December 06, 2003

WHY DO I HATE KYLIE? (avert your eyes all at NYLPM)

It's not personal, really it's not.

(After all, we know so little about her. She's perfected that smiling art of PR deflection, of projecting a sweetly vacuous wholesomeness. Fair enough, that's not the issue.)

It's not even about the records. I'm highly partial to many of them; not only 'Slow' and 'Can't Get...', but most of the old SAW tunes, too.

I think what I hold Kylie responsible for is trailblazing the rise of the Performing Arts Pop Star (the PAPS).

There's something ironic about the triumph of the Performing Arts aesthetic, because PAPS are actually very unconvincing performers - precisely because they have 'professionalized' performance, turned into a series of learnable 'moves' and 'techniques'. In the case of Kylie, I suspect this distantiation has something to do with being a (bad) actress: she has to always let you see that is her doing the Performing. She has to own it , she is incapable of going with it. Letting yourself go, getting carried away, are of course very unprofessional .

Whereas great performance is always about being possessed , taken over. Or at least being capable of projecting that illusion. A comparison that will no doubt invite derision: Alex Parks. Alex is almost the diametric opposite of Kylie. What she's incapable of doing is looking detached, of being arch or meta. Believe it or not, she's actually much more comfortable on television than Kylie. Kylie can't ever forget, or let us forget, that she's On TV; there's always that aura of self-consciousness, which finds its alibi in Camp. Alex entirely lacks this. Her every micro-gesture screams Affect. In fact, is there anyone less Camp than Alex?

Interesting how this cuts across issues of sexuality by the way. While Kylie, for all her vaunted gay following, is almost parodically, pornographically heterosexual, but thoroughly Camp (a bit like the allegedly hetero Robbie), Alex, zero-degree-camp, is sexually ambivalent, achingly androgynous.

Who could now harbour the delusion that there is anything remotely subversive or unsettling about Camp? Camp is the ruthlessly enforced meta-aesthetic of the time, a justification and underpinning for conservatism of all stripes (including sexual conservatism). And Kylie is its Pop Queen.

Posted by mark at December 6, 2003 07:04 PM | TrackBack
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