Friday, October 23, 2009

Black and White

That's right, ladies and gents, this blog has indeed done a Michael Jackson and moved over from a black background to a white background. I'd like to put it out there that this does not reflect the changing attitudes and frame of reference that come from living in Cape Town for nearly a year, and that my heart is still in black backgrounds. It comes from the good solid advice I got from Max and his as-yet-unknown-to-me-but-surely-brilliant copywriter that people strain to read white on black. I'm doing it for your eyes! And listening to my own personal social media guru (He's 3 years younger, after all)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Some great emo SA indie pop

Wow. I discovered these guys on Catherine's show this afternoon. South African music has come a long way since the days of Mango Groove! :) Apparently Dear Reader are huge in Europe. It's been a week of great local music discoveries, starting with Rocking the Daisies last weekend (more on that to follow soon...)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

the anti-brand called You

Bernard Allen makes an excellent point in his blog about how branding can lead to extremism. It makes sense - building a brand is about building a consistent perception of difference. A brand is only distinct if it is seen to be unique, special, unlike it's competitors. If there is no such perception of difference, there are no brands; only commodities.
A guy I was once seeing told me that my brand of struggling artist/intellectual homo was everywhere in Cape Town and that I'd need a new differentiator. Self-help books talk about building the Brand Called You for career purposes: to get noticed, to shine. Management papers fret over whether or not to let employees build their personal brands instead of, or parallel to, the corporate brand.
But here's what I'm thinking. Human beings are not brands. They are not focused and clear. They are not consistent. They don't stand for the same things in the hearts and minds of their friends. I have days when I am angry. I have days when I am funny. My interests cover everything from architecture and anthropology to Youtube, gay rights, fine art and Tibetan meditation.
It is great that brands are becoming more human. But I'm quite set against humans coming to join them in the middle ground. Madonna may want to build her brand. But I think there couldn't be anything sadder than a person with only one proposition, one clearly articulated message. If you stand for something, you haven't thought enough about anything. Being open to experience and open to life means constant, directionless change - the antithesis of strong branding.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jozi Pride

Drunk black drag queen at the carnival by Matthieu ::
it's Jozi Pride tomorrow. When I remembered this I couldn't help having a wistful distance-staring moment as I mentally relived my camp teenage years on floats and in clubs. I was so bloody political about it back then. Dragging boys to my matric dance because it was 'my right', planning my Pride outfits weeks in advance. Now I just think the whole thing is quite funny - I mean, what the hell is the point of Pride?

Sure, it's important for people to feel they can be themselves - any psychologist will tell you that. Hell, any person who isn't psychopathic would tell you that. But what cracks me up is how the whole thing is dressed up us some sort of important political display of solidarity, as if it has gravitas. And meaning. It's so deliciously self-righteous. I won't even go into the argument about how marches like that do more to hinder gay rights than to help them - reinforcing all the stereotypes they proclaim to denounce - because that is far too heavy a discussion for a parade which is essentially a party. Yes, the overwhelming majority of gay men don't wear feather boas. Or even Gucci. But if those who do want to have a big camp street party, then fan-bloody-tastic. Roll out the drag queens and the Kylie soundtracks. But don't pretend it's saving anyone! Don't pretend it's liberating the poor confused teenager with uber-religious parents and an unforgiving circle of friends. Or even better, as the Pride parades around the world now like to position themselves: that they are defendants of the oppressed and persecuted LGBT communities in tyrannical countries. I find it a little difficult to see how glitter falling from a sweaty pec could persuade an Imam or a Republican to think "hey, these guys aren't so bad. I've always secretly just wanted to wear glitter and get shirtless too. Maybe we should all just get along."
To take yourself seriously or not to take yourself seriously. That seems to be the question which Pride is failing to answer. If the parades are having an identity crisis in post-liberation South Africa, where sexual orientation - and even gender - is becoming increasingly irrelevant, then why not go the MCQP route and be proud to be wild, epic, mixed and carnal parties? And leave human rights issues to the people who can make a difference.

But that being said, anyone who's going tomorrow - happy heeling!