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‘The Insult’: The web comic that makes a mockery of making a man out of ‘Mac’
08.10.2016
11:45 am
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“The Insult that Made a Man out of ‘Mac’” (or a variation on the theme) was impossible to avoid if you read practically ANY comic book between the 1940s and the 1980s—and maybe beyond. It was an ad for the Charles Atlas “Dynamic-Tension” fitness program—our hero, a weakling named “Mac,” is humiliated in front of his girlfriend by an archetypal sand-kicking bully on the beach. Later, at home, wounded by the affront, Mac subscribes to the Atlas Dynamic-Tension program and quickly becomes a he-man cut like a Greek statue. He returns to the scene of his emasculation to knock the bully down with a single punch and become the “HERO OF THE BEACH!” His girlfriend of course immediately returns to his side, but other women are taking notice of the musclebound Mac, sooooo…
 

 
I am frankly baffled by a contradiction as regards the longevity of that ad. Not that it doesn’t deserve its classic status—disregard for the moment the cringeworthiness of its deference to violent machismo and misogyny and note how well it adheres to the “Hero’s Journey” template, though it first appeared years before Joseph Campbell named and described that literary trope in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. My problem is just that, OK, look, obviously people were buying the program or the ad wouldn’t have run in every comic for decades, but male comics fanatics aren’t exactly reputed for being chiseled physical specimens (obviously there are exceptions but go to a con and tell me how much beefcake you see). If the ad was so successful, wouldn’t the opposite be the case? Wouldn’t the comic shop guy on The Simpsons be an Adonis instead of an obese, embittered, overlooked snob?

I’m tempted to conclude that nobody who bought the book actually followed through with it.

The ad’s eternal appeal has made it fit matter for parody, and indeed, it’s been parodied plenty. Recently, John “Derf” Backderf, the Eisner-winning author of Trashed and My Friend Dahmer (we’ve told you about him before), hipped me to “The Insult,” a webcomic that’s detourned the ad nearly 100 times. Currently, its creator Scott Marshall is posting a new one every day in a lead-up both to his own birthday and to this weekend’s Dartmouth Comics Arts Festival in Nova Scotia. If you have an idea for an “Insult” strip, Marshall maintains an online suggestion box.

Here’s an assortment of strips. Dangerous Minds’ column width makes them a little small to read properly, but a mouse click will spawn an enlargement.
 

 

 
More ‘Insults’ after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.10.2016
11:45 am
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Future Feminism: Antony and the Johnsons’ stunning new concert film, ‘TURNING’


 
On November 10th and 11th, the new CD + DVD of Antony and the Johnsons live in concert TURNING film (co-directed by Antony Hegarty and video artist/filmmaker Charles Atlas) will be released respectively by Rough Trade in the UK and Europe and the Secretly Canadian label in North America.

TURNING is stunning, a magnificent and moving arthouse documentary/concert film of a fall 2006 tour of Europe. That live show featured Atlas’ live video portraiture of thirteen women in close-up as they were spinning on a human-sized turntable, like a nicely updated version of Andy Warhol’s “13 Most Beautiful Girls” screentests. These projected portraits are the backdrop of nuanced performances—alternately tender and forceful, joyous and bittersweet—by Antony and the Johnsons (Antony, Maxim Moston, Rob Moose, Julia Kent, Parker Kindred, Jeff Langston, and Thomas Bartlett), captured in London, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Braga.

You can watch the trailer for TURNING here.
 

 
I asked Antony and Charles some questions about TURNING via email.

The feminine energy that’s celebrated in TURNING isn’t entirely biological. I was wondering if you could clarify what your (preferred) definition of “femininity” is?

Antony: We all have bodies that naturally produce estrogen and testosterone, so I am a bit confused by your assertion about biology. My definition of femininity, which is always evolving, has partly to do with motherhood and the impulses of motherhood, to treasure, to protect, to nurture, to give selflessly. I have observed femininity often manifest as a greater sensitivity to one’s relationships with one’s surroundings, a heightened sense of oneself within space. I often think of the word femininity as congruous with creativity. Another feminine archetype is the capacity for intuitive and emotional intelligence.  On the other hand, there are the Kali-esque faces of femininity. But for me, even when femininity is destructive, as in the case for instance of a natural disaster, there is something essential about it; Nature is not frivolous in her violent manifestations. And inevitably, pastoral life flourishes in the the shadows of volcanic eruptions and tidal waves.
 

 
You’ve screened the film at festivals over the past two years. It’s not merely a concert film, there’s something deeper and much more profound going on; however the reviews I’ve read, some get it, and some plainly just didn’t. There’s that scene where the French press called the TURNING performance a “transsexual manifesto” which obviously illustrates this somewhat, but the New York Times focused on this as well in their brief review. Did you find that some audiences and critics were confused by what the “message” of TURNING is?

Antony: One of the reasons we made TURNING is because we were not sure we “got” TURNING ourselves! The form was mesmerizing and we just kind of fell into it. It came to mean a lot of different things to different people. For me, what is interesting and relevant about TURNING today is its intuitive embrace of the intersection between trans-feminism and “Future Feminism”, a genre of feminism that I have been working with several of the women involved in TURNING to articulate over the last few years.  At the heart of TURNING is the impulse to form a circle of community and create space for each other, to witness and empower one another.

Charles Atlas: Another reason we took charge of the filming and production of the TURNING film ourselves (rather than accepting offers from TV companies to make the film) was precisely to allow all of the meanings of TURNING to emerge. At the public screenings I attended and the follow-up Q & A’s, I felt the audience came away with the feeling of the universality of the message of self-actualization.
 

 
Aside from the beautiful production values, which I thought was stunning on every level—I mean THE BAND!—the backstage preparations, traveling and “sisterhood” aspects of the project were so fascinating. The thing that was so riveting to me—and I know some of the women who were onstage with you—was watching the faces of each of them as they listened to the lyrics, as if the songs were about them and about their own lives, struggles and triumphs. There seemed to be a “psychodrama” aspect to the performance for the “beauties.” The Puerto Rican girl, Nomi, at the beginning seemed like she’d experienced a sort of beatific transcendence about herself and her place in the world. Connie Fleming also seemed very deeply in thought in front of a few thousand people. Can you discuss this?

Antony: The process for the participants was intimately meditative and at the same time extroverted and performative. To be watched in a state of stillness, from every angle, challenged each of the subjects in different ways. There was a tremendous sense of support for each other amongst the models. Each person seemed to develop her own inner narrative that guided her on the pedestal. And for each of us, different things emerged from the process. In the concert itself, the models appeared anonymously; there were no life stories (besides mine, embedded in the song lyrics), only images of women from many ages, backgrounds and experiences. Behind the scenes, many feelings and ideas started to stir.

Charles Atlas: For me, the individuality of the women and their variety of experiences—in concert with Antony’s music, was deeply inspiring. At each performance I entered into the world of Antony’s music and was moved to create video mix portraits in the moment that attempted to rise to the level of beauty of that potent combination.
 

 
Below, Antony and the Johnsons perform a stunning version of “Twilight” while Johanna Constantine turns:

“The performance artist Johanna Constantine appeared as one of the 13 subjects in TURNING. Johanna and I met in our first year of university in California and she has been a huge influence on my life and work.  We moved to NYC together in 1992 and co-founded a late night performance collective called Blacklips. We have always considered ourselves two sides of a whole: she seems to present a threatening, alien, armored face, while as a singer I exhibit a vulnerable interior. As the years have worn on, we have subliminally exchanged these roles, even from minute to minute. Johanna Constantine is also a founding member of an exhibition project we are now working on called Future Feminism. We first coined the term “future feminism” to describe the work of a handful of female artists from NYC that work on a frontier by themselves, using their bodies as material, exploring themes of violence, femininity, alienation, innocence, eco-collapse and survivalism.”  Antony Hegarty

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.27.2014
02:43 pm
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The Legend of Leigh Bowery

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The Legend of Leigh Bowery is a brilliant documentary about a brilliant man.

Directed by Charles Atlas, the film covers Bowery’s life and times from his suburban beginnings in Sunshine, Australia, to his fame on London’s club scene in the 1980s and his success as one of the most influential and daring fashion designers in the past thirty years.

The Legend of Leigh Bowery has incredible archive footage and excellent contributions from Michael Clark, Sue Tilley, Michael Bracewell, Richard Torry, Donald Urquhart, Damien Hirst, Boy George and Leigh’s wife, Nicola Bowery.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Leigh Bowery interviewed by Gary Glitter from ‘Night Network’, 1989


 
Watch the rest of ‘The Legend of Leigh Bowery’, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.20.2011
06:43 pm
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