Double Vision

The London Daily Mail today has not one but two online articles covering the same photoshoot for a Mexican magazine. That strikes me as being pleasantly surreal.

From the perspective of this blog, it helps that the focus of the photoshoot is Eva Longoria. By a sort of osmotic extrapolation from her previous appearance as a topic of discuisson here, it seems that the former Desperate Houswives starlet has just become Quhart’s unofficial metaphor for gender topics. If I’d bothered to write more posts, it could have just as easily been Nordic character actor and part-time Mick Jagger impersonator Noomi Rapace, or boxing gold medalist Nicola Adams.

There was even a chance last week that it was going to be feminist icon Camille Paglia.

It helps, of course, that Ms. Longoria helms a twitter feed that’s all about political activism and being a homely aunt-and-daughter in a large Latino family, effortlessly subverting what clever commentators calls the “male gaze”. I found that out by virtue of an equally surreal London Daily Mail article that I didn’t cover on this blog.

It’s not for nothing that the Mail is now the world’s dominant on-line news source, although they don’t make a huge fuss about the fact. It provides an extensive range of articles on topics designed to appeal to both men and women and ideally both at once (e.g., La Longoria, her lifestyle and her fashion sense), whether the subject qualifies as news, social diary material, fashion coverage, or all of them together (e.g., La Longoria, her lifestyle and her fashion sense), illustrated as lavishly as modern technology will allow, and captioned in a tone that’s uncontroversial and accessible for the broadly patriotic and nostalgic public of the English-speaking world; all of which is exactly what it’s always done; but it does so these days with a knowing smile, a recognition that doing what it does so well can create amusing dissonances and contradictory readings.

Most other media types in London regard the modern Mail with a hilariously un-self-aware jealousy.

All the same, there’s no real question that an attitude of some sort is being indicated in the way that the danger of objectification is being handled here, even if it’s also being challenged and subverted, and quite simply ignored. I generally take the view that ordinary human beings are big enough to deal with that set of contradictions, but all the same, it makes me wonder exactly where the sort of audience-participation that’s encouraged by the internet-powered media becomes unworkably silly, or uncomfortably eccentric.

And that leads me on to some more considered thoughts on wider issues, musings that I’ll try and get together in my next update….

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