Friday, August 03, 2007

And now for something completely different*

Harold InnisThe Bias of Communication begins with this epigraph:
“Why do we attend to the things to which we attend?” (James Broeke)
Good question. When asked why I write about chicks and crime, my response is either flippant (good for cocktail parties) or theory-laden (good for getting someone to stop talking to you at a cocktail party). But those are not the only reasons, and certainly not the most personally compelling.
There’s something about chick detectives. Not female detectives, though I enjoy them. I've shuddered in empathy with the willful and unapologetic V.I. for years, I remember my first encounter with Miss Marple when I was no more than nine, and was livid when Remington Steele was released on DVD and Stephanie Zimbalist received second billing, or, more accurately, a sticker slapped on to the cardboard sleeve that said “Also starring Stephanie Zimbalist!” as Pierce Brosnan’s (much younger) frame dominated front and back.
No, there’s something about this particular character. It’s the same slightly shamefaced draw of chick lit.
It’s postfeminism.
I'm changing chapters. I've been plugging away at chapter two for about six weeks now and as far as content and structure, it’s nearly solid. But it’s missing a critical edge (a.k.a., pace my supervisor, what’s at stake?) So I'm heading back to chapter one, which I’d abandoned in the winter as teaching two classes took over. And my brain is ramping up again… I love this stuff. I'm fascinated by this nebulous thing called postfeminism, and particularly by its politics – or, more precisely, just how political its seemingly apolitical stance really is.
So I attend to chicks because, well, because I like identity politics. I'm intrigued by how quickly ‘chick’ has become the cultural shorthand or image of an ideal and idealized new female subject, and the elisions within that of the forces that weigh upon women: the economic, racial, and sexual politics of being a ‘chick’. And I attend to chick’s intersection with crime because it’s there that we get a sense of what worries us most – depictions of deviancy are a telling index of cultural anxieties, and one of the central ways in which North American culture tries to reaffirm the rightness of patriarchy.
Okay. Time to spin this out into 40 pages.

*Meaning the Innis reference. Despite (or deliberately to spite?) my years of schooling as such, I'm not a political economist or a hardcore Canadian communications scholar, so I rarely have the chance to cite Innis.


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