Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness*

Let's list the things wrong with this image: she has balayaged hair like Wasson? Strike! She's wearing Litas? STRIKE! HER BOYFRIEND TOOK THE PHOTO? EXILE HER FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE IMMEDIATELY!

So okay. Today, someone directed me to this NZ fashion/culture site/blog always sometime anytime which posted a scathing critique of 'the top five things wrong with fashion blogs' on May 11. 

Bouncing off the democratization of the internet and straight into a critique of teen bloggers (actual quote: "why do we care if they want to dress up as baby prostitutes in Jeffrey Campbell boots? Why are we reading this garbage?") before filling out their word count by lambasting the favoured photographic style of many style bloggers (dubbed 'ethereal chic'), reposting "stolen" images, wearing Jeffrey Campbell shoes, being too derivative and not being intellectually rigorous about their content.

I always enjoy reading criticism of style blogs. It's amusing to me to see where the criticisms are published- in a magazine which uses images of bloggers in their style pages? Or on a site like this which also publishes a lot of content that is, forgive me, extremely similar to that seen on style blogs? Who is criticising whom, exactly? 
It ties in to what I've been reading lately (Bourdieu's The Field of Cultural Production for those playing at home) in which Bourdieu argues that cultural fields such as fashion are sites of struggle in which invested participants vie for recognition, power and, ultimately, domination.** Who has the right to a legitimate voice on fashion? Not style bloggers, it would seem.
At least in this case, no-one is 'named and shamed' which is a positive as far as I'm concerned. Also, as is consistent with their site overall, five writers have contributed, listing their pet hates under the rubric of it being an opinion piece so, okay: fair game. 

Yet I can't help wondering what the point is. Haven't we already read articles about Erin Neely/Rumi Wasson fatigue? Haven't we canvassed the ethical ambiguity of bloggers receiving free goods and writing them up without acknowledging that they were gifted, or doing so only after a lengthy, glowing report? 

I guess the most interesting thing for me was how always sometimes anytime relabel the practice of reblogging images as 'stealing'. A large part of blogging is concerned with inspiration- what bloggers see that fires their imagination, or pictures that captivated them that they wish to share. I don't see this as stealing if bloggers acknowledge that they did not produce the images themselves, and provide a link to the site where they accessed them. If a blogger does this, I don't see that it is all that different to citing ideas in a written piece and footnoting them. 

My advice, as always, is if you don't enjoy reading a blog- if it makes you jealous/frustrated/bored/nauseous- get off it asaps and do something else. I think we're all aware that the blogosphere is a contested, multitudinous, derivative space. I'm interested in why people do what they do, not in criticising what they do. I think this approach opens style blogging up to enquiry rather than judging it and inevitably limiting an appreciation of the contribution of style bloggers to a wider discourse on fashion by denigrating their age, opinions and work.

I wonder if this is just a ploy, albeit a perhaps subconscious one, by this site and others who engage in criticism such as this, to simply distance what they themselves produce from what style bloggers produce. A sort of 'they are silly, we are smarter and more original, so even though we talk about fashion too, take us seriously and not them.' Or, to quote my new friend, what we see here is a struggle in which 'what is at stake is the power to impose the dominant definition of the writer and therefore to delimit the population of those entitled to take part in the struggle to define the writer.' (Bourdieu 1993:42)
Tell me what you think!

*LOLjk, now I'm being facetious too!
** Which ultimately makes it all sound like an episode of 'Gladiators.' Perhaps this was unintentional on the part of Bourdieu but it certainly livens up his arguments, am I right? 

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