the (almost) daily appreciator

Monday, November 20, 2006

shades of truth

warren ellis has written something about sunglasses/shades here.
at the end he says something about the semiotics of shades, and then basically dismisses the thought.
but i think it´s a great if somewhat short post.
if the csi guys really call caruso´s sunglasses the "sunglasses of justice" - well, there sees to be precedent to that according to the wikipedia-post on sunglasses:
Contemporary documents describe the use of such glasses by judges in Chinese courts to conceal their facial expressions while questioning witnesses. Compare the representation of "blind Justice" in Western art.

i always loved john carpenter´s movie "they live" - especially because of the idea of seeing the truth through these sunglasses - the sunglasses of truth! that also explains the legendary fight scene, where the two main protagonists beat each other to bloody pulps, because our main hero wants his soon-to-be partner to PUT ON SUNGLASSES, and he REFUSES TO PUT ON SUNGLASSES. on the surface this scene is completely absurd - but i think it´s more an absurdist allegory on what lengths people will go to to avoid, deny, refuse seeing the truth.
if i were a teacher of cultural theory, i´d use this movie and its "sunglasses of truth" as metaphor for what cultural theories are all about - seeing the/a truth beneath the surface: put on the "gender theorie shades" and you see "the truth" about gender constructions in art, put on the "psychoanalyst shades" and you see the variations of the oedipal myth in culture etc etc. that, of course, is only a crude simplification, but it should get us through an "introduction to cultural theory 101". the emotional detachment sunglasses bring are mandatory for theoretical work, not being blinded by flashy fireworks of artists is necessary, and also, in all honesty, using a singular theory might also taint what you see.
with regard to the gender thing, or more precisely feminism: sunglasses are also perfect for the voyeur and the male gaze - one can look at...errr...people without them seeing in what direction our eyes are looking. to be fair: women can size men up (and down) as well. but voyeurism is usually a more masculine "preoccupation", i guess...


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