felix sit novus annus

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Necklace: Barrel Key, $20

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New year, new aesthetic. It’s the year of menswear—of the tomboy. I wish there was a better way to characterize or describe my design interests. In a nutshell, I think the “rules” between what counts as menswear and womenswear will inevitably become less clear; evidenced, simply, by the integration of more jewelry in men’s everyday wardrobes.

Some thoughts on how masculinity is constructed and performed + a film review! Read on ->

The Imitation Game (what you might call a biopic of Alan Turing / WWII film) does a great job at offering a spectrum of masculinities, tapping into our investments for the kinds of heroes that we want to see. From the roguish, typical film hero Goode, to Allen Leech as the porky, sneaky Soviet spy, to the monstrous, repressed Cumberbatch–even Keira Knightley performs masculinity. At one point, she notes: “I’m a woman with a man’s job; I can’t afford to be an ass.” A dig at Cumberbatch / a commentary on how “asshole-ishness” is a gendered privilege. Playing nice is Knightley’s means of socially acceptable recourse.

We root for Turing / Cumberbatch, but is it because we pity him? Certainly Goode is much more representative of the male specimen that we would identify as heroic; he is dashing, active, always smashing things, and stands up for the good guys when he needs to (generally at the last minute). Even his acts of graciousness come with payment; after helping Turing, he steals his sandwich (because Turing doesn’t thank him properly enough).

The Imitation Game is also an exercise in gender performance best demonstrated through–what else?–heterosexual flirting. Goode and Knightley’s friend both note that they exchanged glances 90 minutes ago and have not looked back since. But that single glance serves as an invitation for flirting; thus, it becomes another form of code-breaking in the film (one that Cumberbatch does not understand). And when he does, their conversation serves as the catalyst for Cumberbatch’s new method of feeding messages to his machine.

Knightley’s friend relays a narrative about the German soldier that she has been assigned to—she adds touches of intimacy, noting how she has become aware of their methods of tapping (like gentle whispers). These mere nuances come to characterize her assignments, though she notes that her man must have a girlfriend or wife, for he uses C-I-L-L-Y over and over again. Goode pretends to be shocked at her dangerous liaison; his reaction works as a segue into buying her a drink.

(Heterosexual) flirting is unrecognizable without subterfuge. Suspense and intrigue are heightened; rules are toed, if not broken (as by Knightley’s friend in relaying her affection for a Nazi), but the viewer knows that this is a lie she tells to intrigue the cad-ish Goode. Goode performs chivalry (or an etiquette/ethics? of shock), but presumably enjoys the naughtiness that is proffered. In fact, because he is a cad, he can only be attracted to naughty girls, who construct their sexuality on lies and purported amorality. Sex, then, becomes the only redeeming quality of this exchange.

Now, for some nostalgia (to make this a proper NY’s post). So 2014 passed by in a wink. Shuffling through old notebooks, I found this snippet:

Love is a state of disgrace
Full of promises we make but cannot keep
For loyalty is exhaustible

Disgraced, we learn
That it is just a state
Like empowered / disempowered

Where we can only choose our wounds: the power to be damaged.

(c) all images and content are copyright property of Melissa Wang

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