanical Animals. MM’s reasoning as to why Holy Wood is a backward completion of what he then started is rather confusing. He stumbles on each attempt to articulate an explanation in numerous interviews, as if to justify why he ended up in yet another transformed persona. “The album’s title refers not just to the Hollywood sign, but also to the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden, the wood that Christ was crucified on,


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the wood that Oswald’s rifle is made from and the wood that so many coffins are made of.”30 Jesus Christ, John Lennon, and John Kennedy were the three revolutionary inspirations MM drew on for this performance. He created another metaphorical space, Death Valley “where the disenfranchised, the unwanted and the imperfect are, and Holy Wood is where everything that is held up as being great and perfect exists.”31 On the CD cover of Holy Wood, he ironically appears crucified with a rose in his mouth, his face electronically pasted onto the Christ figure suspended in space, with his jaw missing, as if he had been censored. In general Holy Wood is an attack on the entertainment industry in LA where MM lives. But it is much more than that: it is his answer to the Columbine tragedy. It marked a response to media accusation that the Columbine shootings were directly attributable to his music. After a three month retreat into his LA home, MM emerged “fighting back” to make his own statement regarding media violence. Holy Wood represents yet another transformation of his persona. Clearly he had suffered a “subjective destitution” from the accusations leveled at him. It’s as if the realization overtook him that, despite his performances, not much changes, that his music had no significant effect, otherwise why would he be accused of contributing to the Columbine tragedy when all of his music was written as a warning? He either took up the challenge or had to leave the scene. As an autobiographical statement, MM faced what he feared most: that his own ideological musical edifice for transforming “Coma White” society was a sham. His “revolution” to reach a perfect world in the persona of Omega had become just “another product,” a world worse than the one he had came from. It is as if MM had recognized his own sinthome. “His [Omega’s] only choice is to destroy the thing he has created, which is himself.”32 If the Antichrist was Alpha, then Omega, as the Greek root maintains, had to be the final development to end it all. This would be the completed cycle. The Columbine tragedy raises once more the collapse of private desire and public fantasy that cross “in a culture in which addictive violence has become a collective spectacle” (Seltzer 253). Targeted by conservative groups and the media, MM was singled out early in the investigation when the two shooters were alleged to be his fans (which was not true). This led to the cancellation of his 1999 tour (which had already started out badly when Courtney Love and MM had a spat and Hole left the tour); MTV then pulled his video, while radio stations no longer played any of his songs. Effectively, MM was shut down with venues refusing his act. He made a strong and articulate statement in Rolling Stone in 1999, making it clear that his previous performances were precisely criticisms of American media. “ . . . America puts killers on the cover of Time magazine, giving them as much notoriety as our favorite movie stars. From Jesse James to Charles Manson, the media, since their inception, have turned criminals into folk heroes. They just created two new ones when they plastered those dipshits Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’s pictures on the front of every newspaper. Don’t be surprised if every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols.”33 One of MM’s many

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watercolor paintings appeared in the same issue of Rolling Stone which can only be described as a cartoon cousin of Francis Bacon’s grotesque portraiture. “Crop Failure” featured two “finger” portraits of Klebold and Harris drawn from their high school photographs. Their heads were painted on the two finger of a hand which would represent a “V” for victory. Columbine, as MM notes, is a flower while “crop” obviously refers to “raising up your children and harvesting them properly. Something did go wrong here, and I think the farmers should be blamed, not the entertainers.”34 MM made a statement a year after the shooting which confirms the thesis of this chapter. “These kids ‘Klebold and Harris’ were mad because they felt like they didn’t fit in and they wanted to show the world. And the world, in turn gave them exactly what they wanted—they put them on the cover of Time magazine. Twice. That was disgusting to me. I said this same thing ten years ago when I created Marilyn Manson, there’s a very fine line between an artist and serial or a mass murder. They’re both trying to get out the same feeling, and they are doing it because they know that America is gonna put ’em on the news-they enjoy the fame of it.”35 Eventually, MM was rolling again, feeling he had been vindicated. In MM’s The Golden Age of Grotesque (2003) Weimar Germany’s decadence of the 1930s, Hitler and Cabaret are the sources of his inspiration, claiming it seems, that postmodern America is yet another repetition of such decadence and fascistic tendencies. Like all his previous theatrical efforts, this performance has been either panned by critics or heralded as a new phase, yet another new persona. However, on the whole, the reception has been poor. In effect the first significant song, which follows a brief minute and a half interlude (Thaeter), is called “This is New Shit.” The opening segment reads, “There’s nothing left to say anymore/When it’s all the same/You can ask for it by name.” The rest of the song works mostly on mindless and numbing alliteration. It is a prophetic statement for both MM and his critics for it begs the question when does irony fail and turn into comedy? The pretense of anger and rage become no longer sustainable. The “new shit” is simply like the “old shit,” but fails to smell. Finally, sadly, the hoax is up. The Joker cannot “joke” anymore because the “golden age of grotesque” has become a parody of itself, the one fear that MM harbored all along: he can no longer sustain a social critique of differentiation. Like Ozzy and Alice Cooper, the fall is into the depths of sad face with running mascara. Sex, drugs, and violence have become common stock, part of the “wound culture” of everyday life where trauma becomes just another fashion to be worn and displayed at the appropriate occasion. Perhaps MM has indeed been replaced by Eminem as the new voice of white trash? A simple mic, the power of words and no slap face against theatrical pyrotechnics, costuming and a sound drenched in distortion and screams. The comparison couldn’t be more startling.

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U P: W F G A The serial killer and the mass murder present the two “extreme” pathological responses to the psychic suffering (jouissance) as represented by the slacker generation of the early 1990s grunge and punk music, which was then followed by the Nü Heavy metal and industrial Goth groups of the new Millennia. That is the thesis presented here. Their pathological actions, in effect, execute the very unconscious desires, which, however tentatively, have been sublimated by their music. In contrast, their aggression and violence find a form of desublimated expression. The mass murderer and serial killer, in effect, “act out” such barely repressed desires, the unconscious wishes of the Metal-Punk-Industrial Goth music, making them come “true,” so to speak, as criminal actions. Like the gangsta rapper who sadistically kills, the mass murderer and the serial killer are “anti-slackers” in the very same sense. They “do” what the slacker generation unconsciously desire, acting out their aggression outside the Law. They are most “alive” when they kill. Both literally and metaphorically speaking, the death-drive of the gun is not turned in on the self masochistically, as was the case with Cobain, Davis, Rose, Morrison, Marilyn Manson in forms of self-punishment through their music, or actually through self-mutilation. Rather it is directed outward toward innocent victims, more in line with the exploits of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols who stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death and then OD-ed himself. Or, figures like Charles Manson who, as a failed musician, exemplified the Anal Father with his diabolical control over his “family.” While these are the psychotic exemplars of musicians, there are also fans who are addicts, caught up in their own death drive who are the most likely to kill, like Mark Chapman, John Lennon’s killer as discussed in Youth Fantasies (2004, 59–60). It should be pointed out that this references a layer of music where the drives lie on the “surface,” so to speak. The sublimation of aggression is contained by “noise”; that is to say, by the rhythm, intonation, and quality of the utterance that lies just below intelligibility and meaning of the signifier. This is the pre-Oedipal space of holophrastic speech where utterances are not


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distinctly made out, but left for the fans to decipher and “plug in” their desire in their own way. Not every rock n’ roll star, punk, metal, or rap singer who comes from a difficult family situation necessarily “acts out” sadistically. The sublimation of musical forms varies as well. Each band has found their own confinable aural/oral soundscape that cocoons them. John Lennon, for example, certainly one of the key figures of rock rebellion, came from a family where his mother never wanted him and his father abandoned the family, a profile that fits well within the family structures that have been discussed. Yet, Lennon was able to sublimate his jouissance through his music. In his first post-Beatles album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), his song “Mother” addresses his pain of parental loss and his desire to have them come back (“Mama don’t go, Daddy come home,” repeated nine times). The album ends with the nursery rhyme, “My Mummy’s Dead,” which suggests a lingering melancholia. (“My mummy’s dead . . . I could never show it.”) Lennon had not been able to fully mourn the loss of his mother, however, he could address this “loss” through his music. John and Yoko were both practitioners of Dr. Author Janov’s primal scream therapy. According to Reynolds and Press (1996, 216), the final coda of “Mother,” where Lennon “beseeches his departed mother and absent father with something between a chorus and a sob, a repeated, retching expectoration of rage and regret . . . remains unrivalled [as a] cathartic extremity of grief ” in the history of rock music. As can be seen from the previous discussion, when it comes to Gangsta Rap, Punk-Heavy Metal, Grunge, Industrial Goth music, perversion in its sadomasochistic forms and sadistic psychotic bouts are the two responses to Authority. Aggression has been sublimated through the music by the Imaginary psychic register—but just barely containing the effects of the Real. With psychotic breakdowns the Real overwhelms the subject presenting the uneasy feeling that the music was somehow the cause of the violence— demonic in its nature as the voice turns to cold death—rather than recognizing that often this music is the last remaining defense to appease the skin-ego. These represent the masculine transgressive structures against and beyond the Law in rock n’ roll. As “alternative music” they are distinguished from the more mainstream neurotic hegemonic music of “pop.”1 Their transgressions, in a minimalist sense, still maintain a distance to the Law and do not exist entirely outside it. From this perspective, the music industry, aside from its capitalist failings, is still one of the most important institutions to provide a space where the sublimation of youth anxieties can take place to contain the death drive. This division of perverse and psychotic structures separates transgressive music along post-Oedipal lines. Both positions are responses to the “loss” of Oedipal authority. In general, the perverse position answers to the Paternal Metaphor, while the psychotic answers to the Maternal Thing as the Phallic Mother who is all controlling. The perverse music structure is characteristic of a rebellion against the established Law, the “hard” phallic side of which Gangsta Rap and Death Metal bands like Slipknot are examples. Slipknot, in

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their Killers are Silent album write: “I write my own laws with Death/ I break bread/Killers are quiet when they come from the head.” Such statements border on a psychosis. The music range is both sadistic (2 Live Crew, Slipknot) and masochistic (Ice-T, Eminem, Disturbed, Ko}n, Marilyn Manson) in relation to the Law, as inward and outward aggressive responses respectively. A band like Ko}n clearly presents a masochistic form. In contrast, psychotic musical structures are engulfed by a Maternal superego where there is nearly a complete foreclosure of the Symbolic Order. Here, aggression as the fear of the feminine can be directed inward, as an unconscious wish fulfillment of matricide (e.g., Grunge and Cobain), but also as a psychotic bout of outward expression as in the drive-by killing of gangs as a wish fulfillment of patricide. To summarize: if the sublimation totally fails then the masochism attached to père-version ends in the psychosis of mass murder and (usually) suicide. This is a result of an alienation from the Symbolic Order. If the sublimation fails in the separation from the Mother, then this is a psychosis of a serial killer. Fans killing and stalking their idols as in the case of Mark Chapman’s killing of John Lennon is a psychotic act, but not a serial one. The binary couplet can be reductively summed up once again in pop-psyche fashion as the pervert being “bad” on the outside and “good” on the inside, while the sadist seems “good” on the outside but “bad” on the inside. The first transgresses the Law to instill it, while the second is completely an out-Law, beyond it. Another way of comprehending what’s going on with psychotic delusions is to say that the pervert finally becomes “unmasked”; he is no longer able to maintain an imaginary skin-ego that minimally provides protection against the Symbolic Order. In Lacanian psychoanalysis a distinction is made between psychosis, which is a clinical structure where the Name-of-the-Father has been foreclosed, and psychotic phenomena such as delusions and hallucinations. It could be said that Kurt Cobain was unable to maintain his “authenticity” any longer, the same fear that jolted David Draiman of Disturbed for a passing moment when interacting with a tattooed fan, while Marilyn Manson is delusional. What was unconsciously foreclosed returns in the Real as a hallucination. Fans claimed Cobain to be “gentle and good,” a “sensitive” performer, while he himself felt he was “too sensitive.” When the mask comes off there is only the flood of the Real. No protection is left. A point of suicide, or a desire to kill is reached because the Other is so threatening and so close that is all that is left: either outwardly kill or inwardly kill oneself. This is why “rage” needs to be masked. The “temper tantrums” must, to some extent, be artificially, performatively, and ironically staged. It becomes problematic only when such a mask itself becomes Real, which is the other possibility. The mask cannot be removed (as in the movie The Mask). Marilyn Manson manages from slipping into psychosis by changing his already permanent mask into various personas, and then performing as a sardonic “intellectual” as Marilyn Manson. The Mask begins to take-over in the mirror, and once more the skin-ego becomes a prisoner to the alter ego. One actually believes that one is famous in no need of the Symbolic Order, like


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the King who actually believes he is the King, and not because of the status given to him by the social order. Not allowing yourself to be seen with your mask off, like Kiss, Slipknot, and Marilyn Manson, raises disturbing questions. Michael Jackson’s two children, Prince Michael I, six and four-year old daughter Paris are forced to wear masks whenever they go in public to conceal their identification, living out Jackson’s own paranoia that they might be kidnapped if their faces are captured by paparazzi and distributed in the tabloids. Paradoxically, Jackson’s paranoia has made photographing their faces by the paparazzi that much more desirable, increasing the photo barrage whenever they are out in public. His children have never seen their surrogate mother (Debbie Rowe), and believe that they don’t have a mother, only a father. The new baby, Prince Michael II is fed with muslin draped over his head so that his identity remains protected as well. Jackson is clearly delusional. He claims to be persecuted by the big Other as represented by the media, the press, tabloids, and paparazzi.2 In a strikingly similar parallel, Madonna has banned television in her household for the past three years because she claims that the media misrepresents her (and her latest director husband Guy Ritchie). Both Jackson and Madonna fear the symbolic gaze confirming their hypernarcissism and the dominance of the Imaginary look. To do so would be to loose their “authenticity.” Bouts of paranoia characterize the delusionary behavior of both Jackson, who refuses to recognize that his career as the “King of Pop” is waxing at the age of 44, and Madonna, whose inflated self-importance remains undiminished despite confirmations that films like The Next Best Thing, Evita, and Swept Away were utter failures. She is, at best, a mediocre actress and singer, but a superb publicist. Both Jackson and Madonna, who had abusive fathers as children, attempt to prop us the missing symbolic function through an entertainment venue that allows them to materialize their delusions in a perverted form. Jackson can retreat to Neverland, while Madonna can hide in her mansions in the hills of Hollywood, or in the anonymity of a metro-lifestyle in London with husband Ritchie and her two children. Her 2003 album American Life must surely rate high on the hypocrisy charts: Madonna condemning the very values that assured her fame as a pop diva, appearing on the CD cover as Che Guevara, a romanticized image of rebellion that she further aids in emptying of meaning like Che T-Shirts and underwear, taking away the struggle for its resignification by youth movements against corporate globalization, US imperialism, and war throughout the world. Bands wear an obvious alter ego persona, like the Gothic attire of Kiss, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, while rappers take on an a.k.a. to enable the exploration of fantasy life and maintain their sanity. It is when the gap between the self and alter ego begins to collapse that paranoia, psychotic delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis show themselves. As argued, Marilyn Manson walks this thin line. To venture a speculation, bands that lean toward the perverted transgressive side have more “staying power.” They last longer and stay together longer in their railing against authority, obsessive in their

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attempt not to acknowledge the Symbolic Order, thinking that all along they are “stealing” some jouissance back in a sublimated effort to restore the “missing piece” of their lost masculinity. One thinks here of the long list of albums that are produced by the likes of the Rolling Stones, Kiss, Metallica, Panterra in contrast to those bands that lean toward a psychotic, meteoric pattern, especially in punk and grunge (Sex Pistols, Nirvana), “breaking up” all the time, unable to find the stability amongst themselves. The mask (alter ego) that is worn—figuratively or literally—is the minimal distance required to make the phallus function as a “fraud,” and place an ironic twist on its impossible “full” power as exemplified by a psychotic state. A knowing wink has to take place to show that the rock star is all-too human. Another way to put this is to say that a certain “feminization” has to take place to maintain a distance from the Phallus. The mask is the lure that allows appeal, affection, and love to take place. Mick Jagger, for example, remains over the years rock-hard on stage performing a certain persona that the band exemplifies. Off-stage and in interview situations, he is no longer acting out as some bands do (Kiss and Slipknot never “unmask” in public). At 58, performing his second solo album, Goddess in the Doorway (2001), Jagger’s songs speak to his own self-proclaimed castration. In “God Gave Me Everything,” he ends by saying, “crazy you said, its all in your head,” a recognition of the delusion of having it all. In “Joy,” he asks for salvation. He also sings several ballads (“Call Me Up” and “Brand New Set of Rules”) addressing lost love, as well as a “pop” song, “Visions of Paradise.” This is an exposure of a much more frail masculinity than his stage persona would ever reveal. His off stage persona seems to be summed up by a self-portrait of him photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. Jagger’s half-naked body is bound to a ladder with heavy black tape, his face seen only in profile with no direct camera address.3 The masochistic reference to Saint Sebastian and Jagger’s inability to climb the ladder of success for whatever personal reasons are quite obvious. Contrast this to pop star Michael Jackson who wears a permanent mask and retreats to Neverland. His abusive father and Jehovah Witness religious upbringing has made him fearful of genital sex. His pre-genital perverse behavior is entirely feminized, while his impotence has been harnessed to reproductive technologies of surrogate motherhood. Jackson’s love for the “innocent” child illustrates perfectly the paradox of the child perceived as “the father of man” and the “route to knowledge” celebrated by Romanticism, a theme that repeats itself quite often especially in its Goth forms.4

M M  S K  F  RL Lacan described the way inner tensions between the ego (how the subject perceives him/herself ) and the superego (how the subject is being observed by the Law) are resolved through the committal of a criminal act to release pent up anxiety and aggression. These are acts of a specific mode of “subjectivization” in which the subject tries to resolve his or her inner tensions,


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traumas, and inhibitions. Lacan distinguishes between a paranoia that is resolved through self-punishment where the aggressive drive of the unconscious is directed inward (which, effectively speaks to the imaginary sublimated forms of music described above), and a paranoia of demand (Salecl, 1993). The former is a self-destructive aggressive impulse; the struggle is against one’s own desire by trying to destroy oneself (e.g., Cobain). In the latter case, the desire is delusional. The aggression and hatred that is projected outward is perceived as coming back. It becomes an external aggression that has to be defended against (e.g., Sid Vicious). The serial killer and the mass murderer are the two distinct responses to this paranoia of demand. They constitute two distinct forms of subjectivization (passage à l’acte) to the Law. The serial killer is someone who kills (usually) a large number of innocent people over a long period of time. In contrast, the mass murderer kills a number of people at once in a psychotic breakdown. The serial killer is usually characterized as a psychotic who kills women. He is threatened by women’s jouissance. The absence of the prohibition of incest, which is normally barred and repressed, is all too available to him. Most serial killers are incapable of sexual intercourse and any sort of sexual relationship. They are afraid of being devoured by the woman’s jouissance. Killing women becomes a way of “getting off,” masturbating and ejaculating after the killing since they are usually impotent. Generally speaking these are clandestine, surreptitious crimes that are not meant to attract the Law. Yet, at the same time these murders are also a demand for the Law as the prohibition of incest. Matricide is, in effect, a search for the father who would deny him access to his mother. There is a direct fascination of the serial killer in the United State’s collectively repressed psyche that speaks to an American individualism gone amok in its total disregard and indifference to the Law (Seltzer, 1998). The outlaw personified the gun as his Law. They are the “Cowboys From Hell” (Cowboys From Hell, 1990) as Panterra put it, followed by their song “Psycho Holiday.” This fascination with the serial killer is readily evident in the plethora of Hollywood films beginning with The Boston Strangler (1968). Tony Curtis cast in the starring role already set the ground for making the serial killer sexy and handsome; women sent Curtis fan mail wanting to be “strangled.” Death and sexuality are intimately related. Many films have emerged since that specifically profile the serial killer as a “hero”: as the Oral Father in the figure of Hannibal (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal ); an “ordinary-looking” drifter in John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), as a diabolical “Sword of God” executing transgressors of the seven sins of excess in David Fincher’s Se7ven (1995); as a figure of a “wolf” in the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in Freeway (1996), and even in the figure of two high school students, Richard Haywood and Justin Pendleton in Murder by the Numbers (2002) who commit the “perfect” crime out of sheer kicks and boredom. One is reminded here of the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in England by two ten-year-old boys in 1993. Not so perfect, his abduction was caught on video surveillance film.

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There are a dozen lesser-known, poorly produced and distributed films that explore the serial killer theme. In the European context the fascination is not nearly as profound, but more and more films seem to be emerging in this genre. The extraordinary film directed by Michael Powell, Peeping Tom back in 1960, presents the maternal superego that haunts the serial killer of girlie models in a rather unusual reversal. It was his father who suffocated the young Mark Lewis by using his son in a scientific experiment. He documented every waking moment to study and record the effects of fear on the nervous system leaving no symbolic space for Lewis to distance himself from the anxiety and constant gaze of his father’s camera. Now, Lewis searches to photograph the very moment of death that he wishes for. Viewing the slides of the expression on the faces of the women captured before their throats were slit by a knife concealed in the camera’s tripod is the only way he is able to become sexually aroused. There is also the extraordinary Belgium film, C’est Arrivé Près de Chez Vous (1992) (It Happened in Your Neighbourhood, released under the English title, Man Bites Dog). The serial killer is “documented” by a group of young cinema students (Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, and Benoît Poelvoorde) committing his crimes. In the end, the psychopath, Ben, ends up killing all of them. In the final scene the camera is left lying on the ground floor, picture tilted, leaving the viewer unnerved and unequivocal that the film was truly a documentary without any actors in it. The Blair Witch Project (1999), directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, essentially quotes this film with the final scene being homologous. Another exemplary film, rare in the sense that its serial killers are two women, Manu and Nadine, is the hard-hitting French film Baise-Moi ! (2000), directed by Coralie Trinh Thi and written by Virinie Despentes, translated best perhaps by the exclamatory expression, “Fuck Me!” in its passive meaning of astonishment and an active sense of a demand. Both women loathe men. They have been raped by their own fathers and brothers, abducted and raped yet again. These are Sadean women who have turned the table on the men. The only way to maintain their fragile egos is to use men as they please, and then kill them. One of them manages to commit suicide, and puts an end to her suffering; the other is not as “lucky.” The police finally catch up with her just as she is about to follow her girlfriend and end it all as well. Too late. The blurring of fiction and reality in many of the above films leads to the horror that the serial killer is already set loose among the unsuspecting and naïve public. He is not disguised, wears no mask, and seems to be an “ordinary” guy (Seltzer, 1998). What if at the heart of the American psyche sits the Ego Ideal of an omnipotent capitalist who is on a “symbolic” killing spree of his own? Left unrepressed with free reign, isn’t this the “core” Real subjectivity of a CEO psychopath let loose in the Symbolic Order to eliminate “fat” so that his company can survive, metaphorically “killing” workers due to downsizing and reengineering? Workers become disposable “surplus” fodder (Stein, 1999). The CEO has so much wealth, earning an obscene wage in comparison to ordinary workers that he no longer feels anything—anaesthetized.


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Paranoid, he fears intimacy least someone curbs his jouissance and takes his “fun” away. Such a figure is held to be a hero amongst Wall Street executives and investors, like CEO Jack Welsh (a.k.a. “Neutron” Jack) who only left the building standing after restructuring General Electric, much like a neutron bomb is supposed to do; or CEO Albert J. Dunlap (a.k.a. “Chain Saw” Al) who trimmed the fat from Scott Paper and latter Sunbeam (Allcom, 1994). The United States financial market was rocked by a series of corporate accounting frauds in 2002. CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) like Andrew Fastow (formerly of Enron) and Scott Sullivan (formerly of WorldCom) have joined hands with CEOs in abetting this continued symbolic fratricide and patricide of global capitalism. Such a theme is explored by Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial novel, American Psycho (1991), and Mary Harron’s film based on the novel— American Psycho (2000). The narrator is a Wall Street stockbroker, Patrick Bateman—a direct quote to the infamous psychopath, Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Bateman has access to so much “pleasure” in his life that he experiences none of the anxiety that confronts those caught in trying to reach the American “dream” as served up by neoliberalist rhetoric; or by the advertising industry that sell the commodities of the “good life” that are to be envied; or the pornographic industry that promises sexual fulfillment. Bateman eats at the best restaurants, wears the best clothes, lives in a penthouse, is interested only in designer drugs, brings in call-girls that obey his every whim, and literally kills his competitors at work if they prevent his career from progressing. He seems to possess a celebrity status. In short Bateman has reached a point where such access to unlimited jouissance turns into something else. There is nothing barring his desire, which leaves him bored. Bateman is the Anal Father, the Father of Enjoyment. In comparison to the dull, banal life of those without money and access to consume the finest things money can by, Bateman has it all; by having it all, paradoxically he has nothing. In the end the point of Ellis’s ironic allegory of American neoliberalist ideology of consumerism is that it leads to an impotence, the very opposite of the aggressive masculinity of dominance that is presented as its Ego Ideal. Bateman may well have fantasized all these killings in his paranoid state. His existence lived out only in his imaginary, the material goods numbing his experience of desire. In the end, no one believes him. It was as if such killings never actually occurred but were only his unconscious wish fulfillments. We come to the ugly conclusion that at the core of the capitalist global psyche sits the Anal Father of enjoyment, an idealized masculinity, impossible to reach, but the closer the male approaches to this Ego Ideal the more phallic and macho he believes he becomes, the more impotent he gets. Such a figure is the serial killer. The global fratricide of symbolic global capitalism (one company swallowing up another to become bigger, treating its workers as abject material to be jettisoned for more efficient running of the company as machine) is a restatement that the Father of Enjoyment is still laughing at his sons. They have not ritually killed him. On the contrary, as Milton says in

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Taylor Hackford’s film, The Devil’s Advocate (1997), he has made a come back. He owns the twenty-first century (jagodzinski, 2001). What has not been understood is that such unconscious striving to avoid castration leads only to a masculine paranoiac ego structure characterized by impotence, suicide, self-loathing, and the hate of the Other, especially women, from which this flight of differentiation takes place.

P D: M M  M G Serial killers are indifferent to the Law. The spectacularity that has been attached to them through Hollywood movies and books may be summed-up by the horror of the crime itself—the mutilation of the body in pieces. Some victims are skinned alive, others surgically operated on, yet others have their organs consumed after the kill, or some body part that is collected (feet, hand, ears, for instance). In Ridely Scott’s Hannibal (2001), the vengeful ex-patient, Mason Verger is out to even the score because Dr. Lecter made him cut his own face off with a piece of glass and feed it to his dogs! The more gruesome the crime, the better the ratings. The police concentrate on the similarities of the killings, searching for clues that point to the next possible victim, examining areas in the city where the majority of the kills take place; the patterns the killer uses, even though their task to uncover the next killing is “impossible” to predict. Even the technological wizardry of C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation) can’t help here to appease fears and ensure the public that in the end the practice of rational science can solve such crimes. The spectacularity of killing, however, belongs to the mass murder (also “impossible” to predict), and this has a direct relation to the media and media violence, fame, and stardom that characterizes our postmodern Zeitgeist. The mass murder wants attention. He wants the gaze of the Other, the Symbolic Order to be on him, either before or after the killing spree. The mass murder demands an agent that would recognize him as a subject. He demands that the Other, the Symbolic Order, respond to the crime by finally giving him an identity. Such killing sprees have the characteristics of a parricide, for the Name-of-the-Father does not function as a representative of the Law. It is an attempt to kill the Symbolic Father so that he would finally do his duty, which is to restrict the son’s jouissance and recognize him as a subject. He kills, in effect, because he can no longer maintain an identification with the Father of unlimited jouissance—his alter ego. His alter ego, projected at the imaginary level as existing “outside” the Law where unlimited jouissance is available for him, finally takes over. The mass murderer is overwhelmed with such jouissance when a psychotic breakdown finally occurs and he goes on a killing spree. An event in his life occurs that is just too much to bear. The Symbolic Order encroaches on him to the point where his imaginary alter ego can no longer stave off the effects of the superegoic Real, and he snaps.


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Unlike the serial killer, the attack is always on innocent individuals who represent for him some symbolic referent, usually associated with the role of the symbolic father as it plays out in his autobiography. For some it is the government, as was the Denis Lortie case in Quebec, Canada; for others it was children. Thomas Hamilton killed 16 children in Dublane, Scotland. For Marc Lapine the symbolic target was women; he killed 16 engineering students at L’Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal. Teachers, principals, administrators, and “jocks” as the epitome of the Symbolic Order in the high school were the various targets of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Littleton, Colorado and Robert Steinhäuser, in Erfurt, Germany who killed 17 people. In the workplace a decorator in Freising, Germany killed his former employer and principal of a technical college. In Kip Krinkel’s case, a 17-year old who killed his parents and two classmates and injuring 25 others in Thurston High School, Oregon. Disney was taking over the world and China was going to invade the United States. The examples in each category can be multiplied. The occurrence of these incidents are much more common than only the spectacularized and media hyped examples discussed here, as any preliminary Internet search readily shows. What is different about these more publicized media-hyped mass killings is that they have taken place in geographical locations that threaten to destabilize the hegemonic complacency of middle-class family values. They are a threat to a life style defined within a capitalist consumer milieu where individual competition, search for good jobs, and material accumulation is the order of the day. High schools of white suburban America like Thurston High School, Oregon and Columbine High School, Colorado, a primary school in a small town, Dublane, Scotland and a prestigious school, Guntenberg-Gymnasium, Erfurt are “too close to home,” much too “ordinary” for such an atrocity to happen. For the first time such mass murders are no longer confined to inner city minority–majority conflicts where state power is not threatened. Such incidents receive less media coverage, remain local and are not politicized. The scenery has now changed. The racial and class expectations in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany have become blatantly exposed as the public, the public media, and the state become passionately involved in these violent acts that have occurred in white middle-class neighborhoods. When it comes to gang violence in the United States, where many poor African American, Hispanic, and Asian youth have been killed, there was no public outcry for gun control or a concerted effort to understand youth; rather the call most often is for a crackdown on crime and the building of “walled cities” in the suburbs of major cities like Los Angeles. It was only after the Dublane tragedy when England finally passed gun law legislation despite the racial and ethnic violence that had occurred in many black districts in London, Manchester, and Liverpool. Only now, after the shooting at Erfurt, has there been an outcry by state leaders of Gerhard Schröder SPD’s government for more stringent laws against guns and violent videos despite the country’s history of xenophobia and anti-Semitism by skinheads

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and neo-Nazi youth throughout the country, most prominently in northern Germany—Hamburg, Lübeck, and Rostock. Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), the road-movie killing spree of Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) and Mallroy Wilson (Juliette Lewis) must surely rank equal to American Psycho in its exploration of this psychotic demand. Mallroy’s father is the incestuous Anal Father while Mickey can find no place in the Symbolic Order. Like John Herzfeld’s ironic 15 Minutes (2001) about two Russian criminals, Oleg and Emil, who quickly learn that in America one can find fame on television by capturing and torturing Detective Eddie Flemming, Stone equally exaggerates the violence and the TV hype to show the link between killing, stardom, and the media. Natural Born Killers becomes part of the “reality” tabloid TV news circuit that sensationalizes the “meanness” of the urban streets (jagodzinski, 2003b). It is the gaze of the Other—best exemplified by tabloid news as a witnesses to the slaughter— which is what a mass murder desires so that his “message” is heard. This is not unlike Marilyn Manson’s secret admittance that he liked to watch the 700 Club in the hopes of hearing his name mentioned as a threat. Fame and stardom await him because of his particular need to be recognized— subjectivized by authority. Postmodernism feeds such a narcissistic personality and makes fame possible by blurring public and private distinctions through the innovations of media technology. The audience and the actor exchange positions in countless television talk shows; reality and fiction flip-flop making every potential wanna-be actor have 15 minutes of fame in a public forum. Natural Born Killers presents the blurring between simulated and real life (RL) violence that is so characteristic of postmodern culture, the same phenomenon that one encounters in the world of wrestling, video games, and a slough of recent comic strip movies that begin to take on the characteristics of video games themselves in the way the figures magically jump, twist, perform acrobatically in their “environments”: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (d. Simon West, 2001) Spider-Man (d. Sam Raimi, 2002), The Final Solution (d. Cristobal Krusen, 2001), Daredevil (d. Mark Steven Johnson, 2003), X-Men (d. Bryan Singer, 2000), The Hulk (d. Ang Lee, 2003). These indicate the intergenerational collapse between teenagers and young adults. Boomers are watching these movies as well. The TV biography of Bret “The Hitman” Hart (Paul Jay, 1998), the brother of Owen “The Blue Blazer” Hart who was tragically killed by a 70foot fall in a stunt that went bad, is a documentary style production that takes viewers “behind the scenes.” We see Hart playing with his children, talking to other wrestlers about stunts, sitting around the kitchen table talking to his wife about suing Vince McMahon, the owner of the World Wrestling Federation, for the wrongful death of his brother Owen. The documentary sets up a fundamental antagonism between Bret and the direction McMahon was taking by spectacularizing wrestling. The film exposes the “tricks” of the wrestling ring as if a magician was, at last, revealing to his audience all of his trade’s secrets. In the end, however, we are not sure if we


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have been “set up” yet again. The sincerity and earnestness of Bret Hart begins to fall under suspicion. It seems like the “row” between them may have been scripted as well. Was this yet another way to stage the humiliation of “the boss,” like Stone Cold Steve Austin had done by pulling out a fake gun, making McMahon “pee” his pants in front of the television cameras so that fans could vet their frustrations against him? What followed has been the continuing saga concerning Bret’s lawsuit (at first settled at 18 million dollars and then unsettled), his career (retiring or being fired from WWF?), and then finally his health (he suffered two strokes). These confusions between RL violence and its staged effect would only be possible within the context of a weakened authority structure. McMahon offering himself as a target stages a sadomasochistic theatrical production as a way to continuously prop up this failing Symbolic Order by paradoxically exposing his impotency and not his muscle. But, McMahon is always in charge. Stone Cold Steve Austin was merely his hired “top” to dish out the torture.

S T  O:  M  T F It should be clear by now that the death drive of gangsta rap and heavy metal music presents listeners with the same confusions between virtual (staged or performed) violence and actual violence. In a psychotic breakdown virtual and RL violence cannot be distinguished. No ironical distance is possible. Good and evil in the mind of a psychotic is overwhelmed by delusion and the death drive. WWF as a RL event is difficult to imagine. Youth struggle to find their own footing in a global world where the modernist “grand narratives,” the idealized moral and existential frameworks that spiritually inspire people and helped organize their identities have been decentered. There is a search for new esoteric religions. The dark world of Gothic vision represents a way of coping with the repressed obscene part of the social order. Its forms of expression cover a broad range from the more ironic to the more sadistic ways to attack capitalism, which seems to be the only game in town, with neoliberalism as the only philosophy that supports it. Youth are faced searching for social ties, a sense of identity and recognition. They can only find it in tribal mentalities, to which they often over identify by surrendering their being to a “small” ONE. Turning the attention once more to school mass murders that have taken place in Thurston High School, Columbine High School, and GuntenbergGymnasium, all schools where well-off children attend, the spectacularity of the event confirms the demand for a witness and the blurring between virtual and real life (RL) violence. The five basement tapes (Gibbs and Roche, 1999), which Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris made prior to the “Judgment Day” (April 20, 1999, the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday), declare their desire to be famous after they were dead. Their story was to be made into a movie directed by Spielberg or Tarantino, two of the better-known “action” directors. As peripheral members of the Trenchcoat Mafia (they wore black and “duster”

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jackets as the “alternative” clique to the “jocks” and “preppies”) Harris and Klebold seem to methodically go about their killing spree as if playing a computer game; moving from one “environment” to the next in the school. Both were avid fans of the video game Doom Patrol that they modified to endlessly rehearse their planned attack. Their behavior up and including the shooting spree demonstrates perfectly their need to be “seen” by a symbolic authority, to be recognized by the Name-of-the-Father. The media representation of the Columbine tragedy virtually left the question concerning masculine representation untouched and unchanged (Consalvo, 2003). It took the clever wit of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine (2002), by interviewing the likes of Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson, James Nichols (brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols) and even implicated Dick Clark (!?) to expose the atrocities of gun worship in America. Last year’s gun death in Germany: 38; in France: 255; Canada: 165; Britain: 68; Japan: 39, and in the United States: 11,227! Of course, Moore conveniently leaves out the population of each country and a statistical comparison of these gun killings once this is taken into account. James McGee (1999), a forensic psychologist, with his coresearcher Caren DeBernardo, described the hypothetical profile of “the classroom avenger.” After studying 16 such incidents from 1993 to 2001, they concluded the need for Harris and Klebold’s intense demand to be recognized. Harris and Klebold wore Gothic makeup and costumes, made offensively violent movies for their classes, posted messages to hate-mongering Web sites under their own names, intentionally made it clear their love for violent video games to annoy their parents, and made garage bombs. The disavowal by their parents of such activities and behavior seems almost incredulous. It is, however, such “profiling” that has become problematic as students who seem a bit “strange,” wear Goth cloths, listen to violent music, and play “first person shooter games” become suspects by well-meaning but paranoid classmates, teachers, and principals. McGee’s online article is premised by a bolded, italicized, capitalized, and underlined “NOTICE” that claims that the description of the “classroom avenger” is to be understood as a hypothetical individual and only as a generalization. Yet, that did not prevent the ensuing panic of “geek profiling.” Jon Katz’s online wake-up call, “Voices From the Hellmouth” (2001) in reference to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, documented much of this paranoia that emerged after Littleton with his campaign against the nationwide security firm, Pinkerton Services Group, developers of the online WAVE (Working Against Violence Everywhere) program.5 This was essentially a “snitch” hot line service to report any suspicious students so that the safety of a school or a community would be assured! Much has been made of the targets in Harris and Klebold’s killings by the media. It was said that Harris and Klebold had specifically targeted “jocks” and “minority” students, and that they belonged to a neo-Nazi cult. However, the evidence that emerged when the media hype was over indicates that the killings were much more indiscriminate than was supposed, they were hoping to kill somewhere between 250 and 500 students.


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They seemed to be “equal-opportunity” haters; the majority of students they killed were white. They even spared a Jewish student, Aron Cohn. Hitler to them was a figure of power and defiance, rather than someone who they had pledged allegiance to. Classmates described Klebold as a racist railing against “niggers” and “spics,” wearing T-shirts with German phrases, while Harris espoused Nazi principles, yet he got along with the handful of minorities in the school. Harris and Klebold’s were like a sadomasochistic couple with no signal to stop their sadism. The game got out of control. Action video games, stardom, neo-Nazi influence, and perhaps a Goth’s preoccupation with death were not the cause of their killing spree, but contributing factors that led up the mass murder. In delusionary behavior—when someone daydreams of sexual prowess and conquests, or of killing people, for instance—a neurotic knows that in reality that s/he would never do it, or that s/he is really not like that daydream. Faced with such daydreams neurotics retreat in panic. In contrast, a delusionary psychotic will commit the crime so that it will not plague him or her any longer. Faked and real life (RL) violence collapse as their frame of differentiation is gone. The bogus claim that media violence was to blame for Littleton has been answered succinctly by Jenkins (2000). Steinhaüser (Steni, Rocky) was a fan of Slipknot and heavy into action video games, especially Counterstrike. What is interesting about Counterstrike is that the game is a perfect example of the confusion between goodness and evil, which is continually made ambiguous (like in the world of wrestling). Counterstrike has been called the “Rosemary’s Baby” of video games, a video-offspring of demonic potential. It is a team-based game between Terrorists and Counterterrorists. The player can decide whom he wishes to identify with. Once decided, there are several maps and environments (e.g., the streets of Italy or the back alleys of a middle eastern villa) with three “missions” that can be played: either to kill or escort a VIP to a helipad, either to prevent or cause destruction of a bombsite, and either to prevent or rescue hostages. One can chose to be a terrorist assassinating an American or an agent stopping a murder. The game begins with the first shooter (or ego shooter, which is more accurate) and ends when everyone of the team has been killed. The player in each team can fill any role by changing the weapons used (from Arctic Wolf sniper rifle to MP5 Navy SMG, each gun has its own potential to kill that a player has to find out). Steinhaüser was dressed in the same ninja like-black outfits that are found in the game and had parodied their movements. This does not mean that a violent video game such as CS was the cause of his killing spree. Sierra Entertainment, the distributor of CS in Germany set up a web-page that expressed remorse and sorrow for those that had been killed, but they claimed that there was no conclusive study that links violent computer games directly with the increase of “real life” or “actual” violence. To a degree, they are right, of course.6 “Scientific” studies are often quoted by various groups against violence that claim that such a direct cause can be proven; but when such studies are closely examined, their methodologies can be disputed, as can any scientific positivist study that still claims direct causal

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effects. Such studies have now turned to profiling “risk factors” to account for the potential of causing “real life” violence after watching or playing violent videos and games. Risk factors such as age, family background, class, background of violence, provide the source for qualitative data to calculate the probability of the predisposition toward carrying out such an act. Contrary to such findings, media violence is the symptom of a global capitalist order that thrives on violence. None of these mass murders can be grasped without an interpretative grasp of the broader familial, societal, and institutional picture. From the material available, it is, of course, impossible to understand completely the complexities of a youth’s biography to foresee that such an act of violence will take place. In 1998, Kip Krinkel at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon killed both parents, two at school, and injured 25 others.7 In Kip Krinkel’s case the psychiatric testimony clearly shows a psychotic personality. He began hearing voices in the sixth grade, but refused to tell anyone about them. The same superegoic voice told him that he should first kill his parents, and then his school classmates. Prior to the sixth grade Kip had a difficult time in school, starting with a nursery school experience in Spain where his family moved for a sabbatical study his father, a teacher, had taken. Just beginning to speak English at that time, his sister tells the story of him being bullied and unable to defend himself. Despite his concerted efforts at school at spelling and writing, Kip failed the first grade and had to repeat it. It was found out later that he had severe dyslexia, a learning disability and was unable to properly read and write. By the time grade six and seven came around he had developed an interest in bombs. He had bought a sawed-off shotgun from his friend that he hid in his room; he was also involved in a shoplifting incident, and was arrested for throwing stones at cars from a highway overpass. Kip was finally suspended from school for kicking a boy in the head. His parents tried to help him in the best way they could, eventually taking him to a child psychologist, a medical doctor who assigned him Prozac (the drug of choice for youth depression). From what his sister says, both parents disciplined their children through the gaze of their expectations, their unconscious desires that their children were to reach. To what extent these expectations were more demands than desires is difficult to say. The key narrative, nevertheless, was not to “disappoint” them according to his sister Kristin. Kip had earned some self-esteem in only one way, through karate, a rather exceptional activity within the context of the family’s values. In an extensive interview, Kristin also revealed that her mother had a total fear and contempt for violence. Kip had been interested as a little boy in guns, which his mother denied him. She did not allow him to have “little soldiers, or any kind of toy that had any kind of violent anything . . . We weren’t allowed to watch ‘Bugs Bunny’ because it was too violent. Violence in our house was huge.” It almost seems as if Kip, to separate away from his mother, chose violence as the way out; his relationship with his father was equally strained. He did not reach his father’s expectations either. According to Kip’s testimony his father perceived him as


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a “bad kid with bad habits” while his mother perceived him as “a good kid with bad habits.” His journal is replete with self-loathing and the hate he feels for those around him. The only hope he had was to be recognized by a particular girl, a budding love he had developed. When she refused his advance, this seemed to be one of the triggers that set him off. The other was his arrest in school for the possession of a stolen gun. Taken to the police station, charged and finger printed, he was extremely worried what his parents would say. The struggle within himself was then over. The superegoic voice inside his head had won out. He killed his parents first, then the next day he went to school. After the shootings several students tackled Kip before he could turn the gun on himself. The parental backgrounds of these mass murders remain shrouded in mystery. The parents of both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold came across in the media as ordinary loving parents. Eric’s father was a retired Air force officer. What his relation to his son was can only be speculated. In Kip’s case he had a strained relationship with his father, but again not much is known. As for Steni, all we know of his parents is that a neighbour thought that they should have divorced a long time ago. These three tragic stories remain “impossible” entirely to explain. Of course the ego shooter games and music were a factor in their actions. Tragically these games and music were not enough to sublimate and channel their rage. It was not the music that failed them, as much as the support networks in the schools, friends, and home life that proved inadequate for any number of reasons. While a radical act of evil was committed, their acts seemed to reinforce the denial rather than the acceptance that there is something wrong with the Symbolic Order and not the media per se. Their ethical complaint in the Real seems to have been lost, used more often to harden the rules than question them.


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P C: B B The story of the castrati is well known. For the purposes of singing in the church choir young boys between the ages of 7 and 12 were castrated (their testes removed), some 4,000 to 5,000 annually in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Italy (if we are to believe such sources). Once the procedure was done, through proper training their lung capacity and diaphragmatic support could be augmented. The entire procedure and training was strictly controlled and enforced to ensure results. The mature castrato was a “boy” who could sing soprano or alto with all the physical resources of a grown man. The most famous and legendary castrato of all, Carlo Broschi (1705–1782), (a.k.a. Farinelli) was said to have a voice that spanned three octaves and capable of holding a note for a minute without needing a breath. The thesis entertained here is that a new set of castrati has emerged on the postmodern scene. They undergo a ritual mutilation and sacrifice that is quite distinctive in its ordeal when compared with the physical mutilation of castration that was eventually outlawed. However, the effects, as argued, are quite the same. I am referring to the phenomenon of Boy Bands that have captured the fantasy dreams of teenage girls, along with a host of reality TV shows that feature the search for the next star: American Idol and its various clones around the Western world (Pop Stars, Star Search, Pop Idol, Star Mania, Popstars: The One).1 Why have Boy Bands emerged in postmodernity with such force? Why are they such a hit? And why do we consider 18–28 year-olds still boys? (This is the usual range allowed by the rules of competition.) Backstreet Boys (BSB) and ’N Sync were the first on the scene and the best known. Backstreet Boys first album “Millennium” sold 27 million copies worldwide, scanning 1.1 million units in its first week, breaking the sales record held by Western country star Garth Brooks. That both groups were from Orlando, home of Disney World, has not escaped critics. In the competition between the two groups, ’N Sync ended up with a contract performing a concert on the Disney Channel in 1998, and soon began to surpass BSB in record sales. Critics point out that Lou Pearlman of Trans Continental Records was the mastermind behind these two groups, the same Pearlman who produced O-Town in the Making of the Band. Since then a number of other Boy groups


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have emerged, like Westlife, LFO, 5ive, B3, 98 Degrees, NKOTB, who have taken their market share by appealing more to the hip-hop crowd. My interest here is not so much about commenting on their music, which has been criticized for its “candy lyrics” by most “serious” music critics, but what is the psychic investment in the boys band phenomena? Why are they so dearly loved or vehemently hated by preteen girls whose demographics they appeal to most? In their “afterward” to their insightful book, The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock ’n’ Roll, Simon Reynols and Joy Press (1995) provide a succinct overview of what they tried to accomplish in the first half of their book: The first two sections of this book documented the warring sides of rock’s soul: the punk v. the hippie, the warrior v. the soft male. These antagonistic impulses define rock ’n’ roll, as we know it. They can be traced back to a fundamental conflict in the male psyche—between the impulse to break the umbilical cord and a desire to return to the womb, between matricide and incest. Rock has never resolved this punk/hippie, rebellion/grace dialectic; its history has been a violent oscillation between either extreme (385).

The soft male as the mother’s boy has taken yet another turn with the boys band phenomena. The “grace” conferred by their sacrifice is a public media castration that leaves them appearing completely non-phallic Pat Boone types whose artifice is so obvious that it takes on a transcendent quality all of its own. Their rhapsodic harmony, dancing ability, and looking out for one another makes them the choir community we love to be with and hear. It seems like they possess the voice of pubescent angels, a self-enjoying voice that is decidedly experienced as feminine. Accusations of gayness are easily found on the Internet. As postmodern singing castratos they offer absolutely no violent phallic threat whatsoever. It’s the kind of boy every mother hopes her daughter brings home. Justine Timberlake, formerly of ’N Sync was Britney Spears’s boyfriend. Both had sworn they were virgins. ’N Sync is/was god’s gift to the Religious Evangelical Right. They played the kind of music that had their blessing, recommended to parents who were protecting their children from the devil’s music—heavy metal and punk whose lyrics, when played backward, were definitive subliminal messages of a Satanic voice.2 As a publicity stunt, ’N Sync threw “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets into the crowd when they sang in public. The gesture was as brazen and sacrilegious, as it was sacrosanct, making it empty of meaning—like the crosses of the “early” Madonna. These religious artifacts have been stripped of their mysticism to become banal objects. Whatever integrity the WWJD as a youth movement might have had in the Deep South and Midwest has surely been lost. It was based on Charles Sheldon’s 1896 novel, In His Steps, whose lead character would ask the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” with each decision he made. Now, there are boutiques selling WWJD goods, and a website to buy them (bracelets

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designed by Bib Siemon, necklaces, lanyards, buttons, socks). The best item found on the website by an astonished critic were girls’ pink and blue panties with the WWJD logo “emblazoned on the ass!” She wrote sarcastically, “I can only imagine that this is supposed to serve as a deterrent for anyone trying to remove the pants of Christian girls. Or perhaps, they are for wearing under transparent-ish white slacks so that any ‘tailgaters’ are reminded not to think lustful thoughts.” She then immediately said she had bought two pairs! The logo spell worked. It was only a question of time for the conservative Christians to condemn ’N Sync tactics. Justine Timberlake’s first video release when he left ’N Sync was a steamy number called “Like I Love You” ( Justified), which would definitely not be supported by religious conservatives. It also reveals how obviously artificial and contrived his image has been. This same scenario was repeated much earlier by London star Robbie Williams who began his singing career with the manufactured boy band called Take That, England’s answer to the U.S. success story of The New Kids on the Block. But “little” Robbie after five years revolted from the five lads. He was kicked out from the group for his drinking and drugs, and the group broke up. Drug rehabilitation and ensuing court battles over his former contract with BMG eventually freed him to pursue a successful solo career. The public exposure to the contrived production techniques in the manufacture of Boy Bands can only emerge when it is safe to do so. An analogy can be drawn to teaching the social and political theories of Karl Marx at universities today. Marx’s ideas no longer seem to be a threat, so there is no objection. In a postcommunist world no one takes Marx seriously anymore. His ideas have become historicized as just another important social theorist; their revolutionary potential deflated and almost ridiculed in some circles. But try teaching Lenin, or better still Fidel Castro and the climate becomes more strained. Colleagues and the administration begin to give you suspicious looks. To expose viewers to the bald and blatant mechanisms of the music industry, which viewers could only have previously guessed at since there was no symbolic recognition to confirm or deny whether they were right or not, has now become perfectly safe and marketable. There is no more doubt left to leave the question open. It promotes the authenticity of individualism, the idea that an “ordinary” person can become a star if s/he has talent. An exposure to the “obscene supplement” of the media industry can occur when a point has been reached where such manipulative practices are already considered to be “normative.” Sum 41, a punk rock group, released a video in 2002, which makes an ironic statement on the way the music industry manufactures success. In their video and song, “Still Waitin” (This Look Infected?), their manager tells them what their new performance names are to be, and what their band should be called. At the end of the song, the boyz smash their guitars and topple down their new name in defiance that loomed in the background as a set design in big capital letters as they played. But, this gesture seems empty like ’N Sync’s bracelets, a parody of The Who and Nirvana who had staged the stunt before them. They know full well that they are an


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artifice manufactured by the industry. The trick is to sustain authenticity or lose the transgressive impulse. The fall into parody is around the corner.

Making of the Band: I  Truman Show The Making of the Band, at first ABC’s and then MTV’s brainchild, illustrates how the sacrifice of the actual physical castration of the Castrati has been converted into a psychological public castration through a media spectacle. The physical castration gave the Castrati a particular status in society to show off their “lack,” the prerogative to possess an object-voice, which was on blatant display without any shame (Zizek, 1996a, 149). This castration has been displaced as a spectacular media process for us to view as a public “operation,” so to speak. How does such a public castration work? Let us recall Peter Weir’s brilliant film The Truman Show (TS) (1998). Truman, in effect is a castrato but doesn’t know it. It appears that he has agency, but the show’s viewers know that all is being staged. Christof, the producer of this reality soap is the Man “in” the Moon (his control tower), who manipulates almost all facets of Truman’s existence. Moments when Truman emotes (when he re-meets his Dad whom he thought had drowned, or when Truman comes near water, which Christof has managed to instill in him as a phobia) are considered to be the highlights the show strives for. These are authentic moments, or so Truman thinks. Because Truman is ignorant of being the “star” of this show, he still believes and trusts the Symbolic Order. His viewers confer on him a certain “authenticity” while everything else is artifice. Andrew Niccol’s brilliant script is structurally the exact inverse of The Making of the Band. Lou Pearlman (as Christof ) initiates a nationwide American search for young male singers and dancers (1,000 showed up), all supposedly “ordinary” citizens, who are then whittled down to 25 semifinalists. They are flown to Orlando, home of Disneyland (SeaHaven, TS) where they are followed by cameras through a three-day intensive dance and voice training session before the next audition. With the next cut it’s down to eight finalists. Eventually, the final 5 form the new band O-Town. Making the Band stages this entire process where the boys are judged on singing, dancing, charisma, and Pearlman’s idealization of what personality traits taken together will offer the best sell. Demographically these traits have to cover the color spectrum as well as an appeal spectrum. The first 22 episodes of Making of the Band consisted in the pick of the final five: Ashley (an angel, handsome), Erik (exuberates confidence), Trevor (a sensitive type), Jacob (a happy sort), and Dan (mature). In a surprise move Dan, the comeback kid having been cut earlier, replaced the cuddly and loveable Ikaika, a Hawaiian who felt he wasn’t going to commit to the ten-year contract and decided to stay with his girlfriend on the Island. The public castration is openly visible from the moment that the 8 finalists are chosen (in episode 2). Then, the more serious part of the operation begins. What clearly comes across is how expendable these boys are, how much they

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have to give up their former lives (especially girl friends, family, other dreams), and commit themselves completely to music practices, set rehearsals, time schedules not of their making, and controlling their voices so they don’t sound like “rock.” The boys find that their souls have been sold to the devil; they are completely controlled by the Pearlman Company (Omni Corporation in TS). Their music coach, Mark, continually chews them out, threatening to quit (episode 19). Their humiliation of not coming together when they need to; their sobbing and complaining; and their struggles with girl friends, biological fathers, and mothers are all laundered in front of the cameras, performing a public castration, not any different from Truman. The difference is that they know it. Only Ikaika “escapes” the set, back home to his beloved Hawaii. His replacement, Dan, was a reminder that all of them could just as easily be replaced. Fans were getting tired and impatient with Ikaika’s indecisions, so the producers were happy to see him go. In The Truman Show Christof staged everything so that Truman could look “authentic” to his soap fans. With O-Town everything is already staged so that the boys can look “authentic” for their preteen audience. These “boys” know that they are being staged. They have willingly given up their agency to transgress the Symbolic Order that normally comes with symbolic castration, an expectation of rebellion that offers a direct challenge to symbolic authority so that there is a reminder that such authority is indeed fallible, maintaining the necessary illusion of democracy. The injunction “not to rock” in their voices and in their behavior is startling. During a New Year’s party thrown by Pearlman they jerk around in public and are severely reprimanded. This is but one of many incidents where they are scolded by their manager, Jay, for their indiscretions and laziness. Like Truman, they are the permanent plaything of the TransCon network (the equivalent of The Omni Corporation who owns the Truman Show) with whom they have signed a contract for ten years. Truman is watched every step of the way by Christof so that he never truly grows up; he is a permanent captive of Sea Haven by his phobia of the water that surrounds him, except for a causeway. O-Town is also panoptically observed by a managerial elite. They are held captive by the cameras and schedules that they must keep, and by their success based on record sells. There is no causeway. The final extent of their “surrender” to the every whim of TransCon network was their visit to MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) (episode 5, third season). This is one of the most difficult celebrity slots to attain. Being on TRL is a virtual confirmation of success. The rhetorical claim of MTV’s signature show was that the audience controls all the videos played and what it wants to see. In this episode, the boys met their mothers who were shown childhood pictures of their “babies.” The boys were asked questions that their mom’s had previously answered to see just how close the bonding was. It seemed uncanny how accurately each mother knew the exact moments that had formed her son’s career. The driving force behind each O-Town member was the mother and not the father. It was as though the authorial voice of the management team was precisely what was needed to keep them in line.


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The loss of agency by becoming the toys of designer capitalism’s music industry enables them to possess their voices as an object, a spectral reminder of what they had to give up to get there. Any transgressive phallic pulse, as heard in punk, Nü metal or Goth music, has been eliminated. The hitch is that this object-voice is formed in a harmony of five, which makes their spectral media sacrifice that much more difficult to sustain. If any one from the group gets out of hand, or leaves, they lose the privilege of openly displaying their lack. To use a ba(n)d pun, they “sink” together. As a cohesive force they can face the cameras and the screaming crowds squarely, for they know the sacrifice they have made, and why they can stage their postemotional pantomimed passions with performative conviction. Like the “making” of the band, fan loyalty is manufactured as well. MTV viewers follow the hopes and dreams of their favorite boy, episode after episode, until the brand loyalty has been internalized. For a naïve observer of ’N Sync, BSB, or O-Town, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the music and dance routines; but the market differentiation has been invested around the lives and personalities of each of the band members. A history has been arranged that can be followed. For fans in the know, there are seemingly huge differences between these groups. As can be expected, rockers absolutely hate the baby-butt softness that they see displayed in an almost transcendental New Age light on stage and in their videos. If they could sprout wings, the boys would be flying angels. But that would be just too blatant and reminiscent of the Bee Gees of the 1970s with their unearthly soprano voices and white tuxedos. For rockers, these Boy groups are choirs, not band-its against the social order. Gay bashing Boy Bands is a common occurrence on many “dot versus dot” websites where opinions are posted between two well-known singers or bands. What drives much of the more serious criticism is the general feeling that these boys have not paid the price of their fame: they do not play their instruments well (enough), they don’t write their own music, their material is not “genuine,” and so on. The artificiality of it all is too much to bear. For the New Castrati, they certainly feel that they have paid their dues; their fame has come through a public mediated ordeal that left them vulnerable, often stripped of their pride and reprimanded, their Real self exposed, emotionally raw, and often unnerved. They believe they deserve to be where they are. But the costs are high. It is difficult to travel the causeway that leads them out from the corporate stranglehold. O-Town tried to find new managers (episode 6, season 2). A major crisis emerged between them, the would-be new managers (Mike and Mike) and Pearlman. The audience did not know if this was a staged event as in the World Wrestling Federation, or whether this was indeed a genuine “escape attempt” (like Truman). The “Boy Choirs” in the numbers that have emerged could not thrive if it weren’t for a huge segment of preteen and teenage girls who are able to fantasize a relationship with their stars, made possible because the phallus has become totally impotent and limp. The threat of masculinity has been mitigated. Aggressivity has been replaced with tenderness in the many love

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songs that they sing. So, what’s wrong with that? Aren’t girls’ (in the general sense) desires being met? Isn’t the fantasy of romantic love being fueled to the heights of ecstasy that is promised? Unfortunately, fan addiction is rampant. When the German Boy group Take That broke up in 1997, teenage girls called local radio stations expressing the threat that they could no longer exist without their favorite boy singer. A number said that they would commit suicide. Immediately a telephone “hot line” was established to take care of the trauma (Weyrauch, 1997). The disappearance of the objet a, the cause of desire for a number of these girls, was just too much to bear, so close had their identities been passionately attached to the group. These seem like extreme cases, but not unusual when overidentification happens. Because of the array of masculinities that any one band provides, any number of identifications with different members of the group can change over time. This ensures a certain lasting durability in the market. It’s not unusual for girls to mutually “share” a particular member that they are in love with without becoming jealous of one another. Boys groups stage the “virginity” card inversely to the “bad” virgin divas of the music industry (Spears and Company), which I discuss next. It provides an insight into the Timberlake/Spears “virgin” romance that seems like ancient history now in the movement of young pop stars leaving their teenage years. Holed up in a hotel only watching TV and eating pizza, they denied having had sex together. Unlike the pop girl divas, the boys have forfeited their sexuality, given it up through their public media castration. All their sexual desires and pleasures have to be played out off-stage. Publicly, they must remain impotent. All the girlfriend scenes are carefully edited, reduced to the “niceties” of sweet kisses—“Bussis” as they say in German. Their devilish antics (when allowed) have to be done in secrecy and privacy, away from the paparazzi, if that’s even possible these days. This makes them all the more corporate prisoners.3 Such a confined life is dramatically illustrated when teen fans attempt to come in actual physical contact with their idols, only to be held back by security guards. Only a select few are chosen to get autographs and hugs in front of the cameras. The same injunction holds for them as for pop divas: “Look, but don’t touch.” The price of corporate media castration is for the boys to live in a gilded golden cage marked by a psychically branded logo. It is a warm and friendly enough place that has all the perks and toys to play with as long as the goose along with the gander continues to lay golden eggs. Truman managed to escape out the back door, can they? The success of Making of the Band has led to its sequel, Making of the Band II. Marketing research indicated that there were enough Boy Bands around, what would now sell would be the hip-hop flavor of a R&B. Time for another search, this time from Disney World of Orlando to New York where the rapper finalists gathered from the grim and poor streets of urbanized America: Detroit, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, LA, Baltimore, and Washington, adding more authenticity to the myth that anyone can become a star. MTV’s executive producer Jon Murray became engaged in a new form


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of “urban slumming,” with Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs as the “reaper” of the new talent mobilized by Bad Boy Entertainment Crew. Recall the scene from Alex Proyas’s superb film Dark City (1998) where Dr. Daniel Schreber (a throwaway reference to Freud’s famous Schreber case of paranoid psychosis) methodically extracts the memories of its citizens while they are sleeping, stores them, and then injects them into other people when they are sleeping. People wake up not knowing who they “were.” In a strange way there is this same extraction of memory going on here as well. The finalists eventually wake up being transformed individuals. “They are from tough, urban neighborhoods. It’s almost too difficult to comprehend what these kids have been through and what they have to deal with,” says Murray.4 This new bunch of kids has done their “time.” They have “genuine” experiences on which to draw their material from. One of the constant problems of reality television, like MTV’s The Real World (about seven youths living together in a house), is that fresh recruits who audition for the show already know what’s expected of them. They play into the camera rather than being unselfconscious and “natural.” So, the search is always for (as yet) unspoiled “authenticity.” Virgin territory to be packaged. The voyeurism of the camera lens tries to search under every rock to see if it can’t find fresh “underground” teenage anxiety to spectacularize. This is exactly the same process as scouting the basketball courts brilliantly exposed by Steve James’s documentary Hoop Dreams (1994), which follows the hope and despair of two inner-city Chicago black youths, William Gates and Authur Agee, over a span of five years to make the NBA. Designer capitalism incarnated as reality television succinctly stage neoliberalist ideology. On the surface there seems to be teamwork and a community that develops between the remaining competitors. What is abjected and placed off-camera is the fierce competitive spirit of outdoing one’s rival. This is the “true” reality of what it means to be a “survivor” in a capitalist society. Even the rejected hopefuls in Detroit, which was the first of the ten stops for Making the Band II, have publicly stated how important the feedback has been to stay focused in launching their careers and keep their hopes alive, reconfirming once again the necessity of Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of recognition. While with Boy Bands any sort of resistance or rebellion was curtailed, this was not the case with the next phenomenon that emerged: the manufacture of pop stars.

M H  H While MTV’s Making of the Band offers one such way public castration works, the Reality-Life TV Soaps American Idol, Popstars, and Pop Idol are perhaps the better known version of this marketing process since it became a global designer strategy for capitalist marketing. Pop Idol was the first to let the public help “choose” the candidates for stardom. Wildly successful, Popstars has swept through Britain, Spain (as Operacion Triunto), France (as Star Academy), Austria (as Starmania), Germany, New Zealand, and Australia

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in its harvesting of marketable talent. American Idol has sprung AI2 and its Canadian Idol complement. By the time this book goes to print, I am sure that other national Idol contests have been staged or repeated. As a global capitalist phenomenon, cloning rather than difference is the key to success. This cloned dispensability is tragically exemplified and parodied in the group Hear’Say, winners of the 2001 edition of Pop Stars sponsored by the ITV1 network in the United Kingdom. Hear’Say became one of the few pop groups who did not have success, despite charting at number one with their hit single “Pure and Simple,” which a number of critics thought summed up their lyrical and musical talents. The name itself—here today and gone tomorrow—speaks of the harsh reality of the business that goes on behind the scenes and on the dance floor as “managers” whip the singing and bodies into shape to make their debut. Hear’Say—three guys and two girls (reduced from three when Kym Marshhave left in 2002 over a personal conflict with Mylenne Klass)—eventually fell apart after being jeered by crowds when they performed. How did they manage to come to this point, especially when success is almost guaranteed? While it is said that the market machinery selects the candidates for stardom, but it is the fans who ultimately decide their status, is this truly the case? To what extent does the marketing text of Pop Idol already structure their “interactive” responses? With the departure of Kym Marshhave, the market machine went to work to find a replacement. Three thousand hopefuls showed up for auditions. The results were packaged and broadcast as a six-part reality show on London’s Weekend Television. The choice of Johnny Shentall, however, did not sit well with fans. Not only was a man chosen as the replacement for a woman, but also it seemed like a betrayal of contest rules because of his previous professional engagements. The fantasy space could no longer be sustained. Such an incident raised the ethical responsibility of the producers of Pop Stars. With fan(addicts) actually believing that the contest was fair, based on “raw” genuine talent alone, the selection of Shentall seemed to ignore the rules. Fan(addicts) logged their complaint by jeering the band when they attempted to play. Concerts were not sold out. Eventually, Hear’Say was overtaken in record sales by a rival group, Liberty X, suitably named for a band whose members were formed from Pop Stars rejects. These harsh realities of cloning—which ultimately means avoiding financial death— have also been experienced in Australia. Some manufactured groups have lasted only several years there as well. Two-years seems to be the current sustainable cycle.

A I : P K There is no need to repeat the cloning process that goes on in Popstars and American Idol in any fine detail. They follow a similar strategy as Making of the Band with one major difference: more audience participation and more resistance was allowed. The judging starts by shifting through the dredge of wanna-be’s who have sent in their video recording, or they do a spot


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performance without any back up. Out-takes of especially outrageously bad performances are shown so as to highlight “real” talent, and provide audiences moments of comic relief to see what young people will do to sell their souls for their few minutes of fame and recognition. After the initial selection they are given a chance to perform in front of judges who vary in the sadism of their commentary. Some judges have made a reputation for their vicious public castration and humiliation of the contestant. The best known judge is Simon Cowell who adjudicated the British Pop Idol and both editions of American Idol. Known as “Mr. Nasty,” Cowell exemplifies the sadistic side of music industry. He is a RCA/BMG music executive who tells it “like it is,” and is rewarded for ruining the fantasies of many a contestant by simply skewering ego-voices. The embodiment of power, Cowell reminds contestants that the master–slave dialectic is firmly entrenched in the contest rules. Some of the contestant-slaves attempt to refuse his interpellation, but few succeed. The lure of becoming a pop idol overshadows any ego defenses. They are wide-open targets to be exploited. However, it is precisely their rebellion against the judges (especially Simon Cowell), which adds authenticity to the claim that an interactive audience can make a difference, as if fans do indeed have a choice (see Holmes, 2004). The contestant can always appeal to the audience for justice and overrule the market machinery represented by the judges. But the audience role in shaping the star image is limited. They have no say in the discursive constructions of these future stars. At best they can choose between the last few remaining contestants as to whose look and sound will be launched into the pop cultural mix. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this took place at the World Idol contest in 2004 where Kurt Nilsen, a 25-year-old Norwegian plumber was selected from eleven previous Pop Idol winners. Nilsen was the antithesis of what an “idol” was supposed to look like. He was somewhat disheveled, his blond hair lacked any sort of styling—it just lay there as if uncombed. Boyish looking and sporting a wide space between his two front teeth, when he grinned he looked like Bugs Bunny—cute and huggable. Yet, the voting system was such that each country had ten points to play with, ten points immediately awarded to the singer by his host country. Nilsen won with 106 points, prompting Simon Cowell to say, “We’ve allowed a lot of ugly people to become recording artists, and that’s not a bad thing,” to which Nilsen replied, “It’s not a modeling contest.” The exchange both acknowledges and denies that it is indeed a modeling contest, which requires the ugly exception to maintain the pretense that it isn’t. Cowell’s credibility was established by securing a deal for the Boy Band, Westlife. In contrast, Paula Abdul, another judge of AI2, is almost not capable of a negative comment. Some have called her a sickly-sweet Pollyanna judge who lives by the motto, “life is an audition,” blind to the fact that on Fox Network’s American Idol 2, “life is a commercial.” Nevertheless, her cliché-ridden enthusiasm and “niceness” exemplifies the naiveté and belief in the contest by the contestants and their supporters alike. Abdul, herself a product of such staging, stops the slide of complete cynicism toward the

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designed blatancy of AI. Lastly, Randy Jackson, a record producer, the third and final judge, represents African American interests. His fondness of calling each contestant a “dawg” (dog), as in “What’s up dawg?” presents a balance between Cowell and Abdul. He knows better than most that AI is simply a “dog pound” decorated to look like Caesar’s Palace. Each contestant is working hard to become the “top dawg” as in the gangsta rap genre. Cowell simply wants to see the best breed win during the cloning process, while Jackson is content to recognize the variety. Abdul simply wants to pet them. Fox’s AI2 was one of the most successful cloning processes to date. The American Idol Season Two: All Time Classic American Love Songs CD sold an incredible 91,000 copies in the first week of sales, which placed it as number one. Kelly Clarkson, the first AI winner followed in the third place, while “God Bless America” sung by the AI2 finalists help the top spot for three weeks in a row, selling 28,000 copies. Only 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ succeeded eventually in becoming number one, showing that pop and gangsta rap seem to sum up fan interests. AI provides a forum to quote pop music in appropriate postmodern fashion. The entire archive is opened up into new mannerist forms of interpretation. The crucial aspect here is that the “difference” that makes the difference has to be recognized as belonging to the same set (rendition of song or genre) but slightly special so that market differentiation can be maintained. With anywhere from 22 to 25 million viewers and “vote” callers on average per show (52.2 million for the final show), it was only a question of time before the next age level could be tapped for its profitability, “American Juniors” began production in the fall of 2003. The search was for the best five dancers and singers in America aged 6–13. It should be pointed out that AI2 exemplifies once again the selection of pop castrati. Any contestant who has been in trouble with the Law is immediately rejected. Frenchie Davis one of nine remaining contestants was found to have posed in the nude for a kiddie-porn website in her past. Her Just My Size clothing manufacturer and sponsor that targets “larger” women (like Kimberly Locke another AI2 contestant) withdrew their support. Davis was gone. Jaered Andrews (another of the nine remaining contestants) was involved in a manslaughter charge. Gone. Lastly, Trenyce, one of the remaining half-dozen had been arrested on felony charges in 1991. She had no chance to reach the finals despite her strong fan support. Such incidents confirm authenticity once more, bringing out hidden class differences amongst contestants and clues as to the range of fan identification. The final two contestants, Ruben Studdard (24) and Clay Aiken (24) both ended up landing recording contracts. Ruben, a 360 pound African American was one of the mildest men in the competition—almost too nice, with a sheepish look of expectation on his face each time he finished his songs, almost always being reconfirmed for his talent. The “stud” in Studdart seems an ironic blow. He was a loveable teddy bear nicknamed “Velvet Teddy bear” and “the mound of sound.” All phallic signifiers were absent. His brother, equally as big, provided the mark contrast as the dangerous “black man” of media hype. While certainly not a


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complementary statement, Ruben leaned closer to Fat Albert of Cosby’s comedy skits, eating too many hamburgers than the gangsta type like BIG, P. Diddy, or Shuge Knight. Clay Aiken, Caucasian, spiky haired boy nextdoor from Raleigh, NC, looked more like a college pixie elf than an AI, capable of crooning out love songs with “cute” identifiable expressions. Lance Corporal Joshua Gracin (22), a marine who works as an administrative supply clerk at Camp Pendleton, California, also came across as a cleancut kid—as one of America’s finest, sporting a crew-cut, and parading his daughter on stage, singing “To Love Somebody” as he was voted-off, while his wife shed tears in the audience. This was a perfect moment of family harmony and bliss. Gracin’s country Western style penetrated everything that he sang, which opened the door to a possible country Western invasion within pop in the manner of Garth Brooks, but the horns of the bull were definitely turned inward, the songs were too effeminate. Gracin’s surprise showing brought out the usual conspiracy theories that the Bush government was making sure that his popularity helped the war effort in Iran by working the phone lines. Since voting was so crucial to keeping a fan’s favorite star afloat, a controversy emerged as to its procedure, since a sizable portion of the fan base never could get their vote through. Roughly, it is possible to make twenty calls through an automatic redialing mechanism in the time it takes to manually make one call. One could phone in as often as one liked including sending in text messages. The more dedicated the groups of fans were, the more likely the star survived each week. The fans of Joshua Gracin set up a website to encourage the vote for him. One of his relatives even sent E-mails to writers who said negative things about him. Studdart would always wear the number 205 on his distinctive jerseys, the area code of his native state of Birmingham, Alabama. These were provided for him free of charge by 205 Flava clothing company. He stopped wearing then because they provided no endorsement money despite the “free” support he had received before he became “big” as a semifinalist. Fan voting exemplifies the emptiness of media “democracy.” The belief that one’s vote truly “counts” in a chaotic system, whose results can never be predictable, and can even make producers of AI, like Simon Cowell, quiver. When Studdart ended up almost being voted out (explanations range from his fans had become too complacent to overzealous, voting for Gracin because of his bad performance), Cowell went public in his disbelief and indignation that such a possibility could happen. Fans, as mentioned earlier, can at best, determine who will be launched into popularity. But the music industry has already provided the choices that they vote on. To cover all their bets, recording contracts are awarded to the top two, sometimes three winners, regardless who “won.” In the end, it doesn’t matter. The top two or three are sure to sell, and if they don’t they are dropped. The contract with the 19 Group, the production company headed by pop entrepreneur Simon Fuller is one sided. The 14 page confidential contract asks the winner to sign their life away with a five million dollar threat for the breach of

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confidentiality. So much for a fair deal, the winners have no say as to the direction of their careers. In another context, Starmania, Austria’s equivalent to American Idol, provides a “friendship ticket” to those who are voted out by the remaining candidates in the semifinal round. Again, the process looks democratic enough, however those brought back in are the ones who pose no threat to the final contestants and who are able to show a feeling of solidarity and support (Delanoy, 2003).

S : H  F   O U AI provides a remarkable example of the fantasy of neoliberalist capitalism at work in all its spectacular glory. It has pseudo-democracy built into the process, it promises the American dream of success and wealth based on hard work and talent, it reconfirms “healthy” competition and it verifies that even the poor have a chance to be winners. An idol has to represent this Ideal Ego of the American Symbolic Order of market capitalism. Its master signifiers are waiting to embrace the body to occupy its space. To begin with, the AI has to have the necessary “goods” before it can occupy this place and sell him or herself as a worthy occupant of it. Without talent (singing ability) a contestant shouldn’t even bother to compete. But delusional behavior is expected in the early rounds of selection. The first round already sets up a choice without a choice as to who goes on. Talent gives a contestant the price of admission since it already confirms that the pre-chosen few already love to perform and entertain, and are good at it. Next, a name change is crucial since it helps with market differentiation. (A semifinalist in AI2, Trenyce’s former name was Lashundra Cobbins, an impossible “pop” signifier.) The name has to have an American appeal to it without being caught by definable ethnicity or a far-fetched alias. The right friends are necessary in terms of mobilizing fandom. Somewhere along the path a hard working core of true believers who will promote the needed enthusiasm is crucial as in any election. It helps too if the contestant is attractive, but not crucial. The “make-over” can be equally as important. Nothing sells better than a “transformation” that shows television audience that all is possible despite the clear challenges that are present. Large people can be made to look “good,” and that also makes it more “democratic.” Unattractive people can be made to look attractive with the right make-up and clothes. This “look” has to be sustained and allowed to become endearing to the audience. The least bit of a disheveled appearance can be a disaster for that hints of an unkept body and loss of control. If large, the largeness has to be contained. Control is extremely important. The contestant has to exhibit wholesome behavior. This means being always nice and friendly, take criticism, avoid confrontation, and above all cheer the competition so that it confirms that the best person will win in the end. To love competition and the competitors is a primary rule; although the contestant may secretly want to be number “one,” the body will betray him


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or her. It is best not to desire too much to win. Arrogance is intolerable. As compensation, the contestant should always remind himself or herself that they are already winners by being in the spotlight and will, most likely, go on with their singing career in the entertainment industry. The contestant should always be gracious when losing, if possible to joke when defeated. This shows a confirmation and legitimization of the contest. Performing to the audience is crucial, and not to oneself. In brief, paradoxically all the demands of the ego need to be covered up and repressed so that the AI can appear as the one who exemplifies the modesty of talent and ensures that s/he will do what the producers (RCA, 19 Entertainment in this case) ask. An enduring trait will eventually emerge, which will ensure that they are indeed someone special. In most countries where these reality song contests are broadcast, but most noticeably in Britain, bookmakers make a profit from the human misery that is on public display. The selection of hopefuls continues under camera lenses so that the narrative can be packaged as reality television for the sponsoring networks—Fox, CTV, CBS, Global, and shown at a future date once all the editing has taken place with the more embarrassing out-takes removed. Once all the crying and disappointment is exposed and sifted out through a public sadistic castration, the several remaining nuggets are extracted for their jouissance (talent, soul, objet a) and cashed in through CD sales, concert appearances, and talk shows like TRL. If sales are not kept up then—here today, gone tomorrow—a replacement clone is required. If this process sounds “vampirish,” it is intentionally meant so (see also Latham, 2002). These young men and women have sold their “souls” to the record companies, willingly, in exchange for fame. It is the ideal of neoliberal capitalism at its purist: anyone who has talent—the “genuine” item—can make it. The cost is a Faustian pact. You become an expendable commodity to be replaced if you under-perform. This is the “commercialization” of life as bios rather than zoë. It is the selling of virginal chastity, which is so insidious, foregrounding a mixed-message of sexuality. To use pop psychology here: if Britney is “good” on the inside, but seems (at times) bad on the outside, Pop Stars and American Idol are chaste in a naughty sort of way on the outside and (at times) bad on the inside. All the bad has to remain off-camera. On camera the songs attempt to touch the sweetness of Heaven. There are a number of ways Heaven can be touched by the executive producers of designer capitalism. The first is by marketing all-women groups who provide the contradictory message of being chaste femme-fatales. The winners of Pop Stars New Zealand in 1999 were tRueBliss. They were virginity mixed with a bit of naughtiness as personified in their first hit CD, Dream. However, Carly Binding, like Mylenne Klass of Hear’Say, left the group in anger to start her own career, taking her fans with her. Australia’s Popstars produced five equally naughty but chaste women called Bardot, while in Germany the success of No Angels, also five women ranging from 20–24, present the epitome of marketing that reaches the Heavenly clouds. With such hits as “When the Angels Sing,”

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“River of Joy” (from Elle Ments), No Angels were selected through the usual Pop Stars Reality TV Show, which has become the music industry’s equivalent of a beauty pageant. During Germany’s Pop Stars production of the final round of contestants, mothers were shown hugging their daughters, girls were crying with joy and disappointment while losers were quickly whisked away off-camera. The friendship between the girls was played up, and of course, their naughty chastity as a “look but don’t touch” came across masterfully. No Angels ’ videos are equally sensual and heavenly, both in their dress and harmony of their voices. They are “no” angels, but the naughty wink is always implied: they are “no” angels, but then again, they really are! The tease of a flirtatious “come on” is a masterful stroke of marketability.

C P S  G S: C R Designer capitalism treats racial difference from a position of political correctness as having “one” representative for each possible culture. Pop Stars operates in the same way. The “colors” of Bennetton were the first to utilize this marketing strategy. This is the new postmodern racism that Balibar (1991) addresses as being “differentiated racism,” or “racism without race.” Others have identified this development as a “symbolic racism,” or the “new racism,” and even the ironical term “civilized racism.” In contrast to the old racial biologism, which was presented in a direct, raw, and brutally physical fashion, neo-racism requires the “reflective” theorizations of an anthropological culturalism for justification of “difference” and “otherness.” In a postmodern era, writes Balibar, “There is in fact no racism without theory (or theories)” (18). This “meta-racism,” as developed by academics, constructs a scientific theory, which immediately explains and justifies the racism of the masses, linking up their “visible” collective violence to a set of “hidden causes,” thereby fulfilling an intense desire for an interpretative explanation as to what individuals are experiencing in this postmodern decentralization, and to who they are in the social world. Racial tensions exist only as the incompatible differences between cultures, lifestyles, sexual preferences, traditions, and so forth. The necessity of maintaining these differences now parades as a “democratic” solution of greater self-inclusively. Such a theoretical position “naturalizes” cultural differences in order to contain individuals or groups in an a priori cultural genealogy. This genealogy is mapped out demographically in each niche market to identify the iconic racial representatives so they can be directly targeted. The replication of this racial mix in any given location follows what Dawkin’s (1976) controversially mapped out as a “selfish meme.” Like a gene, which copies and through copying errors leads to evolution, the meme is similar in the way it acts a “unit of cultural transmission” (192) in its repetitive copying function. In the context of an information society the survival of a meme like Pop Stars depends on its ability to “infect” (reproduce in) other hosts (countries) to ensure survival. Such selfish memes “have no foresight” (200); they reproduce


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themselves often at the expense of their host’s life. This is social Darwinism in its postmodern form. What makes a selfish meme fitter than the rest depends on its psychological appeal. “It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence” (193). We are back to Balibar’s postmodern racism that answers to the proliferation of global differences. The term “cultural translation” fits best here to explain how it is possible for the very same form of Pop Idol to appear differently in each country. In other words, how is difference maintained so that cloning is never identical? “Cultural translation” seeks to find cultural signifiers that help to categorize a stereotypic national identity for the audience to identify with. Mao Tse-Tung used the term comprador, a Portuguese term for a hired company or corporate agent who knows how to market a product for multinational corporations within the context of his or her own national culture by forwarding the most obvious and significant signifiers in circulation. S/he is able to sell the product by being aware of the cultural nuances and discourses that are in place. An example from Canadian Idol (CI) will help to illustrate this. Ryan Malcolm was the successful winner of the debut event, but it was Audrey de Montigny who became the “real life” winner of CI. De Montigny was a French–Canadian who played into the national consciousness far better than Malcolm. Compared with Céline Dion, singing in both languages, her career took off both in Québec and the English speaking provinces, while Malcolm’s career sputtered. To get ahead, other successful contestants tried to mimic the distinctive style of well-known Canadian stars such as K.d. lang, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, Ron Sexsmith, Neil Young, and Jane Siberry. Politically correct marketing strategy is essential to Pop Stars. No Angels do this beautifully with a range of skin colors from white (Blond Sandy), darker Slav White (red headed Lucy), and three shades of nonwhite: light mulatto skinned (Vanessa), middle-shade (Jessica), and dark shade (Nadja). Australia’s Bardot are almost all white to suit its demographics. Only Tiffany has a darker skin tone. As their name suggests their chaste-femme fatale mix is played with in songs like “Poison” and “I’d Should’ve Never Let you Go” (Made By Me). They are naughty chaste. New Zealand’s tRueBliss fares out better. With the loss of Carly Binding there is more Maori representation and more differentiated skin tones. Erika and Meagan have darker skin than Joe and Keri who have pale skin. An iconic blond white female singer is absolutely essential, as is a curly haired black female singer in these all-female groups. White remains the hegemonic (non)color in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, United States, and Canada but claims to be just one more color in the marketing of difference. Another marketing strategy that strives to package transcendental heavenly music is to mix the castrati-like voices of boys with chaste-naughty girls. Hear’Say’s album was called Pure and Simple, with the hit single “The Way to Your Love” reaching number one. They seemed to have found the magical combination before things fell apart. But Germany’s Bro’Sis have the edge

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(for a while at least) over all the mix-n-match groups when it comes to packaged hits. A full complement of four boys and two girls, Bro’Sis was a product of Pop Stars Germany, with songs such as “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” (Never Forget (Where You Came From)). They seem to cover the entire ground of what is possible in terms of political correctness. Bros’Sis is Europe’s answer to the proliferation of hip-hop, largely in the hands of Black American youth. They allude to that culture in their videos, in their name and their style of dress. In an interview on Germany’s MTV, many members indicate a strong desire to become actors and actresses in Hollywood. As soon as any one of them breaks ranks, the possibility of the group “reproducing” itself becomes fated. It needn’t be overstated that Pop Idol and Pop Stars, and Boy Bands in general, exemplify a slick refined aesthetic as opposed to the raw, DIY of many punk groups whose raw and rough aesthetic offers such a stark contrast. A visit to the United Kingdom “The Wonderwall,” 5 for example, indicates that there are hundreds of such starter bands formed (in every country), many of whom do not last very long, some have only local following like high school bands, producing their own CD’s for their niche audiences. Others have garnered a wider reputation through touring. This underground scene speaks more to a youth voice that defies appropriation, where its therapeutic transgression sublimates the demons of joblessness and boredom, yet the seduction to “sell out” for fifteen minutes of fame is always present. How can it not be?

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T P  D V D On October 10, 2002, the “Women in Rock” special by music’s front running magazine, Rolling Stone,1 proved controversial. There were complaints and accusations as to the choices made. Joan Jett, with Maya Price’s encouragement, posted a complaint on her website for the short shrift she had received. The intergenerational argument highlighted some of the concerns with the postfeminist milieu. The intention in this chapter is not to sort out these complaints, nor to deconstruct the article; rather, to think through the fantasies that have emerged with this new generation of young women within the context of post-Oedipalization. Britney Spears, who topped RS’s list, and a whole host of similar but differentiable teenage and twenty plus something superstar singers have come into their own. These include the (former) Spice Girls (Sporty, Ginger, Posh, Scary, and Baby), Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Kylie Minogue, Atomic Kitten, Wonderwall, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, Willa Ford, and Jennifer Lopez.2 The signifiers /girlie/ and /gurl/ are a useful way to differentiate the younger teens from their older 30-plus divas. Some of these stars were raised listening to the Mother of all girlie-gurlz— Madonna (who paradoxically stopped being their Mother when she herself became a mother); others claim no such influence or allegiance. All appear, at first glance, to fail in meeting the challenge of feminism’s lowest common denominator of a political agenda—to achieve equality among the sexes—by packaging femininity through media hype. Like their television counterparts (Ally McBeal, Melrose Place, and Sarah Jessica Parker and the cast of Sex in the City), their postfeminist antics support perfectly the de-Oedipalization processes and the values of neoliberalism and designer capitalism. Girl “power” advocates that gurlz can and should expect to achieve wealth, beauty, desirability, a career, and popularity, if not fame. Big Daddy Capitalism has replaced Big Daddy Warbucks. There’s no Roosevelt’s New Deal to support you here. You’re on your own—“baby.”3 Girlie/gurl ideology perpetuates and even strengthens what the “second wave” of feminists tried and failed to undo—the Beauty Myth. The psychological pressure on young women to achieve power through beauty has


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intensified culminating in the windfall profits harvested by the diet industry, the cosmetic and cosmetic surgery industry, and the pornography industry. The appearance of an adolescent girl on the fashion runaway is no longer a parodic figure. The thin and physically fit figure has become the norm, with older supermodels having to maintain such a standard as their careers begin to fade. Adolescents as women and women as adolescents implode on each other. Britney Spears is a girlie-gurl who performs like a woman, and there are many women who want to be gurlz. Ten to thirteen-year-old girls demand glittery halter tops and bustiers. Catherine Hardwicke’s film Thirteen (2003) is an eye-opener in this regard. While 25-year-old women search for outfits that keep them competing with their daughters, a sort of Banger Sisters (Bob Dolman, 2002) effect where Suzette (played by Goldie Hawn who is 57 years old), refuses to grow up. She wants to relive her groupie days all over again and entices her former (now straight and respectable) sister-friend, Lavinia, to find her “gurl” side once again. Adolescence has been extended at both extremes, starting too soon and ending late. The physically fit body denotes independence, self-assertion, aggressiveness, autonomy, and mind over matter, the very ideals of the neoliberalist “possessed” individual of hyper-narcissism. The absence of dependency and need are the qualities believed to lead to success, fame, and wealth. More frequently, a girl who devotes herself to losing weight either does not succeed (and loses self-esteem), or develops a serious eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. When seeking to portray women as absolutely capable of controlling their own destinies, gurl power, it seems, denies the structural inequalities women endure, which are a basic feature of contemporary society. Third wave feminism in its girlie-gurlz forms is criticized for its commodification and what could be called “romantic transgression” where the political agenda is more of a surface show than structurally transforming. All of this makes an all too easy accusation for what is an extremely complex circulation of desire and its counterpart—the drive in gurlz postmodern cultures. “Complicity and vulnerability are crucial to feminism as a discourse on empowerment; they are the grounds for feminist politics,” claims Catherine Driscoll in her study girls (2002, 281). Such a “reactionary politics” is unavoidable. Drawing on Butler’s The Psychic Life of Power (1997) and Deleuze’s topological notion of a cultural “assemblage,” which identifies an imaginary group held together by practices and knowledge rather than demographics, Driscoll defends such girlie phenomena as The Spice Girls.4 They provide one of the sites for an “assembling” space of girlhood where sex, gender, and culture is explored in a specific way, which is not simply a repetition of feminism that already prejudges and predetermines what the woman-feminist subject should be like. Driscoll dismisses the usual feminist critiques of postfeminism for failing to grasp such sites as “singular assemblages in relation to historically and socially specific dominant cultural fields” (304). Such Deleuzean topological assemblages are held together by specific psychic structures within the context of post-Oedipalization what

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has been designated as the little or small ONE. The master signifiers that are identified in this third section of the book—girlie-gurl-girl-grrrl—are equally fluid, continuously morphing and changing, but at the same time they stage a particular “ethical complaint” lodged in the Real against the phallic domination of the Symbolic Order and the circulation of feminine jouissance within it. While Driscoll overstates her case concerning The Spice Girls— they were a startling conservative force—there can be no doubt as to the imaginary force of identification that they provided. The counterpart to these “bad” angel-like girlies and gurlz are the “good” tart-tongued grrrls: Pink, Kelly Osbourne, Donna Mathews (formerly of Elastica), Republica, Shirley Manson of Garbage and Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, Sleater-Kinney, Joan Jett . . . ). They are spawned and spewed out by The Riot Grrrls and Courtney Love’s band, Hole.5 Their television counterparts are the witches, since bitches are seldom given the light of an appearance. The nasty and satirical mouth of Roseanne Barr, for example, remained off-stage, confined to the comedy stage of nightclub life. The teen gothic scene, films like Heathers, Edward Scissor-Hands, The Craft, Beetlejuice, and television programs such as the three sister witches in Charmed, Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, and vampire slayers like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer are more directly related to the “good witch” paradox.6 The flaunting of girlie/gurl/ girl/grrrl sexuality and tough vixen appearance—sometimes effortlessly switching from bad gurl to good gurl when the occasion is right for an image change—can only be understood within the repressed desires and outdated lingering visages of patriarchy that remain embedded in the Law and parental control. In this chapter and the following three, it is argued that the proliferation of hysterical symptoms by girlie/gurl/girl/grrrl cultures provide the necessary fantasy structures of identification for teenage girls to “break out” and “trouble” the gaze and masculine desire, which uncompromisingly positions them as either abjected sluts (experienced, an easy lay) or prudes (frigid, virgin, an impossible lay). Girls’ heterosexual desires are conflicted by these subject positions, which place boys in the dominant position, when it comes to sexual relationships. Deconstructing this binary by working sexuality against these two polls—as grrrls who deconstruct the “slut” signifier, while girlies/gurlz deconstruct the “prude” signifier, to claim a particular feminine hysterical jouissance outside of patriarchy—has come, as shall be shown, at a high price. The rise of their respective superegos can also be demonstrated. For the slut, the transcendental figure of the phallic Mother emerges paradoxically as a good Witch, while for the girlie-gurlz presents the paradox of the transcendental bad Virgin. These are the perversions of the once positive and negative archetypes in patriarchy. We now have their postmodern inversions: the paradoxical “good” witch and the “bad or naughty” virgin. Good/bad are generally read as strict moral positions, but these postmodern inversions deconstruct their binary to raise an “ethics of the Real” where being Bad is not merely an absence of Good but present transgression as an ethical act.


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T D O F J Why identify the girlie/gurl/girl/grrrl phenomena as hysterical? Hysteria has been over-theorized in feminist circles in the second half of the twentieth century (Bronfen, 1998), an indication of its importance in postmodernity because feminism, by default, sets up a refusal of desire offered by the Symbolic Order; it is a refusal of the Master. The general claim that the indecisiveness of the structuring question, “Am I a man or a woman,” asked by all neurotics is, according to Lacan, the more poignant and defining question for the hysteric. It constitutes her fundamental fantasy that applies to both heterosexual and homosexual subjectivities alike. In post-Oedipal postmodernism this question of sexual difference has become more acute. It concerns the hysteric’s ambivalency toward separating from her Mother as she enters the post-patriarchal order. This ambivalency plays itself out in her attempt to constitute herself as objet a for her all-powerful m(Other). That is, to fill her mother’s lack so that mother–daughter dyad feels complete, as well as desiring her Father as if she were him (Fink, 1997, 124). In the first case, the hysteric never needs to break with her mother and refuses to accept castration, while in the second case she desires as if she were a man. Such an ambivalency is heightened in today’s mixed-families and divorces where the mother is the one raising her daughter and the father is gone, or there is a live-in boyfriend or a step-father on the scene, all potential rivals to the daughter’s relationship with her mother. “Rock” is a primary site/sight/cite for hysteria of the second order as the Rolling Stone article makes visible. As a male preserve, its invasion by women who are paradoxically unavailable in their availability stirs up the hegemonic dominance of men in an unprecedented way. This desire to usurp the man’s position is dramatically illustrated, for instance, on the cover of tv media7 where Britney Spears appears as Elvis Presley, the King of Rock, dressed in his famous Las Vegas white costume, studded with rhinestones and high collar. She has (or somebody thinks she has) displaced the King’s place in the Symbolic Order, thereby challenging it. The hysteric is capable of being the object of desire for the man as well as displacing him. Above all, the hysteric avoids being the cause of desire for the man. She tries to master his desire by keeping his desire unsatisfied—“chain” him around, so to speak, and tease him. This does not mean that she refuses to have sex with him, rather she imagines him to be another man, or that she is someone else. “You can have my body but not my mind,” is her stance. In no way does she want to become an object that satisfies his jouissance; that is, to be “had” by him as his object. A small insignificant complaint by Britney Spears in People Magazine 8 of being leered at by an “older” man standing on the balcony next to her in a Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles is a minor instance of such anxiety. Spears cannot imagine men perceiving her as a Lolita figure and finds being looked at by “drooling cretins” when she goes to clubs to dance as repulsive. Forty-year-old fans for her are “creepy.” While guys her age are “a little intimidated of [her].” The so-called creeps Spears fears are the fathers who

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may be living “next door.” The vast majority of so-called pedophiles desire (not children) but adolescents. Psychologists and law enforcers refer to them as hebophiles. The clients are usually white, suburban, married businessmen who want a blow job from a teenage boy but don’t consider themselves gay, and heterosexual men who seek sex with young girls. To recall the scene in Sam Mendes American Beauty (1999), Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham who is infatuated with Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) an 18-year-old high school cheerleader, who, once she yields to Lester’s desire to bed her, becomes scared as hell. Lester’s desire is emptied as his fantasy woman collapses into a frightened little girl. He knows she mustn’t be touched, as if he was about to commit incest with his daughter. The lust for a young body by an aging man in his late forties to early fifties, made more and more available through pornography and music video representations of young, lithe, energetic young women, was just too much to resist. Such a fantasy formed the poster for the film with Hayes lying naked in a bed of pink petals. As Lacan put it, “The good that mustn’t be touched [referring to the mother] becomes a beauty that mustn’t be touched” (Seminar VII Ethics, 237). The title “American Beauty” takes on an added inflection of meaning as an injunction against incest. The Lolita come-on is, in the end, only a tease of an impossible hysterical desire. But, it is a tease that sells very, very well, even in its lesbian versions. The Russian pop singers, 17-year-old Julia Volkova and 18-year-old Lena Katina, known as Tatu, perform wearing only tiny panties and even tinier tank tops. Their first single, “Ya Shoshla S Uma” (All The Things She Said) is a love affair between two young girls. It made No. 1 in the United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland and was rising in the charts in both Canada and the United States. The accompanying music video to the song has them clad in micro-sized school uniforms, kissing passionately, and standing in the rain to make it all the more revealing. Their debut album, 200KM/H in the Wrong Lane (released December 10, 2002) has gone platinum. All the songs are a blend of Russian and English. The advertising executive Ivan Shapovalov is said to have made two more videos for the album. The first for “Nas Ne Dogonjat,” which sees the pair stealing a truck and running people over. These images are intercut with childhood photos of the girls naked. The second is for “30 Minutes,” which features Lena becoming angry when she catches Julia with a man. Their music has been dubbed with justification, “pedophilic pop.” The claim presented thus far, is not to maintain that postfeminism “girlie” cultures that range from the most conservative (The Spice Girls) to the most radically political (Riot Grrrls) are clinically hysterical. That is not the point. Rather, the hysterical structure in relation to phallic jouissance in the way the dirty diva’s body is positioned within the dominant Symbolic Order of patriarchy provides insight into the Other jouissance of the body, the jouissance not caught up by the phallic order through sexual relations. This is an enjoyment of the body as feminine jouissance, which remains a controversial concept amongst orthodox Lacanian scholars. In contrast to such orthodoxy,


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the hysterical analyst and philosopher Luce Irigaray, who was dismissed from the famous École Lacanienne de Psychanalyse (ELP) for her radical views, has no difficulties forwarding “two lips and mucous” as the transcendental feminine signifiers for this Other jouissance, which posits a different libidinal economy for those women who are not labor under the Phallus. The difference is that Lacan posits this Other jouissance as being supplementary rather than complementary. It is in addition to phallic jouissance, not formed in complementary difference. While the debates surrounding whether Lacan’s phallocentrism is historically descriptive rather than prescriptive and universal continue, the tact Lacan takes in S XX, Encore (1998) specifically mentions that the Other jouissance as attributed to women is of the body and beyond the phallus. This is sufficient enough to support the case that a “woman takes pleasure in herself as Other to herself” (André, 1999, 248). A man “can never be sure of having possessed her, that is to say, of having participated in the jouissance that is hers” (248, original emphasis). Lacan had praised the literary work of Marguerite Duras9 for illustrating this Other bodily jouissance of women. It seems to me that this same feminine jouissance is “virginly felt” by the dirty virgin divas through their abandonment while dancing and singing. Such a position helps to understand why Britney Spears’s alleged “virginity” was (at one time) so important to her. Why “strong morals,” as professed by stars like Spears, Pink, and Aguilera, and their claim to “innocence” (or, at least the pretense to it) are a defense against pedophilic associations with child-woman stars like JonBenét (to be discussed in a following chapter) and a total fall into phallic jouissance. To follow Serge André here who “argues that a woman has an eternal virginity [because of her feminine jouissance], a virginity correlated with that which is unsatisfied by phallic sex. This is a virginity that follows rather than precedes sexual intercourse insofar as for a woman, there is something that is not penetrated, something that is not articulable in her experience of the sexual act” (Serge André in Schwartz, 2001, 89). To understand why this is so requires a (de)tour through the perversions of Marquis de Sade’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.” To further comprehend the fantasy structure of the dirty virgin divas in the music industry, the Sadean fantasy of sexual difference becomes fundamental to grasp why virginity and innocence have become master signifiers for their imaginary identification while still doing their “dirty dancing.”

T S F  S E Sex sells. The line that separates “legitimate” entertainment industry as paradigmatically represented by MTV, fashion, and film from its shadow abject side—the “illegitimate” porno industry—is more and more difficult to maintain. A young female star in the entertainment industry finds herself being pushed by her backers and handlers toward more and more risqué behaviors that skirt pornography—more nudity, more steamy sex, more leather, more “more.” It is a slippery slope. Madonna was a master of packaging herself on the edge of soft porn and hardcore, but Christina Aguilera

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must surely be her rising successor. Her debut appearance at “The Pussyclub Dolls” burlesque show in 2002 (following in the footsteps of Gwen Stefani’s guest performance), her suggestive cover on Stripped, and her hip pumping action in her dance videos, have condemned Aguilera as yet another Lolitafigure by moral pundits and music executives searching for the next “look.” Understandably, the question becomes how can a young woman enjoy her own body, her own sexuality and not be continually cast as just a dirty slut by critics? Earning lots of money doesn’t necessarily equate with self-esteem. The Sadean solution to the hysterical question, “Am I a woman or a man” is solved by eliminating sexual difference entirely.10 Both men and women are said to be on equal footing when it comes to the pleasures of the body. Under Sadean Law there is the mutual agreement made to enjoy the body of the Other. This is meant to be an egalitarian relationship, a pact where the violent antagonism between master and slave relationship is supposedly eliminated under a set of definable and logical rules. This will-to-jouissance is taken as Nature’s way, back to a time before the violent “cut” of prohibition divided the sexes into male/female. It is a time before the Fall, a pervert’s Paradise, where no patriarchal “original” sin is at yet present. Such a Sadean pact is meant to be a logical and rational arrangement. It is an induction and not a seduction to sex (like a porn star learning the techniques of anal sex and penetration for the first time). The desire of the Mother (indeed of both parents) is eliminated by the hysteric totally transferring her desire to the pervert who represents for her a “total man.” In actuality, he then becomes an administrator of the maternal will-to-enjoyment. How? By denying the Father’s Law, the Sadean pervert believes that the Mother bears absolute jouissance, and he knows precisely how to be the object-instrument to provide this jouissance for her daughter. This is the danger of girlie cultures today. To break with the over-protective mother and Oedipal father there can be a turn to the perverted Father as answering her demand for satisfaction, an Enjoying Father who knows what she wants—he can be a porn producer, a pimp, or her drug supplier. Desire is eliminated and her demand for satisfaction reigns because (supposedly) the superego’s will-to-jouissance poses no limit. He gives his partner the thrills and pleasures that she urges and wants. The pervert–sadist acts as a representative-instrument of pure jouissance, declaring that he has the phallus as well as being the phallus. This is the type of man the Sadean woman falls for to anchor herself. She forfeits love for satisfaction. The consequences of the Sadean perversion leads to an ironic conclusion: the feminist agenda based on equality for the sexes has finally been fulfilled, made possible by eliminating sexual difference. In the Sadean pact both injunctions by the parents have been silenced. The Mother’s “No!” appears as an irrational and arbitrary prohibition while the Oedipal Father’s “No!” appears to have some substance about it, but both prohibitions can be eliminated. In the Sadean theatre of perversion, the Father of Enjoyment is supported by the Mother of Enjoyment (She-Devil), erasing parental authority—the superego becomes unisexed. But at what price? The fantasy of sadism is only sustainable if the subject is eliminated and becomes a perpetual object.


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Only in this way can the Other be denied as a site/sight/cite of death, pain, castration, and violence. The Sadean woman never dies, she never bleeds. She becomes an instrument, a mechanized orphic body. She is ultimately Sade’s phantasm who is endlessly “tortured” and “pleasured” for his satisfaction instead of hers. Her mythic equality and freedom between the sexes is only reached in the bedroom, at the expense of the public sphere where she might gain a voice. It is, of course, the porno industry where the Sadean perversion is alive and well. More young women with dreams of being stars and actresses end up in the sex industry, re-signified as sex “therapy” or sex “work” to raise its status and to politically confront public hypocrisy that is different from the legitimate entertainment industry. The line between them is always in flux. Where in the “bedrooms” of Penthouse or the Playboy Mansion does the line cross over to the porn industry? Like the nonexistent boundary between smoker and nonsmoker, the smoke of sex knows no boundaries other than imaginary ones. The entertainment industry, defined in many respects as the counterculture to mainstream “straight” society, has become its own private bedroom as well. Love and sex, in particular, become easily confused, which explicitly reveals that will-to-jouissance is not “limitless” as Sade claimed. Sadomasochistic practices have become common fare. The John stages and contracts out his own servitude and dictates to the dominatrix the externalization of his every desire in a theatre of feigned violence. But these are not acts of “love.” Such theatre operates as its direct opposite. In porn and prostitution the body “parts” are on sale, but not the “person.” Like the quantifiable logic of the Sadean paradigm, you are paid for your time, or for the agreed upon act.11 Sexual satisfaction can be plumbed and measured in dollars, but love cannot be bought. For prostitutes the love relation has been transferred to the “pimp” who exchanges it for physical protection. The sexual agreement is supposed to be a fair business exchange. Johns are not to become violent, but this is never guaranteed. There is no myth of an unreachable “courtly lady” operating anymore.12 Chivalry (and its subsequent form, that of a gentleman) once offered protection for the Lady, yielding to her every impossible demand. Now it is the pimp and/or the Madame of a brothel who has become the “materialized” enforcer extracting surplus value from sex-workers in exchange for the protective services offered. Johns are not to be dated on the “outside,” and passionate kissing on the mouth is usually prohibited. Trouble only results on the porn set when “business” gets confused with “love,” as exemplified by Christine Fugate’s documentary, The Girl Next Door (1999), an apt title given that this is the fantasy that many of the dirty pop divas like Kylie Minogue stage in their music videos. In the documentary, porn star Stacy Valentine struggles with the borders that police love and sex within the porno business and the privacy of her home (the “outside”). She is unable to maintain the space of their separation as her relationship with her lover-actor porn star (Julian) continually collapses. She feels jealous when, in a group sex scene he seems to “enjoy” sex with Other actresses more than with her.

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Eventually they break up, but she continues to pine for him throughout the documentary. Defined in binary opposition to one another, Valentine is unable to displace the two worlds of romantic love and pornography into some sort of livable space of “in-between.” Valentine is never satisfied with her body. Breast implants, nose correction, and lip enhancements become standard fare. Valentine classically exhibits all the symptoms of hysterical anxiety through her “lack of a lack.” She seems to have everything: clothes, a racy car, a beautiful house, but no happiness. The Sadean woman, once touched by the promise of endless jouissance, resigns herself into believing that the Oedipal “sensitive” man will always remain somewhat of a joke. As Milton, the Devil, put it in Taylor Hackford’s (1997) film, Devil’s Advocate, “Once the butterfly’s wings have been touched it never flies away.” The recuperation of the fantasy space of the porno star turned “legit” is a standard Hollywood trope to elide that pornography is the obscene supplement that makes romantic love possible. These films try to “rescue” and rehabilitate those women who have fallen into such perversion. From the success of Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce (1963)—where the Law is suspended by doubling Jack Lemon’s character as a French ex-police officer Nestor Patou and Lord X so that love can flourish and Irma can leave the business—to the wild success of Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman (1990), prostitutes are constantly being recuperated and legitimized back into society. Vivian (Viv) Ward (Julia Roberts), a postsecondary student who was “forced” into prostitution because of financial strain, is given a new lease in life by marrying the millionaire business man, Edward Levis (Richard Gere). David Katch’s The Girl Next Door (2001), perhaps quoting Fugate’s documentary, is about a teenage boy whose dream comes true when a porn star literally moves in next door, and they fall in love. Does it take us too far afield to suggest that the character of Cinderella is but a “cleaned-up” version of the “prostitute” turned orphan rescued by her Prince in a romantic scenario? Zipes (1983) analysis of fairytales has certainly made such a reading plausible. A film like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) provides an exception to this fantasy of recuperation. The boundary between perversion and its escape is always presented at the borderline of their crossing. Porn stars want “out” and be recognized as “human beings” who are “stars” in their own right, but are continually unaccepted by the legitimized Symbolic Order. Wannabe porn stars are always trying to get “into” the business so that they might be recognized as being “somebody.” Desire is feigned and parodied, and self-esteem maintained by staging the annual “Adult Entertainment Academy Awards,” the “other” Oscars of pornographic stardom in Las Vegas where performance is judged on how the excesses of phallic jouissance invested in the penis and clitoris have prevailed.

M V: S  C Having taken the (de)tour, it is time to get back to Britney and Company (alleged) virginity, and (alleged) breast enhancement, and (alleged) . . . Why


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the pretense of virginity and high morals among so many teen-queen divas? Motherhood as the sign of subjugation under patriarchy plays an ambivalent role in hysterical behavior. Girlie-gurl’s love and support their mothers, but becoming pregnant can be an identification that is just too close for them. They want to remain in a position where they don’t take up a subject position that legitimates them into patriarchy, which motherhood clearly is. Even Madonna is unable to completely shirk off responsibility as to her daughter’s well being. She is now engaged in writing five children’s books for Penguin. Clearly, she must have a great deal of insight about parenting in the postOedipal age! In contrast, Gurlz “just want to have fun.” It is the exposure of the midriff—taunt, hard, and fit, often with abdominal muscles showing, the navel suitably pierced as a reminder of the umbilical chord that once connected mother with daughter—that marks their hysterical “No!” to motherhood. The commercial for Levi Superlow jeans for women to bear their midriffs even has their navels singing, displacing the vaginal lips of mothering to the oral lips of the belly button. Spears has flaunted her virginal objet a by flashing her midriff. Her famous bellybutton by far outstripped her black-winged fairy tattoo on her back. It is her navel—the place of the umbilical chord that is very much still attached to her mother, Lynne, who has been so instrumental in her career—which “sings” as the site of her feminine jouissance. Her superegoic mother figure acts like a “bad virgin”—on the one hand she offers moral guidance to her daughter while on the other hand she condones all of her daughter’s flirtatious acting out as entertainment value. The midriff, or navel, has become the new postmodern signifier of emancipation from motherhood. This is the sight/cite/site where video cameras linger, where silver and jade bellybutton rings become the lure that captivates the gaze as the new sight of fascination. A little higher and taunt breasts appear—a little lower and the first few pubic hairs peek out of the panties. By claiming virginity (alleged or actual, it doesn’t matter), the hysteric stages a way to keep the desire of the Other (her male fans, her boyfriend, and her male admires) at bay. She demands a limit to be placed on her by a mastering subject that prevents her from being an object of his drive. In this way she can remain as a sexy living doll that paradoxically appears “innocent,” this innocence taking us back to purity of desire of the baby who supposedly is still ignorant of his/her sexuality—a non-phallic but hypersexuality, the vitality of life itself (zoë), which comes across in Spears’s high-energy choreographed dancing. The “virginity card” enables her to ward off the obvious lascivious masculine gaze that surrounds her wherever she goes , and her possible fall as a Sadean woman. “Look but do not touch or mar me,” is the message. I am wholesome and chaste, although I may not “look” it. This is a perverse paradox. By claiming virginity, Spears and Company ask that her admirers retain the fullness of their own jouissance, to remain in control of themselves—an impossible request, which makes her the tease and the impossible object that cannot be “had.” Desire to possess her simply becomes more inflamed. The pretense of virginity is also a strong enough signifier, perhaps the only signifier left, which differentiates her from slipping in an

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overidentification with the porno scene, a balance Madonna fans know all too well. This is difficult to do since her image is shaped by it indirectly. Appearing in bra and panties in the middle of her doll collection in Rolling Stone is difficult to reconcile. Firing her video director Greg Dark, who was a former porno director, also doesn’t help. By simply taking pleasure in wanting sex and then depriving herself of it, a certain desire of hers remains unsatisfied. She is conscious that she has this wish which remains unfulfilled. If it wasn’t for this conscious removal of jouissance, which circulates around the ambiguity of virginity as her objet a now displaced to the midriff, the barrier between her and the Sadean woman would be removed.13 Instead, this new erogenous zone of the body avoids both the potentially sagging breasts of motherhood as well as vaginal penetration, exemplifying the new sexual ambiguity, which is hysterically caught between the mother’s demand (as superego) and father’s desire (as an Oedipal protector). Midriff virginity (and surrounding signifiers like Britney’s moral convictions of having “strong values”) becomes an unattainable trait, which turns everything into erotic foreplay, enabling her to enjoy her own sexuality, her “come-on,” with full abandonment. It is what bestows on her a transcendental vitality (zoë), the captured energy in her videos. The question is whether this zoë is a quantifiably different libidinal energy than the bioenergy of manufactured groups (boy and girls bands)? Is it Britney’s “wildness” and self-abandonment in her music videos (to a lesser extent as Lucy in Tamra Davis’s film Crossroads, 2002) that is so appealing for girlie culture? These are “uncultivated” moments not confined to the “Mickey Mouse” prison of her past, if it can be put that way, which gives her the hysterical quality of feminine jouissance. The severity of the superego, however, which is often reduced to an internalized voice of conscience, can turn and become the voice of transgression to obtain satisfaction. A threshold of this virgin fantasy is reached when it turns to horror. The seeming naiveté of Spears’s remark, “Who me sexy?” exposes the shock of her realization of what exactly defines her public personality. The gaze of the Other materializes and sex is no longer her plaything. Her navel is unable to hold its place of ambiguity and a frightening realization is grasped. All eyes are on her every move. Spears went through a period where ex-fans “booed” her appearances at performances and commercial endorsements for clothes and at the opening of her restaurant, Nyla, and later Posh in New York. It is not all that surprising to see Spears suffering depressions and withdraws, battling stalkers (fanaddicts) in law courts, wishing that she was back “home,” talking endlessly with her mom on the phone. Both Spears and Aguilera, two of the dirtiest virgin divas, have close relationships to their superego mothers. A telling feature of their need to maintain perspective and not fall into the heights of Sadean abandonment.

T M  V Virginity and motherhood, the two defining signifiers of woman under patriarchy have been perverted by two megastars, Madonna and Spears.


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It should be perhaps no surprise that Spears’s own quotation of virginity is in direct contrast to Madonna for market differentiation. The assault on virginity and motherhood by Madonna in the 1990s was direct. Her “boy-toy” attitude demonstrable. Madonna knew how to play with the camera apparatuses of male fantasy. As Warren Beatty on the set of Dick Tracy remarked, she would not do anything without a camera eyewitness (Truth or Dare). But that Dick didn’t have a chance! Madonna knew the discourse and exploited it for her own gain. Whereas Marilyn Monroe might have feared becoming crazy like her mother, Madonna exposed the craziness of her parents and diffused it by taking her own “singing cure.” Both Spears and Madonna have a love/hate affection for one another and both have “quoted” one another by wearing each other’s logo. But Madonna has also sued Spears for “stealing” her image. Such rivalry eventually ended up in a rehearsed conciliatory kiss of acknowledgment during the 2003 MTV’s Video Music Awards. Britney Spears’s stance on virginity and her media managers who maintain it, again offers an insight as how identification from a Lacanian psychoanalytic position works. How is Spears (and a host of other young women singer/ performers who have followed her virginity card, like Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson) able to maintain the paradoxical position of a disidentification with virginity by being so obviously sexy and seductive in her dance performances, see-through tops, peek-a-boo underpants, sexy dresses, song lyrics and video performances where she “fakes” sexual intercourse (“Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know” and “Slave”) and, at the same time claim to be a virgin? The two by conservative standards form an impossible pair. Perhaps the best take was her debut album at 17, Baby One More Time, when she sang its feature song: “Hit me, Baby, one more Time” wearing a plaid skirt and knee socks—like the Russian Tula gurlz. The way discourse of virginity is exploited is through a too-literal interpretation of it; that is, by not distancing herself from the historical ideological formations that surrounds virginity—being pure, chaste, and patriarchal property—that the subversion of virginity is accomplished. Rather than ruining virginity, its fantasy accoutrements are ironically played with as well. This is the well-known notion of mimesis in anthropology (Taussig, 1993). It is a transformational process whereby a copy of something draws its power from the original in order to assume its power. In her mirroring, Spears’s virginity has become a hyper-virginity—a doubled copy to draw attention to it. By imitating and parodying being a virgin, Spears is able to sustain her hysteria through managed and staged events. For instance, her refusal to accept a businessman’s private “morally unethical” offer of $7.5 million dollars to deflower her. $2 million to Spears (or Aguilera) to appear nude for the LethalSports website. Before her appearance at “Rock in Rio” festival concert, she had a three-day lockup in the honeymoon suite of a Rio de Janeiro Intercontinental hotel with her (now ex) boyfriend Justin Timberlake of ’NSync (who also expressed his virginity publicly). Once again, this all remains too obviously suspicious. The press was told that they spent a “chaste” getaway together with KFC order-ins and hugging only!

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Midriff-virginity has become objet a, the extra-ideological defining unary feature of identification, and Britney’s got “it.” The new area of eroticized signification of the skin-ego denotes the hysterization of young women as wavering between the slut (Sadean woman) or the virgin (Daddy’s girl). The struggle for Britney is to negotiate a fall into promiscuity where her body is enjoyed “by” the Other, while the enjoyment of her own body is caught by this social contradiction—“midriffted,” so to speak. Singers who are not in the processes of “virgin-ing” themselves become othered, degraded whores. Even if Spears was caught buff-naked on videotape “doing it,” her fans would deny such a possibility. It would ruin their identification with her, even though she is constantly “winking” at them in her video hit, “I’m not that Innocent.” The intentional missing qualifier in her song “ . . . Baby One More Time,” which later turned out to be “Hit me One More Time” was another giveaway of her alleged innocence. This missing signifier illustrates very well the ambiguities of the slut/virgin binary that Britney and Company must deal with; this point of identification by girlies is easily made. The missing signifier points to a lack as to what can’t be explicitly expressed—sexual intercourse. Fans also believe Spears when she says she has no breast implants. She has effectively usurped the power of virginity. When word got out that there were nude photos of Christina Aguilera on a website, this was immediately denied claiming it was a model imposture. Whether it was or wasn’t the case isn’t the issue here. The belief in her dirty virgin image is in place. The point is that such incidents are simply disavowed enabling the element of doubt to generate a possibility of truth to sustain fan identification. Australia’s pop diva, Kylie Minogue’s squeaky-clean image was “exposed” on a Britain’s Channel 4 documentary (Kyle Entirely), which made her desirability grow even stronger when the “dirt” came out. Marilyn Monroe prostituted herself on the casting couch to be in the spotlight, never being able to reconcile the male fantasy of Marilyn Monroe as a masquerade with Norma Gene who had her own desire. She read voraciously, wrote poetry, wanted children, and was deathly anxious that she might end up mentally ill like her mother. But she did not have a “virginity card” to play like Madonna or Spears. There was no way she could protect herself. Her ideal ego was plagued by anxiety. In contrast, Mae West sarcastically told it like it is, “I climbed the ladder of success ‘wrong by wrong.’ ” West had a sarcastic wit that enabled her to throw sexuality back in men’s faces. She used her sexuality as a vamp. Unlike Monroe, who was a spoken subject by the entertainment industry, what has changed is that these dirty pop divas are media savvy; they are not so easily manipulated. Motherly superegos are in abundance. Monroe ended her life tragically. In contrast, Kylie Minogue reworked the professional victimization and tragedy of Judy Garland, the gay man’s icon, in her hit single, “Spinning Around.” While Madonna became the perfect market manager, packaging the female masquerade, the quintessential example of a post-structuralist subject packaged for the designer capitalist market.14 By making virginity an unary “extra-ideological” trait, Spears is able to ward off accusations of promiscuity by seeming to live up to the letter of the


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religious Law of abstinence. This paradoxically allows her “dirty” identity (her attire, dance moves, song lyrics) to assert itself as an ironic parody. “I’m a [Baptist] Christian, I go to Church. Mom taught us, ‘Don’t be ashamed of your body, it’s a beautiful thing,’ ” she tells her readers in People Magazine.15 The Church of England, who took her virginity seriously as a model to be followed, has magnified the irony. The Christian magazine Celebrate featured her as an “ambassador for virginity.” The Church was blind to the way Spears’s choice of virginity is able to become ambiguous through her masquerade and mimesis of its fantasy. Unlike a male, who is always caught by the authority of the Phallus, his impotence can always be exposed like wearing a toupee, Britney’s masquerade of virginity is more like wearing a hat. A hat can be a fashion statement that covers over baldness. If it blows off and exposes the covered up baldness, not much is lost since the pretense of not being bald—unlike a toupee—was never entirely certain. And, so it is with Spears. Embedded in the fantasy that Spears is a virgin, is the very possibility that she is not, which must be disavowed by the Church of England if she is to be appropriated as a model for celebrate youth. One might say that Spears here mimes an identity of religious authority by being a virgin with selfprofessed high morals, what Bhabha (1994) in the context of postcolonial conditions referred to the subversion of identity through a “doubling” or “the uncanny sameness-in-difference, of the alterity of Identity” (54). Such mimicry provides “a subject of difference that is almost the same but not quite” (86). The mime operates in a “third space.” The doubling of identity creates a disturbance in and by the dominant gaze. “That disturbance of your voyeuristic look enacts the complexity and contradictions of your desire to see, to fix cultural difference in a containable, visible object” (50). As Bhabha terms it, such an identity is “less than one and double” (less than one because of the “invisibility” of identity, and doubled because of the mimicry involved). Such a hybrid position “splits the difference between Self and Other” (50). We might characterize Spears’s mimetic disturbance of hypocrisy levied especially by some moral leaders as more than one and split. She is more than one given her iconic and cult status and “split” between virginity and promiscuity. All this theorizing sounds as if Spears knows exactly what she is doing. But, just the opposite is the case. It is her very ambiguous innocence that sends existent structures spinning and in play. The discourses that divide women into virgins or whores are already in place. The psychic intervention into these structures is what proves interesting and is never entirely controllable. Spears is much like the figure of Harpo of the Marx Brothers. Recall his wide-eyed dumb grin that made him also an ambiguous figure, a mixture of innocence and perversity. When it came to the scenes with women throughout the Marx Brothers movies, the viewer was uncertain of his intentions: was it a ravenous thirst for sex covered over by a thinly disguised simplicity? Could he really be that stupid, or was this a clever ploy to capture the hearts of women—offstage? Spears occupies (for now at least) a similar ambiguous

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position. She dances on the dividing line between virginity and promiscuity, a “third space” in Bhabha’s terms that splits her and her audience in two. The Net is full of fans who absolutely hate Spears. They see her “innocence” as a fraud, her virginity as a joke, her music silly and bubble-gum-ish, she overacts, and so on. And, then there are her true believers who see Spears as a role model, someone who could do no wrong. At 22 years of age in 2004, now turned a gurl, her antics of marrying Jason Allen Alexander, a childhood friend from Louisiana, in Las Vegas and then promptly annulling the marriage is simply a confirmation of the ambiguity Spears finds herself in. She hysterically plays with the Symbolic Order, hoping to steal back jouissance that it stole from her, searching for her own way to keep on dancing for herself—the dirtier the better.16 In sum, the “bad virgin” stages the fantasy of The Lady of Courtly Love with a postmodern twist. Unlike Boy Bands and Pop Idol, she owns the contract by claiming her feminine property as herself, as a singing and dancing femme fatale. By perverting virginity, she “enjoys” the feminine jouissance of her body as sublimated through her art, which retains its integrity and dignity as her own product and not the company’s. It is a non-procreative sexuality (zoë), neither attached to that of becoming a Mother, nor to some spiritual God. Nevertheless, it is still attached to a feminine Thing. The Mother is no longer the Virgin of patriarchy, like in the Catholic Marianology where the Thing (das Ding) represents a Sovereign untouchable Good. Freud exposed this myth by showing that the Mother, as an object of incest, makes the dream of a Sovereign Good impossible. He put in doubt yet another modernist grand narrative: the possibility of defining some teleological and transcendental Good—as represented by the full symbiotic jouissance with the Mother— which dictates to humankind just what the ethical duties are to be. For a heterosexual man, loving the body of a woman becomes confined to the “lost objects” during separation from the mother like the breast, voice (lips), and gaze (face, image). But a woman’s entire body remains unattainable. He cannot possess her. “There is no such thing as a sexual relationship,” quipped Lacan. The impossible gap between the sexes is never fully resolved. We have only speech that can express the love for the impossible missing object, the Thing (das Ding), which if it were possible to attain, would make us complete as we once thought we were. The Mother for the bad virgin diva has not been entirely foreclosed; she has become her superego and stage manager, protecting her from being reduced to an exchange of “goods” in the double meaning that this word now has: as commerce and as the virginal package of transcendental goodness. Perhaps it’s the best that can be done in designer capitalism? An impossible Thing of unending foreplay and teasing is created through a bevy of hysterical songs that detour, approximate, call-for, and provide the missing signifiers of her desire, but always miss articulating it. She creates herself as a sexy, inaccessible, dirty virgin. As an anxious object of desire she is just “too” far away. The closer we come to her, the more monstrous she becomes, as Lester Burnham of American Beauty found out. What’s possible is only


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a sublime love; to be able only to touch a “part” of her body is enough to keep her chaste and desirable. Perhaps the only way to approach such a hysterical bad Virgin is in a seemingly non-phallic and nonthreatening way: as a mommy’s boy (Justin Timberlake?) or as a gay man. Both are safe “friends.” The usual disparaging “fag hag” narrative, which sets up a straight woman with a gay man, is being rewritten by hysterical young women who don’t want to be the object of jouissance for masculine desire. The television show, Will and Grace, explores this confusion of desires. It revolves around the friendship between a gay man (played by Eric McCormack) and his straight female friend (played by Debra Messing), with Will’s gay friend Jack (played by Sean Hayes) and Grace’s secretary/friend Karen Walker (played by Megan Mullaly) rounding out the cast. Walker is ambiguously bisexual. As poor as they are, Hollywood has also presented such a possibility. My Best Friend’s Wedding (Julia Roberts/ Rupert Everett) and The Object of My Affection (Jennifer Anniston/ Paul Rudd) present this unusual coupling. As Judith Feher-Gurewich (2001), a practicing Lacanian psychoanalyst in New York says of The Object of My Affection, “A new hysterical triangle is born. [T]he heroine’s erotic vicissitudes reenact Dora’s question to Freud: ‘How can I discover the meaning of sexual difference without having to confront that part of my sexuality that puts desire or lack on the line?’ ” (34). This narrative confirms yet again the hysterical structure, but the solution to avoid symbolic castration in this case is a bizarre one. Anniston “wants to become an object of sexual enjoyment for a man who cannot desire her” (34). The other solution for the hysteric is just to simply give up on men altogether, and enjoy a lesbian relationship where she finds sexual satisfaction with another woman in mutual masturbation and common life style. She is tired of involving a man to keep her desire alive and, at the same time, excluding sexual satisfaction (jouissance) from this circuit. Desire and jouissance, of course, are not the same thing. The success of Kissing Jessica Stein (2000), directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld and written by Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeld, although not Hollywood, has obviously struck a chord with gurlz in its presentation of a straight girl in a lesbian relationship. Both of these narrative structures point obliquely to the ethical demand in the Real that has been raised in this chapter: The ambiguous state of girlie/gurl desire that she is trying to claim as her own sexuality within today’s post-patriarchy, and the painfully pleasurable feminine jouissance that supplements, but does not as yet complement it.


T D  G’ D : P  P-P  O

D   L The possibility of a gurlz’ desire of their own not being overshadowed by boyz’ desire, is the ethical challenge presented by the paradoxical figure of the “dirty virgin” in post-patriarchy. How to be a sexual subject and remain so without being positioned as a sexual object can take on a hysterical psychic structure to ensure feminine jouissance. Repressed illicit pleasure by the “moral society” is unabashedly let loose by the obscene underside of this respectability by the porn industry, which is haunted by Sade’s moral ruse of sexual equality. The Sadean “categorical imperative” of the body to enjoy pleasure, as Lacan famously argued,1 was simply the obverse side of the Kantian “categorical imperative” of the moral mind. De-Oedipalization brings these two structuring fantasies together as the Law that separates them begins to slide and wane. The “bad virgin” is but one of a number of other equally compelling fantasmatic strategies, which addresses this moral and ethical conflict. In this chapter gurlz’ desires are discussed to better grasp why music is such a primary site/sight/cite for postfeminist identification. The demands of gurlz’ desire have obvious challenges and struggles. When it comes to sexual desire in the law courts of the United States and Europe, it is quite clear that a sharp distinction separates childhood from adulthood when it comes to the age-of-consent. In statutory rape cases, in particular, the younger partner is categorized as incapable and confused when it comes to saying yes or no to sex. By definition the rape “victim” is personally and legally powerless to resist or to relinquish her virtue; the state answers for her. In such laws it is assumed that minors have the right of protection, but the primal object of protection is her virginity, which was the property of the father and not the daughter. The law still supports this. Sex with a minor, until recently, was always considered to be with a female. This has now changed to include boys to litigate consensual homosexual liaisons. Most statutory rape charges involve a male adult and a female minor. It has become more and more common for a young woman to have sex with men


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who are older by some three years (Levine, 2002, 71). The statutory rape law sets up the male as both the seducer and the desiring partner. The girl’s sexual desire is not considered. The wider the age differences between her and her (usually older) male sex partner, the more likely the courts take her to be coerced into sexual intercourse for the first time. The other hierarchy operating in the age-of-consent law is parental rights. Given the minor (daughter) has no right to consent to the sex act, and if it can be shown she has had illicit sex, then the law courts grant the parents the right to prosecute her boyfriend-perpetrator. This becomes especially contentious when a young girl and an older man (or vice versa) wish to get married, or run away together. The situation becomes especially difficult to litigate. In the United States the age-of-consent is currently all over the map.2 As the moral panic increases over the dropping age of sexual initiation slowly drops, the reaction has been to raise the age of consent as a harsh measure of deterrence. Statutory rape is supposed to be a protective feature, but with young women exploring more and more their own desires, it has proven to be a confusing and contentious law. Many young men are given inordinate years of jail time for what the couple thought to be freely consented sex. Judith Levine’s critical journalism in Harmful to Minors (2002) uncovers many of the ambiguities that surround “protecting” children from sex. In many aspects her work opens up the same space between promiscuity and innocence which young people struggle with, as presented by pop divas like Spears. On the whole, sex-education continues to be defined by an emphasis on abstinence-plus and chastity. In the 1990s when teenage pregnancy and birth rates dropped by 17 and 19 percent respectively in the United States, they did not do so because of the embrace of virginity (as was touted by abstinence advocates), but due to improved contraceptive use (111–113). More dramatically in Holland, where contraceptives are freely available and celibacy is not actively promoted, less than one percent of 15 and 17-year-olds become pregnant. In contrast, in the United States “good girls get caught”; meaning a good girl by definition “is not a girl with condoms and lube in her backpack” (113). Such an accusation repeats the paradox of the “dirty virgin”—damn if you do and damn if you don’t. The bottom line claims Levine, is that sex-educators have lost their battle with the Moral Right. Abstinence remains the main strategy in sex-education, while antiabortionists are slowly gaining an upper hand through court battles and terrorist tactics on abortion clinics. Naomi Wolf in 1995 even scolded middle-class women for treating abortions too lightly, and extolled feminists to consider abortion within the paradigm of “sin and redemption” (quoted in Levine, 2002, 120). Antiabortionist propaganda has effectively brought shame and denial on young teens who “get caught” as sexual beings and dumb-luck mothers. In the meantime the age of sexual intercourse continues to drop, with anal and oral sex in some cases not considered to be “sex” at all, a belief also held by President Clinton. Technically speaking, he indeed did not have “sex” with Monica Lewinsky. This was not a lie in his mind.

T D  G’ D 


Judith Levine and Deborah Tolman (whom Levine quotes) both claim that teen desire and sexual experience are seldom talked about. Both mention Michelle Fines’s dated study in 1988 that appeared in The Harvard Educational Review. Fine showed that female desire was overshadowed by talk of female victimization, sexual violence, and personal morality. Levine is quite aware that talk of sexual desire has not somehow been silenced just because the official discourse of sex education in schools and the pressure of the Right moralists in the United States to contain sexual pleasure have managed to assert their hegemony. Such repression comes back with greater force, classically illustrating Freud’s maxim, “the return of the repressed.” In postmodernity, the Internet is the new underground where these forbidden issues continue to get discussed. Levine devotes several pages (144–148) to a number of the more “reliable” websites that discuss teenage sexual desires.3 In the end, however, Levine separates “facts” from “truthful fictions,” which are the stories and fantasies that carry the meaning of love, romance, and desire (150), a position which has been obviously inverted in this book: fantasies support facts. They are more likely to capture the “truth” that the facts conceal. This leads Levine to undervalue the fantasy spaces of media for young people, and falls into a stereotypical dismissal of them (“Hollywood hokum of puppy love and rape, soulless seductions of the sitcom, and the one-size-fits-none spandex beauty of MTV,” Levine, 2002, 153). This strange absence of media and the Internet also pervades Tolman’s study, which purports to examine high school girls’ desire. I now turn to her research.

C D  G’ N Deborah Tolman’s 1994 study, “Daring to Desire,” was published eight years later in its expanded form as Dilemmas Of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality (2002). Both Carol Gilligan and Michelle Fine endorsed it as providing new insights into female desire. Tolman tried to grapple with girl’s desire from a psychological and developmental point of view. In her interviews with mostly heterosexual teenage girls from urban and suburban schools, it became quite clear that girls struggle with their superego drive that urges then to “enjoy.” This is a conflicted voice, as argued, a fusion between one’s own conscience and the will-to-enjoyment. The superego has everything to do with accepting or rejecting the Law; the conflict is always whether it should be obeyed if the social order is no longer to be trusted, perceived to be unfair and unjust. Tolman called this conflict a “voice of the body.” Its presence throughout the narratives is an unmistakable tension of its intensity, the urge of an incredible attraction toward the opposite sex (only two girls were of a different sexual orientation). The girls describe their body feelings in physiological terms when the object of their desire came close—the quivering of the vagina, becoming “hot,” blood pressure going up, and so on. The girls willfully struggled against the “wishes” of their bodies, staving off sexual desire by rationalizing the conflicts and fears of AIDS, pregnancy, and parental


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injunctions. They experienced the fear of loosing their “reputation” and feared not being respected. At the same time, they did not want to feel unwanted and asexual. However, this very same erotic bodily voice also made them feel empowered and alive. Oral sex, for example, gave some girls a controlling feeling. But the struggle between what they thought and felt was always there. Their sexual repression was clearly evident. Many did not want to voice their desires, and remained silent about them. Others had doubts about not acting on their desires through acts of self-censoring, yet others became tongue-tied, unable to articulate their desires. Signifiers couldn’t be found to do so, or they weren’t sure whether they had any sexual desire at all (especially worrying). These narratives exposed an obvious conflict for young women as to what they wanted to do, and what they could do because of internalized social expectations—the moral imperative not to act on their desire. Such an oscillation between power and powerlessness indicates a similar identificatory subject position that oscillates between sadism and masochism found in Freud’s “beating fantasy.” However, unlike male masochism that has a subversive potential within patriarchy, female masochism as Luce Irigaray has often argued throughout her many writings, is the “norm” in patriarchy. Her “sadistic” moments of power are attributed to the figure of a femme fatal, an object of anxiety. Tolman concluded that the relationship between sexual desire and physical violence by boyfriends, date rape, and sexual harassment was more evident in the urban than suburban population. Tolman’s full account of her study, published in 2002, unfortunately did little to expand on this initial picture. For a full-length book with “desire” in its title, there is surprisingly no sustained discussion of what she means by the term. She does, however, provide what she believes to be the common understanding of desire, which is a gross misunderstanding of the difference between desire and drive. Further, the drive’s aggressivity is attributed only to masculinity. We believe that desire is a demanding physical urge, instinct, or drive, embedded so deeply in the body that it gains a life of its own once ignited. It is impossible to control, absolutely necessary to satisfy (through sexual intercourse), and aggressive to the point of violence. It is an unstoppable artifact of testosterone overload. In our worst scenarios, we think of desire as a kind of selfish, exploitative monster, as a force that demands its bearer find satisfaction at the expense of or without concern for someone else. Desire is uncivilized. It is all about individual needs and has nothing to do with relationships. It is male and it is masculine (13, emphasis added).

This is clearly the death drive, and it certainly is not only masculine. Tolman understands these statements as social constructions, “conceptions rather than definitions of desire, and of male and female adolescent sexuality” (13, emphasis in original). The above statement articulates perfectly well the superego’s will-to-jouissance that continually derails any claims to balance and harmony. The girls’ conflicted narratives make this quite evident.

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Tolman’s central thesis argued that patriarchal society has “effectively desexualized girl’s sexuality, substituting the desire for relationship and emotional connection for sexual feelings in their bodies” (5). However, it is not a question that girl’s don’t desire, or don’t express it—many girls interviewed by Tolman were quite aware of “how” to use their body, and had sexual relations on a regular basis. Rather, the more difficult question remains if girls can claim an eroticism of their own that escapes the postpatriarchal system? Is such feminine jouissance even possible? A non-phallic jouissance that is not coveted by boy’s desire is a much more difficult question to come to terms with. Feminists such as Luce Irigaray and Michèle Montrelay have argued that patriarchy offers no space for a feminine jouissance. Irigaray’s theorizing asserts the daughter’s difference from her mother and also from the fantasy of her father as being his daughter. But the only way to bond with the mother by the daughter is by perverting the Law of the Father. It is more the case that the feminine postadolescent assemblages of girlies/gurlz/girls/grrrls stage a perversion by reworking the virgin–slut binary in its various manifestations within the post-patriarchal context. Tolman’s data for her 2002 book was initially collected in 1991, but she claims in a footnote (1, 219) that there is a remarkable consistency in the way girls talk about desire that continues today. Such an assertion should be doubted. There is absolutely no doubt that young women remain conflicted when it comes to feminine jouissance, but it is puzzling why Tolman is unwilling, or unable to see that the Internet and youth culture—especially music—is a site/sight/cite, which is absolutely throbbing with adolescent desire, providing a complex tapestry of girlie/gurlz/girl/grrrl singers and performers to identify with. Only Christina Aguilera receives a token mention in her book (7–8), who is then iconically dismissed as representing a group of adolescent girls who are giving mixed messages. When Tolman was gathering her data, the Riot Grrrl Revolution (discussed in the following chapter) was already well off the ground, but the population of girls she interviewed knew nothing of it. There is a gingerly mention of Grrrl zines (187), which were a veritable source for the politics of Grrrl desire that Tolman praises so much as exemplifying a feminist stance. Lesbian and bisexual subject positions, which Tolman admittedly claims to know very little about, were also available in Grrrl culture. Reynolds and Press’s excellent study on The Sex Revolts (1995) make this abundantly clear. The dichotomy of urban/suburban split is not quite so rigid as Tolman maintains concerning sex and violence either. There is no easy geographical escape from this concern. The private/public, center/periphery dichotomies have broken down. Violence in the family is just as likely to occur in the suburbs as in inner cities. Media and the Internet also do not have geographical boundaries. The postmodern Lolitas and Witches are staging a return of girls’ repressed desire on a grand media scale. In a review article in Der Spiegel (1994) on “girlism” in both Germany and America in the mid-1990s, postfeminism was identified with “Emmas Töchters,” the daughters of emancipated women. “Lolitas who kick like Bruce Lee,”


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defining themselves by life-style mottos like: “Be a beast,” “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere,” and “Get fit, get rich, get laid.” No wonder why so many teenage girls were “wild” over these new stars. Understandably, for many middle-class parents and the Christian Right, Pandora’s Box has indeed been opened. The “newly born woman” to echo Cixous and Clément (1986) was again “reborn.”

T P M S For an increasing portion of middle-class parents whose anxieties are driven by the fear that their children will not succeed in this world, the child has become a site/sight/cite to be exploited for its uniqueness—for its objet a. The allusive aim of desire, the objet a, which is framed only by fantasy, becomes exposed and no longer veiled. The child becomes monstrously driven. But, how can objet a be exposed given its nonspectacularity? What exactly does being “exposed” mean in this context. Objet a as the unary trait that defines a person as that which is more than the subject him or herself, always remains at the center void of identity. It must be consciously disavowed if we are to ethically respect the other person’s desire. In this way the Other is not appropriated and made transparent but appreciated for his or her uniqueness. It is precisely this unknowable Real of the child that lies at the heart of an ethical relationship with its parents that Emmanuel Levinas convincingly demonstrated (jagodzinski, 2002a). This pre-ontological realm enables the child to remain open to the world, searching to define who it is and where it belongs in the Symbolic Order. When this Symbolic Order offers no assurances for identity or social mobility given the breakdown of social rank and status that had begun in modernity, parents construct what they believe is a secure and unwavering one for their child(ren). At one time grooming the son or daughter for the priesthood or nunnery to escape poverty was such a strategy. Today’s perverse parents bring the objet a of their child out in the open, exposing it to the light of performativity by staging kiddie-star contests, the warm-up round to reach the ranks of American Juniors and American Idol. In the United States, many such parents come from trailers and backwater towns hoping that their sons and daughters will find fame through the entertainment industry. Valerie Walkerdine’s (1997, 165–189) personal take on the child-woman stars is to see this as a way out for the working class to gain cultural capital for their children into the middle bourgeois world. While kiddie star contests are often drawn from working-class white families, increasingly more middle-class families are becoming involved as the life chances for their children seem to be progressively lessened. Such parents take the objet a that a child offers them and pervert it. Rather than allowing the child his or her own fantasy, they take and make the child’s fantasy their own. They engulf their child in a world of their own making, playing with them as if they were manipulable dolls or toys much like Michael Jackson’s treatment of his children. Every effort is made to stage objet a in its spectral centrality by making it the defining feature of the child.

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This is what is meant by “exposure.” In so doing, parental anxieties are alleviated by believing that their child will be recognized solely for such a talent. But, objet a by definition is non-spectral. The fantasy structure for the child becomes fixated—rigid and transparent. The parent (most often the mother) in effect names the objet a of the child, which then begins to define her son or daughter totally, and bonds them inseparably together. It is an incestuous relationship, externalized by the talent itself (ballet, music, and sports—especially gymnastics, tennis). The daughter becomes “driven” by the mother (and at times by the father when it comes to sport, especially tennis). The child has no fantasy of her own, or rather she believes that her fantasy is entirely of her own creation by continually performing as objet a (the unary trait) for her mother (and parents, grand parents, neighbors, and audience). For boys this is generally confined to music and sport as the defining feature. Six-year old JonBenét Ramsey remains an iconic figure in America for such a perverse practice. Sexually abused and murdered the day after Christmas in 1996, her pedophilic killer(s) is still on the loose. The Ramsey’s trial remains perhaps as significant as O. J. Simpson’s does in its unanswered questions. Despite the Ramsey’s attempt to exonerate their involvement by hiring a top public relation’s lawyer, Lin Wood, the lingering doubt as to their innocence doesn’t seem to go away, and probably won’t until DNA evidence is matched to the killer. JonBenét’s picture, which appeared in numerous tabloids, was iconic of the perversity of this practice—stylized, bleached and highlighted hair, rouge, make-up, false eyelashes and “flippers” (false teeth used to cap missing front teeth), dressed in clothes (depending on the performance) that were meant to be worn by a mature woman, exhibiting a precocious sexiness that went well beyond the pretend world of dressing like mom. In brief a monstrous child. Life as zoë has been mutated by its confinement into an aestheticized bios. This is not a Shirley Temple (America’s Sweetheart) who was the first child-star to manage herself, and hence own her image. As a figure of the dispossessed working class, often as dirty but lovable orphan, her films were used during the Depression to soften the hearts of the wealthy and to promote the charity of the New Deal (Walkerdine, 1997, 93–94; Eckert, 1991). In difference, JonBenét’s performitivity is mom (for daddy). Patricia Paugh Ramsey was runner-up in the Miss Teenage West Virginia contest while a sophomore at Parkersburg High. In 1977, she was crowned Miss West Virginia. JonBenét is the mirrored alter ego of her mother as a little girl who represents the rapture of her satisfaction, of mom’s jouissance, its full impact veiled, or shielded as it were, only by the aestheticized performance of her daughter. If this weren’t so, her mother would be horrified as to what she had created. She could not disavow the criticism of hyper-narcissism that is waged at these child-beauty pageants. She and her daughter would have to suffer the pain and humiliation of such full exposure. Rather, the trophies and money that usually comes with winning is a way of justifying and saving face: the money will be put away for the child’s academic future, the experience


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is positive, these kids “love” performing, and so on. The extreme costs of participating in pageantry (entry fee, costumes, and travel) are simply the parergon (ornamental accessories), which help frame the event. The monstrosity of the woman-child is that in these pageants the parents have “attained” their child. They have managed to exploit and package its libidinal energy—its “innocence” (zoë ) as described above—into a commodity (as bios) that will guarantee its sell to the entertainment industry, to a room full of neighbors, or to a talent-beauty pageant. Such a phenomenon does not simply point to an extreme form of the usual music lessons parents provide for their children to explore their talent, but relentless grooming of their talent that is regimented and totally disciplined. Making it their einzige Zug, even when it is not. Unlike the fictional figure of Truman (TS), once he discovered his own commodification he exits the set. He becomes “trash,” a piece of shit to the Omni corporation because he no longer was their objet a. In contrast, the child willingly thinks it has to be on display 24-hours a day to please the parent. Should the child refuse, the parent(s) feels that they are ungrateful for what they have “sacrificed” for them. If JonBenét had lived, she may have grown up to be a Mickey Mouser, Britney Spears’s clone, or (let’s hope) she may have rebelled. Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears tells us in their mutual biography, Heart to Heart (2000) that Britney was “[a]n adorable baby girl to dress up like a doll! A daughter to have tea parties with. I’d braid her hair. Lucky for me, Brie loved being a girl. She collected dolls (even today, her room is filled with curio cabinets containing dozens of Madame Alexanders porcelain dolls, and dainty miniature shoes), delighted in frilly clothes, and always seemed to get into her mama’s makeup. But, along with all that sugar there was also a bit of spice. Britney could be a handful” (17). To many feminists, this description must sound absolutely disgusting. When the marketing machine of the Spice Girls came along in the mid-1990s, and effectively co-opted and packaged “Girl Power” toward the “sugar” end of the dichotomy, they effectively ended the Riot Grrrl Revolution that was about six years in the making. By turning spice into syrup because they were so “hot,” feminists felt the full impact of the down side of postfeminism, especially by the market machine behind the Girls. A manufactured band who commodified “girl power,” the girls supported conservative politics (Ginger and Posh both supported Margaret Thatcher who, according to them, was the first “spice girl”), and tried to ironically stage a rebellion that came across as spoilt little-girl antics. “Sugar & spice, and everything nice” was a representation feminists sought hard to change. But it persisted, coming back stronger than ever. Why? For mothers like Lynne, her daughter Britney’s desire to perform was already a god-given talent, which simply needed nurturing. “[T]his desire to perform didn’t just happen overnight. She’s probably been at it since the day she could walk . . . even as an itty-bitty thing she was dancing to the music. She’d put on these shows for our family and friends, and take her bows like a professional” (17). Told often enough, child stars also believe that they

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were “born,” and not made. However, a predisposition of body movement was certainly already there. It was shaped quickly enough. Britney was encouraged to sing the Top 40 hits at an early age to the point where she could imitate any singer’s style with absolute perfect pitch. Her mother’s drive to have her daughter perform was there right from the first moment Britney tried to please her, to try and become what she wanted and demanded. How could it be otherwise? The mystification only occurs when the mother claims that it was her daughter’s choice. “Every school child has an outlet for his or her creativity. As a mother you have to ask yourself ‘with a little nurturing, could I have an architect, a fashion designer, or a budding Picasso on my mind?’ ” (20). The answer, of course, is that you really don’t know as a parent. But it is precisely through nurturing (as parental desire) and/or exploitation (as parental drive) that the special unary trait for the direction of a child is found. “[I]t’s hard to tell sometimes who has the greater fantasy life, the parent or the child. So my advice is this: Ask your child if she really, truly, madly, love music or art or . . . whatever. But always let it be her choice, not yours” (20). The sweet and sanguine biography of Lynne Spears smoothes over all the spice (the strife) that goes on in life. But it points to the power of the maternal superego that has arisen, the contradictory figure of the bad virgin, who raises a hyper-narcissist daughter where the objet a has been extracted, exposed, and exhibited as a property. These three “e’s” required to achieve yet another—excellence in designer capitalism. If the paternal superego is split into its dichotomous demands to obey or transgress the Law in postmodernity, the maternal superego seems to have emerged with an equal vengeance in the demand to enjoy! “Not to be treated like a piece of shit,” is the best advice she learnt from her mother, says Girlie-model Kate Moss (Der Spiegel, 1994). If the paternal superego is breaking down and the maternal superego is taking over it may well be that the symbolic Law of the Father is simply being replaced by rules of knowing how to succeed through a checklist of properties. The maternal superego “does not prohibit enjoyment but, on the contrary, imposes it and punishes ‘social failure’ in a far more cruel and severe way, through an unbearable and self-destructive anxiety” (Zizek, 1991, 103, emphasis added). The girlie/ gurl lifestyle embraces the Madonna Ego Ideal where it becomes important to know the rules of the game and how to manipulate people and assume roles. The rock ’n’ roll world is littered with songs and singers who struggle with their parent’s divorce suggesting that in post-Oedipal society the pull between parents results in a confusion of loyalties that is being worked through the music. The list of such divorces is long: Creed’s Scott Strapp (father left at age 5), Ko}n’s Jonathan Davis (parental divorce at 3), Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington (mother left at age 11), Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Eminem (father left at 6 months). All belong to the same company of divided and often dysfunctional homes. The list continues with Tom DeLonge of Blink 182, Andrew Lewis of Staind, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach, Art Alexakis of Everclear, Benji and Joel Madden of the band Good Charlotte. All have experienced divorces


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(Beard, 2002). In “Family Portrait” (Missundaztood), Pink deals with her parent’s divorce. In an MTV interview Pink says she adores her father and was surprised that her mother put up with her for as long as she did. In Pink’s case it was a rebellion against her mother, but she is no “daddy’s girl” who is performing for him either. Rather, she is a willful minded teen who asserts her own independence and moral stance. At the same time, her mother has not been entirely forgotten, only rejected as “woman.” The new space of daughter–mother relationships opened up in a postOedipal world suggests various forms of struggle for recognition where the typified oedipal triad no longer holds. “Becoming-woman” discussed by feminists, especially as interrogated by lesbian theorists like Elizabeth Grosz and Rosi Bradotti who have selectively embraced Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) “molar” and “molecular” accounts of “woman,” are useful in acknowledging that there are different “lines of flight” that are being taken by gurlz and boyz. However, it would be misleading to call these nonlineal “flights” anti-Oedipal or non-Oedipal, but this is not to deny that “becomingwoman” requires a deterritorialization and a reterritorialization of the body’s desire within the signified assemblages that have been identified as the new signifiers of post-Oedipalization. They still can be usefully theorized as being organized around Lacan’s notion of “lack” as was “stuttered” in the first chapter.

N J UST O   B: B W  F Britney Spears and Company, as to be expected, have been challenged by a host of anti-Britney types for market differentiation such as Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch, and Vanessa Carlton who hearken back to Fiona Apple, Jewel, Alanis Morissette, and Paula Cole. But it is Avril Lavigne who has emerged as the new tomboy on the Skater block. Aimed at a much younger ska crowd, Avril Lavigne has been able to mix‘n‘match Wendy’s repressed Victorian desire to be a man’s equal, Tiger Lily’s sexual youthful indiscretions, and Tinker Bell’s spunkiness as a playmate—all into a five foot two inch Peter Pan figure with a cravat. She too can “fly.” Her skating board can do the same thing as any boi, but better, and be even more self-fulfilling while at it. The bois are her band. She is their leader. She is not, however, a girlie in drag or staging a lesbian performance, although there are obvious inflections of both. There is something more at play in the fantasy structure she presents. Peter Pan can best be understood, not as a boychild but more as a genderless asexual androgyne, a prepubescent youth who refuses to grow up. He evades adult sexuality and its gender divisions. Pan clings to playfulness and childish wonder. Michael Jackson and Avril Lavigne are simply two sides of the Peter Pan fantasy, another response to the hysterical question: “Am I a man or a woman?” which surprisingly includes Marilyn Manson’s transvestitism and self-admittance to be like Peter Pan. Both Michael Jackson and

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Lavigne labor under the transcendental signifier of the “androgyne.” This is their Real figure. The attempt is to erase the sex/gender distinction entirely, to make it disappear, or the very least, attempt to make it an unimportant factor of their identity. Jackson’s Neverland is where the disavowal of growing up is lived. As mentioned, his treatment of his biologically surrogate children is more like they were his playthings than a father–sibling relationship, obviously post-Oedipal in intent. His celebration of the innocence and creativity of children, allowing them to sleep in his bed with him, seems perfectly normal for him since they are asexual creatures in his mind. Pedophilic accusations may be misplaced in his case. Jackson is as much a blend of feminine and masculine characteristics to make him appear androgynous, as is Lavigne. In both cases they are not just one of the bois. This androgynous gender blending is perfectly staged by Avril whose trademark is a cravat, a signifier of phallic masculinity, but worn loosely around her neck, understating that it has no stranglehold on her. The ska clothes she wears are a gender blending of T-shirts, tank tops, bandannas, skater pants (baggy Dickies), various varieties of running shoes, colorful calf-length socks, skater shoes, pocket chains, wrists cuffs, black rubber bracelets, and a tattoo here and there. Mascara is put heavy around the eyes. Although she may look like one of the bois, she isn’t. She has a distinctiveness all her own, a punk skater girl as she claims. The equivalent of Jackson and Peter Pan’s Neverland is the geographical space that ska culture presents, which is an important consideration here. The skating board is a symbol of mobility, being able to cover distances and being involved in risky behavior where scrapes, broken bones, and falling down to get up again—laughing—are part of the sport. Historically, such high-risk behavior has always been disallowed for girls. Although not a hard core skater, Lavigne’s videos give the impression that such transgressive risk adventure is what it’s all about. Girls traditionally have been territorially confined. Boys had the entire playground for football and soccer, while girls used to be confined to such games as skipping rope and hopscotch. No more! Now the territorial space is being reclaimed on equal grounds. Forbidden places are being explored by girlie-gurlz as well. For Lavigne to come across spunky and wild provides permission for the preteen set who lean on the tomboy side to compete for the same turf as the bois. Lavigne provides a strong model in this regard, and she is marketed this way—as being engaged in a wild and goofy adventure. Her two videos, “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” always have her in motion with the action slightly speeded up and frenetic, but definitely in control of the bois, goofing around, and playing gags. A synthesizer corrects the pitch of her voice, which gives her a certain freedom to push the edge in her live performances. Goofing around in malls and skater parks, and in confined urban spaces where skater crowd hang out gives younger girls permission to break their “good” girl image, if only a little. In her interviews, Lavigne is spunky as well. She strongly differentiates herself from Britney Spears. Never would she expose herself in booty shorts and push-up bras, or sing silly candied


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songs! She is more “authentic” and wants to be known for the lyrics she writes. Lavigne wears what she pleases, and becomes very annoyed and upset during interviews when asked about her clothes, or if she would ever consider sexy poses for her videos. Such behavior is perfectly consonant with an androgyne fantasy: to live out the fantasy of staying forever young and retaining one’s innocence by excluding sexuality. The strategy is the very opposite of Spears. Lavigne, who is 18, looks like about 12. Jackson, who is now 44, looks like about. . . . Well you guess. Withstanding the charges of pedophilia, it is no surprise why Jackson loves children. He is one of them himself. While Lavigne remains a little pixie girlie with an attitude.

T P  T() D The “ethics of the Real” presented by Jackson and Lavigne, that is to say, the monstrosity they exhibit by being “out of place,” has the danger of slipping over into anorexia where “Tinky,” as pure mind or spirit, might overpower the mature Wendy (mother) and Tiger Lily (sexuality, like that of Spears). The meaning of the portmanteau word “Tin(k)y” has a doubled sex/gendered sense here: the impotent and immature “tiny” phallus-penis of Cupid (Jackson) and the innocent “tinky” pixie-girl (Lavigne). Both are asexual in their presentation—an erasure of sex marked by a spunky innocence. It is the impossibility of completely removing the “spunk” from innocence to make it absolutely “pure,” that points to Freud’s discovery of the perverse polymorphous sexuality of children, the same perverse sexuality revealed in the symptoms of Freud’s patients expressed indirectly in their dreams. Spunk is slang for sperm. It connotes jumping, life, wildness—zoë. Coded masculine, both Lavigne and Jackson introject its “wild” nature differently. Jackson’s wild dancing, like Fred Astaire, effeminizes him, while in Lavigne’s case, it emasculates her. The effect is that both appear androgynous seemingly extending the possible assemblages of sex/gender in postmodernity. Freud’s discovery of polymorphous sexuality prevents adults from separating children from adult sexuality easily, and in turn, being able to segregate adult issues from children’s issues. Pedophilic tendencies reveal the collapse of this divide. This bears directly on the discussion concerning the age-of-consent and the monstrous child-woman like JonBenét in the way libidinal energy (zoë ) circulates in perverse positions. It can be argued that Spears and Lavigne are inversions of one another in the music industry in the way that they “enjoy.” Lavigne seems to be Spears all dressed up in androgynous clothing to contain her sexuality; she wants to be known for the “authenticity” of her songs—her mind and not her sexual bodily gyrations. Spears is Lavigne undressed to expose her sexuality, wanting to be known for the feminine jouissance embodied in her songs. It is her body (not mind) that matters, or “mutters” desire, as Tim Dean (1994) would have it. Now, to tie this discussion up with our initial mention of anorexia and androgyny. With anorexia, the body’s sexuality becomes directed inward; the drives turn in on themselves. The body begins to starve because there are no

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signifiers it wishes to consume; there are no objects that sufficiently hold objet a to desire. There is No-Thing to consume. The Ideal Ego that is striven for can not be attained. The elimination of sexual difference is an impossible one. Michael Jackson’s addiction to plastic surgery, his regimented diets, the masks over his nose and mouth, eye makeup, his Neverland retreat, and his controlled sleeping environments are symptomatic of such an impossible search in the mirror for the disappearance of sex/gender distinction. Jackson is not unlike the performance artist Orlan who is transforming herself through a series of staged operations into an “ugly” woman complete with a new name. Her anti-beauty and anti-plastic surgery statement is directed to a finished transformed face that she has previously sketched. Orlan knows her goal and has aimed her drives toward it. What of Jackson? So long as he is able to sustain his transformative face in the mirror, the anorexia is staved off. When the mirror can no longer sustain the illusion of its Ideal Ego; that is, when this Ideal Ego is impossible to reach, then the subject disappears into the Real, into the vanishing point of the mirror. The anorexic becomes consumed by the Real. I am not claiming that Lavigne is anorexic (or Jackson for that matter), although they are both light bodied. What I am saying is that the structuring fantasy of androgyny that they are playing with requires a certain “protection” to successfully state its ethical demand that bois and gurlz are equal, which is a different “line of flight” than the Sadean solution. Such a position is maintained by perverting the Law-of-the-Father by refusing to take any master signifiers of an Oedipal Father (Jackson) or an Oedipal Mother (Lavigne). Lavigne’s transvestist attire, especially her cravat as a stolen signifier, embodies her alter ego. It acts as a talisman, a magical protective ring that prevents her slide into the vanishing point in the mirror. Let us hope that Lavigne keeps her ring, and that no Golem comes to possess it!

T F F Before developing two more strategies of an “ethics of the Real”—the banal Virgin and Grrrl’s desires in the next chapters—it is useful to end with the way yet another eating order is symptomatic of desire that troubles young women in this post-Oedipal transition. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud developed the two games played by his nephew Ernst as a way of illustrating the difference between desire (game 1) and drive (game 2) that structures a perverted gaze. In game one Ernst threw the yo-yo like spool out from his baby carriage so that he could reel it in again as a way to compensate for his mother leaving him. It also completed the circuit of what was absent and found, bringing Ernst into signification. Game 2 was entirely different. Ernst would bob up and down and catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror, refusing to complete the circuit, simply pleasuring himself by catching glimpses of his image as it lingered in the mirror for that split second. The first game characterizes desire, while the second characterizes the satisfaction of the repetitive drive.4 Girlie/gurl/girl/grrrl assemblage


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cultures illustrate the ambivalent interplay of desire and drive. The ambivalences and contradictions between desire and drive, which oscillate between the two games, can be identified by what Gamman and Makinen (1994) have named as “the fourth fetish”: bulimia. This eating disorder can be interpreted as a perverse fantasy where there is a constant oscillation between not being a subject in the Symbolic Order (when excessively bingeing), and then recovery (purging), which restores the ego back into its structure. The first is ruled by the structure of the drive, the second ruled by the structure of desire through a sadomasochistic pact with the self. Whereas anorexia, and its obverse, obesity, have been interpreted as a “ ‘flight from femininity’ which unconsciously denies female sexuality and may involve a flight from ‘the male gaze’ ” (123), the bulimic is caught between the swing gates of living out the old “femininity” and trying to escape into the new. Bulimics still embrace some of the traditional assumptions concerning femininity which they cannot entirely free themselves from. Bulimia becomes the compromised disorder of “becoming-woman” in postmodernity. This is a Neverland, which is characterized by a transitional undecidability: to grow up or not to grow up, that is the question? If in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Tinky as the androgyne (Jackson, Lavigne) is prone to anorexia, and Wendy as the good guardian mother is prone to obesity through multiple births and worry, then Tiger Lily as the girlie/gurl (Spears) is prone to being bulimic. Can such homologies hold? Bingeing might be compared with a hyperbolization of game 2; the binger tries to amass the objet a in herself as a “little piece of the Real” so that it is never lost, a reversion to the mother’s breast. Her food fetish is the literalization of her desire to deny or disavow that she is merely a fantasy object for men. As Gamman and Makinen argue, food can act as an “orthodox” sexual fetish where the food takes the place of a sex partner (135). Such narcissistic display can be interpreted as a “radical ethical act” for it brings the bulimic to the brink of an unreserved acceptance of the death drive as she puts herself in the position of what Lacan called the “second death.” She is ready for self-annihilation through the binge rather than cede to the desire of the big Other (Symbolic Order) that demands she be slim and “normal.” There is no doubt about her masochism as to the self-torture of overeating. However, when she realizes she is a helpless victim of the forces that she cannot control, she begins to feel uncertainty. By vomiting she becomes an object for her self, and thereby becomes a subject (game 1) once more. It is the purge through vomiting that brings her pleasure in her pain (jouissance). To be a “subject” in the Lacanian sense is to experience oneself as an object. She is “helpless victim” (game 1) who confronts the “nothingness” of her narcissistic pretension (game 2). The narcissistic young woman is the daughter who has abandoned her mother’s “old” femininity and stays satisfied with game 2; the postfeminist girlie/gurl is burdened by bulimia (indecisive desire), anorexia (desire of the androgyne as asexual mind), and obesity (desire of being a mother). Gamman and Makinen’s (1994, chapters 2 and 5) survey of the increased

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acceptance of perverse sex and eating disorders in a culture of slenderness suggests that the girlie/gurl lifestyle is not so free as it is made out to be. In their last chapter they suggest that postmodernism is a culture of fetishism. “Unlike displacement or sublimation, fetishism does not involve repression of the desire experience” (214, emphasis added). The girlie/gurl lifestyle is a perfect match for commodity and sexual fetishism where the drive for pleasure supplants desire. The fragmentary, decentered subject makes a willing capitalist subject who can expand the range of her jouissance to an ever-increasing array of new “mirrored games.” The perversity of this postfeminist gaze is marked by the girlie/gurl’s hysterical attempt to escape her own split by occupying the post-patriarchal gaze of the big Other through a tease; that is by being the dirty and bad hysteric. Being “bad” is precisely what unites the new masculinity and femininity together in a “one-sex model” that seems to echo and quote the nineteenth century (Laqueur, 1990). The girlie/gurlz is an inverted boi/boyz, and visa versa. She is good on the inside (virgin) but bad on the outside. He is bad on the outside, but good (virgin) in the inside. Can such a hypothesis be sustained?

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erhaps its best to start with an oblique pun: Courtney Love is to Romantic Courtly Love as Hole is to the Spice Girls. Courtney Love had an uneasy relationship with the Riot Grrrls, accusing the movement for its fixation on the prepubescent tomboy as the ultimate proto-feminist rebel— like Tank Girl and Avril Lavigne today. Yet, no discussion trying to grasp the fantasy formations of the Riot Grrrls as an underground force, and their contribution to the self-sufficiency of “becoming-woman” can dismiss her. She would, of course, cringe at the idea that could be considered a symbolic “mother” to such a generation of teens and young women who made their statement in the early 1990s. “Slut me open and suck my scars.” “The sweet cream clot and the sick milk udder.” Some of the more graphic lines from “Loaded” (Pretty on the Inside) that presents pregnancy as a vile experience fit only for cows. Love’s sensibility toward abortion doesn’t fare any better. “Mrs. Jones” (on the same album) presents a horrific abortion scene where viral infection, stench, and knife stabs at the baby shock Mrs. Jones so deeply that she becomes totally paranoid: “I’ve got a bad eye. . . . I shouldn’t have looked at it.” This desublimated ugly aesthetic of the abjected mother is most evident in Hole’s debut album Pretty on the Inside (1991), a phrase that has been traditionally offered by mothers as a consolation to their daughters who worry about their looks (Reynolds and Press, 1995, 263). “Pretty” has gone underground, to expose the rawness of the flesh and the pain it bears. Unlike beauty of the diva virgins discussed earlier, a Hole emerges—foremost as vagina, and then as the oral cavity of a wound, which opens up as the completeness of jouissance, the mother as das Ding with her full chthonic powers exposed. The phallic mother that terrifies her children by the sheer threat of her authority. In the opening song “Teenage Whore,” she kicks the groupies out of the house. In “Babydoll,” she becomes a passive toy humiliated and infantalized by vampire-like men. On the back-sleeve of the album is a painting by bass guitarist Jill Emery of this phallic woman. It is a Medusa-like selfportrait this staring at herself in a hand-held mirror. Miniature, dismembered


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arms jut out of her head. Her torso is emaciated with her ribcage exposed. Her arms are muscular and large while her knuckles are grazed and bleeding. Tears remain like frozen stones on her cheeks. A heart is painted on her chest, fringed with arrows. On the hand-mirror is an unblinking eye, the stare of the Medusa; a contradictory figure, both threatening and wounded at the same time. What makes Love a good Bitch? What is it that prevents her from falling into the Sadean trap? Does her ethical demand save her? No one doubts that Love is a conflicted persona. Called the “queen of noise” by one of her biographers, Melissa Rossi (1996), she was a reluctant mother, bearing a child with Kurt Cobain, had undergone an abortion, and had been (rather, still is) addicted to heroine. She is no stranger to battery and assault charges and plastic surgery seems to be a further addiction. Given such a conflicted background, why should the “noise” of her ethical demand be deciphered? Pretty on the Inside is demand driven. A demand is a drive not caught in the circuitry of desire. It wants satisfaction as if it had a “mind” of its own. It is a “short circuit” that disrupts the seemingly “natural” homeostatic balance of a pleasurable ego. Desire exists in the margins of the demand, on the rim of the body’s cavities that are the openings for pleasure—but, too much pleasure and the sensation turns to pain. The demand of the drive is sublimated by a fantasy frame, which acts like a lure or container; it “holds” and “protects” us from its full effects. The drive’s full effects only emerge as a death drive that completely overwhelms the ego. This death drive is often turned on the artist rather than aggressively projected outward. Consumed by rage, it can lead to masochistic self-mutilation, ranging from writing slogans on the body (like Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill with “slut” written on her navel with lipstick) to cutting up the body itself (like Marilyn Manson). Pretty on the Inside is Love’s out(rage)ous self-mutilation. But, to what extent is such feminine masochism destructive rather than ethically transgressive? It is obvious that Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland and Courtney Love’s “kinder-whore look,” as she called it, was bringing the fantasy of the childwoman “too close” for the audience to bear. It was an anxiety-producing image, heavy eye-make-up and lipstick that, at times, was smeared on, missing the contours of the lips, combined with little girl dresses with high leather boots. It was like a grotesque-parody of prepubescent cuteness of a JonBenét Ramsey who had been destroyed by sexual maturation; as if the pedophile had struck, and the little girl grew up marked by a death-rape. Sometimes the dresses were torn or soiled, or fish net nylons ripped so that it appeared as if Love had been a victim of sexual assault.

W D G’ W? The signifier grrrl plays with a multiple of meanings. Most obviously, it attempts to escape the patriarchal signifier “girl” or “girly,” which is dispersed into as many variations as possible—gURLS, gyrls, grrrls, grrlz—so as to escape being “goooooogle[d]” at. More powerful is its meaning that exists

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like a “growl” in the throat, a sound still stuck by the silence scream of a trauma that cannot be recalled or remembered, but is trying to be forcefully yelled out—becoming-animal. This is a hysterical symptomatic displacement in the voice. It is a sound that is not quite “born” in its development, but speaks of the anger and pain of birthing a “new” woman to allude to Cicoux and Clément (1986). Ginger, the daughter of “Vinny,” one of The Banger Sisters (Bob Dolman, 2002) has an unexplainable “grrr” lodged in her throat. She is a teenager who is struggling to be independent, still under house rules unable to get a driver’s license. Gulia Dozza, played by 20-something Maruschka Demers in Marco Bellocchio’s little known film, The Devil in the Flesh (1987) has an uncontrollable giggle in her voice as she struggles to be accepted into the patriarchal Pulcini family of Giacomo, the man she is to marry. These are displaced hysterical symptoms located “in” the voice, which reveals an unconscious “muttered” desire. The Grrrl rebellion took a range of other names as well: “hot chicks,” “ghetto divas,” “rock queens,” “Gangsta bitches,” and “hardcore dykes” wearing T-shirts like “does your pussy do the dog?” There never was “one” single definition for this movement. It ranged in participation from young girls in their early teens to their mothers. Some claim that the movement started in New York in 1992 with the music festival “Wig Wam Bam” and the grounding of the Women’s coalition of SWIM (Strong Women in Music). Others credit Kathleen Hanna the lead singer of Bikini Kill, publishing newsletters and encouraging chapters from her home base in Olympia, Washington. The slogan “Girl Power” and Hanna’s Riot-Grrrl Manifesto that defined that power, held them together.1 The Manifesto tapped women’s chthonic powers and was especially anticapitalist and anti-patriarchal. Grrrl culture’s ethical demand in the Real, explored in their Xeroxed ’zines (Girl Germs, Maleface, Hungry Girl ) and their DIY (Do it Yourself) punk music expressed their experiences of harassment, sexual abuse, incest, rape, parental separation and divorce, and product safety (tampons). These zines and music mocked and parodied the double bind that girl’s desire had to contend with: if you looked good you “invited” sexual harassment; if you looked dowdy then your self-esteem suffered. The much cited study by Gilligan and Brown, which came out in 1992 when the Riot Grrrl revolution was in full swing, found that the onset of puberty had devastating effect on girls’ confidence and self-esteem. Their music and zines pushed back and ridiculed the standards of physical perfection, “the Beauty Myth,” that Naomi Wolf wrote about that same year—1992. From its inception there was a strong lesbian element that took solidarity in their exclusion. The Riot Grrrl phenomenon is perhaps as far removed as possible from the manufacturing of stardom like Pop Idol and The Making of the Band. The movement started as a ground swell, its underground networks hooked together by the production of Zines and bands (L7 and Bikini Kill in the United States, Huggy Bear in Britain) illustrating Deleuze’s metaphorical labyrinthine notion of the rhizome. The DIY production process of the Zines and the music, while loosing aesthetic appeal due to their unrefined


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form, was made up in content (Marion, 1998). When any new cultural phenomenon arrives it can look crude and not worked out. It seems like an “ugly” aesthetic. An analogy can be drawn here with the movement by early Christians whose ethics were based on the notion of civitas. Virtually anyone could join regardless of race, ethnicity, and citizenship as long as they believed in the creed (a Cause). Their early artistic efforts to express such an ideal were crude in comparison to the refined art of Roman civitatus, the splendor of civilian architecture set aside only for its citizens. The ethics of the early Christians far exceeded the participatory base of only being a Roman citizen. And so, it was the Riot Grrrl movement that reached an intergenerational base spanning from 14-year-old teens to 50-year-old women. The Zines enabled anyone who had an opinion to contribute to the Cause. Their small scale production and attempt to be an acephalous living body was community minded and anticapitalist in its thrust, a unique historical achievement.

L  Y F: P   L G It is the oral drive that the Grrrl culture unleashed to make its ethical complaint. Ritalin tablets were trashed and the effect of lipstick, as the lure of male desire, was ruined to make her demand both heard and seen. The eroticism of lipstick as the ornament of feminine desire, a sign for the supplementary excess of desirable pleasure, became grotesque and monstrous by manipulating its containment and lure. Courtney Love would spread it past her lips, diffusing its power, making its excess appear like a child who had indulged in eating too much chocolate, desublimating its effects. Grrrl PJ Harvey, on the front cover on her debut album Dry (1992) smeared it on her mouth. Her expression looks like as if she has been physically hit, yet defiant.2 Intensification of excess/access was also played with by using shocking red lipstick that accentuated only the mouth, and of course, wearing Gothic black and writing “SLUT” with lipstick on their bodies, the trademark tactic of Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill who had it written on her navel. Riot Grrrl bands, like Bikini Kill, L7, Huggy Bear, Babes in Toyland cleared their own territory. The mosh pit in front of them was reserved strictly for grrrls. Boyz could come, but had to take a back seat. The ground prepared earlier for the Riot Grrrl intervention presents a host of “tough” female artists who exemplified a frightening phallic jouissance, which gave them the stereotypic “man hater” image. In the late 1980s, Polly Harvey of PJ Harvey in the song “Man-Size” (Rid of Me), projected herself as a leather-booted macho man who torches her feminine alter ego. She becomes a 50 foot Queen, an Amazonian who claims herself to be the “King of the World.” In the same album (“Me-Jane”), Harvey fights the breastbeating braggart Tarzan (Reynolds and Press, 1995, 243). The band L7 further exemplified this macha attitude, synonymous with male macho, by replacing the phallus with the “clit” in their 1992 album, Bricks Are Heavy

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(produced by Butch Vig). L7 can be likened to the monstrous women bodybuilders who mimic their macho males by building an equal amount of muscle, causing a disturbance in the “natural” sex/gender binary. “That Ain’t Pleasure” on the same album has this effect. Any trace of the feminine is gone (raccoon make-up and trashy stage garb), yet their overtly political awareness and alignment with feminist issues is clear. In “Pretend We’re Dead” they sing, “Turn the tables with our unity, they’re neither bold nor majority, wake up and smell the coffee or just say no to individuality.” L7 refused to be identified as a political band and despised being known as an “all Girl Band.” Pro-Choice (they began Rock for Choice in 1991 with the Feminist Majority Foundation), war, and slacker issues were all on their agenda. In their song “Wargasm,” the three m’s are probed: masculinity, masturbation, and the military, treating the Gulf War as a TV porn-feast. At the Reading Festival in 1992, their singer and lead guitarist Donna Sparks immortalized L7 by pulling out her tampon and throwing it at a male who was harassing her in the audience, gesturing that the blood was a sign of their own abjection. L7 has had staying power, willing to risk an “indie label” after a decade of virulent rock. As Sparks put it, “We’re inspired by the things that happen to us and we use music as a venting venue, we try to take something bad and make it good by writing a song about it. When I write in a great mood, the songs are schmaltz” (Freydkin, 1998). Lydia Lunch’s confessional exorcisms around this same time can be compared with Linda Blair’s green vomit visually immortalized in the film The Exorcist (1973). In Uncensored Lydia Lunch, Hysterie, and Oral Fixation, Lunch’s autobiographical and archaeological songs came across like hysterical speech where she places herself at the edge of a speech act, not willing to be castrated by the Symbolic Order. Her use of logorrhea can be identified as an expression of extreme pain or rapture that bypasses the signifier as to its meaning, the jouissance remains attached to the sounds themselves (one can also think of Yoko Ono’s early work here where long tracks of painful winning is heard throughout her songs). Such speech Lacan would identify as “lalangue,” the affective patterning of the mother tongue which remains embodied. In “Daddy Dearest” (Oral Fixation), Lunch graphically accounts her father’s sexual abuse. PJ Harvey’s music is embodied in a similar way. Historically, there have been many other female performers whose own death drive was barely sublimated by their music. Reynolds and Press in Sex Revolts (1995) offer a fairly comprehensive review. Lunachicks’s 1992 LP, Binge and Purge, combines “teen-delinquent grrrl power and the gleeful reveling in the messy murk of female bodylines” (345). “Plugg” is about menstrual pain. “Binge and Purge” mocks girls who try to confirm to cheerleader standards, exposing what’s behind the pom-poms—periods and bulimic bouts. The song is punctuated by vomiting. In “Mom,” the Lunachicks lambaste an obsessional supermom who can’t leave until the place is clean—her daughter wants to make a break so as not to become like her mother. Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland wrote songs like, “Vomit Heart” and “Fork Down Throat,” which repeat similar themes of bulimia. Patti Smith is yet


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another hysterical performer. Her gushing gibberish in songs like “Radio Ethiopia” is what she calls a “babelogue” in opposition to a monologue or soliloquy. Smith attempts to recover primal speech that exists before the fall into language, a search for Kristevian semiotic impulses of the voice as an object, raising the possibility of non-phallic rock organized against endless crescendos that avoid the tension/explosion dualism of a phallic orgasm. So what did the Grrrl movement in? By 1993 it seemed to just disappear. First and foremost, the stress on being an underground networked movement was crucial to keep it “protected” from both capitalist and patriarchal appropriation. When the national music press got hold of it, it changed form by being brought out in broad daylight. When a cult following is exposed, the transgressiveness of the act becomes lost. Desire becomes diffused and deflated as objet a loses its magical charm. Second, Aberdeen overshadowed Olympia. The Grunge scene happened about the same time. Kurt Cobain seemed to displace Kathleen Hanna’s Grrrl riot by the media attention he received. Lastly, The Spice Girls took away the grrrl in girl and turned it into “girlie power.” The term “Girl Power” was appropriated through the masterful marketing of cuteness with a sprinkle of shadow boxing thrown in which effectively dissipated the threat the Grrrl rebellion had posed. The Spice Girls did “naughty” resistant-like behavior, urinating in a Taiwanese Temple, picking their noses in interviews, and disclosing details about their toiletry, antics that grabbed media attention and little else. Throw in a little flirtation with Prince Charles and Thatcher into the mix and you have marketable indiscretion. Barbara Findlen’s collection, Listen Up: Voices from the Next Generation, and Amy Raphael’s Grrrls: Viva Rock Divas, both written in 1995, provide a summative statement of the movement (see also Kearney 1998). Revivals of the original Ladyfest that took place in Olympia—one in Scotland at the turn of the millennium and the other in San Francisco two years later—received lukewarm reviews. Yet, more are planned. What follows are some explorations of the Fly Girl movement and two contemporary singers who, in my opinion, have picked up elements of the Grrrl rebellion that had stopped so suddenly.

F G: T E F-F B In chapters 4 and 5 the rap scene was developed without exploring the feminist resistance by young black women who challenge the sadism of such rappers as 2 Live Crew and the general put down of black women as “hoes,” and self-styled promiscuous “skeezers” and “hotties.” There are black women rappers who can be considered as representatives of the grrrl cultural assemblage. They have developed their own unique black aesthetic known as the Fly Girl. Women rappers were on the ground floor of the rap scene, but it was not until the 1990s that they began to be noticed. In general, women rappers can be separated into three groups or “crews”—the early and

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mid-1980s, on through to the early 1990s, and then the late 1990s until present. The best-known early rapper in the mid-1980s was Queen Latifah whose political stance was quite explicit, but has since become rather subdued and appropriated by mainstream pop culture. She had been characterized— along with Queen Kenya, Sister Souljah, Nefertiti, Isis, Queen Mother Rage, and Yo-Yo—as a maternally strong black woman with an explicit social and political message, known affectionately as exuberating a “Queen Mother” type. Within the theoretical claims of this chapter, it is the Fly girl and the “Sista with Attitude” of the early to late 1990s who exemplify the perverse transgressiveness of sexuality on public display. Fly refers to a particular style of chic clothing, fashionable hairstyles, jewelry, and cosmetics, which grew out of “blaxploitation” films of the late 1960s to mid-1970s (like Shaft, Superfly, The Mack, Foxy Brown). This fly style eventually found its way into hip-hop culture in the mid-1980s. SaltN-Pepa—Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella were the ones who canonized the fly girl posture of rap in the 1990s. They wore short, tight-fitting outfits, leather clothing, ripped jeans or punk clothing, glittering gold earrings and necklaces, long sculpted nails, prominent makeup, and played with colored hairstyles that ranged from braids and wraps to waves (Keyes, 2000, 260). The fly-aesthetic emphasized their full breasts, rounded buttocks and thighs as the markers judged to be beautiful by black American culture, but considered undesirable by white American beauty standards. This is a point that is explored by Rose (1994, 167–168) especially concerning the flash of the ass by Salt-N-Pepa as a contradictory gesture that both objectives them, at the same time, clearly demonstrates their sexual freedom and possession of their “thang.” “The black behind has an especially charged place in the history of both black sexual expression and white classification of its as a sign of perversity and inferiority” (167). A substantial black folk history has to do with the celebration of big behinds for men and women in dances such as the Bump, the Dookey Butt, E.U., reconfirmed by Spike Lee’s song “Da Butt.” Josephine Baker’s exoticized dancing as the “Hottentot Venus” is usually singled out as part of the white scrutiny of the black female body. Hence the celebration of big butts and big hips in video work by fly girls plays a similar erotogenic site/sight/cite as the navel does for the dirty virgin divas. There is the same celebration of the body’s eroticism without the need to play a “virginity card.” It locates her “thang” (objet a) in such a way so as to flash it now and again so that it confirms her self-control, but also hystericizes her ambivalence toward her black male partner. Rose’s astute insight into female rappers especially foregrounds this contradictory relationship that exists within the sexual politics of the rapper and hip-hop scene between black men and women. The fly girl was a partygoer, independent, and an erotic subject rather than an objectified ho, although there were always “hotties” looking to sleep with rappers during parties, always hanging around music video productions. The fly girl attitude, in contrast, was an affirmation of self-esteem. The black woman’s full-figure was flaunted as an erotic body; they had a “realistic”


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attitude toward sex. Fly rappers like Salt-N-Pepa and TLC (T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chili) delivered “safe sex” messages and rapped about AIDS. TLC’s video, “Waterfall” (CrazySexyCool, 1994), features an encounter where a man decides to follow his partner’s wish not to use a condom. A lesion appears on his face suggesting that he has contracted the virus that causes AIDS. Fly girls faced the consequences of sex squarely. This was the point Tricia Rose (1994) emphasized when discussing women rappers as the “Bad Sistas.” Sexual politics was their central contestation, but it was always a dialogical rather than oppositional in relation to the sexism of male rappers and the broader questions raised by feminism. Rose identifies three themes that predominate in such a dialogue: “heterosexual courtship, the importance of the female voice, and mastery in women’s rap and black female public displays of physical and sexual freedom” (147). She explores these themes by describing how especially Salt ‘N’ Pepa, MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, and Queen Latifah manifest them in the various rap and video releases. There is a conflation between fly girls and “Sistas with Attitude” that has further analogous affinity to grrrl cultures. The saying “hey, girl!” inflected with a certain knowing panache, is an attitude that has grrrl reverberations. In the late 1990s female MC and songwriter Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot emerged with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly in 1997 as a full-figured fly woman. In her single, “She’s a Bitch” (Da Real World, 1999), Missy reclaimed the word “bitch” from its patriarchal and gangsta rap definition of an aggressive female who challenges male authority to one who is aggressive, arrogant, and defiant of patriarchal rule. She ends up with an “attitude” that is analogous to grrrl culture. Rappers like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown became the “bad” rap grrrls of hip-hop who came across as powerful, desirable and dangerous femme fatales. Both were affiliated with male gangsta rap-style crews: Lil’ Kim with M.A.F.I.A. and Foxy Brown with The Firm. Women rappers such as Boss, Bytches with Problems, Da Brat, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shanté provide some of the strongest lyrics that position them to be as good as the men when it comes to partying and sexual exploits. Rose (1994, 174), for example, mentions that such aggressive women rappers were dubbed as “gangsta women” or “gangsta bitches” like Boss (a duo from Detroit) who rap about revenge fantasies against black men. Seducing, repressing, and sexually emasculating males by “dissin’ ” them (verbally downplaying them). These are Sadean women with “attitude,” self-defined bitches ready to be a male’s equal.

Femme Fatale   C  R: S M  Garbage Grrrl culture raised the trauma of women’s identity as a struggle between feminine biological difference—often understood in essentialist terms in her capacity to possess chthonic power—and constructed femininity. The more critical aspects of the rebellion never lost their anticapitalist and antidesigner stance: it was l’art brut because of its DIY stance. Unquestionably

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an underground scene still exists, especially in major postindustrialized cities around the world. Before the MP3 Napster and Aimster crackdown by the major music labels (their successor KaZaA is also experiencing law suits), the Internet is and remains the new underground cyberspace of postmodernity. It is territorially lawless enough to post one’s own defiant stand. On the more spectacular scene, there are two women who I feel continue the spirit of grrrl power a decade later in their video and musical statements: Shirley Manson of the band Garbage and Pink. Both artists are heavily marketed, which flows contrary to The Riot Grrrl Manifesto, however, in postmodernity this market cannot be “entirely” escaped from to make a public statement, and that it can be used against itself to some extent. (Eminem is certainly a primary example of this.) Shirley Manson and Pink present an “ethics of the Real,” which continues to insist on women’s demands for justice: Shirley Manson through her chthonic femme fatale rebellion, and Pink through her autobiographical schizophrenia. This is the stance I would like to propose. Garbage, the very name directly addresses l’art brut of an ugly aesthetic— the obsessive overproduction that emerges in postindustrialized consumer society. It has no value. It can also be interpreted as noise by an establishment that refuses or can’t “hear” it. Cofounder of the band, Butch Vig (recall his connection to the band L7), had successfully produced Nirvana’s Nevermind, Sonic Youth’s “Dirty” and Smashing Pumpkins Gisha and Siamese Dream. The band was formed in 1994, an historical moment when the Grrrl Riot was effectively over. Garbage’s sound is the historical confluence of Grunge and the Riot Grrrls in the hyper-synthesized mix of their drummer Butch Vig (at that time some songs had up to 100 mixed tracks). With the help of guitarist and keyboard player Duke Erickson, bass player Steve Marker, and coupled with the lyrics of Shirley Manson, they create a complex driving sound achieved through the use of old analogue synthesizers. With their second album produced in 1998, aptly called Version 2.0, Shirley Manson came across in a broad range of mixed emotions; on stage she was randy, angry, vindictive, and hurt. In club concerts she would smear her lipstick indiscriminately and wear blood-red mini-mini skirts with snug sleeveless blouses. Rumor had it that Manson at times performed without underpants. The band created, in one critic’s words, “a technofied sexual nightmare.” Sexually charged, Manson played with her chthonic femme fatale persona in the way Sharon Stone did in Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992). Was she, or was she not a man killer? Red was her color, and she used its lure in yet another way. The ethical demand by the femme fatale places the man in an impossible position of choice. Either he accept her demand for justice and equality that she poses, and thereby be punished and swallowed up with her in the same death wish, or he punishes her, which has been the patriarchal response. Manson played such a game. Strawberry pink gloss was the lipstick color the Los Angeles based company StarCrazy manufactured for her. She promoted the lipstick and its accompanying song “You Look so Fine” (Version 2.0), “free” of change provided that profits went to cancer charities.


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Its lyrics describe the paradoxical love of a femme fatale. Despite being madly in love with a man, the woman protagonist bluntly says such phrases as “I’m through Bleeding for you.” And the paradoxical “I want to break your heart and give you mine.” Her demand in the song is for the man to leave the “other” woman. In “I Think I’m Paranoid” the same ethical demand is repeated. The paranoia is a hysterical one. Manson presents a continual tease between being possessed by her lover, but ultimately she is in charge, the position of a hysteric. Her 1995 song “Stupid Girl,” admonishes a female persona caught entirely by her own self-narcissism. The “hammering” in “Hammering in My Head,” is Manson’s full recognition of the way she was affected by her lover, but she “play[s] boomerang with her demons,” and “sweat[s] it all out.” Manson is a woman in charge. In the last instance, despite how much she is consumed by the Other, her hysterical stance doesn’t allow her to become his object cause of desire. Given this reading, “#1 Crush” sounds like a parody as Manson for three-quarters of the song seems to be in complete abandonment to her lover. She would do everything for him, even die for him. But all this masochistic suffering is yet another demand: that he recognizes her suffering is not any different than his. “And I can never be ignored.” For the general public, Shirley Manson of Garbage is probably best known for her video and song “The World is Not Enough” (1999), the signature song from the James Bond movie of the same name. It provides a stark contrast to Madonna’s video, “Live Another Day” (another Bond movie), in terms of its narcissistic decentering. Madonna splits herself into dichotomous black and white personas with silly pop references to Freud and the Kabbalah. The song is all about Madonna, while Manson, as will be argued, places the viewer in an uncomfortable ethical position. Although Manson did not write the lyrics (credits are given to Don Black), the video seems to uncannily illustrate the ethical demand of the femme fatale as is being argued. Given the band members interest in film, the narrative of the video speaks to her unconscious desire in the way that the song has been interpreted. It would seem that the idea for its inspiration came from Duncan Gibbins’s science fiction film Eve of Destruction (1991). The story lines are similar. In a nutshell, the film is about Dr. Eve Simmons (Renée Sontendijk) who is a cybernetics expert. She has been working on a cloned replica of herself, a cyborg known as Eve VIII, the last seven attempts being unsuccessful. What makes Eve VIII so special is that she has been implanted with Dr. Simmons’s memories, which not surprisingly, include her murderous unconscious desires. The military are only interested in this cyborg as a weapon because she is indestructible. And, wouldn’t you know it, they have placed a nuclear bomb inside her womb to make her the ultimate femme fatale on the loose! This displacement is too obvious to dwell on here as it plays with the male’s unconscious fear of the maternal das Ding. Eve VIII has been programmed not to harm people, but inevitably she goes awry living out all the repressed fantasies of Dr. Simmons. She becomes a runaway femme fatale armed with a bomb about to detonate at a given time.

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Manson and Garbage (it seems) reworked this same plot. Manson is Eve VIII, her femme fatale alter ego in the song. The video begins with lab technicians assembling Manson as a working cyborg. A “device” is then placed inside her “back,” reversing the location of the “weapon.” As men try to embrace her in the laboratory, they die as she easily crushes them. Eventually, we see her elegantly dressed—in a red gown, of course—about to go on stage of what seems like an opera house. She faces the crowd of elegantly dressed men and women, the bourgeois elite has gathered to hear her sing—and what a sound she will make. The video ends. We know what is about to happen. This seems to be Manson’s “last” statement as Bond’s femme fatale: “The World is not Enough” without the full participation of women in it. If that is an impossibility—and the song’s lyrics demand otherwise “Together we can take the world apart my love”—then what is left is only self-destructive suicide of the death drive, taking “the world” with it as well. Manson stages an ethical act of radical evil—at least in the fantasy space of the video.

F R  Pink: M U’ S Nineteen-year-old Pink (a.k.a. Alicia Moore), at this time of writing, is a grrrl of enormous talent. What preserves the “grrr-l” in her is an autobiographical spark—that which is “in her” more than herself. This saves Pink from total market corruption. Although she cannot escape market forces, she does exploit them in a more critical and profound ethical way than Madonna ever will. Pink has managed to interrogate her own anxieties in the reflexive mirror; she has looked at them “right in the Real of her eye.” The splitscreen she has created in her songs and videos speak to her “ugly” self—and directly address her taunting superego that keeps demanding her to “enjoy!” This is a different strategy than the alter ego created by Eminem, but equally as effective to expose the obscenity of the music industry. On her Missundaztood CD, a clever reflexive pun, Pink speaks to this very schizophrenic split as being both misunderstood and miss undaztood. Pink is stupidly smart. On that album she struggles with her parental breakup, her own rebellious upbringing, the love of her father (“Vietnam”), leaving school (“Don’t Let Me Get Me”), and drugs (“Just Like a Pill”). In “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” the second “me” in the title is the order of the drives. The song is about her own abjection as a teenager who never found a peer group to belong to. The accompanying video has a brilliant scene where she talks to her alter ego in the mirror, and then punches and breaks the mirror in disgust. “Everyday I fight a war against the mirror, I can’t take the person staring back at me.” This is a struggle to “be someone else.” The pressure to be marketed is always there, and she says so, differentiating herself from Britney Spears in a throwaway line. However, she did appear in LaBelle’s 1975 #1 hit, “Lady Marmalade,” for the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack, along with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Missy Elliot. The cabaret-style


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video and song went to the top of the charts. This was a “reluctant” appearance, she said in an interview, but she ended up enjoying it. The brilliant song “Just Like a Pill,” illustrates forcefully how the “tekne” of writing—the lyrics acting as a machinic force or pulse—harbor within them the ambiguities of dichotomous and suppressed meanings. “Just like a pill, Instead of makin’ me better, you keep makin’ me ill.” Drugs as both a remedy and poison points in the direction of Derrida’s (1981) famous deconstruction of Plato’s “pharmakon.” Past translators of Plato made it appear that he privileged speech over writing, whereas the double-sided meaning of “pharmakon” as both cure and illness complicates Plato’s more critical anagrammatic play between the two. “One must therefore accept the composition of these two forces or of these two gestures (98).” So it is in this video. P(ill) is the two-sided coin that flips in the video at odd moments. Pink and her video director, Dave Meyers, stage their own dissemination of this portmanteau word. In this video Pink is decidedly black. There are only a few pink streaks in her hair, which is otherwise all black as well, suggesting another persona. She is dressed in a raunchy black leather outfit. The video opens with her sprawled, lying on the floor of what seems to be a mansion, waking up from a “bad trip.” Medical help can’t be had (“I tried to call the nurse again but she’s being a little bitch”). Meyers spreads the song out as a surface play of memories by juxtaposing scenes that exist in all four directions: up, down left and right side, as if the eye is following frames constantly from one moment to the next. This scenic typology is like one of those rectangular puzzle boxes where you can slide the square pieces around until a picture is formed, the one missing piece enables room to move the picture-squares about. The scenes of the video are similarly moved about so that the viewer finally forms a picture of the narrative. The camera loops back several times to the scene where Pink is singing the song anchoring the narrative. Only two frames are shown where Pink is in the same pose wearing an elegant white gown, with a white mask—a sign of reaching a “high” on Angel’s Dust (PCP), otherwise she remains entirely black. The spoken word and the living memory, a chasm permanently separates them throughout the video. In one scene, Pink sits in a room full of white rabbits (an allusion, to Jefferson Airplane’s infamous drug related song, “White Rabbit”). But rabbits also have the sexual connotation of promiscuity— “making out like rabbits.” Yet in another scene, she is perched in front of an elephant, the street name for PCP or Angel’s Dust, which is notorious for its unpredictability. It can either act as a depressant or a hallucinogen. PCP distorts sensory messages to the central nervous system, suppresses inhibitions, deadens pain, and results in what users described as a separation of mind from body. Yet, the elephant has the myth that it never forgets. Death stalks the narrative in the figure of a creeping figure who wears a death skull. He draws nearer and nearer, but is not quiet able to get his hands on her. One has the distinct impression that the punk scene she wants to escape from is involved in sadomasochistic practices. (“Run just as fast as I can, To the middle of nowhere. To the middle of my frustrated fears.”)

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The pains and pleasures of the drug scene trap Pink. The drug party staged in the video lures her in; as the boyz mosh violently, she is inadvertently hit by swinging hands. Her boyfriend, who has her addicted on him and his drugs, is similarly a figure of attraction and repulsion. As a hysteric she doesn’t know just where to run if she leaves her supplier (the Father of Enjoyment). Like this drug scene, designer capitalism works on the addicted body. Her boyfriend has branded her, and now she is a willing slave, struggling to free herself. “Just Like a Pill,” however, is not unhopeful. It explicitly stages the scene of enjoyment (jouissance), yet it makes clear its two complimentary edges. In the end we see Pink running up the stairs in the hallway and escaping into the light. She has found her angel wings without the need of drugs. Speaking of light, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) in Andrew Adamson’s brilliant animated fairytale Shrek (2001), must surely be the first Grrrl Princess ever to graZe the movie screen who decided to stay in the light despite being “ugly,” and not hide underground any more, a suitable complement to Pink and Grrrl culture as well.

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M A B V! It finally happened, a “conservative” Miss America emerged as the winner of the 2003 edition of the pageant. Twenty-two-year-old Erika Harold, Miss Illinois (Urbana), part Black and part Native American, became the reigning queen for a year, setting up an unprecedented platform in the annals of the pageant by spreading the message of sexual abstinence, chastity before marriage, and antiabortion—all rhetorically embedded within the larger context of “youth violence prevention.”1 Abstinence becomes the master signifier that binds all of these causes together. Abstaining from drugs, alcohol, and sex is said to prevent violence such as sexual abuse! Erika Harold is also politically conservative. She embraced a black conservatism that supported President Bush’s agenda on schooling (No Child Left Behind— an accountability program that has failed miserably), religion, and race relations. Staunchly opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest, her political ambitions for the future include running as a Republican for governor or Senate, and ultimately for the presidency. Harold is articulate and bright, registered as a law student at Harvard University—a future Condolezza Rice. The Bush administration has already courted her. Thirty-eight members of Congress sent her letters of encouragement to continue her “abstinence until marriage” message. Harold, a long term member of Chicago-based Project Reality, an abstinence-only group that trains beauty contestants to advocate premarital chastity, traveled after her win to Washington’s Capitol Hill with 11 other beauty queens to push for abstinence-only funding—and, they were successful. Over 100 major youth, health, and civil right groups across the United States signed a petition asking President Bush to reconsider the abstinence-only funding since it was fundamentally ineffective.2 Harold’s conservatism also claims that race and color do not matter. Such a stance is not as surprising as it may at first seem. A conservative view maintains that transformative change rests squarely on the shoulders of each individual, a belief in the meritocracy of education, which Erika Harold (and Condoleezza Rice) are iconic examples. Harold, like many conservative


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Black Americans, is against liberalist policies that provide support and educational aid to poor Black (or Hispanic) minorities, such as minority scholarships and the preferential treatment of affirmative action initiatives. This rhetorical stance maintains that welfare, the quota system, and “dumbed down” academic requirements for minorities are ways which prevent Black Americans from being treated as equals, with equal merit as are Whites. All this leads to the loss of self-esteem, which inevitably leads to an increase in crime, drugs, and the leech welfare mentality of the inner cities. May the best-qualified person win regardless of race or color, and a beauty pageant is an exemplification of such ideological reasoning. The racist remarks on segregation by Trent Lott,3 Republican leader of the Senate at the time, once more confirms Martin Kilson’s long standing trenchant observation: “at no point in the twentieth-century have the claims of Black folks for political and social parity gained active support or sympathy from mainstream American conservative leaders, organizations, and intellectuals, whether religious or secular. Indeed, conservative whites are often active opponents of African American civil rights” (in Toler, 1997). Such warnings are lost on well-off Blacks who believe its all a question of self-esteem and personal initiative. Erika Harold’s reign has also been a windfall for such Christian conservative organizations such as Focus on the Family and Family Research Council who immediately defended her abstinence stance from any attempts made by pageant judges to force her to remain committed to her original platform— an eradication of harassment and violence in schools. It seems obvious that Harold had been traumatized by sexual harassment in high school. She recalls being called a whore and a slut, and said she discovered that lunch money was being pooled to buy a rifle to kill her. Imagined or not, the threat had left an emotional scar. Her campaign for abstinence and chastity are much easier to understand given this background. She fears masculine aggressivity. If a comparison might be drawn, what the Spice Girls were to the Grrrl movement, Erika Harold is to Judith Levine’s (2002) brave stance on the sexual experiences of youth that were discussed previously. It confirms Levine’s general claim that sex-education in the United States has been reduced to abstinence-plus education, and that shame and guilt surrounding abortion are gaining ground. The Christian futurological predictions of Project Reality call on their own statistical studies to claim that the older Gen Yers4 between the ages of 18 and 24, are turning toward a neo-traditionalist orientation. Their values are turning out to be more like their grandparents than their parents. The rhetoric maintains that this age cohort is fed up with the superficialities of life; not having had a lot of stability in their lives, marriage has become once again increasingly important. Their search is to find the right “one,” and to have close friends. For the Christian (and Jewish) Right, Gen Yers are said to be abstaining from sex. Virginity is “in,” and the lies concerning sexual liberation are finally out in the open: sleeping around does not lead to happiness and fulfillment, and the risk of AIDS is always possible despite the precautions of condom use. The turn to a traditionalist orientation with

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strong family values grows particularly strong as authority of the family begins to decenter itself. It is one of the solutions to the post-Oedipalization panic. The response here is not mourning over a “loss” as to what is happening, as much as it is paranoia generated toward what is happening. It is an alarmist view brought forward that sensationalizes the state of the mental condition of “youth,” primarily white middle-class youth (Gen Y) since their Boomer parents have a strong political “voice.”

T “S”   E I: T G’ L  S-E This chapter explores why the fantasy of virginity is coming back, even stronger than before, around the Ego Ideal of “self-esteem.” While not directly dealing with the music scene, this development also helps to grasp the general landscape of hysterical post-Oedipal decentering that finds its way into the lyrics, but this “line of flight” appears at first sight, as if it is trying to do the opposite: to recenter itself. It is, however, yet another form of “Girl Power,” equated with the Courtly Lady who now becomes veiled once more, not allowed to present her “twisted” exposure as do the dirty virgin divas. To distinguish this particular psychic masquerade from girlie/ gurl and grrrl the signifier /girl/ will appear throughout the chapter because the girl’s position is marked by a return to the letter of the Law. This “line of flight” is marked by a different return to patriarchy, therefore, it remains as part of the array of post-patriarchal “solutions.” The alarmist view concerning girl’s self-esteem is best exemplified by the publishing of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls in 1994 by a clinical psychologist, Mary Pipher. It was one of many such popular psychology books that appeared in the 1990s decade, usually accompanied by a barrage of self-help follow-up programs: school curricula, workbooks, videos, and speaking engagements with radio-talk hosts, interested parent groups, youth workers, and schools to offer “pragmatic” solutions to the perceived problem—the “loss of esteem” by teenage girls in their transition to becoming “young” women. The book coincides with a historical moment when the Grrrl rebellion failed to fully materialize. In effect, Pipher’s thesis takes the same themes of the Riot Grrrl Rebellion and desexualizes them. Pandora’s Box once again is pad-locked. The paper back version published the following year made No. 1 on the New York Times best sellers list, an indication that Pipher had tapped into the fears and anxieties of a middle-class public worrying about their daughters. Pipher claimed that American adolescent girls were prey to depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, addictions, self-mutilation, and more suicide attempts than ever before. Their suffering could be compared with Shakespeare’s Ophelia, who lost her identity by living her life trying to be what others wanted her to be. The tragic result was death by drowning. Adolescent girls were also living in a look-obsessed, media-saturated, “girlpoisoning” culture, the “media-drenched world flooded with junk values.”


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Pop culture was saturated with sex; violence against women was rampant; and drugs and alcohol were now far more accessible than in the 1950s when Pipher was a girl growing up in a small Nebraska town. From her perspective, the advances in feminism have been unable to stop the escalation of sexism, violence, and sexual harassment in schools that cause girls to stifle their creative spirit and “natural” impulses that eventually destroy their self-esteem. Sexual experience, claimed Pipher, was harmful to girls. Girls who engage in sex were the “casualties.” Pipher’s narrative tale is yet another example of the “loss of protection” that the family once gave, and the resulting paranoia. Her romanticization of the problem is evoked through Sturm & Drang metaphors of survival. Metaphorically, it is the environment that is “poisoning” to their health, while “adolescent girls are saplings in a hurricane” (emphasis added). Their adolescent “storms” are unavoidable. They face “harsh winds and bitter cold” at such a vulnerable age. Most often, girls “[aren’t] waving, [they’re] drowning.” As “the saplings-in-the-storm” that they are, they have little opportunity to develop a “root system,” which Pipher identifies as the family. Most often she claims the problems are brought on by divorce. Half of America’s children live or have lived with a single parent at one time in their life. Through the many composite sketches and case studies of troubled teenagers that fill her book, a reader has no difficulty identifying with one of the stories or knows someone who matches the description. Pipher’s argument, based on her clinical practice, became rhetorically convincing as it played into the fears and concerns of well-meaning parents who wanted only the very best for their daughters. Parents were somewhat exonerated because the “poisoned environment” was out of their hands. It rested with media representations that could only be slightly controlled. What was required for their daughters was to take matters into their own hands, and become selfconfident and gain self-esteem. The end result of Pipher’s argument is to portray teenage girls to hyperbolic excesses as being much more miserable than they are. Carol Gilligan (Brown et al., 1992), certainly a high-profile psychologist in young women’s moral development, receives scant attention in Pipher’s work, apart from the general claim of the loss of self-esteem by adolescent girls. Gilligan’s longitudinal studies of girls aged 6–18 with her colleagues conducted at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education Project on Women’s Psychology and Girl’s Development, seem to both affirm and yet further problematize Pipher’s own claims. Gilligan (1989) and her colleagues reported that girls during the time before adolescence showed clear evidence of psychological resilience and relational strength; they were able to voice their feelings and thoughts, and were able to differentiate between authentic and false relationships. After this time, however, they seemed to suffer from a loss of self-esteem, uncertain of themselves, and not saying what they thought and felt. They experienced a series of disconnections between “voice and desire, between self and relationship, between the inner world of thoughts and feelings, and the outer world of public knowledge”

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(Brown and Gilligan, quoted in Taylor, 1994, 40). Their study highlighted the societal expectation for a girl to become “perfect,” always “good,” “nice,” and “unselfish.” (To recall, this was Deborah Tolman’s (1994, 2002) thesis as well. Tolman was one of Gilligan’s colleagues.) Girls who resisted such ideals of femininity were, for Gilligan and Brown, psychologically healthy and resilient—we would name them grrrls. While Gilligan and her colleagues have been charged with the local specificity of their example (upper-class adolescent girls at Emma Willard School in New York), and privileging gender rather than other factors such as class, race, ethnicity, and heterosexual experience, there can be little doubt that the many project studies point out that adolescent girls have more stress than boys concerning their body images and managing desire (Taylor, 1994, 42). The discourse on sexual desire, which troubles these girls, received very little attention in the mid-1990s as Levine and Tolman pointed out in their 2002 publications, a lacuna that still continues. Pipher also avoided confronting the fantasy formations of girls’ sexual desires, rather she offered another solution. On the one hand she suggested a Peter Pan fantasy for girl’s self-esteem (the danger of which was examined in the case of Avril Lavigne and Michael Jackson), and all but suggested virginity as the other solution. Sex was always getting in the way of a girl’s development. Gilligan and her colleagues’ study lent itself to a reading of a girl’s “true” and “false” self that split itself around numerous “disconnections.” Pipher interpreted this split psychologically; the preadolescent girl was the “authentic” or “true” self to which adolescent girls should tap into for self-esteem—the Peter Pan fantasy. What alludes Pipher in her clinical work is the puzzling question as to why some and not all adolescent girls were so affected. She sensationalizes her clinical cases as if an epidemic had been let loose. Their “storm,” what would be identified as their will-to-jouissance, is at issue. There are differing strategies to this will-to-jouissance; not all are selfdestructive or poisoned by the media. A young reviewer of Pipher’s book on the Internet raises this puzzle of identity in the following web posting: The case studies that had the most impact on me were the ones about girls who seemed healthy, well-adjusted, well-loved, and happy, but who came to therapy with serious problems in their behavior at home and/or school—like Penelope, who, at 16, has all the material comforts of life in addition to a healthy family situation. Pipher describes her as “tall, tanned and regal in her expensive outfits and stylish shoes.” And yet she is brought into therapy because she has tried to kill herself. This teenage depression is a focal point for Pipher throughout the book; she emphasizes the fact that often girls can be outwardly content and thriving, and inwardly writhing under the pressures (“the storm,” as Pipher terms it) put on them by society: lookism, sexism, peer pressure, to do drugs, to be sexually active . . . to name a few (emphasis added).

What astounds the young reviewer in the passage above is the failure of identification with the fantasy scenarios offered by the Symbolic Order (prosaically the “poisoned” media environment Pipher refers to) despite


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seeming to have the conditions for their acquisition: money, a good family life, schooling, and so on. This is not an adolescent “at risk” as is so often popularized, but its complementary well-off Other. “Failure” refers to the sense that these young adolescent girls are unable to occupy the subject positions offered to them, and to live them out as fantasy scenarios; they are unable to sublimate the objet a of their desires. The lure of the object (the idealized representation of desirous womanhood), rather than being seductive, has turned ugly and frightening, an anxious object. Its containment has collapsed. Their libidinal demand of “becoming-woman” insists with a destructive force. Lacan made the distinction between a constituted and constitutive identification; the former refers to an Ideal Ego (Idealich), which is an imaginary understanding the subject has of him or herself. This is the image we have of ourselves—how we like to be, and what we would like to be. The latter refers to the image a societal gaze offers us to be confirmed by, to fit into its Symbolic Order and not feel abjected. When we occupy, or try to occupy this Ego Ideal (Ich-Ideal), then we are loved and rewarded. Every institution holds out its “impossible” Ego Ideal (Ich-Ideal) to occupy. One need only think of the “perfect” student, the perfect “model,” the “perfect” Christian, the “ideal” soldier, and so on. Each of these designations is not based on some empirical exemplars, but “rigid designators” as to the perfectly “impossible” student, model, Christian, and soldier. As a super iconic figure this ideal paradoxically occupies a space that is both inside and outside the system at once. It is outside the system because it is an impossible place to occupy, and inside the system as each particular enactment of it strives to occupy the social rewards that are attributed to it—such as stardom and recognition. Symbolic identification is the agency through which we self-observe and judge ourselves, so that we appear likable to ourselves: how we are being judged by the gaze of the Other as an external point of identification. Imaginary and Symbolic psychic registers are never completely in tune with one another. There is always an excess that guarantees instability. Being slightly neurotic, living with anxiety is part of the human condition. But, according to this young reader, it seems that a young woman can be very well-off and still become depressed despite having all her material desires fulfilled; or, to put it another way, because the young woman was very well-off, she appeared more likely to be depressed by the vulgarities that consumerism offers, and the pressures it puts on what it means to “become woman.” Somehow contentment is not possible, for the idealized space can never be reached and fulfilled. Pipher’s concept of “lookism,” as exemplified by the media that influence the self-policing of a perfect female body, and affecting all adolescent girls in varying degrees, cannot be easily dismissed. However, the question of identification is much more complicated than Pipher suggests. Not all girls are anorexic or suffer from an eating disorder of one kind or another. On her account, it appears that anorexia has reached epidemic proportions, a contagious dis-ease. Adolescent girls are torn, claims Pipher, between their “true” selves and the selves “forced” upon them by the

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media. Advertisers, of course, argue that there is no “force,” only free democratic individual choice. They simply reverse the argument. Advertisers offer the “self-esteem” that girls want in the first place through their products. To them the exchange appears mutual and uncoerced. What “true” self is precisely Pipher referring to? Is it a self that knows better not to be “sucked” in by advertising, yet still falls prey to its images? Cultural studies and fan audience research has drawn upon a number of theoretical models to argue that audiences are not just simple “consumers,” but “producers” as well. They selectively reinterpret media messages. What is poison for one becomes a cure for another. When it comes to fantasy formations, subjective identification remains fluid as a number of psychoanalytically minded media researchers have already argued in the early 1990s (Penley, 1992; Rodowick, 1991; Thornham, 1997). Here lies the dilemma of ego psychology. It struggles through self-help books and self-help remedies and various exercises to “exorcise” the demon within without identifying the source of pleasure-in-pain (jouissance) that are repeating the behavior; the way the libidinal bodily pleasure derails life’s expected course without any rational explanation. The psychology of self-esteem treats the “storm” of sexual desire by offering two solutions, at least in Pipher’s case, which can be reduced to one. The first is a desexualization that comes with a preadolescent androgynous position of Peter Pan, while the second is a desexualization that comes with virginity as a complete abstention from sex. Teenage girls and young women who repress their sexual desire can live it out vicariously through the fantasies presented to them by the assemblage of bad virgin singers (Britney and Company), Peter Pan figures like Michael Jackson and Avril Lavigne and Company, and Grrrls like Pink and Company. Once these stars leave the charts, another crop of stars will take their places given that sexual desire remains lawfully prohibitive to girls when compared with boys. Their fantasy transgressions of being “bad” provide an identificatory escape from the contradictory Ideal Ego a young woman is expected to live up to in a post-Oedipal transition. In each “pathological” case Pipher cites, the girl has, in some way or other, lost the footing of self-esteem promised to her by the hegemonic constructions of what it means to be eventually confirmed as a “young woman” by an amorphous societal gaze, most often positioned by heteronormative desire. Such an Ego Ideal (Ich-Ideal) or “pure” signifier in Lacan’s terms, which holds together all the possible variations of acting out femininity, has broken down. This Ego Ideal is a “pure” or “empty” or “rigid designator” because no one can possibly completely occupy it. It maintains its status through all possible variations of its enactment—it is never “stated” as such. It remains an unconscious striving. The examples of embodied Ego Ideals are provided through a culture’s repertoire of media images (journals, magazines, television, films, and so on), but these are only approximations. Some representations come closer to the Ego Ideal, others may exaggerate it. In a Lacanian reading of the post-Oedipal landscape, girl’s adolescent identity has become unraveled because the master signifiers that define such an idealized


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representation of “becoming-woman” cannot be lived up to, or has been refused. The “storm” surrounding self-esteem is the process of de-Oedipalization itself. In either case, the particular Ego Ideal image held up as to what it means to be a “loved womanly body” has begun to decenter into numerous directional “flights” causing anxiety and loss of self-esteem. For identification with the media image to take place, an inversion by Pipher’s patients would have been necessary; that is, identification with the ideal-image and descriptive characteristics of the “loved womanly body” that went with it. But there was, instead, a failure of identity with the Ego Ideal. Such a failure resulted in a subjective destitution. They fell “apart.” The nodal point (or point de caption in Lacan) that held such an ideal image together for social consumption became unhinged in their cases. Their struggle for reidentification of what it means to be a “young woman” in the social order resulted in the desperation of therapeutic help.

W  C “B”: N V   “K” P The failure of identification of Pipher’s clients to the hegemonic representation of what it meant to “become woman” also meant that the objet a, the surplus value of that idealized image could no longer be sustained. It vanished with nothing to replace it. Despair, depression, and, suicide are all possible responses to the vanishing of the mythological ideal of becoming a woman, which now inverts into a nightmare, a horror, rather than a beautiful phantasm. The tragedy here is that Pipher’s patients had formed no distance to the Ego Ideal presented to them, no way to play with it, be cynical toward it, gain a distance from it, which the media also offers. They took it earnestly and to heart. That’s what makes it even more tragic. Perhaps the most startling “postfeminist solution” to the loss of “self-esteem” of teenage girls and young women, of objet a in Lacanian terms, came a few years later with the publication of Wendy Shalit’s A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue (1999/2000). Shalit was a 23-year-old sophomore “conservative” of Williams College, Massachusetts. Her book was yet another “best seller” that provided an answer to the perceived “moral panic” toward youth who were out of control and promiscuous. What makes her book so interesting is that it provides such an open testament as to the sexual practices and dating rituals of young people today, which frustrate and disgust her. The fear of masculine aggression (like Miss America, Erika Harold) can be felt throughout her book. It is another hysterical defense against male appropriation. Shalit, drawing on Pipher’s clinical work, claimed that the loss of the virtue of modesty—the key differentiating, and hence essentialist or “natural” characteristic between men and women—was directly correlated with the rise of crimes and abuses against women. Its loss was attributed to the feminist movement who did away with difference, and thereby took away the “protection” women once possessed. (Such an accusation would only apply to women who embrace a Sadean philosophy in the context of this book’s

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thesis.) Modesty acknowledged the “vulnerability” of women and protected it. The evidence was insurmountable according to Shalit, who drew on countless examples from popular culture, especially women’s magazines (Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Vogue), and media to make her claims regarding its loss. Promoting a conservative Christian worldview, Shalit wanted to reestablish modesty as “a reflex, arising naturally to help a woman protect her hopes and guide her fulfillment—especially, this hope for one man” (94, emphasis added). This is a return to a sterner father who “protects” his daughter, maintaining vigilance over her virginity, preventing her from watching R-rated movies so that she is shielded from promiscuity, scrutinizes boyfriends, and so on; in effect, Shalit idealized a Victorian culture.5 Shalit’s “solution” is a paradigmatic example of a nostalgic return and response to the excesses of youth. It was simply a question of time before a position such as hers emerged into the light of discourse. Nostalgia is a symptom of postmodernity, coeval with modernity. Nostalgia and progress are but two sides of the same coin. Now that the coin is sliding apart, it is producing wry looks as to what has been historically unrealized. Shalit’s “back to the future” romanticizes and idealizes a past that never was. Like the myth of the innocent child, this “return” also fantasizes a youthful innocence by women: their naiveté, their “holiness,” idealism, and utopianism. Many critics have remarked precisely on Shalit’s naiveté concerning the place of modesty in the historical past. Her blindness to Victorian upper-class women’s modesty achieved at the expense of lower-class women’s prostitution; her unwillingness to see a contradiction in more modest societies (Moslem cultures) where women seem less sexual in public, and are not so free to live intimate private lives under the patriarchal rules of the Koran; or her claim that child abuse, domestic violence, and rape appeared after the end of modesty, rather than being uncovered because modesty came to an end. Perhaps more damaging is her failure to see that male “protection” was also a way to maintain their privileged position by preventing women to vote, go to college, and take part in public political life. Modesty was women’s bargaining chip to occupy and maintain specific cultural spaces, most notably the private domain of the home. Shalit’s nostalgia of modesty is unquestionably a romance with her own fantasy. However, such criticism, as succinct and telling as it is, presents only part of the story. History read as a return to tradition is misleading (LaCapra, 1985). This is a return with a difference—a postmodern return. Shalit also summons an “ethics of the Real” by presenting us with a “split screen” of the past with what is happening today, a look sideways—awry—as to what might be. The critical side of nostalgia—its Algia, or longing can be juxtaposed with its Nostos, a return home. The look at history can recall unrealized dreams. As Boym (2001) puts it, “The fantasies of the past determined by the needs of the present have a direct impact of realities of the future” (xv). While there is an uncomfortable nostalgia informed by a melancholia, which her critics have picked up as Shalit’s own entrapment by a naïve romanticism culled from her own biography and fear of men, there is also an ethical


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demand in the Real being asserted. A mourning, rather than a melancholia for the promise of the unrealized possibilities of difference between the sexes. The difficulty is to sort out the more critical nostalgia that raises doubt, playing on longing (Algia), and stresses prospective possibilities, from a restorative and retrospective nostalgia that stresses home (Nostos), which considers itself not to be nostalgic, but traditional, truthful, and closed in its outlook. Shalit’s thesis tends, more often than not, to fall on the restorative than the reflexive side. It would be unfair to dismiss Shalit outright as simply yet another “moral majority” advocate with a call to neo-Puritanism. There are elements of Algia in her call of “longing” for something better. This is what saves Shalit from a total fall into nostalgic restoration. A psychoanalytic insight can be culled from her work to draw this out. After all, why did such an “old fashioned” traditional solution elicit such a response in a large sector of the public? What was her fantasmatic “return” and “loss” pointing to? What was the desire that she managed to harness in the public to become a “best” seller? Baudrillard (1990) has it right when he argues that sex has lost its seduction today; it has become obscene. He argues that the women’s movement, qualifiably the second generation, has been ashamed of seduction, as if the bodily erotic is a misappropriation of women’s true being, thus effacing the immense privilege of the feminine. Seduction turns to obscenity when everything seems to be exposed, raw, and transparent—falling into the hyperbolic “more visible than visible.” When everything is on show, on the surface, eroticized, then there are no more secrets. The veil that covers over the “secret,” what Lacan identified as objet a, the object cause of desire has been laid bare—become too “hot,” too exposed, too accessible, no longer attractive but pornographic—reduced to an exchange of services. Desire is evacuated. Like the sexual performances of Anne Sprinkle, or Japanese vaginal cycloramas where Japanese business men gawk and shove their faces into the vaginas of prostitutes who sit on the stage with their legs spread open, the “feminine mystique,” which Shalit wishes to restore, vanishes. Rather than seduction, reification of the woman’s body takes over, staved off only by the exchange of money that substitutes for the otherwise “free” love, which can be given as a “gift” in Derrida’s sense, without anything in return. The sexual relations of lovemaking are inverted into fucking—just a job. There is no reciprocal fascination by the couple in the virtual mirror of love as when “I see you from where you see me in the Imaginary register.” In pornography, for instance, stardom is registered by the “insatiability” of a good believable performance by women, and sustained erection and ejaculation on demand by men. Take away the agreement of money; take away consensual “love,” and one ends with sexual abuse, rape, and harassment. As the line between eroticism and pornography keeps slipping, the Ego Ideal for women ends up being a complete exposure of objet a so that it looses its luster and becomes bland. We have only to think of the beauty pageant’s own policing of contests, the injunction not to expose any nude photos of the contestants. In 1983 the first Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams,

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was stripped of her title for having appeared in Penthouse. (She went on with a successful singing career.) Astronomically high prices are paid to model stars in exotic locations for a photo-shoot so that a dividing line can be maintained between the cheap nudity of “skin” magazines and high fashion. The last beachwear garment is now the topless bikini thong with its mandatory Brazilian wax job. Either the Law allows full public nudity or . . . the woman’s body begins to be recodified. Two photos in Shalit’s book on page 176 illustrate this quite clearly. The top photo has women sitting on the beach in full dress in 1897, during New Jersey’s Salt Water Day for Farmers. Shalit captions this “Modest and Mischievous.” On the bottom picture is a table around which the founding members of the United Free Beaches of Florida in 1982 sit—nude. Shalit captions this “Nude and Bored.” Nudists, of course, would claim that’s exactly the point. The body is nothing to be ashamed of. Ideally, men and women can approach each other in other ways than just sexual. Perhaps a historical moment has been reached where it might be possible to cover up the body so that it becomes sexy again, fueling desire? Robert Altman made an ironic statement in this regard with his Prêt-a-Porter (1994), the models on the catwalk are nude. The “truth” of fashion has been “exposed.” Modesty can again be played with. If everybody’s “doing it,” virginity can become sexy as well! What we have here is a common inversion of a signifier, where the left glove becomes the right glove by turning it inside out.

T R V   H  Shalit’s modesty proposition can ironically inflate masculine desire rather than protecting her from it, through her very inaccessibility. With the call for the return to modesty and abstinence, and with the proliferation of “dirty virgin” sexuality, the paradox of a “banal” virgin who is considered sexy has emerged—free of makeup. Shalit is perplexed, for instance, by the following illustration from The Independent: Wearing the traditional Islamic hejab may not be what it seems. Two years ago, Shahida, a young Muslim college student in London, took on the hejab to assert her Muslim identity, much to the consternation of her middle-class Westernized family. Last month, she decided to give it up. Her reasons? Receipt of an anonymous letter from a young white student, declaring his lust for her in no uncertain terms. He wanted to rip her clothes off and possess her, he said, because she seemed so utterly unattainable. To her astonishment, a Muslim male student had also started whispering suggestive things to her as she walked past, all about how her modesty turned him on. This is not an isolated case. The veil draws to it and releases all sorts of contradictory meanings and heightened emotions, which can shock even those who take the decision to wear it for rational and understandable reasons. After an article I wrote about Muslim women in Bosnia—photographed in hejab—I had five letters from white men telling me how intensely desirable they found women who covered themselves. Interviews on the subject I recently conducted with men


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in London were equally disturbing . . . Haleh Afshar, an Iranian academic and writer, told me how a policeman wrote her a six-page letter begging for pictures of women in veils (223). As a coda, Shalit remarks: “It is not surprising, then, that even the totally secular have begun to incorporate modest dress in their daily lives. Modesty is powerful” (223, emphasis added).

This story is very instructive in the way each culture has its own specific understanding of modesty. Like the “Rules Girls” who return to the traditional courting rules of seduction-chastity to make them more inaccessible and hence more elusive objects of desire, these (mostly) young Moslem women stage the same ruse.7 The veil appears traditional but these young women are no longer under the thumb of orthodox Islam, rather they perceive themselves as emancipated women, who in order to enhance their self-esteem willingly adopt the hejab, to serve as an expression of freedom. It is difficult, of course, to know just which Moslem women are staging a reflexive nostalgia from their more traditional Koran-believing sisters. One must be part of the community to be in the “know.” Perhaps more ironically, Shalit’s enthusiasm for the veil refers only to a very specific sector of young, sophisticated, usually university/college going Moslem women who have consciously taken up the veil—like members of any other youth culture—to symbolically state their difference from their parents. It becomes a form of “protection” to prevent the cultural consumerism of difference and “hybridity,” which is endemic to global capitalism; it emancipates them from yet another “emancipation” that the West offers them through the sexualization of an exoticized and eroticized body. They become “banal” virgins, sometimes with no make-up, paradoxically a way of asserting and eroticizing the face within their cultural domain. This resistant practice, which began in Europe, has now spread to most countries where an Islamic population of students can be found. The veil as a symbol of resistance in anticolonial and antiracist struggles has a long tradition. From a Western gaze, these women appear to be “premodern” in their gendered Otherness, returning to a tradition of modesty as Shalit so praisingly reads them. However, just the opposite is the case. In interviews with young veiled students of Turkish decent, it turns out that these women do not embody a cultural demarcation in the sense of religious tradition and female subordination (Terkessidis, 2000). The type of veil worn is already differentiated from their mothers. Rather than covering the hairline and being tied beneath the chin, these women wear a “Türban,” which covers the whole hair and shoulders. Such a veil can now be found worldwide, and it is worn as an act of “emancipation,” a “soft revolution” against their strict traditional parents. The intervention of the hejab in Moslem cultures and Shalit’s call for a return to modest dress, virtue, and virginity recodifies sexual relations. For Moslem cultures it is tradition itself that young women attempt to gain distance from its strict rules. In the case of Shalit, the shift is from romantic love to a sublime love where a returned gesture, the permitted touch of her

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body, the caressing a woman’s hand or shoes is enough to keep the suitorknight happy and keep the courting game in motion. It is here that Shalit’s comments concerning the veil take on rather ironic and disturbing effects concerning a “lady’s” modesty and chastity. The veil for Lacan played a special significance in his development of the fantasy structure and the place of objet a around where truth, deception, and fraud are all present in intricate and complex ways. In his reading of the painting contest between Parrhasius and Zeuxis as told by Pliny (Seminar XI, Four Fundamentals), where the prize was to be given to the artist who could best represent Nature as accurately as possible, Lacan exposed how the veil functioned in desire. Parrhasius painted a curtain that Zeuxis mistook to be an actual curtain (linteum, in Latin) and tried to remove it to see what Parrhasius had painted. He quickly realized that he had been fooled. There was “nothing” behind this veil, only Zeuxis’ desire. Zeuxis was caught by his own fantasmatic object—objet a—as to what might have appeared “behind” it. In Pliny’s story, Zeuxis does not show anger by being fooled, inflicting violence on Parrhasius. Rather he laughed at being caught by his own stupidity. Modesty and the hejab play with this paradoxical curtain of preventing desire to the extent that such veiling could cause an “acting out” of violence by potential suitors because sexual pleasure is being denied, or by angry parents who think their daughter is parodying and not respecting their Islamic beliefs. There is no laughter here. For the male to save face, the woman who was once desirable now becomes cold and heartless, an object of contempt to be scorned at. For strict Moslem parents the daughter has become an “object” of disrespect who is mocking tradition.

R-V ⁄ R  C L Modesty is powerful indeed! One of the Freudian psychoanalytic insights concerning love is the illusionary prohibition and social codes, which are said to prevent love’s realization. As any “self-help” manual seems to advise, if a woman wants to evoke love she has to paradoxically become temporary inaccessible, “hard to get” so that desire swells up. The “Rules Girls” trade on this psychic structure to find Mr. Right. Being “too easy” gets you the label of “tramp,” or an “easy lay.” In Freud’s words, “the psychical value of the erotic needs is reduced as soon as their satisfaction becomes easy. An obstacle is required in order to heighten libido; and where natural resistances to satisfaction have not been sufficient men have at all times erected conventional ones so as to be able to enjoy love” (Freud, 1912, SE IV, 187). For the heterosexual man, such external hindrances that prevent the direct access to the heterosexual woman as his object of desire are put there to create a fantasmatic illusion, without which she would become too directly accessible. When no mise-en-scène of fantasy is created she becomes an “easy” lay— that is, boring and no “challenge.” In heterosexual pornography and prostitution, to reiterate, the exchange of money for the deed done acts as a substitute or displacement for the illusion of “true” love, and the need to play the accessibility/hindrance game


M  Y C: A L A

is waved. The fantasy scenario is dispensed with in hard-core and lengthened in soft-core to pervert; that is, to invert desire. (For Lacan fantasy and perversion were direct inverted opposites (] a and a ]). Fantasy does not refer to the usual common-sense understanding as being able to indulge in all sorts of acts that are prohibited by the Law; it is not a question of suspending the transgression of the Law to wallow in the imagination. Rather, fantasy insures that the Law is obeyed; that the subject is symbolically castrated and does not exist “outside” the Law. Perversion, as its inversion, attempts to stage the very castration necessary so that the subject may enter the Symbolic Order. For the pervert, ironically the object of desire is the Law itself. The subject struggles to bring it into Being (Zizek, 1997a, 14). In hard-core porno the hindrances to desire are gone so that couples can “fuck” at will. No more “games,” so to speak. The woman is entirely available and wants, rather demands “it.” She is driven. Insatiable. In soft-porn where penetration is usually left to the imagination to heighten and at the same time disavow the realization that they are finally “doing it” (this is especially evident in East Indian cinema where sexual scenes are forbidden), the heterosexual woman can romanticize and dwell on the extension of the game itself, the labyrinthine route her lover has to travel, the obstacles he faces, the near misses and detours he must take to reach her “love,” so that when she finally “gives” herself to him it is a magical moment of orgasmic ecstasy. Pushed to the limit, the indefinite postponing of doing “it,” leads to a masochistic perverse scenario where everything is left at the level of foreplay. The woman becomes a “tease,” and her poor “bastard” suitor is left dangling, suffering in the pleasurable pain of his own jouissance, hoping that, if he continues to fulfill her every whim and obstacle that his “lady” desires, he will one day culminate the love affair in bed. This is the fantasy of sublime love that reality television attempts to stage in such shows as The Bacherlorette (2003), where Trista Rehn teases and eliminates her 24 suitors until there is only one man standing. Trista, who at 29, admitted publicly that she had never experienced an orgasm. Presumably, now she will! At this point, it seems that Shalit’s call to modesty, respect, and dignity reaches its zenith as the “lady” is elevated to purified spirituality as embodied in the Virgin Mary. Within the Christian tradition, unlike earlier comparisons to mother goddesses, there is a complete dissociation from sexuality. As mother and virgin her elevation to Holy status matches Shalit’s enthusiasm for Orthodox Jewish women who practice “shomer negiah”; that is, abstinence and the refusal of physical contact with men before marriage. Those women who observe the laws of “tzniut” (modesty), she says, are “happier” and have “a certain glow”—in short Holy. Her emphasis on virginity (she intends to remain a virgin until the true “one” comes along) helps to psychoanalytically explain her chastisement of the feminist movement and her strong devotion to her own father; that is, to paternalistic fathers in general who are strict and protect their daughter to that zenith point where she is eventually “given away” at the altar. Freud’s general theory of heterosexuality expects that all males in all societies will develop some degree of sexual desire for their

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mothers, and that in almost all cases, this desire will undergo some degree of repression. Similarly, his general theory expects that daughters everywhere will also come to desire their fathers to some degree. There is no society, regardless of its familial makeup where some sort of myth is not found to explain the fundamental fantasy of sex/gender desire (Moore, 1997). To take Freud minimally then: when it comes to the “Oedipalized” triangulated heterosexual nuclear family in the West, which Shalit and others wish to romantically preserve or mythically reinstate, the injunction against the incest taboos (mother–son/father–daughter) must be resolved. The concept of “virginity” is absolutely central to maintaining this psychic possibility. The cult of virginity/motherhood, which elevates the future marriage partner to a holy status so that she is not to be touched, enables males to dissipate their repressed sexual desire for the virgin/mother in an acceptable manner. The father passing over “his” unblemished daughter to her future husband is an assurance of the purity of the commodity transfer. Not having had sexual intercourse with another (the sign of blood on the sheets during the wedding night when the hymen is broken) is a guarantee that the paternal lineage will be assured. Identifying herself strongly as a virgin/mother allows the woman to vicariously experience the fulfillment of desire for sexual contact with, and a baby, from the father. There are many variations of this basic Freudian insight. A strong cult worship of the Virgin Mary developed in southern Italy and Spain during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for instance, where the father was, by and large, an absent “guest.” He was either working elsewhere, or because of his ineffectual status in the household, he sought the company of adult males outside of the home. Italian men playing cards and Boccia is the usual clichéd image. The result was a strong identification of the boy with his mother who became the authority figure, a “phallic Mother” in Lacan’s terms. It was in such a context that a machismo complex developed, which encouraged men to be sexually aggressive and brag about their sexual prowess and genital attributes, as a way to assert their manhood and differentiate themselves from their strong mothers. A strong cult devoted to the Virgin Mary developed in such familial contexts to mediate the ambivalence of love and hate sons had toward their mothers. In the medieval ages the cult was often accompanied by extreme forms of masochism like self-flagellation and wearing cloth scapulars devoted to the Mary cult. As several anthropologists have argued (Carroll, 1986), this enabled an Oedipal resolution for the heterosexualized sons and daughters in such “father ineffective” families as a way of dissipating their repressed sexual desires toward their parents. The cult of the Virgin continues to thrive today, especially in Catholic countries, and less so in Protestant ones, but certainly no longer serves the same psychic processes. Family structures have drastically changed. Does this basic model even apply anymore in postindustrialized countries? The traditional nuclear family where three, sometimes four generations, lived in the same home, or in close proximity to one another has all but vanished. The divorce rate in the West


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is now approaching 40 percent (more or less depending whose statistics are deemed reliable). Domestic violence is on the increase as the abuse of children in the home escalates. The Children’s Society estimates that 50,000 young people, with a median age of 15, run away from home every year, the majority wanting to escape child abuse. The brutality toward elderly relatives living in the household is increasing. Fertility rates are down, hence family sizes are small, and the portion of working mothers has grown significantly. Whether it is in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Austria . . . single parent homes are common while stay-at-home mothers are less and less common. The current estimate is between 8 and 10 percent in North America. Married . . . with Children, introduced the North American television audience to its first “dysfunctional family”: Al Bundy and Peg, children Kelly and Bud. In the 1970s, All in the Family still had a semblance of cohesion. Archie Bunker wore his bigotry and racism on his sleeve. With Al Bundy all we got was cynicism. Al, a salesman of women’s shoes, is always “horny” for a woman other than his wife, forever complaining that he is married. Peg, the totally inept homemaker, is always asking for a handout from Al, unable to cook, save money, or advise her two teenage youths, Kelly who plays the dumb blond, and Bud who is forever teasing her about her “brains” and always wanting to “score.” MTV’s Osbourne Family has just pushed this absurd picture further into the new century. What was fiction with the Bundy’s seems to be an everyday “reality” event in Ozzy household. On display are ineffectual fathers, just like eighteenth-century Italy, but with an entirely different family dynamic. Not even Tony Soprano’s machismo can sustain his loss of authority, or Miguel Cadena of the NBC series, Kingpin, who is a Mexican drug lord trying to shield his son from his illicit business transactions. In both cases the Catholic Church has become a charity organization to be supported, and the Virgin Mary simply an obligatory devotional pretense devoid of meaning.

P U  S D P Shalit’s postfeminism seems, at first glance, to be decidedly antifeminist. She appears to be asking that the virgin cult be reinstated. However, her mixed message can be read in another way. Shalit’s accusation is directed against second wave feminists; against those feminist mothers who have lost touch with their daughters. Their daughters are not faced with careers, husbands, and raising children (as yet), which were the concerns of their liberal minded mothers. They have an entirely different agenda of concerns that comes with “becoming-woman,” that is, being a teenager/20-something woman today. Shalit’s complaint is not any different than the Gurlz/Grrrls, and her solution is just as radical in the way she reads the letter of the Law—this is to say, literally. By doing so this girl calls on the Law to do what it promised to do. The emergence of chastity and virginity as advocated by representatives like Wendy Shalit and Erika Harold, who have close relationships to their fathers,

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raises interesting questions concerning the rise of the New Virginity as a form that inverses Freud’s standard model that was reviewed. The threat of male aggressivity (sexual harassment, pressures for sex, more open promiscuity) is warded off by a conscious differentiation of virginity as a “protection,” to reinstate and prop up the failing symbolic Oedipal Father (like the “Promise Keepers” who pledge their allegiance to fatherhood) so that her objet a might become veiled once more. This is a literalization of the Law— the strict enforcement of Rules, but—it is an important and ambiguous “but”—in their most radical form, completely stripped of their patriarchal and religious orthodoxy. To put it bluntly, what Britney Spears uses only as a ruse, Shalit and Harold believe and hold accountable “to the letter.” There is no guessing involved here—is she or isn’t she? Like the hejab that opens a clearing in the closed space of Moslem traditions, virginity is “stolen back” from patriarchy and religious authority. The ethical demand is respect for the objet a that has now become the defining Ur-signifier—privatized and lying in an absolutely inaccessible place. Only a sublime love is allowed to touch it. If and when it does, marriage must follow. The suitor has effectively “signed” himself over to her as an equal partner with a double surname, relinquishing his own “sirname.” To imagine Shalit’s ruse at its most radical level is to call it a “radically ethical act,” which seems rather preposterous. To demand obedience to the patriarchal norm of virginity might also be considered as “doing the right thing for the wrong reason.” I follow Zizek (2001a) here in his claim that such an act can undermine “the law’s dignity from within, not treating the law as something to be respected, but degrading it into an instrument of our ‘pathological’ interests—no longer an external transgression of the law, but its self-destruction, its suicide” (172, original emphasis). Once more the daughter is staging a perversion of the Name-of-the-Father. The Bacherlorette takes on new meaning with such an understanding. Trista Rehn can be said to be both “propping up and stripping down” the Law by perversely and inversely staging the Cinderella fantasy—a well-off physical therapist from an upper middle-class blended family finds her man. The “but” problematic emerges swiftly as the machinery of tradition is difficult to slow down, just as the cameras and editing of reality television are never turned off. It is difficult to re-signify virginity in this way. According the U.S. based organization, True Love Awaits, created in 1993 and sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, virginity and abstinence have once again become “cool” and “in” as the Church attempts to reestablish its moral authority. Teens and college students who visit their website can fill out a “virginity pledge,” to promise to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. Such pledges postpone first-time sexual intercourse by eighteen months as compared with non-pledges.8 With abstinenceplus sex education, as Levine (2002, 114) points out, the average length a student held off intercourse (no age specified) was seven months. These statistics indicate that the deterrent effects of these pledges and abstinence are almost always exaggerated.


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The question of virginity in the Catholic tradition and the hejab in the Moslem tradition present the paradox between a restorative, or a reflexive nostalgia, between mourning and melancholia. This tension is not solved in Shalit’s book, but presents the very paradox of the de-Oedipalized process itself, yet another version of the “storm.” While the Christian Church and the Moslem orthodoxy want to claim victory for themselves and return to a restorative tradition, these young women wish to steal back the objet a from patriarchy and claim it as their own. This is where the young women from both traditions come together and walk a common ground. It is not always possible, however, to grasp just when this critical reworking of Algia is being presented in either tradition. This was dramatically illustrated on a German talk show, Die Oliver-Geissen-Show (aired on RTL, December 3, 2002) where three generations of Turkish women were invited to discuss wearing the hejab. One woman in her late thirties felt she was an emancipated woman influenced by Western feminism who interpreted the Koran in her own way. For her, wearing the hejab was an option. Sometimes she would wear it, other times she didn’t. Another, in her late twenties, was a firm believer in the Koran, and said it was her duty to wear it. Lastly, a very pretty 18 year old, stylishly dressed with appropriate make-up adopted the hejab for her own ends—to push back the boys and to mediate her parental wishes. In the Christian tradition, Erika Harold’s conservatism seems to lean more to a restorative nostalgia (Nostos), whereas Shalit has at least some aspects of a critical position (Algia). This de-Oedipalized confusion only increases when Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Jessica Simpson stage a different form of playing the “virginity card.” Then there is the question of what might be called “technical virginity” among young people. Its most famous interlocutor and practitioner was not a teenager but a Baby Boomer, former President of the United States Bill Clinton who infamously said: “I did not have sex with that woman [Miss Monica Lewinski].” To him, and to many youth, he did not have sex. Oral (sometimes anal) sex was not considered sex! From a perverse psychic structure this makes sense. Clinton and Monica were engaged in perversely immature sex, not genitally structured, as if they had escaped into a paradisial time before the “Fall”—not to have “sinned” in Christian terms. If that’s the case, does that mean Monica could also have claimed to be a virgin? She did, after all, permit everything except genital penetration.9



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T F( ): T S I N T H O M E  B   M  ONE

T P G T In a post-Oedipal world the Freudian identification, which theorized the psyche as being a split entity, has been replaced by one of division; a decentered ego subject to hysterical doubt (Verhaeghe, 1999b, 117–118). During Freud’s time models of identification were rather limited; besides parents and possibly grandparents, there were a small number of reference figures, for example, teacher, doctor, and lawyer that a middle-class adolescent could look up to. Such a “relatively” sable social order led to the theorization of a divided psyche based on identification and repression; positive traits were internalized while external traits were expelled. This was not a simple either-or process, as Lacan was to show; rather this love/hate relationship was a paradoxically complex structure. What is pleasurable outside is internalized inside. Hence, the inside is the pleasurable outside. While, what is unpleasant inside is placed outside. Hence, what is outside is the unpleasant inside—a “stranger” in us, to use Kristeva’s formulation. During Freud’s time identity remained rather stable, its duality conflicted between the unconscious and conscious by opposing desires, as in Winnicott’s “true self ” as opposed to a “false self,” for instance. In postmodernity the number of figures that an adolescent growing up can identify with has expanded. Not only are families decentered across various class and racial lines, thus playing a lessened identificatory role, but the media presents an enormous array of other possible identifications, meaning that identification is much more fluid, liquid, morphing, and changeable. As is now well-known, the theorization of the poststructuralist subject is an attempt to capture this ever-changing subject in process. But, from my point of view, poststructuralism fails to grasp why the empty core of the Real self, a sinthome around which these multiple ego selves revolve, must itself become socially anchored in a belief system, otherwise the subject “spins” out of control. As previously argued, such decenterization hystericizes the subject: “Am I a man or a woman?” The search is to anchor identity so that it isn’t in a


M  Y C: A L A

constant malaise of contradictory and overwhelming desires. Rather than the neurotic self-doubt of identification during Freud’s time, the youth generation is marked by a generalized behavior of hysteria and obsession. The search to anchor the self is offered to them by the manufacture of the desired signifiers of loyalty—through advertising and in the video and music industry especially. One result of this general trend is what can be identified as a fan(addict); the portmanteau word emphasizes the bodily addiction that plagues postmodernity. The fan(addict) establishes a belief in the homogeneity of the ONE to ground his or her Real identity. The ONE has a neocult status and has to be understood as the splintering of the big Other into many smaller ONE’s, as various competing authorities to gain loyalty. Love for the ONE carves a space out of the chaos and grounds a person’s identity as the singularity of a fan(addict’s) sinthome; that is to say, his or her defining trait. This is only a temporary situation for the structure of identification is metonymic, as a movement from ONE to another ONE. This follows Lacan’s logic of desire of the Other, but grounds it in the love for the ONE. The ONE, in this sense is a multiple and does not exist. How? To follow Badiou down this difficult path (Hallaward, 2003, 61–63), both multiplicity and difference are grounded paradoxically in Be-ing as ONE, the mark of identity is registered in the Real. There is no ONE, but there is an operation of identity that counts as ONE—Badiou renders it as “One-ing.” Such a logic can accommodate the ONE and its multiple, what I have referred to occasionally as the proliferation of “little” or “small” ONEs. To call the ONE a “strange attractor” of chaos theory, a “nothing” around which fan loyalty emerges does not take us far afield. Such a theory opens up another way to grasp the multiplicity of identities proliferating in postmodernism.1 The signifier /fan(addict)/ re-dresses and expands MTV’s term for their new series FANatic, to identify the hysterical desire to find an Other, a little ONE, which will be a place of safety, a home, some-ONE to believe in and identify with. It can be the fan(addict’s) anchoring sinthome. MTV’s FANatic episodes feature one or two fans being surprised by a camera crew at home or at work. This has been set up with the help of family or friends who are sometimes also rewarded by coming along. The fans are then whisked away (often without any preparation) to some corner of the earth, or nearby city to meet their favorite stars. Perhaps on a movie-set location, recording studio, or prearranged meeting place, the “reality show” stages their meeting with fans typically testifying how these stars have been role models, inspirations and, at times, even “saved” their lives. It’s a hyped-up exciting event with cameras recording the entire journey in “reality TV” style. The postemotionality2 of these meetings—through the usual polite exchanges—is starkly shattered at times when there is the slightest engagement of truly bringing the two mutual realities of fan and star together in a forthright emotional exchange. Instead, often a sadomasochism prevails in the way fans are shown to humiliate themselves in an exchange for a bit of jouissance. There are moments where the fantasy turns into a nightmare on either side. A fan suffers a deep rejection and let-down when an idol(s) turns out

T F( )


not to be quite what the fan had in mind; or, a celebrity is taken aback by the forthright and devouring aggressivity of a fan who exposes the “impossibility” of their relationship continuing. Some fans plead for more time or want to sing, write poetry, and even “jam” with the band. These instances expose the fragility of identification, the belief in the ONE. The suffering that fan(addicts) undergo is often marked by a subjective destitution, their fantasies evaporate as their golden idol turns into a piece of shit. In light of the broader de-Oedipalization thesis, when it comes to media fandom in general, the fan(addict) finds a peer group (the ONE) that can center his or her world, and stabilize an identity rather than be in throes of the conflict of identity confusion. This pertains to heterosexual, gay and lesbian positions alike. Such a fan is “branded,” as the popular marketing saying goes. Reeves et al. (1996) makes a distinction among “casual,” “devoted,” and “avid” viewers. For marketing purposes, devoted fans are the collectors of the objects that circle around the ONE that centers or grounds them, but the fan(addict) even surpasses the avid fan distinction. Fan(addicts) watch every episode of a television series, buy every available album/CD of the group, purchase and consume the marketed ancillary texts that are generated around the televised series, film, music group, star, and so on. Such fan(addicts) join the interpretative communities that have formed online as discussion groups, or form their own local chapter. They have an understanding of the supernarrative of their ONE; that is, the transcendental dream of their passionate attachment, the sublime object of its ideology that drives it. Niche or direct marketing strategies of designer capitalism take over to reach them. Generally speaking, when it comes to music, fan(addicts) are predominately female because the question of “what kind of woman am I?” is at issue. The female fan(addict) is a complimentary subject position to the obsessive video game(addict) of “interpassivity” who are mostly boys.3 They are structured by the question of “Am I alive or dead?” They are most alive only when playing the video game or acting out in a virtual city to avoid being “dead” in the Symbolic Order. But these are only tendencies. They should not be considered hardened divisions. A fan (as defined by fanaticism) and an addict (as caught by the repetition of the drive) come together in a figure who finds an anchorage in an identity free from doubt to answer the question “Am I a man or a woman?” The obsessional fan(addict) finds an escape from the lack in the Symbolic Order, and avoids castration by devoting his entire self to some Cause. In both cases a person or group is elevated to an all-knowing Ego Ideal. In postmodernity, with the decentering of the Symbolic Order, such an ideal Figure or Cause becomes a “small” Other (designated as ONE). The psychic investment is complete if the hysteria subsides, or if the obsession is found that escapes from the lack in the Symbolic Order. The theory of the small ONE is illustrated through an example of an obsessional fan(addict) in the fictional figure of Brandon Wheeger and his alien alter ego, Mathesar in Galaxy Quest, and the hysterical fan(addict) is demonstrated through an empirical example of Silke, a fan of Die Ärzte, a band from Berlin.


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I believe such an identity formation is unique to postmodern consumerism, and is best grasped by the ontology of the ONE and its multiple, or the ONE and the many (see May, 2004). In East Asia, Cosplay (Japanese term for costume play) amongst the comic-animé community in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan is perhaps the most obvious example of such fan(addiction).

A W L   F(): G ALAXY Q UEST The fan(addict) has emerged in postmodernist media culture of designer capitalism because of b(r)and following, a way to identify and anchor one’s identity that gives them a total devotion to the ONE. This has emerged in the entertainment industry and in sport. Let us recall the hilariously funny movie, Dean Parisot’s Galaxy Quest (1999), the spoof on Star Trek starring Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Tony Shalhoub as the actors in key roles. It presents an anamorphic or wry look at the “truth” of such fandom, giving us a better grasp of the fan/star relationship by presenting a ridiculous and absurd narrative that exaggerates obscene aspects that are generally glossed by media presentations. The film’s narrative stages the “final” fantasy of the second of a two part series that was never produced because the Galaxy Quest (GQ) series was cancelled after having been broadcast from 1979 until 1982. Tired of having to appear before their fans (this is their eighteenth outing), Dr. Lazarus (a.k.a. Alexander “Alex” Dane, Rickman’s character) is especially fed up of the whole gag. Once a great stage actor, he has been reduced to repeating the one line for which he is beloved by his fans: “By Grabthar’s hammer, we live to tell the tale.” Lt. Madison (a.k.a. Gwen DeMarco, Sigourney Weaver’s character) has been reduced to being a stupid sex objet on the series, always repeating what the computer says, such as, “I’m getting hotter Commander!” Tech. Sgt. Chen (a.k.a. Fred Kwan, Tony Shalhoub’s character) is calm. He sits around reading the newspaper. It’s work as usual. Only Commander Peter Quincey Taggart (a.k.a. Jason Nesmith, Tim Allen’s character), their fearless leader is enthusiastic about such events. He doesn’t want to let his fans down, and he believes they love him. The GQ crew is caught by a viscous cycle of guest appearances. They can’t do without them nor live with them. To leave the scene would be to destroy their own alter ego characters to which they have become addicted. Only Dr. Lazarus (Alex) want’s out, willing to abandon his mask and move on with his life. The knife stabbing that goes on backstage is only a façade for the harmonious presentation they present for their fans. Jason even hires an extra spot light to be put on him as he walks on stage. In the audience the teen fan(addicts), dressed appropriately in the costumes of their favorite characters, anxiously await for their stars to make an appearance. These stars are their protectors, the spaceship has been appropriately named as NSEA PROTECTOR, and they are extremely loyal. These fans have just finished watching, for the first time ever, the first part of the missing

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two part episode that ended the series with the captain about to launch their secret weapon, The Omega 13, given that all was lost. A loyal fan had rescued the footage from the studio’s garbage. What was shit for the company has become gold for GQ fans. The opening scenes from GQ convention give us an anamorphic look at fandom. Two exchange a conversation about their costumes. “I used to be De Gar’nor of Ang but I got a rash from the chest pads, so now I’m Sacnod from episode 5, which is fine except the transducer pinches when I sit down.” Another group of fans, led by Brandon Wheeger, are dressed exactly like the four GQ crew, come up to a vendor’s booth and Brandon begins to critique the model of the PROTECTOR that is on sale. “The tail is concave and not convex. The proton reactor is where the influx thermistors should be and . . . my god . . . is this Testor’s blue green number six on the hull? . . . (he drops the model on the floor) . . . This is a complete abortion.” There are long lines as fans wait to get their autograph from their favorite crewmembers. Each loyal fan comes up to Dr. Lazarus, salutes him with crossed fists and says, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, I shall avenge you!” Another speaks to him in his native Mak’tar language. Yet another fan asks Tech. Sgt. Chen (a.k.a. Fed Kwan) about episode nineteen. “When the reactor fused, you used an element from Leopold Six to fix the quantum rockets. What was that called?” He answers, “Bivrakium.” He is further quizzed. “The blue sheath it was incased in-?” Answer, “A bi-thermal krevlite housing.” Fred is asked by a bit-player Guy, on the series, how he remembers this stuff? Fred tells him he just makes it up, “lot’s of ‘k’s and ‘v’s.” Gwen is asked to autograph a naked picture of herself, and it’s not even her body! Finally, there is a scene where Jason escapes into the men’s washroom to get a moment of peace and overhears several cynical fans (20-something) telling it like it is: that the crew is a laughing stock for many at the convention. These scenes expose what lies behind the usual plastic smile of the stars and their professed claim to “love” their fans—which is a misplaced love of themselves. It also shows the obsessive behavior (in this case) of the fan(addict) who constantly asks the existential question: “Am I alive or dead?” “Am I ‘truly’ alive only when I am one of the GQ crew?” The fan(addict) is represented by the nerdy Brandon Wheeger, GQ’s #1 fan, who amasses intimate and detailed knowledge to help him satisfy the feeling of being fully alive. He has to know every possible detail and get it absolutely right. Even when Jason tells him it’s all fake, and even “disses” him, it doesn’t matter. He want’s to get the technical details to the last episode, “The Quasar Dilemma,” just right. He is a true believer. Nothing can shake his unswerving faith in the Commander. Disappointment—yes. Doubt—no. The Commander’s other true believers are about to make their appearance as well. Four look-alike aliens dressed in uniforms arrive at the convention. They are Thermians from the Klatu Nebula, led by Mathesar, who worships the brave Commander and his crew. He is the ONE—their god. Like Brandon, they actually believe that the GQ crew is the “real Thing,” the Real ONE.


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They are hyper-manifestations of Brandon, and far superior in their commitment and in their knowledge of GQ and its spaceship. Their costumes are maintained by a special effects box-like gadget that they wear on their belts. In “real life” (RL), the Thermians are rather ugly creatures with seven long tentacles. They look and act more like giant squids—soft and mushy. They have been watching GQ episodes (historical documents) from outer space and have (mis)taken them to be authentic exploits, caught by the fantasy mirror of their own making. Now they are on a mission to save their world from the tyrant Roth’h’ar Sarris of Fautu-Krey who wants Omega 13. Commander Quincey is their last hope. We have the makings of an ethical demand being placed on the GQ crew from the Real (the aliens). The GQ crew is about to face their own fears behind their plastic smiles and confront the sham(e) of their alter egos. They must traverse their own fundamental fantasy: to act “through” what they presently “act out.” It raises the question of responsibility for what you pretend to be, and held responsible for the fantasy that you have created for yourself. Caught by a combination of greed, envy, and curiosity, a skeptical GQ crew is transported to the Thermian space ship. They are placed in a new Symbolic Order that inverses the gaze upon them. What was pure artifice has become RL. PROTECTOR II awaits them, built from fan books and entertainment software that contained blueprints of the craft. The crew are all forced to take on the actual symbolic roles they have been assigned only as actors, and to play out the “final-final” episode-part 2 of their careers. In effect, to face the death of their alter egos. On the Thermian spaceship they are treated as gods (which is interesting given that the obssessional behavior of the Thermians parallels the structure of religion according to both Freud and Lacan). As heroes they can do no wrong—they are all walking master signifiers. Any non-sense they utter is taken as the “truth,” like Chance the Gardner in Hal Ashby’s Being There (1979). An admiring technician asks Sgt. Chen to solve an “impossible” problem concerning unexplained proton surges in the delta unit of the Beryllium Sphere. Chen “solves” the problem by initiating a Socratic dialogue. He asks the technician what he thinks could be the problem. Of course, the technician “knows” a possible solution. He just needs to have it “kick-started” by the Master. One of the Thermians, Quelleck, a fan(addict) of Dr. Lazarus lives completely by the code of Mak’tar, and has mastered sleeping on a bed that consists of six large spikes, just like in Lazarus’s home planet. Lt. Madison now controls the computer and does not stupidly repeat what it says. She is offered what is the equivalent of having her hands imprinted in cement on Hollywood Boulevard. The females of the ship have requested that she give her voice imprint for the proposed Tawny Madison Institute for Computer Research. But, with all that fan-worship comes a responsibility to the Other as ONE. Caught up in their own false personas, the GQ crew isn’t able to confront the Thermians face-to-face. But the moment of truth arrives soon enough as Sarris captures the Thermian craft and figures out that, as a “scientific” race, the Thermians blindly believe that there is no deceit in the universe. He forces

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Jason to confront Mathesar with this “truth” as he lies on a torturing rack. Jason is put in the spot of a parent who is forced to tell his child that Santa Claus does not “really” exist—he is asked to ruin the very kernel of Mathesar’s fantasy and cause his psychic death. In turn, he is faced with the choice of either shaming himself of his imaginary deceit—and then living with it, or face his own death drive by telling the truth. He chooses death. Sarris has told his crew to start a core meltdown of the neutron reactor. There are only nine minutes left. The stage has been set to live out the final-final episode-part 2. After escaping the guards who were about to expel Jason and Lazarus into outer space, the crew is reunited again, and it is Gwen and Jason who must shut down the core. There is only one person in the universe who can help them do this: Brandon Wheeger. It is possible to contact Brandon back on earth because, by the fate of the gods, he mistakenly took Jason’s authentically workable “vox communicator” given to him by Mathesar while he was still on earth. Brandon gets a “call from the Real,” from the ONE. His reason for living the GQ fantasy is now fully vindicated—this is the “real” deal! Now, he has the chance to be the ONE, the leader of his own GQ crew. Everything rests in his hands. Operating from his bedroom, Brandon assembles his team online (Kyle, Hector, and Katelyn) who know the absolute intimate details of the working model that the Thermians had built. In the meanwhile, he talks Jason and Gwen through as to how to get to the core.

O : T T  S Jason then asks Brandon what he knows of Omega 13. Brandon tells him that opinions are divided. Some think it will collapse matter and destroy the universe, but he thinks it will rearrange matter, converting all the molecules to the exact state thirteen seconds prior to its activation. When Jason asks why he comes to that conclusion, Brandon gives him an absolutely ridiculous nonsensical answer. Brandon doesn’t know either, and that’s the responsibility of being a Master. The judgment is always a leap of faith. Brandon’s team quarrels amongst themselves as to what the Omega 13 can really do. But Katelyn offers a convincing argument: the person who triggers Omega 13 is not affected by it; that person still has his memory after the time jump when everything is as it was. There is a chance to redeem a single mistake or misstep; in other words, a chance to confront the contingency of the Real and not to repeat the same mistake. This is a warp or twist in time, a Nachträglichkeit experience. Omega 13 is the two sided dilemma of das Ding: the jouissance of Eros-life-zoë or Thanatos-death-apocalypse: a “pregnant” moment of creation out of a “perfect vacuum” as either a new birth of the universe through its rearrangement or its total destruction—life/death—like the ONE and its multiple. Omega 13 is the missing piece of information—a transcendental signifier—which keeps the system from collapsing, thus leaving the future contingent and open. The warped or looped time that Omega 13 makes available is simply the delay between reality (RL) and fantasy, as if we could actually experience this impossible abyss or gap between the two. In the final scenes


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of GQ we have all three of Lacan’s three registers on display: Omega 13 (Real), the actual experience of the event (Symbolic Order) and fantasy (Imaginary). I will not continue with this exposé, but let the reader view GQ’s interesting unfolding narrative. Suffice to say that Jason will confront an experience— again—but for the first time. The entire crew has traversed their fundamental fantasies, and faced their alter egos. The history of that episode now has become GQ history. It demonstrates effectively the fan(addict) in the figure of Brandon and Mathesar; they are “more fan than fan”—the hyper-fan of today who believes in the ONE, and has grasped the supernarrative of GQ. We see this type of obsessive symptom (as sinthome) repeating itself in the marketing mechanisms of hyped-up branding in all facets of life as a way to provide life’s meaning, to elevate the Star to a false Idol where what they do and say is taken earnestly and in good faith. Their responsibility, designated here as an “ethics of the Real,” is hardly of concern. And, we see the other side of this as well: the Idol not wanting to go on with the charade, but the show must go on. To remain “authentic,” paradoxically means to take on an entirely different role so as not to get typecast. Morphing into a new character and repackaging the Ego, becomes a survival mechanism to be rid of the mass of hyper-clones that cling onto a star’s coattails, dragging him or her down. Fan(addicts) take every piece of their idol’s shit and turn it into a precious gold nugget, either as market ware, or to keep it for themselves. Madonna must surely be considered the best example of a fantasy “serial killer” when it comes to the production of morphing selves. For well over a decade she has been moving from alter ego to alter ego, typical of hysterical behavior. It seems she will be no man’s object of jouissance—so she relies on serial husbands. Her latest make-over venture since she became a mother, has been to add various religions into her shopping-cart: a bit of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, bit of Jewish Kabbalah, a bit of Indian mysticism; this time to work on her spiritual designer self and become more “mature.” In her music video for the James Bond film, “Die Another Day,” she fights the forces of good and evil—in black versus white codes no less. Just in case we’re too stupid to “get it,” she even evokes Freud. Throughout the video she sports a mysterious tattoo of several letters from the Jewish alphabet, and leaves the same “sign” behind on the electric chair as she escapes in the very last frames of the video. Madonna, has planted her statement that she is not to be worshiped by fans as an idol. It is the sign for the Golem. Yet, another brilliant marketing technique. Like the Golem, she has no inclinations, either good or bad. She just performs, as the Golem did for the Jewish Cause, more out of compulsion and fear, than desiring fame. This seems excessively narcissistic in its understatement. Madonna and her fan(addicts) problematize yet again the ethical relationship between the ONE and its multiple. What is her responsibility and what is theirs?

P: S’ S-E To now move from the realm of film fiction to the realm of empirical RL. It has already been mentioned the way fans are manufactured along with the

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stars themselves. The boy group phenomena present such a scenario where fans of MTV’s (and ABC’s) reality show, The Making of the Band (or Fox’s American Idol ), enable them to commit to a long term relationship with the various personalities as they go through the process of “making it,” as would happen when following characters on any television soap. But a different type of fan has emerged who does more than just follow a personality and interactively votes. She is an hysteric who usurps the man’s position in the sense that she is every bit as knowledgeable—often more so—than the celebrity (be it band or star) that she attaches herself to. In her fantasy life she is passionately devoted to them as her ONE as a phantom-like member. An example to illustrate what I mean by such a possibility was broadcast in 2002 on the German version of MTV’s FANatic, which featured Markus Schulz arriving by limousine in Bayreuth, Germany to pick up Silke, a 22-year-old fan(addict) of Die Ärzte, a well-known Berliner punk-rock band billed as “Der Beste Band der Welt.” Being the “best band in the world” is reinforced by the playful pun on the homology Die Ärzte has with Die Erste in the German language: it can mean both, “The Doctors,” as well as “The First.” One imagines that through such metaphors they are providing the exploration of the symptomatic ills youth face through their songs. Right. But, they rage in a rather twisted way. A brassière hangs on the microphone in all their concerts as a reminder of their strategy. It seems that their ideology is to turn sex in on itself through a perverse antifascist anarchist ideology. They want punk babies in the double meaning of the word: as punk mothers who then give birth to punk babies so as to “fick” the system. The message is to fick, fick, fick, which needs no translation. In the German context such punk-rock bands are Prolet. They speak to working-class youth where beer is the drug of choice. Many of their songs are anarchistic in temperament. Their song titles on 5, 6, 7, 8 -Bullenstaat (Police State), for instance, are self-explanatory: “punkababies,” “mcdonalds,” “bravopunks,” “deutschland verdreckte,” “elekrobier,” “hass auf bier,” “bullenschwein,” “rockabilly war,” “ich bin ein punk,” “rache,” “biergourmet,” “widerstand,” and so on. But they are also capable of a much more toned down softer sound: “Vohno Ono,” “2000 Mädchen,” “Ehe,” “Zu Spät,” and “Westerland.” Such songs have increased their popularity over the years. Silke is a punkbaby who appropriately carts her punk baby purse around, a rather sweet and loveable person. Die Ärzte played for MTV’s Unplugged concert series (August 31, 2002) in the Aula of the Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium in Hamburg, a music high school, just before Silke was interviewed and given her tour. The school orchestra provided the backup for the band. The Aula, which normally seats an audience of 200 was over-booked with 350 guests. MTV stages this acoustic intimacy in stark contrast to the thousands of fans such bands normally perform to with amplified sound. Die Ärzte were only the third German band to have been invited to do so. Hence, there was plenty of reasons why Silke was invited to meet the group—to promote the band, their new CD, a book celebrating the event, and to give them a higher profile on


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MTV, and so on. Appropriately, before the FANatic episode began, Die Ärzte’s song “Komm Zurück,” from the Unplugged Concert was featured with the punks (Gonzalez, Bela B., and Farin Urlaub), all neatly dressed in white shirts, ties, and suit jackets coming on stage in electric wheel chairs from which they sang their entire concert. Perhaps this was an ironic statement of being “crippled” by the space or lack of electric sound? The backup (student) singers were drab looking and modestly dressed, almost nerdish. “Komm Zurück,” the feature video release of the concert, is a rather tender love melody. For anyone watching them for the very first time, it would be difficult to believe that Die Ärzte was a punk-rock band. Their debut concert seemed to quote Nirvana who equally surprised the audience during their MTV Unplugged concert with an array of songs that Kurt Cobain had specially prepared. We meet Silke who is appropriately dressed in a T-shirt with a red cross on it, her hair is red, and her slacks are as well. Silke has a special crush on the drummer of the group, Bela B. The camera follows her into her bedroom where all the paraphernalia from the band has been collected since 1993, the year when the band first got started. Drumsticks that Bela B. throws out into the crowd are attached to the wall, as are posters and an autograph. Silke has been in the front row seat in many of their concerts. More importantly Bela B.’s face is tattooed on her right shoulder, his tattooed name appears on her right side, as well as slightly above her pubic hair. We are not given a full view of this one—only a quick voyeuristic peak. Schulz next interviews her parents (they seem to be in their mid-fifties) who say they are proud of their daughter. They would drive Silke to the concerts, wait for her, and then drive home. One is touched by the loyalty they have to their daughter. The mother expresses a sigh that she wasn’t young again so that she could participate in her daughter’s craziness—maybe even get a tattoo! Schulz is impressed and overjoyed to find such “understanding” and cool parents. Silke is then flown to Berlin where Hot Action Records is housed, in the Kreuzberg district. On the first day she is shown the studio where the band records and other paraphernalia. She is invited to sing one of their songs “Optimismus” in the recording studio. Schulz and her visit the tattoo parlor (Endless Pain) where Bela B. is a regular customer. They discuss her tattoos with the tattooist. She wants another to be put on her backside bottom of Bela B. as a Count, a frightening cartoon figure featured on one of the band’s videos. The next day Schulz and Silke are in Berlin, sitting in Mariannenplatz discussing her reminisces of that first concert she attended. Actual footage of that concert is shown in between interview segments. They also visit a Berliner club SO 36, where the band played, and she says she met Bela B. for the first time in 1996. The next day Schulz and Silke are off to Hamburg since the band is there because of the Unplugged concert. It is time to meet the actual group. After a tour of the Gaga Studio, she enters a room and the three stars come in. There are two cameras in play: one camera films the discussion up close and

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personal. Another camera pulls back, covering the entire scene, including the close-up camera. The mix is reedited so that viewers see the interplay between these two cameras. Close-ups are sequenced in when something special seems to be happening. Bela B. sits with Silke in the middle flanked by his two band members. Bela B. has to make the most conversation since she is his biggest fan. Farin Urlaub (which means “taking a holiday”) sits on Bela B.’s left (camera) side, remote and removed wearing sunglasses. His only comment is to say that Silke is fan of Bela B. more than the band. When Bela B. gets a bit tongue-tied, Farin whispers in his ear that the band is into “privacy and quiet.” This message is passed onto Silke via Bela B. who repeats it to her. Farin has unconsciously told us that he is uncomfortable with this interview. His private space has been invaded, and his cold and distanced demeanor says so. There is a hint of jealousy that Bela B. is getting all the attention. On the right hand side sits Rod Gonzalez who is willing to ask Silke questions and steer the conversation toward their Unplugged concert. Edited cuts to the school and children playing music instruments are shown. His agenda is clear. He is more interested in getting the message out about the concert, and Silke is simply a vehicle for that. He really doesn’t have much interest in knowing much about her. Bela B. and Silke small talk, most of which returns again and again to her tattoos, especially his portrait. Rod Gonzales doesn’t believe it is “real.” Perhaps it’s a henna imitation? No, Bela B. rubs his hand on Silke’s shoulder to show that the tattoo doesn’t come off. Talk is then directed to her other two tattoos of Bela B. She shows him the one on the (camera’s) right side. The only comment he can make is how technically well it has been done. The strained intimacy of their talk turns to the third tattoo of Bela B., the one which is above her pubic hairs. But then suddenly, Farin gets up and leaves. Rod Gonzales quickly follows. Times up. He leans over and gives her a traditional European two cheeked kiss and leaves. The fan has had her day—actually one hour edited down to fifteen minutes with about ten minutes being actual interaction. Only Bela B. lingers to stay a few more seconds. There is a reason. He wants to see that third tattoo. Bela B. gets to see the full tattoo, you know where!

S’ T Although a fair bit of space has been taken to provide a description of the interview, it clearly shows how the fan(addict) is an object of anxiety for the group; she has become “too close.” Silke no longer occupies her “proper” place as a fan, the best seat being in the front row of each and every concert (circled photos of her face are shown sitting in the first row, Gonzales admits to having recognized her). The objet a for the three band members is her tattoos. For Bela B. they are an attraction he doesn’t quite know what to do with. He attempts distancing himself, but he is clearly “drawn” to them. They hold a special fascination, as if he cannot quite believe that somebody


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wants to “swallow” him up and wear him on her skin. These tattoos are both a fascination and a threat. His comment on their artistry is the bare minimum distance he is able to keep. For Farin Urlaub the tattoos are detestable. He is somewhat miffed that he has to sit through this interview and not be recognized. He is, after all, a lead singer. But Silke has no interest in him. Gonzales too, is fascinated by her tattoos, but in a much more cynical way, as if the punk baby has taken the brazzière symbol much too literally. She has actually made his fantasy come true. But the tattooing is for Bela B. and not for him. He has been the one to recognize her in the first row of the concerts, but she did not choose him as the object of her desire. Rod Gonzalez has to displace his ambivalence about the tattoos (are they “real”) with talk about the Unplugged concert. Yet, he returns to her tattoos wanting to discredit them, as if his unconscious is saying “My god, someone has taken us too seriously. You mean, this is not a game anymore? We can’t be ironic and cynical?” Silke, on the other hand, remains reserved, cool, nonchalant, and not about to faint, this isn’t Beatlemania. It’s as if she is one of Die Ärzte, not in the sense that she can actually be on stage with them, but in the total acceptance of their ideology. She has total commitment and trust and belief in them. They form her sinthome of wanting to believe in the ONE, a redeemer band that echoes in a number of contemporary films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Matrix where Neo is so obviously The ONE. What we have here is the total investment of the self along horizontal lines (to the many small multiples of ONE’s) rather than vertical lines to the Symbolic Order, in keeping with the postmodern notion of surface. These ONE’s can be theoretically transposed in both Deleuzean as well as Lacanian terms as a number of “flights” or vectors around which desire circulates. Each ONE is a Master signifier, a nonsensical vortex of lack. Something about Die Ärzte as embodied in Bela B. dramatically grounds Silke’s unconscious self, actually protects Silke like an amulet, as libidinously invested in the pain-pleasure of her three tattoos—shortly, perhaps a fourth with Bela B. as a Count. She tells Schulz after the interview, as might be expected, that the time was just too short. But she is very courteous about it. In no way does she drool over Bela B., sexually desiring his body, nor was his presence so overbearingly transcendent that she might faint—her objet a just too close. She admits to Schulz in the limousine that it would, of course, be nice to be his girl friend, or to have a boy friend “like” Bela, but . . . she continually hesitates in providing a definitive answer. Bela B. and Silke’s skin-ego are intimately connected. He is her protector double. She has transferred her complete loyalty and love to him, and is intimately attached to him, at the same time she cannot be “had” like some common groupie. This relationship of transference might best be described as Bela B.’s skin-ego becoming Silke’s ego-skin. What avoids the threat of seeing her “double,” as it were, is that, as a hysteric she has usurped his place. She “owns” him, and, in an uncanny way, he knows it—Bela B. is seldom tongue-tied. He is, after all, the spokesman of the group. Yet, he was stumbling all the way in the interview. So why did Silke choose Bela B. over the other two?

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A D  B In his clever and insightful book, Percussion (2002), subtitled by the declension—drumming, beating, striking, John Mowitt provides a clue for a tentative answer to such a question. The drummer in rock ’n’ roll, as is wellknown, usually takes a “back” seat in the band, providing the beat to anchor it. He is often misperceived as being a stupid figure (like a Ringo Starr), unable to write songs. Bela B. is an exception in this case. He usually struts up in front of the stage, throwing his drumsticks into the crowd. He interacts with his two musicians, and comes across as their leader. That, however, isn’t what is most interesting about why Silke has chosen him. Rather, it is the relationship between Silke’s skin-ego and Bela B.’s membranophonic drums, which act as catachrestic instruments. That is to say, drums “must be abused to be played,” and they possess “a body, a skin, a head, and a voice.” The drum historically represents “the expressive interiority that we call the subject, the human being insofar as it intones ‘I’ ” (6). I want to develop the case that Bela B.’s senseless phallic punk beat, beats on Silke’s ego-skin, registering as sexualized sense signifiers directly on her body as bruises in the form of tattoos. In short, I am (again) into the familiar territory of a willing s/m ritual but it is an unconscious one, as an unspoken sonic contact. The phallic punk-rock beat—as “senseless beating”—is “a lack that seems to spur a recursive escalation that . . . is unmistakably violent” (2). It lays down a seemingly arbitrary and unconscious Law that Silke materializes on her skin without really knowing why. It is her unstated social contract with Bela B., an unconscious interpellation. She loves his punishment. The drumsticks in her bedroom are the instruments of that satisfaction. She is a slave to this enjoyment, possessed by Bela B., her sinthome, going from one concert to another to get another “hit.” This is what we mean by our portmanteau word (addiction). It confines her. Silke will continue to tattoo herself for Bela B. Freud’s classical “beating fantasy” (1919) describes the fantasy of a child being beaten from the positions of the beater, the beaten, and the onlooker. Such a fantasy is sexually charged by a perverse dynamics that organizes it. Freud articulated three distinct phases that led up to this conscious fantasy. The first he surmised, the second was unconscious, and only the last was conscious. It is this middle articulation, which refers to the perversion of unconscious masochism that Silke enacts. In the first phase, “My father is beating the child,” refers to an incestuous love and hate for the father by both the girl and boy. In this fantasy the child is a voyeur whose satisfaction is derived from watching the father sadistically beat the child. The enjoyment comes from witnessing such a beating, structured by such feelings as the father loves me alone; the father hates the other child; the father is beating the other child, and also, I hate the father for beating this child. The second and unconscious fantasy, “I am being beaten by my father,” is structured the same for both boys and girls. It emerges as a substitution or displacement of the first incestuous fantasy of love/hate, which is then repressed, leaving a feeling of guilt. This unconscious fantasy of being punished by the father relieves


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this incestuous guilt and acts as a substitute for a genital relationship. This unconscious fantasy undergoes yet a further repression and becomes consciously structured as “A child is being beaten.” In this last articulation boys generally say that they are being beaten by a father substitute, like their mother or teacher, to preserve their love for the father. While, girls tend to say that it is a male figure of authority who is doing the beating. This conscious fantasy is, therefore, also structured by sadism with the boy or girl cast as a voyeur. Silke and Bela B. enact the first and second phases of this beating fantasy. They stage the perversion of sadomasochism. The concert space as the scene of sexual excitement enacts a drama that has been agreed on by the band and its fans. It is a contractual space. To make this relationship sufficiently a sadomasochistic scenario requires the abolition of the Name-of-the-Father in the Symbolic Order and to subvert the Law. Die Ärzte fill that role for Silke. Contrary to what Freud thought, sadomasochism defies castration and disavows sexual difference (see Adams, 1991). This is a subversion of the Law since its strictness has been curbed. Silke feels no incestuous guilt. The desire for punishment brings her jouissance. In Silke’s fan(addiction) we have here what can be referred to as a postmodern form of “segregation,” where alterity is not what is excluded from some big Other, rather, alterity as an aesthetics of the “ugly” is precisely what forms an excessive overidentification. Die Ärzte is literally embodied by Silke and her bedroom environment. Silke admits this much to us as viewers. When asked if she had a boy friend, she demurely says no. When boyz see her shoulder tattoo of Bela B.’s portrait, they don’t ask her out. Many just stay away. Bela B.’s tattoo becomes an “ugly” icon to those who approach her. It makes her (almost) sexually unapproachable, and again confers the “protection” of Count Bela B. on her: his shroud as her skin-ego. Only the Stamm of Die Ärzte fans are let in. The new postmodern groupie has sold her soul to be identified as a punk baby to be protected. The paradoxes that surround these anarchistic elements should not go unnoticed. Silke has sacrificed herself to the Cause of Die Ärzte’s desire, their self-proclaimed antisocial and antifascist ideology. She has (quietly) accepted their rage, and faithfully worships at their altar in the front row. Silke (an English/German hybrid cross between silky and Seide) appears delicate, demure, quiet, and soft-spoken—on the inside, so to speak, which is so at odds with her punk look on the outside. Her skin-ego seems to be a fragile layer keeping this discordance together. Let us hope in 10 years when Silke looks at her tattoos, which she says will remind her of her present Lebensgefühl, that her memories will be happy ones, and that Die Ärzte haven’t proven to be a parodic and cruel fascistic joke that will materialize into her nightmare. Her skin-ego will surely loose its magic. Beauty marks will turn to warts not so easily removed. Silke remains a-live as long as Die Ärzte can, in the words of Rod Gonzales as he left the interview, “keep rockin.”

T F( )


T P   S-E: T S-S M I have juxtaposed a rather wry look at the fan(addict) in Galaxy Quest and its more dramatic manifestation in punk-rock music. They seem at first, antithetical to one another. The obsessional is juxtaposed with the hysteric. GQ celebrates designer capitalism in its form of marketing, while Die Ärzte is supposed to be anticapitalist. Yet, both examples raise an “ethics of the Real” and its politicization in the form of the relationship of responsibility that emerges with fandom’s spectacularized following because the question of “protection,” as belief and a leap of faith, manifests itself on the body. There is an unquestioned possession at work in the relationship where fan(addict)s are caught by the short-circuit of immortality by hyper-cloning themselves as their idols and stars. Their stars gaze back at them, bathing them in magical light. Brandon lives in the world of his model spaceship. His parents have absolutely no idea what he is up to, nor do they particularly care. It is his way to avoid the desire of the Other, as if he were some computer nerd or videogame freak. The fan(addict)’s investment in memory is especially important to consider. In German, the distinction between Gedächtnis (involuntary memory) and Erinnerung (voluntary memory) serves to identify the mediation between inside and outside. The unconscious manifestations of Gedächnis manifested in a fan’s fantasy life are continually informed by the Erinnerungen of his or her conscious life. The two forms of memory, as Proust showed, are but two sides of the same coin that are separated by an “impossible” gap, which is warped (crossed-over) whenever an important event registers “on” the bodyskin. The “historical records” for the Thermians present the Erinnerungen that are the manifestations of their already distilled Gedächtnis of their fantasies, which have been projected as their skin-ego; namely, as the illusion that they are humans maintained by a metal box worn on the belt. This is a perfect metaphor to imagine the skin-ego as a holographic projection that enables the image of the body’s gestalt to be maintained. When Brandon gets the “call” from Jason, the same phenomenon is evident. Brandon’s “historical document” is a CD ROM of the space ship’s blueprints and the models he has built. He slips on the ego-skin of the Commander quite easily. He is the Commander working with his Net-crew. We have the same repetition with the crew themselves. In effect they jump into the skin-ego of their alter egos, thereby materializing into them, perfectly illustrating Lacan’s future anterior of the mirror stage: the alter ego as what “I will have become.” Silke too, as a hysteric, slips on Bela B.’s ego-skin through the sacrifice of her own skin-ego. Convention and concert emerge as the geographical spaces that are remarkably similar in their “con” effects. They are cocooned environments. One emerges reborn and reconfirmed from them. The skin-ego that mediates the inside/outside distinction is plumbed in different ways by their geographical


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location. The containment of the ego-skin in both Brandon and Mathesar’s case has been displaced onto the space ship (PROTECTOR). This ship embodies their skin-ego. Brandon knows all the intimate details about it (except one). In Japan today, there are thousands of boyz and young men (aged 12–26), so-called Roboter-Otaku who, like Brandon, are engaged in the building of a workable robot that they glean from Manga comics. In these comics such robots save the world, and the young men, many of whom have purposely taken part time jobs and are half-starved so that they could continue to build their robots, obsessively escape into them. They are their “protectors,” their alter egos. The Internet is full of pictures of the robot next to their creator. Magazines and CDs are full of possible blue-print ideas. These boyz work day and night on their creations, lost as it were, in the fantasy of their own making. They meet yearly in Tokyo’s National Museum of Science and engage in gladiator fights between their robotic creations. The wining prize is equivalent to 10,000 U.S. dollars donated by Honda and Sony companies who know that such experimentation will pay off handsomely in the future. For many boyz, science fiction like Manga Comics and Space Quest, have become the new “historical documents” of postmodernity. Silke, on the other hand, wears her protection directly in the form of her tattoos. Is there any way one could say that Brandon and Mathesar’s relationship is healthier than Silke’s when it comes to the political and ethical concerns of the fandom relationship? The advantage of dealing with an “ethics of the Real” in the fiction of GQ is that we see the consequences of the mutual commitment being worked out. The fan(addict)’s ethical and political consequences are worked through. Jason learns that without Brandon he would not be alive. He accepts his responsibility of being the ONE for him. Dr. Lazarus learns what the words “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, I shall avenge you!” really mean when his #1 fan, Quelleck, who worships him like a father, dies in his arms. Sure, it’s all Schmaltz, but the words have been resignifed in the moment of death. GQ ends with a little boy, no older than six, watching “Galaxy Quest, The Journey Continues” repeating the words “Never give up. Never surrender!” the saying that Commander Taggart always used. The forces of Evil (Sarris) have been defeated. The universe is safe. These are life lessons we can learn by looking awry—as an anamorphic projection of the vagaries of life. When it comes to the Japanese Manga comics, the jury is still out. Sony and Honda are anxiously waiting to cash in on the talent that now labors for free. Is this ethical? With Silke, the jury is still out as well. No advantages here in seeing where it all will lead. Let’s hope, for Silke’s sake, that Die Ärzte are not like the backstage of the opening scenes of GQ; that the boyz are sincere in their own Kampf against the establishment; that the anarchistic elements hinted at have been overexaggerated; that they are not laughing at fans such as Silke behind their backs, or using them as girl-toys, much as Madonna used boy-toys. An “ethics of the Real,” ultimately problematizes the schizophrenic alter ego that has emerged in youth culture today, a split screen mirror of

T F( )


hyper-narcissism that talks to itself, an emerging new doubled reflexivity. How much it glosses and how much it deals with the traumas of identity depends on the Real of its split, for such a schizophrenic mirror is shaped by the ONE, the small big Other for which it performs. This ONE cannot escape its sociohistorical context and its political ideology. This is why I feel that a figure like Madonna’s particular splitting cannot be compared with, say, Eminem’s MC rap. The difference is between being lost in a hall of endlessly self-serving reflective mirrors (e.g., Madonna’s movie career, her religious shopping, or equally finding oneself in Mariah Carry’s 11,000 ft. apartment-boudoir in New York), versus retaining the integrity of struggling with one’s own demons (e.g., The Eminem Show, Pink); that is, facing the crack that splits the ego and its alter self, like the GQ crew. This difference can be stated in yet another way. Madonna-types project their alter ego as an ideal ego of the mirror to which they morph into; Pink-types attempt to talk to their alter egos in a self-reflexive split mirror, to come to the traumas that bother them; and Eminem-types actually invent and exteriorize an alter ego (an a.k.a.) in the mirror which speaks to their autobiographical fantasies and traumas. Fortunately the jury is still out as to which, if not all, such schizophrenic strategies can “save the planet.” Omega 13 is there to be activated just in case we find ourselves in a position where all is lost. The future remains open and changeable, pending a natural disaster over which we have no control—which is the way Nature enjoys!

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L’  R  R ! N A T H  D E


hat is Techno? This seems like an innocent enough question to ask, but the answer is mystifying and perplexing. Techno’s spectacularity is out in full display in the streets of Berlin’s Love Parade and Paris’s Techno Parade. A million young and old people alike, many half-naked, move and gyrate their bodies, waving their hands to a steady beat as a procession of floats filled with similarly gyrating bodies passes by. Raves and love parades seem to be celebrating “something,” but aside from sometimes a too obvious nationalist display of colors and painted flag-faces, it is difficult to figure out just what that “something” is. In this “interlude” I make the case that these “events” and the House music of Techno clubs propose “something” more universally inclusive than just misguided nationalism. It is a fantasy of Love, Peace, and Unity celebrated by what I refer to as New Age Techno Hippies—an allusion to the “Flower Power” children of the 1960s. The comparison is made on the grounds of the “spirit” of intent rather than the music, except for Techno’s acid and psychedelic inflections. However, the geographical displacement of Europe with America is not unlike Techno music itself, which has had back and forth cross fertilizations from the black community dance scenes of New York and Chicago’s “(Ware)House” style, and Detroit’s DJ culture via Acid House music in Britain to Germany and beyond (Richard and Kruger, 1998). In terms of a detail understanding of these historical crosscurrents and influences throughout the 1990s decade, a finer exposition than Simon Reynolds’s Generation Ecstasy (1999) is hard to find. Reynolds presents a complicated picture of the way the rave cultures have an internal tension “between consciousness raising and consciousness razing, between middleclass technopagans for whom MDMA [Ecstasy] is just one chemical in the pharmacopoeia of a spiritual revolution and weekenders for whom E is just another tool for ‘obliviating’ the boredom of workday life” (241). Such an internal tension forms its dialectic between its radical possibilities and its appropriation into pop culture. My interest is to concentrate on the psychic investment in the Techno and rave culture fantasy formations, which Reynolds does not neglect, but leaves scattered throughout his excellent


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study. I differ from Reynolds only by attempting to grasp this psychic structure from a Lacanian perspective to tease out and theorize its radical potentials.1 As I begin to un(rave)l this fantasy of the New Age Techno Hippie, the paradox of “natural technology” will emerge where the ideological projects of Techno and rave come together. Techno is either hated or loved for its artifice. It is the first New Age musical form of the millennium to use and exploit all the computer-generated forms, including desktop and electronic publishing, computer graphics and animation. From the perspective of de-Oedipalization, to join the “rave nation” offers a new form of New Age mysticism—a Dionysian body where extreme fast “hardcore” music floats together with soft psychedelic sounds to provide a universal tribal beat. It sprang up in the mid-1990s (1993–1995) as a “pure” dance style—unadulterated and unstained jouissance. Because the music is produced electronically it is possible to cut ’n mix a variety of new elements from a vast array of available music. Techno uses the frequency spectrum on the monitor of the analyzer. It has nothing to do with “real” time and live performance, but a step-by-step stratification of rhythms, samples, digital filters, and relay effects. It takes the machines of music—records, turn tables, computers—and uses them in ways that they weren’t meant to be used, introducing techniques of “ab-use” such as scratching and sampling. The result is that Techno music can contain an electronic affect for nearly every mood possible, its heterogeneous rhythm unites dancers, regardless of race, color, gender, or sexuality. It places the listener on the edge of the ineffable and of sense making. It is, in effect, music for a New Global Creed that attempts to tear down the borders between identity politics. “I am, you see, I am the creator and this is my house. And in my house there is only house music. . . . You may be black, you may be white, you may be Jew or gentile—it don’t make a difference in our house” (Minister of House, “Mister Fingers,” 1989, quoted in Richard and Kruger, 1998, 162). This neutral matrix of electronic sound, which forms the basis of Techno means that it can be understood in any culture or language. Different national music scenes are then able to add their own interpretation to this internationally recognizable basic style through voice samplings of their own language. This more inclusive democratic dream manifests itself through its acephalous form. It is both post-author and post-song-writer; it seems to proliferate endlessly, like some mystic cloud that drifts from remix to remix, a signifying chain whose dimensions seem to be one-dimensional, stretched to infinity, analogous to Jacques Lacan’s description of the lamella of “pure” life-force (zoë), which he likened to an amoeba. The dance form is equally more inclusively democratic as well. The “event” appears to be hyper-sexualized. Halfnaked men and women, outlandish gay costuming and writhing bodies abound, but there is an unwritten rule that this is not some monstrous sexual orgy, but more of a non-phallic mosh. It is a strangely protected space where women dance without fear of sexual harassment. Eroticism is transformed into a dance style where sexuality is expressed as a ritual form. The dance becomes a form of sexual intercourse where the beats and rhythms imitate

L’  R  R !


an orgasm with dancers experiencing virtual sex on the dance floor, releasing sexual tensions through ecstatic shouts and moans. This is an inner uterine experience, like Freud’s “oceanic feeling.” Typically, before its advent as a commercialized “love parade,” the rave experience in clubs would begin with lesser known DJ’s starting up the sound, progressing to better known DJ’s who would build up the rhythmic noise to climatic proportions. The intensity and loudness reached 115 d.B., (equivalent to a sandblaster) and up to 121 d.B. depending on how close the raver was to the speakers. This caused tinnitus (ringing in the ears), damaging the inner lining of the ear in a matter of a few seconds. Its loud aggressive sound—particularly in its industrial forms where the mix had been stripped of its rhythms and a steady beat predominated—was not “heard” under the influence of Ecstasy, only its viscerality felt; while the perception of its loudness was altered by drug taking. Talking on the dance floor was impossible as each individual was cocooned in his or her own space. The music followed the orgasmic curve of the effects of Ecstasy. When the industrial beat stopped, clubbers would “retire” into “chill out” rooms where the grove changed to transcendental new age music. Reynolds identifies this so-called democratic rave experience succinctly as being “intransitive” (243). Rave culture has no goal beyond its own propagation; it is the time of the infinitive in Deleuzean terms—simply “to rave,” and it is about the celebration of celebration, about intensity without pretext or context. As for the non-phallic aspect, Reynold’s attributes this to the effects of MDMA. Ecstasy brings on the sensations of sexual indifference and the removal of aggression, especially sexual aggression. Its reputation as a “love drug,” as he puts it, “has more to do with cuddles than copulation, sentimentality than secretions. E is notorious for making erection difficult and male organism virtually impossible: women fare rather better” (247). Its reputation as an aphrodisiac is maintained “partly because it enhances touch, and partly because affection, intimacy, and physical tenderness are, for many people, inextricably entangles and conflated with sexual desire” (247). Rave culture, as Reynolds further notes is “the first youth subculture that’s not based on the notion that sex is transgressive” (247, original emphasis). Reynolds, therefore, attributes the feelings at raves almost exclusively to its drug use. “Ecstasy doesn’t negate the body, it intensifies the pleasure of physical expression while completely emptying out the sexual content of dance. For men, the drug/music interface acts to de-phallicize the body and open it up to enraptured, abandoned, ‘effeminate’ gestures” (247). While I am in agreement with Reynolds insightful observations that there is an underlying psychic structure to Techno music and rave, which dovetails with Ecstasy and makes them virtually inseparable as to which produces which, there is also a side to Techno that is drug free. Such Techno music is “schizo” in its deconstruction of rules and forms that pop music imposes on sound that also needs articulation. In this respect the dialectic between the two ideological projects (Techno and rave) is always a complicated affair. Rave is a search, in my view, for an inner uterine experience, what Reynolds identifies as a “collective autism. The rave is utopia in its original etymological


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sense: a nowhere/nowhen wonderland” (248, original emphasis). What then is this wonderland? Love Parades, raves, and House Techno are three forms whose topological locations attempt to create this inner uterine experience. Their somewhat odd commonality is that they take place in “no-where” places. Clubs are grounded in abandoned sections of cities, known only by word of mouth. Raves take place in the ruins of postindustrial landscapes. Rundown industrial sites such as warehouses and factories are transformed into timeless, delocalized, and derealized spaces. As non-places, these buildings are haunted by the abandonment of capitalism. They have become trash, no longer useful. Raves take over “nowhere” places so that a “nowhere” timeless warped zone can be created. This is an escape into a virtual world of a fun factory where the lights are happening, the mist is rising and the beat goes on and on. Such spaces are not formed by walls and partitions but by a combination of light (lasers, spotlights, and strobe light) and Techno music making them more of a sound event than a visual space. The creation of such a time warp enables the night and day distinction to disappear, one can rave all day and all night. To do this the body has to perform relentless work—the sweat on the dance floor is an anti-Slacker statement that says the same thing: by working my body I am not working at all. The flowing stimulations of light and Techno are translated and captured into varying degrees of speed that create spaces of whirling rotation and frenetic movement. At its purest, raves strive to produce “nothing” in these places; a product that is paradoxically noncommodifiable and useless. The work that went on in the actual factory becomes a palimpsest of the anti-work that is now done within it, in the name of jouissance—pure relentless pleasure, pure enjoyment (zoë). The work of dancing is stretched to an impossible duration so that one drops from exhaustion having reached the sublimity of “that” which is beyond endurance. The mystical trance created is an escape in utero, back into an oceanic feeling in the womb before ONE is born. The amniotic pill Ecstasy (E) is to be swallowed so that you are not born, or paradoxically born into “nowhere.” Put more prosaically by Achim Szepanski, “Ecstasy can be your new mommy.” It is “a metonymic search for mother-substitutes” (in Reynolds, 1996). Ecstasy as the drug of choice is well named. MDMA is a mood and mindaltering drug, affecting brain serotonin levels. Its psychological effects are feelings of emotional closeness, coupled with a breakdown of personal communication barriers, a sense of peace with oneself and the world, an enhanced sense of pleasure, greater self-confidence, and an increased sense of energy. Its ill side includes panic attacks. The user gets to a point of wonderment and experiences the marvelous (surreal) bending of time. Reynolds cleverly calls Ecstasy a “utopiate” (248). “It is not a hallucinogen but a sensation intensifier” which frees you from “all the neurosis instilled by a sick society” (248). Techno’s fantasy emerges at its purest here: to come together as ONE, as ONE universal Symbolic Order. To rave and not rage together under the Techno beat is to experience the short circuit of the drive which repeats over, and over again—Techno is the drive personified.

L’  R  R !


Mindfully, Reynolds points out that its “ut(opiate)” effect also contains an “opiate” effect. The raver can be permanently lost in “the virtual reality pleasuredome” without striving for the lofty goal of universal love and well being. Techno’s dream, especially in its German Love Parade roots, came to a sudden halt with the 1992 riots against “foreigners” and “immigrants” in Rostock in the so-called happily reunited country. Alex Empire released his anthem the same year, Heztjagt Auf Nazis (Hunt Down Nazis), as a statement connecting these racist incidents by Skinheads with rave’s Techno trance as the “patriotic new German sound” (Kopf, 1997). Such misplaced nationalism, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, can apply equally to countries like France with its Techno Parade. For some critics, 1993–1994 marked a degeneration of the underground critical potential of Techno and the rave scene. Its spectacularization in the form of a televised event, consolidated by a German rave establishment (Mayday), and a record label (Low Spirit) turned it into a Freizeitknast, a pleasure-prison (Achim Szepanski, in Reynolds, 1996). Its anarchistic roots as illegal parties, pirate radio and social, racial, and sexual mixing in the late 1980s, had been colonized, institutionalized, domesticated, and commercialized.2 Rave had gone pop. As Szepanski puts it in another context, “just the circulation of clean sound currents, cleaned of the noises [Rauschen] and sounds that could disturb prosperity. The masses can also be forced into deep sleep by a synthesizer” (Diefenbach, 1995).

U() K   R: T T B   M F We can understand rave’s Techno rhythmic beat—as an U(h)r Klang3—from a Lacanian perspective as the search to find the fundamental beat of the drive mechanism before sex/gender differentiation, a beat in sync with the functioning of the body as a “machine,” as an automaton. Here Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of a body-without-organs (BwO) is entirely appropriate. The organism is asexual. It is a beat that directly addresses our primal lack that lies in the Real.4 This U(h)r Klang speaks not to the discursive body of language, but to the body as an organism in its original division, to what Lacan referred to as the myth of the lamella (S XI Four Fundamentals, 197), which refers to the intimate relationship between sex and death. Organisms that reproduce asexually such as viruses, single-celled organisms, bacteria, prions, and clones (like Dolly, and CLONAID’s Eve), experience no death. They merely repeat and reproduce themselves. They never die. Organisms that reproduce sexually, however, do. They have a time clock built into them, like the Androids in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). In the meiosis of cell division there is a loss of half the genetic material (life). When a cell divides, something is “lost,” something “flies” away, which is “life” (jouissance, zoë) itself—the loss of eternal life. This is what Lacan meant by the myth of the lamella. The lamella is the human as a pre-sexual being; it refers


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to a substance which is pre-subjective—immortal irrepressible life of zoë that needs no organ. Metaphysically, it can be named as a “soul.” Being immaterial it can take on any shape or form it wants. The attempt to regain back that, which had been originally lost, is confirmed by sexual reproduction. We hope we can regain what we have lost through our offspring; that we will live on through our “creations” in general. The Techno rhythmic beat directly addresses this circular, but non-reciprocal structure of life trying to regain what it has lost, again and again as an ever missed encounter. This is the “short-circuit” of life and death, the fundamental automaton mechanism of the drive that opens and closes, which is passive and active, it pulses and rests. Fundamentally speaking: presence (as life or Eros) is trying to recapture what has become absent (by death or Thanatos), but always failing to do so as our biological clock runs out. Eros and Thanatos, as drives, are the fundamental interlocked closed and open systems of life and death—Eros as fusion, Thanatos as fragmentation. Eros is the death of Thanatos as Thanatos is the death of Eros: two sides of the same coin, a coin whose roundness is the “rim” of pain–pleasure, an opening into the body’s affective states as mediated by zoë, the jouissance of pure libidinal life energy or lamella. This is the U(h)r Klang of rave’s Techno beat that searches for a universal Ecstasy—which means to “stand outside yourself ” as a being full of the Other. One becomes “lost” in the Other. This is why I interpret Techno as a “driving” experience back into the womb where the asexual child experiences the chora of the Mother’s body, to follow Kristeva.5 The “noise” one hears in the womb is like the “noise” that Techno-rave produces, screams, shrieks, chirps, creaks, whizzes, and hisses. As Szepanski claims, these are “all noises related more to madness . . . Techno in this sense is schizoid music: it deconstructs certain rules and forms that pop-music has inflicted on sounds, on the other hand it has to invent the rules that subject sounds to operations of consistency” (in Diefenbach, 1995, 4, slightly modified).6 Reynolds identifies samples found in much rave music, such as “orgasmic whimpers and sighs, soul diva beseechings” as inducing “a feverish state of intransitive amorousness. The ecstatic female vocals don’t signify a desirable/desirous woman, but (as in gay disco) a hyperorgasmic rapture that the male identifies with and inspires toward” (248, original emphasis). My title, “rave and not rage,” refers to the force of a pulsive jouissance of the body’s pleasure that is embryonic and non-phallic. It is opposed to the ecstatic pleasure of a Punker’s mosh pit, which is also an ecstatic loss in the Other, but experienced as phallic. To recall, the Riot Grrrls like Atomic Kitten made it one of their rules that the mosh pit in front of the stage be reserved for grrrls only, attempting to dampen and lessen the phallic thrust. In contrast, the rave induces a mystical jouissance. The smoothness of synaesthesia is more apt to name this embryonic mystic experience versus the more physical body bruising of the mosh pit as an enclosed space rather than the open non-place of the rave. In S XI, Four Fundamentals, Lacan made the distinction between the automaton and objet a as the cause of desire.

L’  R  R !


The rhythm of everyday life (automaton) is interrupted by a “cause” (objet a), which we often cannot readily identify. In Techno there is no “cause,” ideally speaking, no interruption. It goes on and on. The “cause” is the paradoxical ONE or Zero. Here the very binary (01) is imploded into itself as a transcendental experience of the Real—ecstasy.7 Techno’s drive mechanism can be further understood as a repetition of Freud’s grandson Ernst’s second game in the mirror as previously introduced. To recall, Ernst would hide beneath the mirror for a time, jump up, see himself in the mirror, then disappear with a sound of delight. He repeated this action over and over again as a performative reiteration of a fantasmatic partial self. Here, the signifier of completion is not attained; it merely delights in the process of trying to attain it. The aim is sufficient. The goal is unimportant. Each successive jump provides a libidinal “spike” of sorts. Only when a law is arbitrarily introduced into this game, as something that cuts and divides the virgin territory into difference, does the meaning of a rule become established. In its most fundamental sense, only when a line is drawn can we say that signification emerges; otherwise it remains non-sense (like Ernst’s game). This is precisely what rave’s Techno is—non-sense. There is no cut, no Law to speak of. It goes on endlessly; it can be remixed, replayed, looped to infinity in its endless drift—the music of the cosmic universe as Deleuze would have it. It stops only in exhaustion—the body itself becomes the limit as it is drained of jouissance, worn out. The Love Parade could theoretically continue indefinitely until the last raver drops! But, of course it doesn’t and it can’t. This is its fantasmatic limit. What happens is the creation of a fractal space and fractal time, whose contours are only closed by the (individual) body itself—again, an example of the ONE and its multiple. We might call this the moment of “feedback,” when the body has to begin to “shut down” to protect itself—when one is all “raved” out (and not “raged” out). When that happens the signifier “drops,” so to speak, enclosing the rave process—the experience of a repetitive chain of signifiers as an endless play of non-sense, lived in terms of fractal space and time, now closes. At the end of this arbitrary closing, a paradox emerges: with the drop of the signifier the raver is (re)born as s/he now emerges from the ecstasy of being enclosed in the Other. S/he may fall asleep in exhaustion, or walk away with the din of the music still in the ears, but that moment of experiencing the “cut” between “non-being” and “being” (of birth) has been felt. I am not referring to the birth of an “I,” a becoming. No. It is a prolonged mystical, trance-like experience, an extended meditation (again another link with Hippie culture and Eastern Mysticism of Transcendental Meditation). This affective feeling is not unlike a rock concert, the difference is that it involves non-phallic jouissance. The “cut” as the abyss between the signifier and the signified is the place where the Real “sits”; that is its “site.” In its unfathomable depths (plumbed by the theories of Sheldrake, 1988) the mystery of how all living-matter is connected must surely lie. From this abyss emerges Lacan’s contributive


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concept of objet a, the “cause” of our desire—that impossibly named part Thing, which interrupts the automaton of the body, engages us in desire and language. In Rave the objet a of desire is staved off for as long as possible— as nonwork, no product. Or, to put it another way, the body becomes objet a, attempting to be a total feedback system—as its own monitored “beat.” A trance-like state is maintained, the rule of Acid House music is no talking during dancing. Techno beat’s “primitiveness” or mystical non-phallic jouissance (as developed by Lacan in S XX, Encore) ultimately rests on an asexual innocence, before the cut of gender differentiation, trying to get at the body of the Machinic Fetus, which we explore next.

T P  R’ “N T”; O T  A The technological aspects—VR and computer use—in Techno suggest that a Utopian world might be created and escaped into through the very inverse of the usual augmentation of RL with VR.8 The fantasy of Techno is just the opposite of this usual technological dream. It is to turn mind into body by decoding MIND into its primal digitalization of 0s and 1’s to reach this mythical place where there will be ONE HORIZONTAL and not ONE VERTICAL Symbolic Order. Rather than the many horizontal and segregated ONE’s that currently exist as discussed in our fan(addict) chapter, the search is for an Earthly horizontal unified order. We are not far from similar fantasies embodied by ecofeminists, Gaia enthusiasts, and Deep Ecology. The difference here is that technology and Nature confront one another in a very interesting way. The U(h)r beat provides an endless oscillation between 0 and 1; between the nonself and self as transfixed by the tra(n)ce of the beat. It is decidedly an anti-Enlightenment dream, reversing technology’s aim of ridding the body as “meat” so that we can “escape” into the machine. Its ethics of non-sense (of the Real) claims Nature (the U(h)r Klang) as the fundamental structure of all symbolization in the forms of non-phallic, asexual and amoral “noise,” which would enable a new bonding between people to “happen”: peace, love, closeness—the New Age Hippie appears again. Techno music is Earth bound in just this way. This paradoxical “natural” Techno music, as I am theorizing it, is generally perceived by most people as being just the opposite: unnatural—plastic, synthetic, artificial—precisely because of the necessary disavowal of non-sense (of the unconscious) that takes place so that we can “hear” music. The more “understandable” music is, the more “natural” it is perceived to be by the public, like MTV’s Unplugged. Techno suggests that the more non-sense computer music is able to create by deconstructing sound signifiers into fundamental drive impulses, the more “natural” is it. It reverses our usual conception of the “nature” of music.9 This is indeed the stance of Szepanski’s theoretical edifice of digital electronica where music as pure sound is turned in on itself.10

L’  R  R !


G B   W  B B A: P C Can staging the Techno fantasy before the Mother’s “No!” work? Can the anxiety of the Mother as Thing—as the dread of death—be avoided in this way? Can the space-time before the cut of the maternal law be creatively explored for such a utopian vision? There can only be one way to approach such difficult questions: to explore the birth of the posthuman cyborg who/which escapes Oedipalization, a dream that Donna Haraway (1991) forwarded in her “Cyborg Manifesto” where she dismisses the Goddess in favor of the cyborg. Rave and Techno are, therefore two sides of the same coin, but they stage their fantasy scenario differently. The rave experience through E tries to find the uterine experience, Techno through electronically modified (pure) sound tries to find the same transcendental space of nonphallic jouissance. Shaviro’s (2002) discussion of Chris Cunningham’s video for Björk’s song “All is Full Of Love,” from the 1997 album Homogenic, points to what this new “natural science fiction” might look like. I borrow from his essay and rethink the video from the perspective of Techno’s ideological claims so far discussed, continuing to maintain predominately a Lacanian paradigm rather than a Deleuzian one, which a number of theorists like Shaviro, Brian Massumi, and Achim Szepanski believe offer concepts that are more consonant with digital cyborgian technologies. It’s not that I entirely disagree as developed in the first chapter, it’s that Lacan’s psychoanalytic perspective is not entirely silenced by these developments as is often argued. The video stages a perverse posthuman birth that is consonant with Techno’s ideology. I mark my disagreements with Shaviro as I find them. The video’s narrative is the making of Björk as an android lying in a fetal position on an assembly line table. The procedure takes place in a room filled with florescent light. A robot is working in extreme slow motion, removing her skin and replacing it with smooth, white fiberglass shell parts that fit over her frame. We see that some plates are yet to be attached; underneath we see the underlying circuitry in Björk’s neck, arms, and the side of her head. Plastic tubes, wires, knots of metal, and black vinyl are yet to be attached. It is the color white which is given all the attention. Tints of white are used against themselves, as if an infinite regression were possible. Visually this is a “creation,” a birth in an impossible “perfect vacuum” as theorized by particle physics. There is no black/white distinction, which would normally provide the “cut” between the Mother’s Law and an emergent human body. I interpret this scene as an artificial in utero in vacuo experience. Björk’s face is like a white porcelain mask. It remains blank and emotionless. Her eyes open and her mouth begins to sing slowly and deliberately, but in a toneless fashion. We see only the rim openings of the drives—her eyes, nose, and mouth. The embodiment of these drives wears a mask. It produces a “grimace of the Real,” not only in the disembodiment and dehumanization of Björk’s voice (which I shall return to shortly), but also because of the very emotionless expression of her mask. Its very blankness is what is frightening.


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There are no traces, no signs of life that have been marked on it—no furrows on the skin. It has not suffered, not felt nor seen the cut of the signifier. In brief—there is no death. Björk remains virgin white—immortal, pure zoë. Shaviro evokes the “race card” claiming that white is the dominant hegemonic color. “The invisible, unmarked taken-for-granted term loses its dominance, when it is made visible and pointed out as such” (26). He argues that Björk is questioning its hegemony through its presentment. But white can also be read in reverse terms—as the full presence of all colors. In color theory, white is also all the colors coming together as the absence of color, a moment before they can be separated out from one another through a prism. Rather than getting lost in the signifier of color that brings in the Symbolic Order, it can be said that the mask is simply “blank.” Björk’s face is “nothingness.” Her “minimum presence” emerges precisely from these blanks or drives that are the entrances to her body; that is, from the abyssal openings of her mouth, the glint of her eyes, and the breathing through her nose when “it” begins to sing. The sound she emits has no signifier either. Shaviro captures this brilliantly. “Shimmering washes of sound accompany the song’s vocals. Densely layered strings play a thick, dissonant drone. Ghostly harp arpeggios rise out of the murk. . . . Her voice drifts away from any fixed pulse. She phrases the notes unevenly, now stretching them out, and now shortening them. She hovers around the beat, without ever landing precisely on it” (26). Shaviro tells us that the original album had no percussion, and that the video remix added a slow, synthesized beat. This strikes me as an attempt to create an U(h)r beat. Her disembodied voice from the Real has become flattened, stretched thin, floating and unanchored, dilating and contracting irregularly, forming the contours of affective shapes—not unlike the amoeba-like lamella. “It tends toward the anonymity and neutrality of digital, synthesized sound” (27). Björk simply exists as “organs without a body” (OwB ) to reverse Deleuze and Guattari’s famous formulation: BwO (body without organs). We are presented with a machine of the drives (organs—mouth, eyes, and nose) whose humanness is vapid. It needs skin, a body. We can, of course, disavow this conclusion and claim, as Shaviro does, that there is a double movement; although the voice is disembodied, the android (somehow) becomes “more nearly alive.” But unless one visually projects Björk as a face, consequently evoking signification, I cannot see how this reading is possible. Rather, what I see as the “erotic life of machines” is the flows and fluidity of jouissance— pure libidinal life force as zoë. Shaviro’s description is quite apt in this regard. “Nothing is inert. Everything has a cool, sensuous presence. Every mechanical substance flows, or splashes, or sputters, or spurts” (27). This is the working of the machinic drive trying to grasp a body. But here there is nothing to grab. All we have is pulse—a short-circuit. It is reduced to an autoerotic and autotelic feedback loop. I agree with Shaviro that “Björk caresses herself ” (28), and would add that this is a masturbation fantasy. What mitigates the possible reading of Björk as a BwO is the staging of love that happens next in the video. It is a cloned autoerotic love. A second,

L’  R  R !


identical Björk-form emerges from a vat as white milky fluid (jouissance) gently washes over it. They couple together as the machines continue to make adjustments to their bodies. Android meets android in an embrace. The dream of a mouth kissing itself has emerged, staging a non-phallic jouissance of a woman touching herself. Irigaray’s hypothesis of feminine jouissance defined by the transcendental signifiers of “mucous” (the milky vat) and the “two-lips” that self-caress (the two cloned androids) seem to find their expression here as “All is Full of Love.” But this can also be read as a fantasy of immortality. A clone does not know of death. It does not sexually reproduce. It knows only self-love. “Sexuality and reproduction are entirely separate activities, though they both go on simultaneously” (29). Perhaps this video is more a warning of the posthuman fantasy of technology that is being shaped today? Björk remains a cloned android with a disembodied voice engaged in an act of self-narcissistic masturbation. It seems the dread of das Ding cannot be escaped. The machines that are constructing the Björk android clones stain the pristine environment after all. They precede the creation of the android, already being present in the environment. We have then, the paradox of a “natural technology emerging,” probably the nascent forms of future “organic” computers with an ability to “feel,” a long-held dream in science fiction. This is an appropriate way to end this interlude on electronic music and turn to the remaining reflection on an ethics of the Real that has appeared through this book.

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C: A E    R 

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A E “A”   R: A B M  C


hroughout this selective journey of the 1990s decade leading up to contemporary times, I have attempted to develop aspects of the post-Oedipal musical “noise,” which I felt best exemplified stances that challenged the authority of the Law. I chose more-or-less well-known bands and singers who, by adopting perverse and hysterical psychic structures, worked through the turmoil of identity in relation to the social order. In addition I also identified music marketing strategies that recuperate and centralize authority through globally manufactured pop forms. One could theorize this tension as an inherent “social antagonism” in the Real, which sees musical noise as the limit to the harmonious functioning of the social order, or as the “pollution” that must be rid of to insure that the social order functions harmoniously. Religious moral advocates who believe that such devil’s music needs to be eradicated, restoring harmony and peace, most often take the second stance. However, by doing so they effectively make society come into “existence” by closing it off, evoking totalitarian tendencies. The first stance keeps the social order as an “open system,” always lacking, locating precisely where an “ethics of the Real” is staged. Paradoxically, in this sense “society does not exist.” It’s lack (as an inherent failure, as impossibility) and not its removal is what guarantees the existence of a community.1 Such a stance has radical political implications because ultimately this means that the subject is not “subject” to the rule of the big Other as Master; that freedom must be in play if any belief of a democracy is to be maintained. More often the Law maintains the big Other and provides ways we can sustain our jouissance in it. The radical position of “society does not exist,” or “the big Other does not exist” means confronting the fantasy that there is nothing “behind” this Other, no paranoia of the “Other of the Other” controlling and manipulating things. Ultimately, no one possesses the Throne. To do so means ethically entering into the “abyss of freedom,” a space where the question of justice emerges (Zizek, 1997b). Not all forms of music could or were covered. Conspicuously missing, for instance, were Country and Western, Blues, Folk, Gospel, Jazz, and neoClassical musical forms. And, not all singers could be covered. Sheryl Crow


M  Y C: A L A

and Alanis Morisette, for instance, whose content dwells on the banality and trivia of everyday life, are paradigms of “reality singing” and best examined as part of the reality television phenomenon.2 The selection of bands, singers, and groups is simply too enormous for some sort of total comprehensive account. Fundamentally, acceptable musical and abjected noise are hypercomplex in their interactions. Nor can some clear definitive boundary be placed around each and every singer and band as an identifiable genre, an impossible task in the pastiche styles that have emerged in postmodern music where hybridity proliferates. Soundscapes occur in fractal spaces. Where the next musical noise will occur remains a contingent event. Indie labels (Independent labels) were sporadically mentioned, but no concentrated chapter or development on the struggles of marketing was developed. However, I did continually raise an “ethics of the Real” and asked what were the ethical consequences of the relationship between performers (musicians, bands) and their fans—the question being more acute with fan(addicts); between performers and their complaint with the Symbolic Order, and performers who willingly accept the machinery of the Symbolic Order as market driven designer capitalism. Transgression to and beyond the Law, as I put it, is always a dangerous and precarious act, immediately raising the question of ethics since the Other as our neighbour is very much affected. An illicit obscene side, whose clandestine activities are often ignored, props up the Law. We need only think of tax evasion, the sheltering of money, military hazing, the abuse of human rights by declaring a war on terrorism, playing the racist card of being a victim (or the gay card, or the minority card, or the woman card, and so on) by lawyers as an excuse to escape responsibility for crimes committed, and capitalist exploitation in general concerning the pursuit of happiness and possession of private property. The “gray” zone of the Law is always being exploited and abused. This “obscene supplement” of the Law, to follow Slavoj Zizek, whose operations remain hidden and secretive, is typically what ideology critique attempts to expose. Postmodernism presents a cynical view in the way the Law operates, bringing with it a basic mistrust of authority. The Joseph Institute of Ethics, which claims to be a public-benefit, nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization founded by Michael Josephson, who has lobbied to initiate “character education” in U.S. schools based on conservative principles, issues a report card every two years on “the ethics of American youth.” Since its 2000 report, the 2002 report card shows an increase in students cheating (on exams), stealing (shoplifting and from parents), and lying (to teachers and parents). The willingness to cheat has become a norm when it comes to exams, with students who attended private religious schools not faring any better than those in public education. Bottom line: “A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed.”3 I have argued that perversion and hysteria, which disturb the Law, have been the response in the music scene to such cynicism. The first stance, by wanting to desperately instill the Law, tragically in the worst case scenario this ends up in school shootings, while

A E “A”   R


the second stance remains skeptical of the Law itself. It is a refusal of interpelleation. It may well be that this is what characterizes the new emerging Symbolic Order. We just haven’t woken up and accepted this new ontology as yet. What might an ethics look like when transgression to and beyond the Law is made possible by this decentering of the Social order, the so-called big Other into many smaller ONEs? The turn to deadly jouissance to avoid the castrating effects of the Law to stake an ethical claim is always considered “after the fact,” and hence “true” justice always lies beyond the Law. Such acts remain risky, indeterminate, and ultimately without precedence. In the Critique of Judgment Kant concludes his discussion on aesthetic judgment with the experience of beauty symbolizing morality. Lacan took this to heart. In his Ethics Seminar (S VII), he reread the ethical positions of Aristotle, Kant, and Bentham arguing that they failed to address the Eros of transgressive beauty that is sought in the excesses and waste of a utilitarian culture, which Freud had first begun by asking us to come to terms and take ownership of our unconscious desires. Unconscious desire becomes the source of moral law, our interminable task is to “work” through our unconscious acting out. The Law is our desire. Freud stages a reversal of what is “normally” accepted morality. Desire is not repressed because we have a conscious, rather it is the other way around: we have a conscious because our desire is always already repressed. Worst still, our unconscious desires can only be known after the fact (Nachträglich), as repetitive symptoms and never in advance. Our actions always speak “louder” than our words. This is an extremely radical position, for it does not mean that we are held responsible only for those unconscious desires that we become consciously aware of and then recognize in ourselves. Rather, intention is shifted from the conscious to the unconscious of the Real Self where the “true” traces of my being as a subject (Je) are to be found. Lacan is both leery and skeptical of the ego, which he characterized by misrecognitions (méconnaissance); the lies we can tell ourselves on the imaginary level in the name of “good” intentions. We are responsible for the actual formations of our unconscious—for our parapraxes, slips of the tongue, and dreams. If we are dreaming of killing, or doing harm to someone, we have indeed “killed” the person and must face the “why” of this dream for it reveals our symptom. Given such a stance, I think it is fair to say that there are many noise making musicians who have done precisely that; attempted to come to terms with the Real of their desires, regardless how frightening they may sound or be. Often this kind of acting out is misperceived as violent behavior rather than the sublimating activity that it is. For their fans it is indeed “beautiful noise,” sublime in its capacity to be raised to a dignified level. A proper ethical “act” in psychoanalysis means identification with the Real of one’s symptom, with what drives you. In short, we are responsible for the way we “get off” (jouissance) in relation to the Law through our unconscious desires. (We need to “love” our symptoms.) This is why Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, commits an ethical “act” as the ghosts of Present, Past,


M  Y C: A L A

and Future who visit him in his dreams point out what he has continually repressed in his own behaviors throughout his entire life. They make him face his own symptoms. He owns up to them upon waking up, for it is never “too” late to do so. However, Scrooge is no longer “Scrooge” that Christmas morning. He has been changed through a sublime experience of encountering the Real. There is still time enough to make amends. Christmas is not yet over. Of course, Dicken’s social realism can be read cynically as yet another story to generate capitalist guilt and sympathy for the poor so that they become more philanthropic and generous, showering all with Christmas gifts. A more radical reading would suggest that Scrooge gave up his exploitation of workers to commit an “act proper,” which would mean the “death” of his business practices as he had practiced them. This would truly transverse his fundamental fantasy, his sinthome; that is, the fantasy that is most deeply private, which provides Scrooge with the illusion of a consistent core to his being. He would need to give up his accepted “reality” of capitalism. The story ends with this open possibility. “Beyond” the Law can, it seems, have a number of resonances: it can refer to jouissance that is “beyond” the pleasure principle, but as we have argued, it most often refers to the death drive (Todestrieb). This is the point reached when all the partial drives come together and an act is committed, which can potentially change the Symbolic Order.4 It is a paradoxical point where Good and Evil become interchangeable, where such an act can refigure the metaethical system, and thereby profoundly change the Law. There is a certain ethics that surrounds this act, which was raised as the book’s narrative worked its way through the various musical expressions where it was most closely felt—Gangsta rap and Death Metal. The death drive opens up the Real psychic register, but it may not necessarily lead to an act proper. Scrooge can remain a capitalist, but a more benevolent one to be sure. It is, however, a prerequisite for change to occur, whether we think here of an individual or an entire social structure. For the philosopher of an “ethics of the Real”—Slavoj Zizek—only an “act proper” can achieve this “beyond” the Law.5 Such an action engages with the Real, but in doing so it has consequences for symbolic signification that the subject is responsible for. Scrooge would indeed have to take that next step and renounce his capitalist roots. Only then is his identity radically changed as the very symbolic coordinates of his situation change, like Truman escape from the clutches of the Omi corporation and his media father, Christof. For Scrooge this would mean giving up his objet a, that which fascinates and gives meaning to his life. He would need to suffer a subjective destitution. In Roland Joffe’s City of Joy (1992), Max Love gives up his surgical practice after losing a young patient and travels to India to find again the objet a that had given him meaning as a doctor. It required a new set of symbolic coordinates to come to terms with the subjective destitution he suffered in America. Such acts are able to traverse the fundamental fantasy that holds the subject, and in extreme cases, change the Symbolic Order as well, but the costs of

A E “A”   R


such a death drive are very high. Cobain’s suicide could be considered as an ethical act, as could Marilyn Manson’s periodic persona changes that question the social order. MM becomes someone else each time to face another issue, whereas Madonna becomes someone else to make more profit dollars. The dropping of the atom bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima is equally an act that changed modern warfare. The atom bomb is a clear example of what Lacan termed The Thing (das Ding) in Seminar VII, Ethics. Its test explosion was a sublime event, a beautiful terror, like 9/11 was for Usama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. In that one moment, its explosion exemplified all the anxieties and fears the Americans had concerning the war effort. Their fears were both alleviated and yet, reconfirmed.6 The point here is that ethics and morality are not the same thing, a distinction Lacan (and Zizek) both maintain, but neither are they mutually exclusive. A moral system is group specific, tied to various religious systems, whereas ethics, as a public enterprise, raises the general question of behavior on a meta-level of the Symbolic Order. If we say that the act of terrorism of 9/11, Columbine shootings, and Palestinian suicide bombers are ethical acts, this, at first sounds reprehensible and heartless since our immediate judgment is on moral grounds. People were killed. But as ethical acts proper they raise difficult questions like U.S. foreign policy, the treatment of abject kids in schools, and Israeli politics, much like J. Robert Oppenheimer who raised the ethical use of nuclear weapons, refusing to develop the hydrogen bomb. Such questioning strips the fantasy that the big Other as Master exists. However, for his ethical action, Oppenheimer was subsequently accused of disloyalty, investigated and “bugged” by the CIA, put on trial and dismissed from the Atomic Energy Commission as a security risk because of his former links to the Communist party, despite his wealth and loyalty. Ironically, Oppenheimer had graduated from the Ethical Culture School of New York at the top of his class. When it comes to transgressions to the Law as “noise” in music, hopefully now it can be seen why they harbor an ethical complaint. As we know, the transgressive music scene is scattered with dead bodies through drug abuse, and in the case of gangsta rap, actual killings and maimings. Such transgressions are a call for help, a way to point out and hear what youth are saying. In the musical forms I have examined, there is an avid attempt by young people to deal with the post-Oedipal landscape that has produced much suffering as sexual and familial relationships have undergone drastic changes. Much of the “musical noise,” which could be read as an “impossible combination” in light of our opening gambit, has attempted to break up the fantasies that smooth over the pain of post-Oedipalization. They “tell it like it is” by taking perverted and hysterical structures toward jouissance and the Symbolic Order. We have said that these positions attempt to avoid castration and engage in the death drive, sometimes with tragic ends. The cliché “to face the music” (to be confronted with the consequences of one’s action) takes on an ironic inflection in the context of an ethical demand. To voice the inequalities of social justice (Gangsta rap), to struggle with masculinity


M  Y C: A L A

(Nü metal) and gender inequalities (gurl/grrrl cultures), or to believe in a utopian fantasy of togetherness (rave and Techno), all have a price to pay as abjected discourses—becoming-minoritarian in Deleuze and Guattari’s sense of the term. These forms ruin the “surplus enjoyment” of designer capitalism while paradoxically participating in it at the same time. Such a paradox is maintained by either taking the position of objet a (pervert) or rejecting objet a (hysteric). The danger, as I have argued, is that these transgressive forms can become “empty,” falling into a self-parody where tragedy turns into comedy. This double reflection, as a self-conscious irony, produces a second order form, which seems to close itself off from its originating inspiration, evacuating its magical transgressive quality (objet a).7 It becomes a bland ridiculous object to be laughed at. This is part of the risk involved. It seems to be a recurring circuit in terms of the musical noises I have followed. The noise loses its ethical claim, no longer forwarding the contradiction which once gave it life (jouissance, objet a, zoë), or more prosaically, its initial “authenticity.” Adequately or not, I have tried to maintain that the drive of noise occurs by tapping into the occluded substance of fantasy—the surplus jouissance— the remainder or leftover which has been identified as zoë following Agaben’s insights. In contrast, life as bios, as Foucault had argued, is already codified and spectacularly packaged for the market place.8 Rightly or wrongly, I have interpreted zoë as another term for jouissance, or objet a as the cause of unconscious desire. I believe it’s fair to say that the musical noise, which is often “unheard” by authority figures, especially parents and teachers, is a response to the post-Oedipal change in the past decade and a half by the so-called X and Y generations.9 Young people have sublimated their struggles through the emergence of a “schizoid” self that plays with its alter ego. Whether that be through a mask (Kiss, Slip Knot), or by re-creating new personas (Marilyn Manson) and a.k.a.’s (Gangsta rap), or by developing a unique musical soundscape (Ko}n, Nirvana), youth anxieties are addressed through a split mirror. The normative confirmation of a specular reflection that takes place in the mirror by the Other to insure a place in society is suspended. Instead, we have a direct manipulation of the gaze by young people to state their ethical complaint, which is often heard too late with tragic consequences. As parents and teachers we are all, in one way or another, implicated in the guilt of not having listened well enough; for missing the opportunity to say the “good, right or exact word,” Lacan’s notion of “bien dire” that can bring about a change in a life for the better.

C: T J Every writing is in some form or other autobiographical. This coda quotes an earlier book, The Anamorphic I/i (1996), which ended in a similar reflective note when Jeremy was in grade two. It cannot be denied that this journey was in search of my son, not to “attain” him, but to recognize that his generation has its own parameters, its own noise, and its own ethical complaint.

A E “A”   R


No generation escapes the historical brackets that it finds itself in, it can only telescope history, and warp reality to find its way out through a “worm hole.” While much can be written about Jeremy’s own musical noise and my relation to it, that would make it too explicitly biographical. I am proud to say that Jeremy, at 23, played in a Punk Rock band with its own unique sound, and its own lyrics. He is still searching for what fascinates him, and suffers when doing so, often resulting in the painful lessons that life (zoë) brings. As do we all. This book has been dedicated to him.

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S I-B D  L—A  T

1. On the issue of transsexuality, see the strong theoretical position maintained by Prosser (1998). For a Lacanian perspective, see Millot (1990) and Shepherdson (1994). 2. The other two modalities include the Real as das Ding, generally understood as the Mother, the body of the maternal lost object, and the Real understood in strictly “matheme-atical” sense, as the quantum reality of Nature that operates on a level of its own, independently of human consciousness.

T F  N   S   D D

1. In Enjoy Your Symptom! (1992) Zizek reads the Italian ending of Rossellini’s film Stromboli, in opposition to the American version where Karin, who has fled her husband and the suffocating life of a small village decides to return as confirmed by a voice-over. In the Italian version she is faced with an indeterminacy as to what her next step should be having already suffered a symbolic death, and hence having already committed an ethical act. Her return back to the village is not yet decided. This interpretation should be considered with a grain of salt since Zizek had never seen the films of Roberto Rossellini. It was a hoax. However, as a fictional possibility this seems plausible! The act proper is also discussed at some length in The Fragile Absolute (2001b). 2. The use of the term subject is always problematic when utilizing Lacanian psychoanalysis since the concept in empirical philosophy and literature is usually understood as a conscious making rational self, the ego or person. For Lacan the subject is not a decision-making mechanism per se, as it is the ever-failing realization of one’s identity. 3. Such a symbolic suicide is developed in the context of the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in a follow-up book. The Truman Show also provides an excellent example of such a subject (see jagodzinski, 2004b). 4. The painter Willem de Kooning when asked, “What painters in the past have influenced your work?” replied, “The past doesn’t influence my work, my work influences the past.” 5. Hallward’s (2003) book on Allan Badiou has made his philosophy accessible for English speaking scholars. 6. Fundamental fantasy (Freud’s basic or primary fantasy) refers to the necessity of constructing a fantasmatic narrative which will “mythically” answer what the Symbolic Order is unable to answer because it always already lacks the possibility




9. 10.


N of a complete answer to questions concerning sexual relations. More specifically, three perpetually unanswerable questions concerning sexual differentiation (castration), the origin of desire (seduction), and one’s own birth (parental coitus that concerns the origin of the child itself) require fantasmatic resolution. Music provides the possibility for such resolution. This homonym is a convenient way to indicate the Lacan’s three psychic registers that are always intertwined in hypercomplex ways. Site identifies the Real register, the unconscious dimension of the body (what is nonsense, unprocessed sense) while sight refers to the Imaginary register (what is seeable). This leaves cite for the symbolic register. All that is sayable. Chiasma is the point of contact between chromosomes during meiosis where two chromosomes interchange segments and form reproduction cells. Meiosis is the perfect example of life–death as a “diadeictical” relation. A cell “dies” by giving up half its chromosomes as it reproduces itself as yet another “life.” I have argued elsewhere (jagodzinski, 2002b) that it is through piercing that the body’s immortality is extended through the drives. There are two ways to understand the Real. Real1 refers to a space-time “before the letter”; that is, a time of the infant’s body “before” it comes under the rules of socialization through the Symbolic Order. Whereas Real2 is the time “after the letter,” as that part of experience which “has not yet been symbolized, remains to be symbolized, or even resists symbolization” (Fink, 1995, 25, original emphasis). Tim Dean (2000, 215–268) presents a convincing argument as to how close Deleuze and Guattari’s theorizations on desire, which are most often presented as contra Lacan, are rather consistent with Lacanian writing in the 1970s from the time of Seminar XX, Encore and on.

T U F V

1. Levinas (1981) is credited with the stance that ethics is the “first” philosophy, a pre-ontological realm which, it would appear, addresses “sacred life” as zoë itself without qualification. 2. Das Ding (The Thing) is purposefully not named “Mother” as yet which has angered feminists (Cornell, 1998), accusing Lacan of repressing the Mother. However, this seems to be an apt way of avoiding questions of kinship relations which immediately emerge once the term “mother” as a signifier forms a symbolic family structure of one variety or another. Das Ding is a moment of symbiosis before separation, and hence an impossible place and time to return to without pathological consequences. 3. Slavoj Zizek in his many writings has made this expression, “Enjoy!” a sort of battle cry in his continuous berating of capitalist consumption. 4. The Name-of-the-Father is to be understood as a symbolic function and not necessarily a “real father.” The very same function can be installed through a totem name giving within a clan structure, for example. It is the imposition of name giving which is at issue. 5. Joanne Hollows (2003) also sticks out her neck by making a case for the writer of cook books and television cooking, Nigella Lawson in the United Kingdom, as enjoying the pleasures of eating and cooking rather than simply pleasing others. She argues that hers is a postfeminist practice that negotiates the feminine identity between being a housewife and a feminist. Being a cover girl for the new middleclass Lawson finds her jouissance in the excessive expenditure on time on cooking



against a backdrop where harriedness and time scarcity are the order of the day for the new middle-class women. In contrast, television cook shows that feature male chefs work on time constraints. 6. For a different reading see Slavoj Zizek (2000a) who reads the neo-noir femme fatale as a demoniac being who is perfectly aware of what she is doing. As a corrupt woman she remains a male fantasy. I am not so sure that the recuperation of her feminine jouissance is so airtight as he claims. 7. In their mutual book, Opera’s Second Death (2002b) Dolar and Zizek risk reviving a love of opera through Mozart and Wagner by deconstructing the claim of their operatic obsoletism. Zizek, who desired to be a conductor, even tauntingly jests that Wagner’s Tristan and Parisfal are the two single greatest works in the history of mankind (sic) (104); and that Isolde’s final song to unite herself with Tristan in her death is exemplary of a Liebestod.

T P  G R: D D  V

1. It should be pointed out that “Black Noise” does have Black nationalist tendencies if we include the rap of Black Islamic Nationalism. In Sweden, “White Noise” for example, has a specific meaning, referring to the anti-Semitic and racist rock music of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Here one finds the typical mythological heroic worship of the SS, the warrior and the Nordic Asa (see Lööw, 1998). 2. This makes Dr. Dre sound as if he was the “exempt” gangsta—the one good apple in the barrel who was not spoilt. However, this was not the case. He had a reputation for beating up former girlfriends and other young men around him. He brutally beat up Dee Barnes, a female rapper with “Body and Soul” and host of the rap video show Pump It Up for having interviewed Ice Cube on the Fox network mocking Dre’s NWA (Niggas With Attitude). In “One Less Bitch,” Dr. Dre assumes the role of a pimp who discovers that his prostitute is trying to steal from him by retaining money she earned. “Reminiscent of ‘The Lame and the Whore’ (or a snuff film—take your pick), Dre orchestrates what is best described as a lynching. Each story of mayhem and murder is followed by a chorus of the entire NWA crew chanting: ‘One less, one less, one less bitch you gotta worry about’ ” (Kelley, 1996, 144). 3. African American oral narratives exploit the “badman” or “bad nigguh” types in the toast, which is a long poetic narrative form that predates rap. Black badmen boast about their sexual exploits with women, wild drinking binges, and narrow brushes with the law, which are symbolic of white power (Roberts, 1989). For the practice of piercing and tattooing in the postmodern context, see jagodzinski (2002b). 4. Flow, layering, and ruptures in line are said to be the three stylistic continuities between break dancing, graffiti style, and rapping according to Arthur Jafa (in Rose, 1994, 38). 5. This means that an impossible gap exists between the signifier and the signified to allow for the passage of time. Lacan inverts Ferdinand de Saussure’s division of the sign by prioritizing the signifier over the signified. 6. Rose (1994, 115–122) offers an extended discussion of their important video “Baseheads,” which is a compendium of stories addressing a variety of oppressive conditions, most notably drug addiction through stinging media critiques and political statements. The Baseheads video demonstrates the unhinging of the


N signifier. Chuck D (lead rapper for Public Enemy) replaces Baseheads (addicts who smoke freebase cocaine) with Bassheads, urging Blacks to displace the crack addiction with the addiction to black music as the rhythm of life rather than death.

 G S: T Y’ G, H Yo’ B 1. The “fly girl” phenomenon as part of postfeminism is discussed in the chapter 13 on grrrl cultures. 2. In Lacan’s late S XXIII Le Sinthome, the concept of symptom is modified and replaced by sinthome to identify the core symptom which defines the identity of a person. By breaking the “30 second rule” McCauley literally loses the ground of his being, the motto that defined his activity and structured his jouissance to the Law. The existence of his being became unraveled. 3. This is particularly true in education. The controversial figure of Joe Clark, the principal of Eastside High School, an inn-city school in Patterson, N.J., from 1983 to 1991 who used a bull-horn and a baseball bat to clean up gang violence presents the case for a conservative black politics in schools (see jagodzinski, 2003c). 4. The acronym stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” These bracelets are thrown into the crowd during performances. The gesture seems brazen and sacrilegious, making it empty. 5. BBC News, February 8, 2001 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/ 1158842.stm.

P  G D   S: Nü M   B

1. The signifier Boyz demarcates the postadolescent musical fantasies while the signifier Nü (sometimes Nue) has come into prominence in some musical circles as a play on the German neu (recent or new). We have adopted this adjective although its use is not widespread. 2. Interview with NYROCK, July 2001 http://www.nyrock.com/interviews/ 2001/disturbed_int.asp. 3. The 2003 edition of the Ozzfest included Ko}n, Disturbed and Marilyn Manson, Chevelle, all of which can be said to belong to the Goth-Nü Metal scene. 4. Hodkinson (2002) provides an insider’s view in his Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture. While many Goth fans claim that Marilyn Manson is not a Goth, his particular “shock theatre” is taken up in chapter 8 to show why an uneasy relationship sometimes with fans emerges. 5. Quote from Guitar School Magazine, see www.angelmanson.com. 6. Quote from Aardschok Magazine, November 1998, emphasis added, see www. angelmanson.com. 7. Quote from MTV (Manson TV), September 14, 1998, see www. angelmanson.com. 8. Quote from LA Weekly, January 12–18, 2001, see www.angelmanson.com. 9. This is explored in more detail with the notion of the fan(addict) in chapter 15. 10. Marilyn Manson quote found at www.angelmanson.com (RIP Magazine, February 1995). 11. Zizek (1991) in a footnote plays with Lacan’s “grimace of the Real” on the face of the Joker, Batman’s nemesis.



12. The rise of the Father of Enjoyment, the Jouissant Father in postmodernity is fully explored in the accompanying book, Youth Fantasies. This refers to Freud’s myth of identifying the “impossible” position of complete jouissance reached only by the mythical Father of the primal horde as developed in Totem and Taboo. 13. The source for Ko}n and Jonathan Davis comes from the Bakersfield-Californian website whose interest it is to keep up with the latest developments of the group given in their hometown newspaper (see Page, 2002). 14. The “R” in Ko} n is reversed in their logo, that allows for the “play” of its signification. 15. This theme is taken up thematically in chapter 9 by exploring psychotic behavior. 16. On the concept of “vanishing mediator” (see Zizek, 1994a). The concept refers to an element that bridges two seemingly disparate elements together, helping to establish the dominance of the second element by “vanishing” the supportive mediated presence so that it seems that the ground has not been prepared for the change. Transformation appears as a fait accompli. 17. As developed by Boothby (2001). See also chapter 2 in Youth Fantasies (2004). 18. One of Lacan’s clarifying points in his SXI, Four Fundamentals is to make the distinction in English between aim and goal as process as opposed to product. Paradoxically, the goal of the drive is its aim, a compulsion to repeat so as to release the tension. Freud used the term Ziel for both terms since no such differentiation exists in the German.

T “G”  P-R: S O

1. Little Hans’s mother was dissatisfied with her relationship with her husband. She would exhibit her colorful underwear to her son and take him into her bed. Hans was uncertain where his sexual excitement was taking him. He interpreted the kindness of his father as a weakness, an incapacity to set limits to his mother’s fancies (see also Sauvagnat, 2002). 2. The mourning of the opposite gender in heterosexuality is the theoretical stance of Judith Butler (1990), but this stance is by no means free of controversy. See Zizek (1999b, 2000b) and chapter 5 for a critique of Butler’s position. 3. See the opening chapters in the companion book Youth Fantasies where postOedipalization is fully elaborated. 4. This is what Lacan said of James Joyce’s literary productions as a sinthome; they were built on the lack of the Other, having a psychotic structure (see Thurston, 2002). 5. This is Lacan’s conclusion concerning an artwork as one’s sinthome that escapes the phallic order. It is entirely in line with femininity (see Lichtenberg-Ettinger, 2002). 6. The idea of a “dissipative object” being equivalent to Lacan’s sinthome has been extrapolated from Harari (2002). 7. This reading is opened up by applying Krzysztof Ziarek’s (2002) interpretation of Heideggarian poiêsis to art as a “third way” beyond formalism and ideology critique. Art is given its own specific force of escaping manipulative power (Machenschafft and Technik) of metaphysics. 8. This is Heidegger’s stance on art as developed in Letter on Humanism (Ziarek, 2002, 180).



S C: T MM S

1. USA Today, November of 2000. All Marilyn Manson quotes that follow can be found online at: http://www.angelmanson.com. They are listed with the date and source they came from. 2. Rolling Stone, January 23, 1997. 3. Circus Magazine, June 1997. 4. Huh Magazine, December 14, 1996. 5. Dazed and Confused, August 2000. 6. Interview with Barbara Ellen, “I was Kind of a Disturbed Kid,” The Observer, Sunday 4, 2003, emphasis added http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/ story/0,11710,949439,00.html. 7. RIP Magazine, November 1996. 8. CFNY, May 30, 1996. 9. Dutch TV Guide, October 10, 1998. 10. Metal Edge Magazine (no year or date provided on website). 11. Underscope Magazine, no date given, emphasis added. 12. Kerrang Magazine, September 20, 1997. 13. Marilyn Manson is addressing the Columbine shooting, Metal-is.com, in November, 2000. 14. British NME Interview, August 30, 1997. 15. Talk Magazine, November 2000. 16. Guardianunlimited.co.uk, November 4, 2000. 17. Radio 1, October 17, 2000. 18. Melody Maker, September 20, 1997. 19. Dazed & Confused, September 2000. 20. USA Today, November 2000. 21. Kerrang Magazine, December 14, 1996–1999. 22. Raygun Magazine, December/January 1998. 23. Chart Magazine, October 1998. 24. Guitar World Magazine, December 1996. 25. Circus Magazine, February 18, 1997. 26. Chicago Tribune, 1998. 27. Details Magazine, December 1996. 28. Penthouse Magazine, May, 1997. 29. Mechanical Animals-Official Website Interview, September 9, 1998. 30. New Music, October 2000. 31. Metal Edge, October 2000. 32. Rolling Stone, July 26, 2000. 33. Rolling Stone, Issue 815, June 24, 1999. 34. The portrait can be found online at: http://www.mtv.com/bands/m/ manson_marilyn/news_feature_092002/, emphasis added. 35. Alternative Press Magazine, October, 2000, emphasis added.

B  L: T A-S  M M

1. Boy bands in particular, but also “pop idol” singers are explored in the next chapter.



2. This startling information came out in a documentary on Michael Jackson by Martin Bashir who spent eight months making the 90-minute program which was first aired on February 4, 2003 on ITV1 in Britain. Jackson’s mediate statement was that Bashir had “betrayed his trust” through his documentary. His fans know that he doesn’t “sleep” with children but “loves” them. 3. The picture is available online http://www.rollingstone.com/features/ featuregen.asp?pid159. 4. The implications of Gothic romanticism as a source of creativity in the myth of the “innocent child” are developed in part one of Youth Fantasies (2004, 35–38). 5. Online www.waveamerica.com. 6. Videogame violence is more fully discussed in Youth Fantasies (2004, chapter 7). 7. Transcripts of trail and psychiatric reports can be found online http:// www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/.


T N C: M II B

1. There is also Japanese pop music (J-Pop) which we do not discuss. Japanese “idol” singers are also produced and promoted across various mass media, including the sale of idol cards at convenience stores and street stalls. There are many boy acts and girl-pop available but the J-Pop music industry does not easily translate into global music genres based around Western music. Some forms of J-Pop resemble Western genres. In the late 1990s the “visual-kei” boy bands meshed glam and Goth styles together. 2. This is known as intentional and unintentional “backward masking” where a verbal message is first recorded and then reversed in direction. It is then superimposed on an existing musical passage. Its possibility first appeared as a tape mixing error in the late 1960s in the Beatles’ song “Rain” by John Lennon. He liked it so much that he left it in. In this technique, what is gibberish and meaningless at normal speed becomes intelligible played backward. The devil’s influence in unintentional backward masking is a whole other problem. As comedian Jay Leno put it: “You know what you get when you play Twisted Sister’s ‘Burn in Hell’ backwards? ‘Go to church and pray on Sunday.’ ” It raises many of the same issues as the influence of violence in the media. Judas Priest, in 1990, was accused of subliminal message, “Do it” in their song, “Better by You Better Than Me” (Stained Class). The suicide of Ray Belknap and the attempted suicide of James Vance were blamed on its influence, which the prosecutor representing the parents said caused the suicide. Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead exonerated the band ruling that there was no scientific proof for a direct causal (see Moore, 1996). 3. Jennifer Lopez has tried to turn this voyeurism around by purposefully editing Paparazzi pictures into her video, “Jenny from The Block ft. LOX,” This is Me . . . then. Explicit photos and video footage of her romance with Ben Affleck are blatantly on display. Such a move does not drain her of sexuality, rather, it’s as if she steals back the Paparazzo’s jouissance, thereby enhancing her own sexuality. Their romance, however, could not be sustained within such a media blitz. 4. Jon Murray’s comments can be found online http://www.nydailynews.com/ entertainment/story/27603p-26239c.html. 5. http://www.beat.co.uk/wonderwall.html.




P H: P   V C

1. “Women in Rock,” available online http://www.rollingstone.com/features/ coverstory/featuregen.asp?pid1274. 2. Jennifer Lopez who was born in 1970 making her 30 is perhaps the limit to the age range we are considering here. Lopez’s sexual presentation, however, is compatible with our categorization as a dirty virgin. 3. Walkerdine (1997, 99–106) argues that figures such as Shirley Temple as a little girl heroine in the Depression and films such a Little Orphan Annie, Curl Top, Dimples etc., helped solicit sympathy from the very rich to support the new initiatives like the New Deal. 4. What passes for identity for Deleuze is an “assemblage,” which is a cluster of subjectivities produced momentarily by the semiotic, material, and social flows. This concept has affinities with Stuart Hall’s influential notion of “articulation” (see Deleuze and Guattari, 1977). 5. There is no consistency to the spelling of grrrls. We are using three r’s rather than two because the extended guttural sound produced is more in keeping with the intention of the movement. 6. We discuss Buffy The Vampire Slayer extensively in an upcoming book on television youth fantasies. 7. tv media, Nr. 42, October 12–18, 2002, Austria’s equivalent to TV Guide. 8. People Magazine, August 22, 2002. 9. Issue 10 of Analysis (2001), the journal for the Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis concentrated on Encore and Feminine Sexuality. Susan Schwartz’s (2001) article of Marguerite Duras’s The Lover makes this Other body jouissance understandable. 10. MacCannell (2000) attempts to provide the dangers of Sadean in her section, “The Soul of Woman under Sadism.” 11. The work of the late Linda Singer (1993), “Sex and the Logic of Capitalism” remains one of the best analysis between designer capitalism and the porn industry. 12. The Courtly Lady is discussed by Lacan in Seminar VIII, Ethics. We shall return to its implications as developed by Zizek in subsequent chapters. 13. In the famous case of the butcher’s wife, a case of hysterical behavior Freud described in The Interpretation of Dreams (SE IV, 146–151), the objet a is caviar. Her husband was attracted to a thin woman, yet he liked plumper women like his wife. Caviar became an object around which she could thwart his desire. By telling her husband that she craved caviar, she incites desire to buy it for her. But, by saying it is just too costly, and thereby denying its pleasure, she demands that he doesn’t satisfy it either. He is jerked around for his lack. 14. This view of Madonna is not popular amongst feminists who tend to defend her changing alter egos as performative critical parodies of patriarchy (see McClary, 1991, for instance). 15. Britney Spears: “Too Sexy, Too Soon?” People Magazine, February 14, 2000. 16. Since this was last written Britney Spears married Kevin Federline in October, 2004 after a number of publicity stunts. Perhaps by the time this book comes out they will have been divorced?


T D  G’ D: P  P-P O

1. Lacan’s difficult essay “Kant with Sade” is given a full explanatory treatment by Zizek’s “Kant with (or against) Sade,” Zizek Reader (1999a).



2. In New Mexico in 1993 it was 13; by 1998 it was 17. Maine went from 14 to 18 during the same time (Levine, 2002, 252 ft. 49). 3. This area extensively under cyber-fantasies in Youth Fantasies (2004, section III, Cyberspace as Obsessive Interpassivity). 4. A full discussion is found in Youth Fantasies (2004, 116–119).


T G W-B: G P   D U A

1. The Riot-Grrrl Manifesto can be found on Hanna’s website http://www. sphosting.com/grlbndzring/rge/mfkh.html. 2. This album cover can be found online at the lyricscafe.com website. Reynolds and Press (1995, 338) read it as being poised midway between a pucker and tight-lipped defiance.


T N V: T N R   V

1. In contrast the 2004 winner, 21-year-old Ericka Dunlap, an African American from Orlando, Florida promoted a platform named: United We Stand. Divided We Fall: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion. An educational stance, her speaking engagements were aimed at understanding and appreciating other cultures and customs in America. 2. The information surrounding the understanding and appreciating controversy of Erika Harold’s reign as Miss America can be found online. See Lara Riscol, “Miss America’s Stealth Virginity Campaign.” http://www.buzzle.com/ editorials/10-28-2002-29066.asp. 3. Trent Lott has had a number of racial incidents in his past. The latest one, which has called for his resignation as Senate House leader, happened at a hundredth birthday party for Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Lott claimed the country would have been better off had Thurmond been elected president in 1948 on a platform built around racial segregation. 4. Kirsty Doig, vice-president of Youth Intelligence, a market research and trendforecasting group in New York City, makes this claim. The Project Reality online site carries a similar claim. See also http://www.projectreality.org/behavior.html. 5. Romance is being perverted on several fronts. The reality television show Bacherlorette (2003), which featured Trista Rehn as the postmodern Cinderella who finds her one true man from a cast of 24 willing bachelors, attempts to restage the fantasy in such a way that the belief can be maintained despite a cynical audience. Trista consults her family as to who they think is the best choice; even her dad is asked by one of the final contestants, Ryan, to give his daughter’s hand in marriage. The Bachelor, into its second season as of 2003, came to a halt when Aaron Beurge ended his engagement with his “chosen” one, Helen Eksterowicz. Fox’s Joe Millionaire stages yet another version of finding the “one.” Choice of money or love is being tested. These shows raise the question of what happens when the couple exits reality television’s stage set of cameras, limousines, romantic get-a-ways, fine dining, and steps onto the stage of banal existence. When firefighter Ryan, definitely made sexier after 9-11, whom Trista chose to be the “one,” goes off to work with his lunch pail and spends more time at the fire station with the boys than her, will the romance survive? Or, will the fantasy turn into a living horror, the prince turns back into a frog—make that a toad?



6. Seems that both spellings are used hijab and hejab. 7. The “Rules Girls” emerged from the best seller The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (1996; see also Salecl, 1998, 169–170). 8. This conclusion was reached in January 8, 2001 when the first phase of a threephase survey of teenage health in the United States called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, sponsored by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD). The 63-page report on teenage sex and virginity surveyed 90,000 adolescents from grades 7–12 in 145 U.S. schools. See National Institute of Child Health and Human Development http:// www.nichd.nih.gov/about/cpr/dbs/pubs/ti8.pdf . 9. For an attempt to grasp the circulation of postmodern female bodies utilizing the semiotic square as developed by A. G. Greimas see jagodzinski (2003d).

 T F(): T S INTHOME  B   M  ONE 1. In my own very inadequate way, I am borrowing from Alan Badiou’s (Hallward, 2003, 61–66) philosophical stance developed in Being and the Event. Badiou incorporates Lacan’s notion of the subject and, at the same time, avoids theorizing the subject along poststructuralist lines by “grounding” subjectivity in a neoPlatonist view of “being as one.” Such a position is then immediately qualified by Badiou’s rigorous opposition to this as the founding principle of ontology by (paradoxically) elevating multiplicity and, therefore, pure difference so as to explore the dialectic of one and its multiples. In his view, there is only multiplicity or a “multiple without-one,” at the same time a “consistent multiple” is a composition of ones. This is a oneness in the making, an aporetic principle of singularity, what can be identified as a sinthome. It seems to me that Badiou is advancing insights of chaos theory and, perhaps fashionably, he will continue to receive more and more attention. 2. This term is developed by Mestrovic (1997) who argues that postmodernity has been deflated of any genuine emotion, that affectivity is constantly being staged and manufactured. See Youth Fantasies (2004, 109–111, 221–223) for a full explanation of his stance. 3. See Youth Fantasies (2004, section III) for our analysis of video games as an obsessive compulsion. The notion of “interpassivity” is developed by Robert Pfaller (2000) and elaborated by ZIzek (2002a).


L’ R  R! N A T H  D E

1. Reynolds motions in the direction of Deleuze and Guattari. “The rave also corresponds to Deleuze and Guattari’s model of the ‘desiring machine’: a decentered, nonhierarchical assemblage of people and technology characterized by flowwithout-goal and expression-without-meaning” (246). To this he adds the BwO as “composed out of all potentials in the human nervous system for pleasure and sensation without purpose: the sterile bliss of perverse sexuality, drug experiences, play, dancing, and so forth. In the rave context, the desiring machine and the










body-without-organs are fueled by the same energy source: MDNA” (246). The BwO is the drive mechanism that I shall develop in this chapter. Great Britain’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 (Chapter 33), was the first English Law to provide an “official” definition of the rave and to regulate the handling of the musical gatherings. The play of the portmanteau word U(hr) Klang trades on the German Ur, which means original, first or primal, and Uhr which means clock, while Klang means sound. Hence, we are referring to a primal regulated sound. The notion of a primal sound continues to be a point of fascination (see Rothenberg and Ulvaeus, 2001). In music therapy there has been an attempt to reach autistic children using only sound. The assumption being that the body will respond to sounds heard in utero. I have some differences with Herzogenrath’s (2000) interesting thesis concerning Techno, which he brilliantly develops by discussing The Prodigy’s album Music for the Jilted Generation Our thesis, in many respects, inverts the many claims made by Herzogenrath. These differences can be summed up as follows: (1) I place the Techno beat into the womb, as the first lack, whereas he places it in pre-Oedipal pubescence stage of childhood. (2) I stress Freud’s grandson Ernst second game of the drive where no signifier has been found in the mirror—no alter ego has emerged as yet; no moment of satisfaction has been captured, only a continuous repetitive process of appearing in the mirror. Herzogenrath stresses Ernst’s fort/da game, which is already in the Symbolic Order of language. He sees it as an oscillation between Kristeva’s semiotic and symbolic, whereas we theorize it as an oscillation (to stay with Kristeva here) within the chora itself. (3) I theorize the paradox of “natural computerization” or “Natural Techno” by reversing Herzogenrath’s reading of the signifier as being “natural” while Kristeva’s semiotic affect is machine-like. In other words, I reverse the beat from Herzogenrath’s 1 to 0 as 0 to 1. These differences are best understood when both positions are compared side by side. The reader is recommended to read Herzogenrath’s interesting account. Achim Szepanski is a leading figure in the Techno scene in Frankfurt, Germany who established the Force Inc., in 1991, along with his influential Mille Plateaux label (one of five). This label exemplifies the ideological “force” of Szepanski, which specifically attempts to explicate the theories of Deleuze and Guattari. Ian Pooley, DJ Tonka, Mike ink, Alec Empire, and Oval were some of the better known artists that emerged during those early years in their anti-rave stance, having felt that rave in Germany had become just another commercial adventure. When 70-year-old Deleuze committed suicide, Szepanski produced a double CD, “In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze.” In Seminar II The Ego in Freud’s Theory (1998, 185–193, 300), Lacan illustrates through an examination of the game of odd and even (, 01) that it is the signifying chain and its laws that determine the effects of subjectivity because there is some kind of inherent machinic operating principle, a law in the Real, that cybernetically operates as an automaton. Human beings, in this sense, are already cyborgs caught by the repetitions of the signifying chains. So here is one difference that emerges between rave and Techno: the raver wants to avoid an encounter with the signifying chain, although that is impossible. The relationship been Virtual Reality (VR) and Real Life (RL) is fully explored in section III on cyberspace in Youth Fantasies (2004).



9. My brother-in-law, Bernhard Lang, is a Neue Musik composer in Vienna and an a.o. Professor of composition at the University of Music, Graz who deconstructs musical instruments and voice into their “natural techno” impulses using computer technology and computer note notation. His Differenz/Wiederholung (2000), based on the integration of the ideas from Deleuze, William Burroughs, and Christian Loidl (a free-form Viennese poet) can only be performed after long practice sessions because the work is so demanding. The conductors, the musicians, and singers have to rethink their relationship to sound and repetition. Lang stages one variation of this attempt of a Real ethic of “natural technology.” His work is not the Techno of House or the Rave scene, but the meditative effect is similar. The audience experiences being put on the “cut” between noise and music. It is an experience one can only be immersed in; it cannot be described. Not every composer of the Neue Musik (Lang’s contemporaries include Peter Ablinger, Klaus Lang, and Nader Mashayeki) is successful, for it requires a different way to “listen” to the world. The environmental fractal sound-scapes that this small group of composers produces are intensely labored and labor intensive. They provide the opposite spectrum to the rave scene, but no less engaged in theorizing a naturaltechno U(h)r sound. An attempt to grasp Lang’s theory of sound can be found in the inside jacket cover of Differenz/Wiederholung (see jagodzinski, 2000). 10. His website www.force-inc.net presents his difficult theoretical stance, “Digital Music & Metatheory” under “T” for theory.


A E “A”   R: A B M  C

1. This theoretical stance of a fundamental “social antagonism” and “society does not exist” was first introduced by Laclau and Mouffe (1985) and given a psychoanalytic twist by Zizek (1990). 2. A forthcoming book on Youth Television Fantasies explores this possibility. 3. Josephson Institute of Ethics, “2002 Report Card: The Ethics of American Youth.” http://www.josephsoninstitute.org/Survey2002/ survey2002-pressrelease.htm. 4. I have interpreted the death drive in its singular most devastating consequence as suicide, but as Lacan (1995) notes, “every [partial] drive is virtually a death drive” (275) in the sense that it can take over the body. I have mentioned, for example, Jim Carrey’s performance in Liar, Liar where the oral drive becomes a death drive ruining his life as a lawyer. 5. Zizek’s thoughts on the “act proper” can be found in (2000b, “Class Struggle,” pp. 121ff) (2001a, On Belief, 85–85) (2001, Fragile Absolute) and (1999b, Ticklish Subject, 374–378, 391–392). For a severe critique on Zizek’s use of Antigone as an example of an act see Grigg (2001). 6. Roland Joffé’s brilliant movie Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) illustrates vividly this sublime terror on the face of Oppenheimer as he watched the bomb go off at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Mouth and cheeks violently quivering from the wind blast, the bomb’s red glow with its mushroom cloud reflected on his goggles, Oppenheimer reputedly uttered a phrase from Hindu scripture in the Bhagavad-Gita, “I am become death, the shatterer of worlds.” 7. In Youth Fantasies (2004) I identify the same phenomenon in the realty TV talk shows.



8. Hardt and Negri (2000) develop the notion of biopower in a “society of control.” They argue that Foucault’s biopolitics and Deleuze and Guattari’s “desiring machines” (while an improvement over Foucault) are both inadequate for the task of grasping the social material conditions that produces surplus value based on intellectual, immaterial, and communicative labor power. They develop their own theory based on a group of Italian Marxists (like Negri himself). The point is that a “society of control” is heading in the direction where the human being is defined strictly by the bodily organs s/he owns and (frighteningly) can sell (e.g., sperm, eggs, and body parts) if the restrictions of the law are lifted. 9. The X and Y Gen are developed in the opening chapters of Youth Fantasies (2004).

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Act: of emancipation, 265; ethics of the- 34, 35, 41–42, 173, 233, 269–273, 277; fantasy to-, 123; of narcissism, 265; psychotic-, 137, 150; as radical evil, 17n5, 200, 213, 288; to- out, 135, 136, 242; see also, Event Aesthetics: Cobain’s macabre-, 117; DIY,167, 205, 210; of fly girls, 209; of kiddie stars, 193; l’art brut, 210, 211, 250; as lipstick, 206; raw, 167; sublime, 99, 104; of the ugly, 98–100, 114, 199, 203–215 Affect (Affectivity), 2, 10–13, 19, 22–24, 28, 30, 33, 35–39; of babbling (lalangue), 50, 58, 64, 207; of body memory, 40, 42, 44; feeling of-, 92; semiotic-, 103; of sound, 102; soundscape, 103, 104 Against and beyond the law, 4, 27, 28, 33, 45–46, 57, 136 Aggression, 109; and anxiety 139, 140; and fear of feminine, 137; and sexuality, 234, 257; sublimated, 135,136 Alienation, 48, 53, 115, 119, 129, 137 Alter ego: Cobain’s-, 116; in Eminem, 92–94, 98, 99; in Galaxy Quest, 240–244, 252; Jonathan Davis’s-, 105–107; Marilyn Manson, 126–127, 128, 138; of mass murderer, 143; see also Masks Assemblages, girlz/girls/grrrls culture as, 21, 172, 191, 196,198 Aural/oral drives, as a relationship, 2, 3, 36, 39, 42, 43, 56, 61, 103, 105, 109, 136 Aural/scopic drive, 49, 52, 55, 112 Backward masking, as music technique, 10n2, 283

Bar of signification, 68, 98, 4n5, 279 Beatlemania, 3, 35, 248 Beauty Myth, 171, 205 Beauty pageant, child-, 165, 193–194, 217–218, 226 Becoming-animal, 9, 102, 106, 126, 205 Becoming-woman, 2, 8, 9–10, 13, 18, 54, 196, 200, 203, 222, 224, 232 Bios, 27, 46–47, 68, 88, 89, 164, 193, 194, 274; see also Zoë Bitch, 77, 80, 99, 113, 204; gangsta-, 205, 210, 214 Black: body, 88, 99; hypermasculinity, 77; misogyny, 77–79; youth, 80–81 Body: dirty/clean, 84; erogenous body, 45, 51, 58; virtual body, 39–40, 41, 43, 49, 98, 106 Boy Bands, 151–167 BwO (Body without Organs), 19, 20, 21, 53, 56, 58, 259–260, 264, 286n1(chap 16), 287–288; see also OwB Castrati, 3, 57, 58; new-, 151–167 Castration, 15; beyond -, 27, 33, 48, 50–52, 54, 56; media-, 157; psychological-, 154–158; public, 154, 155, 158, 160; sadistic, 164; 174,178, 230, 239, 250, 271, 273, 2n6, 278; symbolic, 67, 73, 74, 77, 80, 83, 103, 104, 112, 139, 143, 151, 186 Chaos, 9; chaosmos, 11, 13, 17, 19, 28–30, 35, 36, 42, 89, 97, 122, 238 Chiasma, 37, 39, 273n8, 278 Child, monstrous, 193, 194, 198 Columbine massacre, 49, 98, 105, 117, 126, 129–130, 132–133, 144, 146–147, 273, 282 Complexity theory (dynamic systems theory), 11, 19, 22



Cops, 81–82 Cosmetic surgery, 55, 98, 172 Cosplay, as East Asian fan(addiction), 240; Roboter-Otaku, 252 Courtly Lady, 178, 185, 284n12, 229–32; courtly love, 203, 219, 230 Creatio ex nihilio, 35, 37 Culture translation, 166 Cybernetic, 21, 22, 26, 287 Darwinism, 3; social, 166 Death, 24; as no-, 259, 291, 293, 297, 300 Death drive (Todestrieb), 10–11, 12, 13, 14, 24–26, 33–34, 42, 61, 136, 146, 190, 204, 207, 243, 272, 273, 277, 278, 280, 288n4 Delusionary behavior, 138,148,163 Demand/drive, 38, 204–206, 211–213, 222, 226, 233, 273, 288 De-Oedipalization, 33, 171, 187, 224, 234, 239, 256; see also, Oedipalization, and Post-Oedipalization Designer capitalism, 22, 124, 129; CEO as serial killer, 141–142; 156, 157; and fan(addicts), 239, 244, 274; neoliberalism, 163–165; postmodern racism, 165–168, 171; and Spice Girls, 194, 195, 208; structuralist subject of-, 182 Desire: desire of the Other, 2; drive and -and the Law, 187–189; gurlz’, 187–201; 204–206, 208, 212, 220–223, 226–231, 237–238, 248, 250–251, 260, 262, 271, 274, 277n6, 278n11; unconscious-, 2n11, 2n6, 10–14, 18–23, 25–28, 33, 35–39, 42–43, 46–47, 49–58, 67–68, 70, 72, 74, 78–79, 81, 88, 90, 94, 98, 103–106, 108–109, 111–114, 116, 119, 124–125, 129, 131–132, 135–137, 140, 142, 145–146, 149, 152, 157, 164–165, 167, 172–175, 177–181, 183–186 Desiring machines, 19, 20, 21, 17n8, 289 Desublimation, 27, 28, 36, 38; desublimated drives, 46; see also Sublimation

Diadeictical, 3, 37, 39, 57 Différance, 3 Difference: between drive and-, 191, 199; biological-, 210; class-, 161; as complementary-, 176–177, 186; cultural-, 61, 184; color-, 89, 184; difference of-, 29, 37 161; feminine-, 18, 20; kehr and-, 39, 41, 109; ideological-, 56, 159, 165, 166, 228, 261; minimal-, 16, 17, 25, 28; ontological-, 238; pure-, 16, 28, 286n1(chap. 15), radical-, 165–166; self and Other, 2–4, 9, 10, 13, 14, 18, 25; sexual-, 10, 11, 15, 16, 57, 125, 174, 186, 199, 224, 226, 250; signifier of-, 122 Discipline, 25, 27, 85, 123 Diva, 57–59, 138; dirty-, 171, 175; ghetto-, 205; pop-, 157, 178, 183, 188; queen-, 180; Rock-, 208; soul-, 260; virgin-, 176, 181, 185, 203, 209, 219 Dog, in rap, 79 Drives (Triebe), 1, 2, 10–14, 19–20, 22; anal, 48, 52; aural, 42, 55; before the “cut”, 260; Björk and-, 263–264, 271; excess, 95, 97, 102–103, 106; explained, 48–49; four-, 112, 122, 124, 135, 198, 213; and Freak on a Leash, 108–109; Oedipal, 52, 80, 84; oral-, 206; partial-, 48, 272; scopic, 49; 50–51; sexual, 25; as sublimation, desublimation, 26–27, 28–29, 35, 37, 39, 46; in techno, 258–259 Dysfunctional, 96; family, 130, 195, 232 Ecstasy (drug, E, MDMA), 157; orgasmic, 230, 255, 257, 258, 260, 261 Eros (see Thanatos/Eros) Ethical demand, 61, 186, 191; of bois and gurlz, 204, 205; of femme fatale, 211–212; 225–226, 233, 242, 273 Ethics of the Real, 4, 12, 24, 36, 55, 73; as complaint, 150, 173, 186, 198, 199; demand of-, 204, 211, 225, 244, 251, 252, 265, 269–275; in gangsta rap, 93–94, 121

I Event, 23, 24, 33; ethics of, 34–37, 41, 42, 50, 71, 73,107, 121, 130, 143, 146, 244, 256, 270, 273, 286nl (chap. 15); see also Act. Exception: impossible-, 17; inhuman-, 45–46; to logos, 47, 48; ugly-, 160, 179, 249 False Memory Syndrome (FMS), 114 Fairy tales: Cinderella, 179, 233, 285n5 (chap. 14); Peter Pan, 196, 221, 222; in rap, 77; Shrek, 215; Spears’ tattoo, 180; Tinky, 200; see also Nursery rhymes Fan(addict), 4, 17, 52, 54, 237–253 Fans (Fandom), 98; of Boy Bands, 156–157; and Britney Spears, 174–175, 180, 185; Cobain and-, 118, 120, 137; as consumers, 222; FANatic, 238; of Hear’Say, 159; identification, 182; “Ko}n Kids,” 101, 102, 103; and L7, 207; of Madonna, 181; manufacture of, 244–245; of Marilyn Manson, 125, 128, 132; Mark Chapman, 135; of Pop Idol, 160, 162; postmodern groupie, 227–253; sadomasochistic pact, 124; types of, 239 Fantasy, 7; anal, 53; of androgyne, 208, 209; of authenticity, 65; beating, 190, 249–250; of child-woman, 201; dirty virgin, 175, 178; fundamental, 21, 174, 231, 242, 272, 277; gangsta, 67–68, 86; inversion of-, 14; as masquerade, 184; of neoliberalist capitalism, 163; obsessive, 131; perverse, 210, 230; Peter Pan, 221; primal, 36; 40, 83, 98; of redemption, 128; of the Riot Grrrls, 203; of romantic love, 157; Sadean, 176–178; of serial killer, 244; sexual, 221; of the skin surface, 20, 21, 37; as structure and scenario, 193, 196, 221, 222, 229, 230; of techno, 255–265; transcendental-, 73; traversal, 42, 67, 68, 85, 120; utopian-, 8, 12, 97, 274; virgin, 182, 184, 209; white, 72 Father, 52, 53; Anal, 101, 104, 135; beating fantasy, 190, 249–250;


bourgeois family, 129; of Enjoyment, 177, 215, 281n12 (chap. 6); of Excess, 114; Oedipal, 85, 199, 230–234; Oral, 140; paternal rights, 188; patricide, 135; Patrick Bateman as Anal-, 142; of protection, 225, 230, 232–234; reject of paternal, 74; weak-, 111, 145 Feminism, 10; power, 55, 171, 172, 174, 210, 220, 234 Femme fatale: chaste, 166, 210; chthonic, 211–213, 279; neo-noir, 55, 84, 164 Fetishism, 53, 120, 201 Figural, 4, 9, 19, 26, 29, 33–38, 45–57; voice, 45 Fly Girls, 56, 77, 208–210; meaning of, 209; on safe sex, 210 Fourth fetish, bulimia, 200–201, 207 Freakism (freak), 96, 99, 105, 109 Fundamental Fantasy, 36, 278n7, 242–244, 272 Future anterior, 39, 41, 251 Gangsta rap, 34, 58, 61–94; “attitude”, 73; authenticity in-, 86–88; as “break beat,” 67; as commodity, 88; corporate investments, 63; as distinct from rap, 64; filial relationships, 69; as heroic criminality, 68, 69; home boy, 77; LA style, 61–63; “playing the dozens,” 88, 100; rhythmic repetition, 64; sadomasochism, 77–94; as spectre, 72–75; style of, 69, 279n4; use of “Yo,” 69; see also Rap Girl power, 194, 205, 208, 219 Goth/ic, 7, 27, 95, 146–147, 173, 225; Goth culture, 96–97, 280n4 (chap. 6); industrial-, 135; as inner child, 96, 129; and the innocent child, 27, 128, 139, 193, 197, 198, 225, 283n4 (chap. 9); magical child, 97; Romanticism, 97, 126, 129 139 Grrrl: culture of, 35, 203–215; ending of, 208; names for-, 205; revolutionary, 173, 191; sound of-, 204–205; zines, 191, 194, 199, 205



Grunge, 111–112, 115–120, 135, 208 Gun(s), 66, 70, 140; control, 144; and Kip Krinkel, 149–150 Gurlz desires, 187–201 Heavy Metal, 33, 99–100, 103, 105, 111, 113, 135, 146, 152 Hejab, as Muslim identity, 227–229, 233, 234; see also Türban, Veil Hip-hop, 4; sampling, 31, 34, 61–64, 79, 86–87; types of dances, 88, 91–95, 103, 152, 157, 167, 209–210 Hos (whore), 77, 78, 99 Hyper-narcissism, 51, 52, 55, 83–84, 129, 172, 193, 253 Hysteria, 51; hysteric, 98; hysterical anxiety, 54, 56; postmodern-, 171–186, 234, 238–239, 270 Ideal Ego/Ego Ideal, 74, 98, 99, 112, 115, 141, 142, 143, 163, 183, 195, 199; 219–224; explained, 222–224, 226, 236, 239, 253 Identity: adolescent, 223, 224; beyond, 13; gender and, 7, 10; Muslim, 227, 237; national, 166, 184; Real, 237–238, 240, 253, 256, 269, 272; and recognition, 146; sexual, 54, 64, 65, 68, 70, 98, 121, 138, 143; situated, 12; symbolic, 15, 16, 20, 33, 53; void in, 192, 197; women’s, 210, 219, 221 Idol, 3; American, 4, 56, 151, 158, 159, 161, 163, 164, 192, 245; Canadian, 159, 166, 167, 185, 205, 238, 239; false, 244, 251; Pop, 92, 116, 119, 130, 132, 137, 157, 159, 160 Incest, 43, 80, 140, 152, 175, 185, 205, 207, 231 Interpassivity, 239, 286n3 Japanese Pop music, 283n1 Je, 12, 142, 271 Jokes, 49, 105, 117 Jouissance (enjoyment), 12; all-body-, 56; all-voice-, 56; as collective, 66, 122; feminine jouissance, 16, 18, 24–25, 33, 43, 45–46, 54, 55, 173,

174–176, 185, 187, 191; as jouis-sense, 56, 57; as lalangue, 48, 50, 207; as “man hater,” 206; non-phallic, 257, 260; non-sexual-, 48; phallic, 16, 49, 52, 179; as sexual, 57; types of, 49–50, 51; unlimited—of mass murderer, 143; will to-, 52, 221 Koran (Qu’aran), 225, 228, 234 Lack, 11–13, 16, 42, 50, 54–55, 79, 83, 89, 111, 115, 121, 123, 154, 174, 179, 183, 186, 196, 239, 246, 248–249, 259, 269, 277 Lalangue, 49, 50, 104, 207 Lamella (pure life instinct), 46, 57, 256, 259, 264 Law, 34, 46–47, 48, 52; criminal-law binary, 82 Law-of-the-Father, 52, 199 Lesbian desire, 14, 47, 90, 111, 175, 186, 191, 196, 205, 239 Love: romantic, 230; songs, 43, 156–157, 189; sublime, 228–229, 230, 233; Bacherlorette, 230, 233, 285n5 Lozenge (poinçon), 12 Machinic, 9, 11, 13, 19, 20, 22, 26, 31, 126, 214, 262, 264, 287n7 Mack, 80, 87; style, 94, 209 Man, The, 17 Masculinity, 14; aggressive, 142, 156, 190; essential, 52; 53; hypermasculinity, 73, 74, 77, 80; lost, 139; new, 201, 207, 273; phallic, 197; rap’s, 82, 99; rock’s, 118 Masks, 15, 16; as alter egos, 139; of Björk, 263–264, 274; in Ko}n video, 105; of Marilyn Manson, 125, 126–127, 137; Michael Jackson’s-, 139; Michael Jackson children’s-, 138; Slipknot, 114; unmasking, 137–138 Masochism: Eminem and-, 91, 92; in Goth, 95, 97; perverted-, 104–105, 135; primary, 20; secondary, 20

I Mass murderer, 135–150; as distinct from serial killer, 140; as parricide, 143; unlimited jouissance of-, 143 Master: signifiers, 33, 54, 66, 69, 70, 83, 84–86, 130, 163, 173, 174, 176, 199, 217, 223, 242, 248, 253, 269, 273; and slave, 16, 82, 84, 160, 177 Maternal Thing, 84, 119, 185, 263 Melodrama, 82 Memory, 29; affective, 37; bodily, 50, 51, 67, 84; False Memory Syndrome, 114, 158; as Gedächtnis and Erinnerungen, 251; living, 214, 243, 251; past, 39; term, 50 Metal music, 33, 49, 95; pun, 99, 102, 111, 146 Midriff, 179–183 Mimicry, 35; double, 55; performative, 64; rap’s-, 65, 184 Mimesis, 182, 184 Minoritarian, becoming-, 23, 274 Moral Right, 89; Evangelical Right, 152, 188, 189, 192; moral majority, 226; Religious Right, 125, 126 Mourning/melancholia, 219, 226, 234, 281n2 MTV: die Ärzte, 132, 154, 245–246; FANatic, 238, 245; and Ko}n, 105; Music Awards, 62, 89; The Real World, 158, 167, 176, 189, 196; Total Request Live (TRL), 155; Unplugged concert, Cobain, 115 Music: as authenticity, 121; Courtney Love’s-, 204; as “dissipative object”, 121, 281n6; as noise, 33–44; as poiêtic, 281n7; as powerfree (Macht-los), 121, 281n7; strange attractor in-, 122 Mutherfucker, significance in rap, 81 Nachträglichkeit, 40, 243, Nachträglich, 271 Name-of-the-Father, 51, 74, 120, 278n4; in mass killing, 147, 233, 250; as paternal metaphor, 136, 137 Narcissism: ego-, 84, 138; hyper-, 51, 52, 55, 172, 193, 253; primary, 20–21; secondary, 22; self-, 70, 118, 212


New Age Techno Hippies, 255–265 New Agism, 256 Nigga: -vs nigger, 66, 68, 71, 73, 78, 79, 80, 86; NWA (Niggas with Attitude), 65, 81 Noise, 3, 28–29, 35; of Ko}n, 101–102, 136; of rap, 64; in techno, 260, 262, 270, 271 Non-sense, 4, 12, 21, 25, 29, 35, 37, 49, 50, 109, 242, 261, 262 Nostalgia, as Algia and Nostos, 225–226, 228, 234 Nü metal music, 95–110, 135 Nursery rhymes: in Lennon, 136; Little Red Riding Hood,140; in rap, 80; see also Fairy tales Object voice, 56, 57, 154,156 Obscene supplement, 63, 96, 153; the porno industry, 179, 270 Obsession, 78, 85, 95; Cobain’s, 116, 131, 207; fan(addict), 238–239, 251; fantasy, 99–100, 113 Oedipalization, 112, 230–231, 233–234, 263; see also, post-Oedipalization and de-Oedipalization Oikos, 46–47 One, 16, 17, 18, 106 ONE, 52, 54, 74, 79, 98; Ko}n as-, 102, 112; Marilyn Manson as-, 129, 146, 173, 237–253, 258, 271 OwB (Organs without Body), 264; see also BwO Paranoid, 43, 83; paranoia of demand, 140–141, 142, 147; psychosis, 158, 203, 212, 269; schizophrenic, 56, 113, 123; of self-punishment, 140 Pedophile, 175; hebophile, 175; JonBenét Ramsey, 193, 197, 198; pedophilic pop, 175, 176 Perversion (père version), 51–52; anal-, 53; Father of Enjoyment, 177, 179, 191, 230, 233, 249; as gangsta rapper, 73, 112–113; of the Law, 79, 102, 110, 136–137, 173; Sadean, 176–178; and sadomasochism, 250, 270



Phallic mother, 111, 113–114, 203; inverted archetype in postfeminism, 173; as man hater, 206, 231; Maternal superego, 137,180, 182, 185, 192–196; as Thing, 115, 117, 136, 185, 203 Phallus, 52; phallic authority, 73; power, 78, 112, 184 Pimp, 64, 80, 82, 83, 87, 88, 177, 178; see also Mack Point de caption, 34, 224 Pornography, 15, 48, 110, 172, 176–179, 226, 229–330 Postemotionality, 238, 286n3 Postfemininism, 4, 48, 54, 70, 171–186; anorexia, 198–199, 222; bulimia, 200–201, 220, 234; and eating disorders, 172 Postfeminism, 54, 171–186, 186–201; as reality romance, 285n5 Posthuman, 22; by Björk, 263–265 Post-Oedipalization, 1, 2, 7, 18, 49, 51–52, 93, 113, 124, 136, 171, 172, 196, 219; noise, 269, 273; see also, De-Oediplalization, and Oedipalization Post-patriarchal, 187–202 Pre-Oedipal, 48, 52, 119, 135, 196, 287n5 (chap. 16) Psychasthenia, 28 Psychosis, 21, 31, 43, 48, 49, 51, 54, 68; Cobin’s-, 115–120; Ko}n and-, 103; psycho killers, 123 Punk-rock, 111–122, 135 Racial profiling, 69–70, 74; geek profiling, 147, 149 Racism, postmodern, 165–167 Radical evil, 22, 82, 213 Rap, 49; authenticity in-, 86–88, 92–93; booty-, 78, 86; as commodity, 88; as distinct from gangsta rap, 64; as postmodern style, 65; rap-metal, 100; signifying practice, 66; toasting, 66, 70, 78, 83; as wordbullets, 81; see also Gangsta Rap Rave, 255–265; as non-work, 258; as inner uterine experience, 257–258 Real (Lacanian), 3, 4,11–13, 15–17; Imaginary Real, 26–27; 30, 31,

34–43, 277n2 (chap. 1); Real of antagonism, 23–25; the two Reals, 42, 49–50, 55–58, 66, 68, 72–73, 81, 84, 86, 90, 92, 97, 99, 103–104, 106, 108–109, 115, 117, 119, 121–123, 136–137, 141, 143, 156, 158, 173, 186, 192, 198–200, 205, 210–211, 213, 225–226, 237–238, 241–245, 251–253, 261–265, 269–272, 277–278, 288–290 Reflexive arc, 40–42 Religion: as esoteric, 95, 119, 127, 128, 146, 217, 242, 244; religare, 74 Repetition: of difference, 3; of the drives, 28, 39, 42–43, 67–68, 105, 108–109, 239; of force, 25, 26; in music, 3, 4, 37, 61, 64–67, 113, 122; and serialization, 3, 20, 33 Repression, 11; primary (Urverdrängung), 25–26, 43, 51, 68, 69, 113, 118, 122, 189–190, 201, 231, 237, 250 Repressive desublimation, 28 Rhizome, 13, 205 RL (real life), 68, 73, 81, 93 Rules Girls, 228, 229, 286n7 Sadean women, 78, 79, 86, 141, 176–179, 182, 224 Sadism, 23, 53, 81, 82; Cobain’s-, 118, 124; in music, 136 Sadomasochism, 78; in Goth culture, 97; in Just Like a Pill, 214–215; Silke’s-, 249–250; in wrestling, 146; 178 Satanists, 127 Schizophrenia, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31; Eminem, 92–93; in Pink, 211, 213, 253; schizoid self, 274; as split mirror, 253 Scopic drive, 49, 55 Self-esteem, 219–224 Separation, 48, 52, 53, 84, 104, 112, 115, 119, 137, 178, 185, 278n2 Serial killers, 123; as anti-slackers, 135–150; as distinct from mass murderers, 140 Sex education, as abstinence, 188, 189, 217

I Sex/gender, beyond, 13–17, 55, 197–199, 207, 231; before-, 259 Sex: anal and oral, 188, 190, 234; n-sexes, 10; one-sex model, 201; poly-, 17; in rave and techno, 256–257; violence, 125, 146, 190, 177–179, 191 Sexuality, 13; adolescent, 190; adult, 196; and death, 140, 157, 164; grrrl, 173; hyer-, 22, 180, 183; of Marilyn Monroe, 125, 129; perverse, 198; Phallus–penis, 14; polymorphous, 14–15, 102; reproductive, 14, 185, 265; trans-, 277; two-lips of the vagina, 14; virginal, 227 Sexuation, 7,13, 18 Silence, 4, 25, 29; of the death drive, 36–37, 38, 39, 43, 56, 58, 205; see also Noise Silke (Die Ärzte), as fan(addict), 244–250 Singular universal, 16 Sinthome, 43, 84, 85, 93; Cobain’s-, 120; Marilyn Manson’s-, 127, 129, 132, 237–244; music’s-, 121–122; Silke’s-, 248–250, 272 Site/sight/cite, 36, 278n7; 42, 69, 88, 126, 174, 178, 180, 187, 191, 192, 209 Skin-ego, 12, 18, 20–21, 22, 24, 39, 41, 66; cutting the-, 126, 127, 136, 137; in Ko}n, 105–107, 109; in nü metal, 95–98; as protection, 251–253; Silke’s-, 244–250 Social antagonism, 269; society does not exist, 288n1 Soundscape, 17, 36, 101, 102, 103, 104, 136, 270, 274 Statutory rape, 187–188 String theory, 37, 38 Subject, 277n2 (chap. 2), 34; decentered in rap, 65–66; as destitution, 67, 68, 85, 109, 115, 120, 132, 224, 239, 272 Subjective destitution, 83, 85, 109, 224; Cobain’s-, 120; of fans, 239, 272; Marilyn Mason’s-, 132 Subjectivization, 139–140


Sublimation, 26, 28, 36, 38, 58, 67, 97, 109, 110, 135, 136, 137, 201; see also Desublimation. Suicide, 34, 49, 128, 157, 213, 219 Superego, 46, 47; parental-, 104, 114, 139; paternal, 195; as voice, 149–150, 190 Synthesizer, 30, 56, 197, 201, 259 Tattoo, 97, 98–99; Jonathan Davis and, 100–101; Silke’s-, 246, 247–250 Techno, 4, 255–265; as “natural” technology, 262–265; as primal sound, 259–262 Technology: CD-, 31, 56, 65; internet, 102, 122, 124; media, 145; MP3, 102; nanotechnology, 22, 30; natural, 256, 262, 265 Terrorism, 23, 24, 270, 273 Thanatos/Eros, 37, 38, 50, 55; Marilyn Manson on, 125, 243; relationship between-, 260, 271 Thing (Das Ding), 278n2, 72, 115, 119, 185, 203, 212, 243, 265, 273 Time (aion), 8, 9, 10, 17, 29, 31, 37–40, 41, 107, 243 Transcendental: death-, 25; feminine signifier, 176; of Good, 185; mucous, 15, 265; New Age, 156, 257, 261; non-phallic signifier, 263; phallic Mother, 173; phallic signifier, 18; plane of identities, 21; signifier of androgyne, 197, 243; versus transcendent immanence, 2, 9; two lips, 14; virgin, 173; vitality, 181 Transgression, 4, 11, 13; to and beyond the Law, 28, 34–35, 38, 48, 49, 50, 54, 57, 78, 102, 230, 270, 271, 273; of identity, 53; 57, 65, 73; romantic, 172, 173, 181, 223; as sublimation, 167; sublime, 99, 105, 136 Türban, 228 Vanishing mediator, 16, 29; definition of-, 281n16; in music of Ko}n, 103 Veil, as hejab, 227–228, 229–232 Violence, (real/virtual), 81, 145–146; 147–148, 149



Virgin/slut, 54; banal virgin, 199, 227, 228; dirty virgins, 171–186; hyper-virginity, 181, 182, 184; Kathleen Hanna as-, 204; midriff, 179–181, 181–186; new virginity, 54, 157; PJ Harvey as-, 206; 230–231 Voice: aural, 3; Björk’s, 263, 264, 273;of the body, 189, 190, 197, 205; of castrato, 151, 152, 166; of conscience, 181; critical, 61–63, 68; disembodied, 40, 50, 56; of the drum, 249, 256; female, 210; figural, 4, 33, 36, 39; gaze and, 49; ghetto, 79, 80; of Ko}n, 102; object-, 154, 156, 208; as oral drive, 69; pure, 57; rapper, 80; Real, 58; Satanic, 152; superegoic, 149–150; two voices, 58; uncanny, 56; of white trash, 93, 133 Vorstellungrepräsentanz, 26 White Noise, 35, 61, 279n1 White Trash, Eminem, 92–93; Cobain, 116, 118; 127; kiddie stars, 192 wiederholung/wiederkehr, 39, 41, 109 Woman, The, 17; “true woman,” 18, 230 Women rappers, 70, 78, 208, 210 WWJD (bracelets), 89, 280n4 (chap. 5) 152–153 Youth Fantasies, 1, 12, 18, 19, 24, 27, 28, 47, 51, 124, 135; on fort/da, 285n4 (chap. 12); on Gothic, 283n4 (chap. 9); videogames, 283n7 Youth: Gen X, 114, 274; Gen Y, 218, 219, 274; slacker, 115–116 Zero, 13; feminine, 14, 16; degree of intensity, 108, 261; ground, 43, 50; and One, 17, 20, 29 Zeuxis/ Parrhasius, painting contest, 229 Zoë: and Björk, 264, 274, 275; immortality and-, 27, 46–47, 57, 67, 68, 78, 82, 84, 88, 89, 120, 121, 129, 164, 180, 185, 193, 194; as lamella, 256, 259–260, 258; as spunk or sperm, 198, 243; see also Bios

A N Adorno, Theodore, 28, 36 Agamben, Giorgio, Homo Sacer, 27, 46–47 André, Serge, 176 Anzieu, Didier, 12, 19, 20–21; audiophone, 36; sound envelope, 31 Attali, Jacques, 3, 4, 29, 35, 57 Badiou, Alain, 11, 28, 35, 238, 286n1 (chap. 15) Bakhtin, Mikhail, 53 Bataille, Georges, 84 Baudrillard, Jean, 226 Bhabha, Homi, on mimicry, 64, 184–185 Bogue, Ronald, on music, 29–30 Boym, Svetlana, on nostalgia, 225, 234 Braidotti, Rosi, 8; disavowal, 10, 13, 18, 196 Buchanan, Ian, on music, 29 Burroughs, William S., 51 Butler, Judith, 172, 281n2 Chion, Michel, 39, acousmetre, 56 Cicoux, Helen and Clément, Catherine, 192, 205 Copjec, Joan, on drives, 26 Cornell, Drucella, 278n2 D’Amico, Robert, 26 Dawkins, Richard, selfish meme, 165–167 Dean, Tim, 42, 198 Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix: 2, 12, 19, 39, 51; Anti-Oedipus, 7, 8, 9, 11, 24, 42; distionic intensity, 11; ethics, 23–24; geminal implex, chaosmos, intense geminal influx, 11; lines of flight, 9; mobile diagonal line, 23; machinic assemblage, 11, 13, 172–173, 284n4; on music, 29–30; “quasicause”, 21, 25; schizo subjectivity, 127; smooth and striated space, 9; Spinoza ethics, 23; Thousand Plateaus, 42 Deleuze, Gilles: affectivity, 10; assemblages, 172–173, 284n4;

I becoming-animal, 126; dark precursor, 20; on death, 24; Difference and Repetition, 20; disjunctive synthesis, 21; force, 10, 58, 104; germinal life, 24; Logic of Sense, 8, 29; minimal difference, 25; orchid-wasp, 2, 11, 13, 22; on sadomasochism, 124; sense-event, 10; “tantric egg”, 21; vitalism, 24 Derrida, Jacques, pharmakon, 214; on gift, 226 Dolar, Mladen, 57, 279 Driscolle, Catherine, girls, 172 Duras, Marguerite, 176, 284n9 Elshtain, Jean Beth, 46 Evens, Aden, on noise, 29 Feldstein, Richard, 8 Fine, Michelle, 189 Fink, Bruce, on two sense of Real, 52, 53, 278n10 Flieger, Jerry Aline, 7, 42 Foucault, Michel, 8, 12, 15, 24, 30, 123, 274, 289 Freud, Sigmund, 11, 13; beating fantasy, 190, 249; butcher’s wife, 284n13; on Dostoevsky, 113; and ethics, 271; fort/da, 109, 199; and identification, 234; Judge Schreber, 21, 25, 158; Little Hans, SE X, 112, 281n1; on love, 229; Nachträglichkeit, 243; oceanic feeling, 257, 258; return of the repressed, 189; SE XVIII, 45; on symptom, 122; Three Essays on Sexuality, SE 7, 14, 19 Gamman, L. and Makinen, M., on the fourth fetish, 199–201 Gates, Jr., on 2 Live Crew, 77; Signifying Monkey, 77, 89 Gilligan, Carol, and Brown, Lynne M., 205, 220–221 Goodchild, Philip, 24 Gould, Stephen, Jay, syncopated evolution, 35 Goux, Jean-Joseph, 18 Griggers, Camilla, 10


Grossberg, Lawrence, 58 Grosz, Elizabeth, 13, 196 Haraway, Donna, cyborg manifesto, 263 Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio, 48; society of control, 289n8 Heidegger, Martin, being-toward-death, 24, 26, 102, 281 Herzogenrath, Bernd, on techno, 287n5 Ian, Marcia, 16 Irigaray, Luce, 54, 176, 190, 191, 264 jagodzinski, jan, 13, 34; body piercing, 98, 278n9, 279n3; on Joe Clark, 280n3 (chap. 5), 192; The Anamorphic I/i, 274; Truman Show, 277n3 Kant, Immanuel, (philosopher): aesthetic judgment, 271; categorical imperative, 22, 186 Kristeva, Julia, 84, 103, 237; chora, 260, 287n5 Kuhn, Thomas, 35 Lacan, Jacques: on aggression, 103, 174, 185; bien dire, 274; on development, 1; on the drive, 229, 259, 260, 281n18; The Ego in Freud, 43, 123; extimate, 38; formulae of sexuation, 7; “Kant avec Sade”, 22, 79, 187, 284n1 (chap.12); lack, 11, 12, 196; language, 18; on machinic principle, 287; objet a, 25, 37, 84, 85, 86, 90, 91, 109, 157, 174, 180, 181, 182, 192–194, 195, 199, 200, 208, 209, 222, 224, 226, 229, 233, 234, 247, 260–261, 262, 272, 274; polymorphous sexuality, 198; S II, The Ego in Freud’s Theory, 287n7; sexuality, 17; S VII, Ethics, 36, 50,175, 178, 271, 273; S XI, Four Fundamentals, 36, 39, 42, 51; S XIX … Ou piere … Or Worse, 7; S XX (Encore), 7, 13, 49, 54, 176, 262; S XXIII, The Sinthome, 280n2 (chap. 6); touché, 67, 108



Laporte, Dominique, scatology, 53 Levinas, Emmanuel: face, 47; ethics, 278n1, 192 Levine, Judith, on sexuality, 188–189, 218 Lyotard, Jean-François: diadeictical, 3; figural, 9, 29; figural, 37–38; letter and line, 39, 104 Marks, Laura, 39 Marx, Karl, 7, 153 Massumi, Brian, 28; half-second interval, 40, 58 Maturana, H. and Valera, F.J., 24 Merleau-ponty, Merleau, “flesh,” 37 Miller, Alain, 18 Millot, Catherine, 277n1 (chap. 1) Milovanovic, Dragan, 13 Montrelay, Michèle, 191 Moore, Henrietta, 13 Mowitt, John, on percussion, 249 Murphie, Andrew, on music, 29–30

Seltzer, Mark, on serial killers, 123–124, 126, 127, 129, 131, 132, 140, 141 Shalit, Wendy: feminine mystique, 226; on modesty and chastity, 224–227; Victorian sensibility, 225 Shaviro, Steve, 263–265 Shepherdson, Charles, 277n1 (chap. 1) Silverman, Kaja, acoustic mirror, 31, 39, 103 Stern, Daniel, 50 Swiboda, Marcel, on music, 29 Taylor, Mark C., 19 Tolman, Deborah, on female desire, 189–192, 221 Tyler, Imogen, 18 Verhaeghe, Paul, 237 Walkerdine, Valerie, 192, 284n3 Warwick, Kevin, 22 Welsh, Wolfgang, anaesthetization, 28 Winnicott, D.W., transitional space, 39, 237

Olalquiaga, Celeste, 28 Patton, Paul, 23 Pierce, C.S., posture image, 37 Pomeroy, Sarah, 46 Prigoggene, Illya, dissipative structure, 19, 25 Prosser, J., 277n1 (chap. 1) Reynolds, Simons and Press, Joy, 118, 136, 152; The Sex Revolts, 191, 203, 206–207; Rodowick, R.N., 38, 39 Reynolds, Simons: collective autism, 257–258, 260, 285n2 (chap. 13), 286n1 (chap. 16); on ecstasy, 255–259; on rave, 286n1 (chap. 16) Rose, Tricia: on Black Noise, 35, 61, 63, 69; on the “butt,” 209; on fly girl sex, 210; on women rappers, 78, 103 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (philosopher), 97 Sade, Marquis de, 22; perversion of, 177–179

Zizek, Slavoj, 2, 8; on castrato, 154; on Deleuze, 17, 22, 24, 26, 27; on ethical act, 33, 277n1 (chap. 2); on femme fatale, 279n6 (chap.3); grimace of the Real, 89, 99, 103, 280n11; on maternal superego, 195; on opera, 279n7; organ without a body, 15; on perversion, 230; on the phallus, 15

S, R, B, C Aguilera, Christina (singer), 171, 176–177; Stripped, 177, 181, 182, 191; Lady Marmalade, 213, 234 Aiken, Clay (idol singer), 161–162 Apple, Fiona (singer), 196 Atomic Kitten (pop group), 171; on mosh pits, 260 Backstreet Boys (BSB) (Boys Band), 151 Bardot (pop idol group), 164, 166 Barnes, Dee (female rapper, Body and Soul), 279n2

I Beastie Boys (white rappers), 91 B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), 62 Big Pun (rapper), 86 Bjellard, Kat (singer, Babes in Toyland), 204 Björk (singer), 263–265 Black Sabbath (heavy metal band), 126 Boone, Pat (singer), 152 Boss (rap crew), 210 Bowie, David (singer), as Ziggy Stardust, 131 Branch, Michelle (singer), 196 Brooks, Garth (western country singer), 151, 162 Broschi, Carlo (castrato, a.k.a. Farinelli), 151 Bro’Sis (pop group), 166–167 B3 (Boys Band), 152 Bytches with Problems (BWP, rap crew), 78, 210 Cage, John, 34 Carlton, Vanessa (singer), 196 Chuck D (rapper, Public Enemy), 69, 94 Clarkson, Kelly (idol singer), 161 Cobain, Kurt (lead singer, Nirvana), 34, 51, 93, 100, 114, 115–120; Journals, 116–117; suicide note, 118–121, 122, 129, 137, 139, 208, 246, 273 Cole, Paula (singer), 196 Combs, Sean “Puff Daddy” (rapper), 158 Cooper, Alice (heavy metal singer), 133 Creed (rap-metal band), 110 Crow, Sheryl (singer), 269 Da Brat (rap crew), 210 Da Lench Mob (rap crew), 68 Davis, Frenchie (idol singer), 161 Davis, Jonathan (lead singer, Ko}n), 100–109, 112–113; 116, 122, 128 Deftones (rap-metal band), 110 De Montigny, Audrey (idol singer), 166 Die Ärzte (Berlin Punk-Rock Band), 244–250 Dion, Céline (pop singer), 166 DJ Kool Jerc (rapper), 70


Draiman, David (lead singer, Disturbed), 95–96, 98, 99, 100, 109, 129 Dr. Dre (black rapper), 62, 278n2, 91 D12 (rapper group), Devil’s Night, 92; attacks on celebrity, 92–93 Durst, Fred (lead singer, Limp Bizkit), 100, 104, 107 Easy-E (rapper), 70 Emery, Jill (singer, Hole), Medusa painting, 203 Eminem (white rapper, a.k.a. Marshall Bruce Mathers III), 89–94; as authenticity, 89–90, 92–93; nature of lyrics, 90; schizophrenia, 92; as actor, 93, 211, 253 Empire, Alex (techno), 259, 287n6 Erickson, Duke (keyboards, Garbage), 211 50 Cent, (rapper, a.k.a., Curtis Jackson), 79, 86–87, 91, 161 5ive (Boys Band), 152 Ford, Willa (singer), 171 Foxy Brown (rapper), 210 Fresh Kid Ice (rapper), 70 Garland, Judy (actress, singer), 182 Geto Boy Wille D (rapper), 70 Gracin, Joshua (idol singer), 162 Granular-Synthesis (techno), 56 Hanna, Kathleen (singer, Bikini Kill), 204; Riot Girl manifesto, 205, 211, 285n1 (chap. 13) use of lipstick, 206 Hardson, Tre (lead singer, The Pharcyde), 100 Hear’Say (pop group), 159, 166 Hoes with Attitude (HWA) (rap crew), 78 Ice Cube, 64, 66; LAPD and hate speech, 71, 72, 80, 81, 86, 100, 101 Ice-T (rapper), 68; Iceberg/Freedom of Speech, 70–73, 82, 86 Isis (rapper), 209 Jackson, Michael (pop singer), 52; his children, 138; paranoia of, 138, 192; as Peter Pan, 196–197; as androgyny, 199



Jagger, Mick (singer, Rolling Stones), as masochist, 139 Jam Master Jay (rapper, Scratch Academy), 87 Jay-Z (rapper), 86 J-Dee (Dasean Cooper, rapper), 68 Jett, Joan (singer), 171, 173 Jewel (singer), 196 Judas Priest (heavy metal band), 283n2 (chap. 10) Kiss (Heavy metal Band), 138, 139 Ko}n (nü metal band), “Freak on a Leash,” 26, 105–109, 100–105, 106–107 Lavigne, Avril (singer), 196–199; as androgyne, 197; and Spears, 197–198; cravat as alter-ego, 199 Lennon, John, 132, on primal scream, 136; “Rain,” 283n2 (chap. 10) LFO (Boys Band), 152 Liberty X (pop band), 159 Lil’ Kim (rapper), 210; Lady Marmalade, 213 Linkin Park (metal band), 96, 110 Locke, Kimberly (idol singer), 161 Lopez, Jennifer (singer), and paparazzi, 171, 283n3 (chap. 10), 284n2 Love, Courtney (lead singer, Hole), 120, 132, 173; sublime love, 186; and Hole, 203; kinder-whore look, 204 L7 (grrrl band), macha attitude, 206–207 Lunachicks (girl’s band), 207 Lunch, Lydia (singer), logorrhea, 207 Macabre (band), 124 McCarthy, Paul (ex-Beatle singer), 22 McNeil, Rita (singer), 40 Madonna (pop diva): as Che Guevara, 138, 152, 171, 176, 180; Live Another Day, 212, 244; narcissism, 244, 253, 273; vs. Pink, 213; and Spears, 181, 195 Malcolm, Ryan (idol singer), 166 Man Hole (grrrl band, Tairrie B, lead singer), 78 Manson, Marilyn (Goth singer, a.k.a., Brian Warner), 97–99, 103,

122–133; as Antichrist, 125, 127, 128; mask, 137, 196, 273; as Omega Man, 127, 131, 132; paintings, 133 Manson, Shirley (lead singer, Garbage), 173; as femme fatale, 210–213; use of lipstick, 211; “The World is Not Enough,” 212 Marker, Steve (bass, Garbage), 211 Marky Mark (white rapper), 91 Master P (rapper), 86 Mathews, Donna (singer), 173 MC Lyte (rap crew), 210 Metallica (Metal Band), 114, 139 Minogue, Kylie (singer), 171, 178, 182 Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot (rapper), 210, Lady Marmalade, 213 Moore, Mandy (singer), 171 Morissette, Alanis (singer), 196, 269 Morrison, Jim (lead singer, Doors), 115 Mya (singer), Lady Marmalade, 213 Nas (rapper), 66–67; masochism, 81 Nefertiti (rapper), 209 Nilsen, Kurt (idol singer), 160 Nine Inch Nails (punk-metal band), 129 98Degrees (Boys Band), 152 NKOTB (Boys Band), 152 No Angels (pop idol group), 164–165 ’N Sync (boys group), 89 NWA (Niggas With Attitude, rap crew), 62, 65, 279n2; on attitude, 73 Ono, Yoko (singer), 207 Orgy (band, Elementree Records), 110 Osbourne, Kelly (singer), 173 Osbourne, Ozzy (Goth singer): Dreamer, 96; Ozzfest, 96, 97, 125, 133, 280n3 (chap. 6) O-Town (Boys Band), 151, 154–158 Panterra (metal band), 139, 140 Papa Roach (metal band), 96, 100 Pink (a.k.a. Alicia Moore, singer), 173, 176; against Spears, 213; autobiographical schizophrenia, 211, 213, 253; on divorce, 196, 211; Just Like a Pill, 213–214; Lady Marmalade, 213

I PJ Harvey (grrrl singer), use of lipstick, 206, 207 Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Ono, 1970), 136 Presley, Elvis, 174 Public Enemy (rap crew), 64; Baseheads video, 279–80n6 Queen Keya (rapper), 209 Queen Latifah (rapper, movie star), 87–88, 209, 210 Queen Mother Rage (rapper), 209 Republica (band), 173 Rolling Stones (rock band), 139 Rose, Axl (lead singer, Guns N’ Roses), 113, 115; and Cobain, 119 Run-DMC (rapper), 86 Salt-N-Pepa (rap crew), fly girls, 209, 210 Shakira (singer), 171 Shakur, Sanyika (LA Crips, rapper), 74 Shanté, Roxanne (rapper), 210 Shentall, Johnny (singer, Hear’Say), 159 Simpson, Jessica (singer), 171, 181, 234 Sistah Souljah (rapper), 71–72, 209 Sistas with Attitude (rap crew), 209, 210 Sleater-Kinney (singer), 173 Slipknot (metal band), 114; on killing, 136–139, 148, 195 Smashing Pumpkins (rap-metal band), 110, 211 Smith, Patti (grrrl singer), babelogue, 207–208 Snoop Doggy Dogg, 61–62, 64 Sonic Youth (metal band), 211 Sparks, Donna (lead singer, L7), tampon incident, 207 Spears, Britney (singer), 152, 157, 171, 172, 174, 176, 180; Baby, One More Time, 181, 182; and the Church of England, 184; husbands, 185, 188, 285n16; and Madonna, 181; as Mickey Mouser, 194, 234; virginity, 183–184 Spice Girls (pop group), 171, 172, 173, 194, 203–204, 208 Starr, Ringo (ex-Beatle’s drummer), 249 Stefani, Gwen (singer), 173, 177


Studdard, Rubin (idol singer), Velvet Teddy bear, 161, 162 Sum 41 (punk-rock group), name destroying, 153 Take That (boy band), 153, 157 Tatu (Russian pop duo), 175 T-Bone (Terry Gray, rapper), 68 The New Kids on the Block (Boy Band), 153 The Who (rock group), 153 3rd Bass (white rappers), 91 Timbalan (rapper), 86 Timberlake, Justin (singer), 152, 153, 157, 181, 186 TLC (rap crew), 210 Tone Loc (rapper), 71 Townshend, Pete (lead singer, The Who), 121 Trenyce (idol singer), 161, 163 tRueBliss (Pop idol group), 164, 166 Tupac Shakur (2Pac), 62, 68 2 Live Crew (gangsta rap crew), 77–79, 86, 208 2Pacalypse Now (gangsta rap crew), 80 Vanilla Ice (white rapper), 91 Vicious, Sid (lead singer, Sex Pistols), 135, 139 Vig, Butch (musician, producer), 211 Williams, Vanessa (singer, model), 226–227 Westlife (Boys Band), 152, 160 Williams, Robbie (singer), 153 Wonderwall (pop group), 171 Yo-Yo (rapper), 209, 210

M Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed (W.C. and MAAD Circle), 80 All is Full of Love (Björk, 1999), 263–265 American Life (Madonna, 2003), 138 AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (Ice Cube, 1990), 66, 71, 80, 86 Antichrist Superstar (Marilyn Manson, 1996), 125, 127, 130



Appetite For Destruction (Guns N’Roses, 1987), 113 As Nasty as They Wanna Be (2 Live Crew, 1990), 77–79, 86, 208

Nevermind (Nirvana, 1991), 116, 119 Niggaz4life (NWA, 1991), One Less Bitch, 279n2 Nobodies (Marilyn Manson, 2005), 120

Baby One More Time (Britney Spears, 1999), 182–183 Black Album (Metallica, 1991), 114 Bleach (Nirvana, 1989), 116

Portrait of an American Family (Marilyn Manson, 1994), 125, 129

Coma White (Marilyn Manson), 131, 132 Cowboys From Hell (Panterra, 1990), 140 Fear of a Black Planet (Public Enemy, 1990), 70 Follow the Leader (Ko}n, 1998), 100, 104, 106 Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (50 Cent, 2003), 87 Hard To Swallow (Vanilla Ice, 1998), 91 Holy Wood: In the Shadow of the Valley of Death (Marilyn Manson, 2000), 125, 129, 131, 132 In Bloom (Nirvana video), 118 Incestitude (Nirvana, 1992), 119 In Utero (Nirvana, 1993), 119, 120 Issues (Ko}n, 1999), 103 It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Public Enemy, 1988), 70 Just Like a Pill (Pink, 2002), 213–214 Killers are Silent (Slipknot, 2002), 137 Ko}n (Ko}n, 1995), 101 Lady Marmalade (La Belle, 1975), 213 Loaded (Courtney Love, 1970), Pretty on the Inside, 203 Life is Peachy (1996, Ko}n), 101 Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat (Slipknot, 1999), 114 Mechanical Animals (Marilyn Manson, 1998), 125, 126, 131

Sinister Slaughter (Macabre, 2000), 124 Straight Outta Comptom (NWA, 1987), 81 The Golden Age of Grotesque (Marilyn Manson, 2003), 125, 127, 133 The Sickness (Disturbed, 2000), 95–96 Thoughtless (Ko}n Video, 2002), 105–106 Untouchables (2002, Ko}n), 105 Use Your Illusion I and II (Guns N’Roses, 1991), 113

A Bacon, Francis (painter), Deleuze on-, 91, 133 Baker, Josephine (dancer), 209 Baraka, Amiri (poet), 50 Barr, Rosemary (comedian), 173 Bashir, Martin (documentary film maker), on Michael Jackson, 283n2 (chap. 9) Bellerm, Hans (artist), 103 Black Arts Movement (BAM), 50 Bly, Robert (poet), Iron John, 52 Carlos, Alfredo (designer, Korn), 102 De Kooing, William (painter), 277n4 Goody, Cuba Jr. (black comedian), 88 Harpo (comedian, Marx Brothers), 184 Hawn, Goldie (actress), 172 Jackson, Samuel (actor), 99 Klein, Iris (artist), 103 Lagerfeld, Karl (photographer), 139

I Lang, Bernhard (Neue Music composer), 288n9 Lee, Spike (film director), 209 Monroe, Marilyn (actress, a.k.a., Norma Gene), 181, 182 Murphy, Eddie (black comedian), 88 Orlan (performance artist), 55, 98, 99 Pryor, Richard (black comedian), 88 Richie, Guy (film director), 138 Sherman, Cindy (artist), 103 Sterlac (cyber-artist), 22 Szepanski, Achim (techno artist), 258, 259, 260; Force Inc., 262, 287n6 Temple, Shirley (singer, actor), 193, 284n3 Tucker, Chris (black comedian), 88 Warhol, Andy (artist), 158 West, Mae (actress), 182

P Abdul, Paula (singer and judge), 160–161 Chapman, Mark (killer of John Lennon), 135, 137 Clark, Joe (black high school principal), 280n3 (chap. 5) Cobain, Frances (Fanny) (Cobain’s daughter), 120 Cowell, Simon (music producer and judge), 160, 162 Davis, Devon (porno star), 110 Dunlap, Ericka (Miss America, 2004), 285n1 (chap. 14) Farrakhan, Louis (religious leader), 74, 85 Fuller, Simon (music producer), 19 Group, 162 Hamilton, Thomas (mass murderer), 144


Harold, Erika (Miss America, 2003), 217–218, 232 Harris, Eric (Columbine Massacre), 105, 132, 133, 144, 146–148 Harris, M. (Death Row Records, owner), 62 Jackson, C. (Miss Barbie), 55 Jackson, Jesse (religious leader), 74 Jackson, Randy (music producer and judge), 161 Janov, Dr. Author (primal scream therapist), 136 Johnson, Greg (black Olympic athlete), 88 Kenner, David (lawyer, Death Row Records), 62 Kilson, Martin (political scientist), on H. Gates, Jr., 77 King, Martin Luther (religious leader), 64, 73 King, Martin Luther, Jr. (religious leader), 74 King, Rodney (victim, LAPD), 61, 70, 71 Klebold, Dylan (Columbine Massacre), 105, 132, 133, 144, 146–148 Knight, “Suge” (Death Row Records, owner), 62 Krinkel, Kip (mass murderer), 144, 149–150 Lapine, Marc (mass murderer), 144 Lewinsky, Monica (presidential femme fatale), 188, 234 Lortie, Dennis (mass murderer), 144 Malcolm X (religious leader), 64, 74 Manson, Charles (mass murderer), 135 Meyers, Dave (video producer), 214 Mudmen (Papua New Guinea), 87 Murray, Jon (MTV, producer), 157–158 Oppenheimer, Robert (nuclear physicist), 34, 273, 288n6 Pearlman, Lou (music producer), 151 Phillips, Chuck (journalist), 62 Pipher, Mary (psychologist), 219–224



Ramsey, JonBenét (child performer), 176, 193–194 Renzor, Trent (music producer), 129 Rowe, Debbie (Michael Jackson’s ex-wife), 138 Simpson, O.J. (football star and controversial figure), 193 Spears, Lynne (mother), 180, 194–195 Spungen, Nancy (girlfriend of Sid Vicious), 135 Steinhäuser, Robert (Efurt, mass murderer), 144; and Slipknot, 148 Strauss, Niel (autobiographer), 127 Tyson, Mike (black boxer), 88 Valentine, Stacy (porn star), 178–179 Vollrath, Angela (Miss Barbie Deutschland), 55 Wolf, Naomi (feminist author), 188, 205 Wyatt, Barb (Parents’ Music Resource Center), 71 Xzibit (rapper and host, Pimp My Ride), 88

F C

Scrooge, Ebenezer (fiction figure), A Christmas Carol, 271–272 Superman (comic superhero), Kryptonite, 82 Wheeger, Brandon (fiction figure, Galaxy Quest), as fan(addict), 239–244

F American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999), 175, 185 American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis, 1991), 142 Baise-Moi! (Coralie Trinh Thi, 2000), 141 Banger Sisters (Bob Dolman, 2002), 172, 205 Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992), 211 Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979), 242 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), 259 Boogie Nights (Thomas Anderson, 1997), 179 Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore, 2002), 147 Boyz N the Hood (John Singleton, 1991), 72

Alice (fiction figure), in Wonderland, 8 City of Joy (Roland Joffe, 1992), 272 Big Daddy Warbucks (cartoon character), New Deal, 171, 193, 284n3 Gage, Xander (fiction figure), 99–100 Joker (Batman’s enemy), 89; grimace, 98, 99; Marilyn Manson as-, 126, 133 Lolita, 174, 175, 177, 191 Mathesar (Galaxy Quest), as fan(addict), 240–244, 252

Daredevil (Mark Steven Johnson, 2003), 145 Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998), 158 Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, 1992), 27 Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1998), 75, 83 Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990), 27 8 Mile (Curt Hanson, 2002), 93 Eve of Destruction (Duncan Gibbins, 1991), Eve VIII, 212–213

Ophelia (Shakespeare), 219 Peter Pan (fiction figure), 129, 196, 200, 221, 222

Fat Man and Little Boy (Roland Joffe, 1989), 288n6 15 Minutes (John Herzfeld, 2001), 145

I Final Solution (Cristobal Krusen, 2001), 145 Freeway (Mathew Bright, 1996), 140 Galaxy Quest (Dean Parisot, 1999), 240–244; Omega 13, 244–245, 253 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999), 79 Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993), 39 Hannibal (Ridley Scott, 2001), 143 Heat (Michael Mann, 1995), 83–85 Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton, 1986), 140 Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows (Paul Jay, 1998), 145–146 Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994), 158 Irma La Douce (Billy Wilder, 1963), 179 Kissing Jessica Stein (Charles HermanWurmfeld, 2000), 186 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Simon West, 2001), 145 Last Testament of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988), 130 Liar, Liar (Thom Shadyac, 1997), 90 Little Voice (Mark Herman, 1998), 56 Man Bites Dog (Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, et al., 1992), 141 Mask (Chuck Russell, 1994), 99, 137 Menace II Society (Albert and Allen Hugh, 1993), 72 Monster’s Ball (Mac Foster, 2001), 82 Murder by the Numbers (Barbet Schroeder, 2002), 140 My Best Friend’s Wedding (P.J. Hogan, 1997), 186 Name of the Rose (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986), 40, 56 Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994), 145


Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960), 141 Prêt-a-Porter (Robert Altman, 1994), 227 Pretty Woman (Garry Marshall, 1990), 179 Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960), 143 Pump Up the Volume (Allan Moyle, 1990), 117 Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Torantino, 1992), 85 School Daze (Spike Lee, 1988), 74, 75 Se7ven (David Finch, 1995), 140 Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991), 140 Spider-Man (Sam Raimi, 2002), 145 The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez, 1999), 141 The Boston Strangler (Richard Fleischer, 1968), Tony Curtis, 140 The Devil in the Flesh (Marco Belloccio, 1987), 205 The Devil’s Advocate (Taylor Hackford, 1997), 143, 179 The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973), 207 The Girl Next Door (Christine Fugate, 1999), 178 The Girl Next Door (David Katch, 2001), 179 The Hulk (Ang Lee, 2003), 145 The Object of My Affection (Nicholas Hyten, 1998), 186 The Score (Frank Oz, 2001), 83–85 Thirteen (Catherine Hardwicke, 2003), 172 Tougher Than Leather (Rick Rubin, 1988), 87 Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998), 154–158, 194, 272 What About Bob (Frank Oz, 1991), 82 X-Men (Bryan Singer, 2000), 145 xXx (Rob Cohen, 2002), 99





American Idol (reality TV show): contract, 162–163; marketing appearance, 163–165; its racism, 165–167; and variations, 151, 158–163 American Juniors (reality TV), 161

Bennett, William (politician), 71, 72 Bush, G.W. (Jr. and Sr., U.S. presidents), 71, 162, 217

Bacherlorette (reality TV), 230, 233, 285n5 Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (television series), 34, 173

Gore, Tipper (political activist), 70, 71, 72, 92

Charmed, Sabrina: The Teenage Witch (television series), 173 C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation, television series), 143

Lott, Trent (Republican house leader), 218, 285n3 (chap. 14)

Die Oliver-Geissen-Show (German television talk show), 234 Fishisms (Ally McBeal, television series), 90 Jackass (television series, film), 53 Making of the Band (Reality TV show), 151, 154–158 Making of the Band II (Reality TV show), 157, 158 Mission Impossible (television series and film), 85 Nigella Lawson (television cook), 278n5 Osbourne Family (MTV reality television), 96–97

Clinton, Bill (U.S. president), 71, 188, 234

Kennedy, John (U.S. President), 132

Rice, Condolezza (U.S. Secretary of State), 217 Schröder, Gerhard (Chancellor of Germany), 144 Tse-Tung, Mao (Chairman of Chinese Communist Party), on comprador, 166 Tucker, C. Delores (political activist), 71, 72

O Aftermath Records, 62 Aimster (Internet), 211 Al Qaeda (terrorist organization), 23, 273 Death Row Records (Los Angeles), 61–63

Pimp My Ride (MTV television), 89, 88 Pump it Up (rap video show), 279n2

Family Research Council (conservative organization), 218 Five Percenters (Islam), 73, 86 Focus on the Family (religious organization), 218

Sopranos (HBO television series), 81

Hot Action Records (Berlin), 246

Voices from the Hellmouth (Internet site, Jon Katz, 2001), 147

International Association for Philosophy and Literature (IPLA), 8 Interscope Records, 63, 71

Will and Grace (television series), as “fag hag,” 186

Joseph Institute of Ethics, 270

I KaZaA (Internet), 211 Ladyfest (grrrl event), 208 MP3 Napster (Internet), 211 Museum Of Justice and Oddities (MOJO), 100–101 National Mental Health Association (NMHA), 124 Nation of Islam (NOI), 75, 85–86 Pinkerton Services Group (security service), 147 Project Reality (Abstinence-only group), 217, 218, 285n4 (chap. 14) Ruthless Records, 81 Strong Women in Music (SWIM), 205 Time-Warner (corporation), 63 Transcontinental Records (Lou Pearlman), 151 True Love Awaits (Christian organization), 233


Stone Cold Steve Austin, 146; 156; Vince McMahon, 145–146 Working Against Violence Everywhere (WAVE) (security system), 147

M, B, V CMJ (magazine), 99 Counterstrike (video game), 148 Der Spiegel (magazine), on postfeminism, 191–192; Kate Moss, 195 Heavier Than Heaven (book, Cross), Cobain autobiography, 117 Maxim (men’s magazine), 87 Murder Dog (rap magazine), 79, 87 Rolling Stone (music magazine), 113, 121, 124, 132, 133, 171, 181 The Source (rap magazine), 87

World Wrestling Federation (WWF), 87; Bret “The Hitman” Hart, 145–146;

XXL (rap magazine), 87

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