Friday, May 15, 2015

some slip of a girlyboy

Hedwig.

From the Germanic name Hadewig, derived from the Germanic elements hadu "battle, combat" and wig "war".

Also, the name of, apparently, two different saints.

Plus, on a very simplistic level, there's the pun on head wig. Hedwig is a character in conflict. With Tommy Gnosis. With Yitzhak. With the Angry Inch (the band). With her angry inch. With herself. She has little emotion but anger through most of the present storyline. While Yitzhak listens to Rent and wears a Rent t-shirt and auditions for (and gets offered a part in ) a traveling production of Rent... Yitzhak is a romantic. He wants more than cold intercourse. He wants love. Or at least some sort of acceptance. On the other hand, Hedwig is stuck. She claims she's looking for her "other half" but she's just stalking Tommy. She cannot see what she has. She is too damaged. And, like another Tommy, she is a bit deaf and blind.

Speaking of Tommy (which came up last week with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), there's a scene here in Hedwig in which Hedwig sits on a mound of tires talking to her fans. Something in that visual reminds me of the junkyard from the film version of The Who's Tommy. And then, Hedwig actually says, "Tommy, can you hear me?"

Hedwig has little else to do with The Who or Tommy, except inasmuch as she cannot live a normal life like everyone else. I've already said that she creates herself with her wigs and her costumes. Goffman (1976) suggests that we "[a]ssume all of an individual's behavior and appearance informs those who witness him, minimally telling them something about his social identity, about his mood, intent and expectations, and about the state of his relation to them" (p. 1). That makes sense, of course. We choose our clothes, our hair styles, our makeup, our mannerisms (to an extent) to present self to the world. We choose how the world gets to see us. Glimpses of something more real... No. I don't actually want to suggest that what lies underneath the veneer is more real. I tend to figure that while there may be some inner self that is different from the self we put on display, it is the self we put on display that matters most. It is the self we choose to be.

But, yes, some glimpses of the self underneath might get through now and then. But, the surface, the created self--that usually is all that people get to see. That's kind of the point. Goffman explains, though, that such displays "tend to be conveyed and received as if they were somehow natural, deriving, like temperature and pulse, from the way people are and needful, therefore, of no social or historical analysis" (p. 3). As if we all just give in to whatever society tells us we should wear, how society tells us we should behave. Backtrack to yesterday and the conflict between performativity and disidentification. Muñoz (1999), is his Disidentifications says he's participating in a version of identity politics that "imagines a reconstructed narrative of identity formation that locates the enacting of self at precisely the point where the discourse of essentialism and constructivism short-circuit" (p. 6). I take that to mean, the point where nature and nurture balance each other out and are further counterbalanced by personal choice.

And, that's where this month is going. Where this blog is going. Where my thesis will go. Not just the presentation of self but the deliberate creation of self. Hedwig cannot be herself, himself... So, he creates self anew, plays that part until he can move on. The argument I will make in my thesis is, essentially, that I did something like that in creating this blog back when it was first getting going (and a few instances along the way since). I have used this blog like Hedwig uses those Bilgewater Restaurant performances, as an outlet for whatever I need to get out of my head in order to have and be a self that works.

And, I recommend something similar to the rest of you--be who you gotta be.

References

Goffman, E. (1976). Gender Advertisements. London: MacMillan.

Muñoz, J.E. (1999). Disidentifcations: Queers of color and the performance of politics. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

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