Wednesday, 27 May 2020

When Art Theft Becomes Artwork

"I decided to steal the painting." In 1976, German performance artist Ulay (1943-2020) stole Spitzwerk's painting "The Poor Poet" - which also happened to be Hitler's favourite one and an icon of the Third Reich - from Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie, ran with his hands and feet through the snow and drove "with the museum guards at his heels" to the district of Kreuzberg at the time known for its large percentage of immigrant workers mainly coming from Turkey and rather a ghetto. Before entering an impoverished Turkish family's home, he called the police, then hung up the painting in their living room.

Here, Ulay ran through the snow with the painting under his arm, to a Turkish family, who had agreed to let him shoot a documentary film in their home—however unaware that it involved a stolen painting. Before entering the family’s home, the artist called the police from a phone booth and asked for the director of the museum to pick up the painting. He then hung up the painting in the home of the family “for the reason to bring this whole issue of Turkish discriminated foreign workers into the discussion. To bring into discussion the institute’s marginalization of art. To bring a discussion about the correspondence between art institutes from the academy to museums to whatever. (via)
This demonstrative act, which lasted around thirty hours, expressed the artist’s personal conflict with his German origins and, at the same time, raised awareness about the discrimination of foreign workers as well as the marginalization of art in post-war Germany because – as Ulay stated years later – “everyone should have art in their homes”. (via)
::: Watch: How I Stole a Painting

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photograph via

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

You're beautiful. You know from girl things. Like cooking. And sewing. And smelling nice.

You're beautiful. You know from girl things. Like cooking. And sewing. And smelling nice. And looking in mirrors. But football? So, all day Sunday, he takes his six-pack, plants his highness in fornt of the TV and watches those overgrown goots run into each other. And you've got nothing to do but talk to the other football widows on the phone.

image via

Monday, 25 May 2020

Nigga: Reappropriated as a Term of Endearment?

Abstract: It is commonly believed that nigga has been reappropriated as a term of endearment. Perhaps this perception persists incorrectly because public conversations on this word are often dominated by nonlinguists. In contrast, linguists lack comparative studies of nigga’s historical and modern-day use. ...

... Addressing this misperception requires a multilayered approach, employed here. This study begins with a qualitative inquiry into the historical, linguistic, and social factors that have fueled the current perception of the nigger/nigga two-word dichotomy and of how nigga was used by blacks in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The second part is a quantitative study that examines the current apportionment of nigga by speaker race and gender, and linguistic context, as observed in computer-mediated conversations. Multivariate analysis reveals differences among black and white speakers, males and females, and in various linguistic contexts. Comparative analysis uncovers that many of nigga’s current meanings, referents, and uses have existed since at least the nineteenth century and that any changes to the meanings occurred gradually and not through abrupt reanalysis. This fnding lends no support to the reappropriation hypothesis. And crucially, the data show that the epitomized example of reappropriation, my nigga, does not function primarily as a genuine term of endearment but as a masculinizing marker of social identity. (Smith, 2019)

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- Smith, H. (2019). Has nigga been reappropriated as a term of endearment? (A qualitative and quantitative analysis). American Speech, 94(4), 420-477.
- image of Shaft/Richard Roundtree via

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Beauty-and-Goodness Stereotype in Hollywood

The beauty-and-goodness stereotype is rather learned, at least partly ... and not so much from direct observation of people of varying attractiveness but acculturation where the entertainment media plays a crucial role. Hollywood filmmakers, in fact, "have been portraying physically attractive individuals more favorably than their less attractive counterparts in terms of their moral goodness, romantic activity, and life outcomes" (Smith, McIntosh & Bazzini, 1999)

Abstract: Physically attractive individuals are often viewed more favorably than unattractive people on dimensions that are weakly related or unrelated to physical looks, such as intelligence, sociability, and morality. Our study investigated the role of U.S. films in this "beauty-and-goodness" stereotype. In Study 1, we established that attractive characters were portrayed more favorably than unattractive characters on multiple dimensions (e.g., intelligence, friendliness) across a random sample from 5 decades of top-grossing films. The link between beauty and positive characteristics was stable across time periods, character sex, and characters' centrality to the plot. Study 2 established that exposure to highly stereotyped films can elicit stronger beauty-and-goodness stereotyping. Participants watching a highly biased film subsequently showed greater favoritism toward an attractive graduate school candidate (compared with ratings of an unattractive candidate) than participants viewing a less biased film.

- Smith, S. M., McIntosh, W. D., & Bazzini, D. G. (1999). Are the beautiful good in Hollywood? An investigation of the beauty and goodness stereotype on film. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21(1), 69-80.
- photograph of Oliver Reed via and Capucine via

Friday, 15 May 2020

The C*nt Cheerleaders

"Students in the early feminist programs, such as the Cal-Art Feminist Art Program, were taught to say the word cunt until it lost its derogatory nature and female sexuality was revalued, and yet just a few years ago, at the "F-Word" symposium, an event organized to honor their legacy, its organizers were so tentative that they were unable to even spell out the word that defined the movement. (...) At the very end of the symposium, Faith Wilding got up and did the Fresno "cunt cheer". Give me a C... The audience's embarrassment, discomfort, but perhaps also awe could scarcely have been more palpable if she had peed on the floor!"
Schor (2009)

"To contemporary readers the use of the crude slang term cunt will generally be understood in a derogatory way, but this is not necessarily how Rowbotham understood it at the time. Like the reclamation of the negative term queer in the gay and lesbian community and the sitll controversial use of the term nigger by blacks, there was a (now decisively failed) feminist effort made to reclaim the word cunt in positive terms. A great U.S. example of this would be the "cunt cheerleaders," students from Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro's Feminist Art Program at Cal Arts, who would turn out at the local airport in cheerleading costumes that spelled out the word cunt to greet feminists visiting the program."
Wilson (2015)

- Schor, M. (2009). A Decade of Negative Thinking. Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life. Durham & London. Duke University Press.
- Wilson, S. (2015). Art Labor, Sex Politics. Feminist Effects in 1970s British Art and Performance   Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
- photographs via and via and via

Thursday, 14 May 2020

It's nice to a have a girl's head under your foot.

Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn't have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble style sure soothes the savage heart! If you'd like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash-wear blend of 65% "Dacron" and 35% rayon - incomparably wrinkle-resistant.

A display of affection is great ... but enough is enough. She couldn't keep her hands off him. Always the little hugs, the pats on the cheek. Sly pinches. It could drive a man to the licence bureau. It all began when he wore his first pair of Mr. Leggs Slacks, tailored by Thomson. But he kept his head; now everything's under control. Why don't you try a pair of Mr. Leggs ... and get ready to dig.
FREE! Does your girl have perfect legs? ...

- images via and via, more ads: link and link

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Being Black in this Pandemic

In England and Wales, Covid-19 patients from black African backgrounds die at more than triple (3.5) rate compared to white people (via), black men are 4.2 times more likely to die than their white counterparts (via) (chances of dying are 1.7 times higher for people of black Caribbean heritage, 2.7 times higher for those with Pakistani heritage). The victims also show the tendency to be younger.

According to a report, ethnic minorities are dying in excess numbers in hospitals, among them a striking number of ethnic minority healthcare workers. This fact that can only be explained considering different factors for different groups. For instance, while black Africans are more likely to be affected because of the key worker roles they are employed in, older Bangladeshi men have health conditions that make them more vulnerable (via).
More than 20% of black African women are employed in health and social care roles while Pakistani men are 90% more likely to work in healthcare roles than their white British counterparts. Similarly, while Indian people make up just 3% of the working population in England and Wales, they account for 14% of doctors, according to the research.
In addition, there are differences when it comes to economic vulnerability:
Bangladeshi men are four times as likely as white British men to have jobs in shutdown industries, with Pakistani men nearly three times as likely," she said. This is partly because of their heavy concentration in the restaurant and taxi sector, she suggested. "Household savings are lower than average among black Africans, black Caribbeans and Bangladeshis," she added. "By contrast, Indians and the largely foreign-born other white group do not seem to be facing disproportionate economic risks.
Lucinda Platt
While only 2% of white British households experienced overcrowding from 2014 to 2017, 30% of Bangladeshi households, 16% of Pakistani households and 12% of black households experienced this, according to a study of the English Housing Survey. (via)
To put it in a nutshell, it is complex:
To try to understand how much of the difference in Covid-19 morbidity was to do purely with ethnicity, the statisticians adjusted for age as well as region, rural and urban classification, area deprivation, household composition, socio-economic position, highest qualification held, household tenure, and health or disability as recorded in the 2011 census. (via)
The fully adjusted results show differences in risk between ethnic groups that are specific to those ethnic groups and are not caused by any of the factors listed on which members of the groups might differ. (via)
In the US, Covid-19 fatalities are extremely high among black Americans:
As of Tuesday, black people made up 33 percent of cases in Michigan and 40 percent of deaths, despite being just 14 percent of the state’s population. In Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, where blacks represent 26 percent of the population, they made up almost half of the county’s 945 cases and 81 percent of its 27 deaths, according to a ProPublica report. In Illinois, black people made up 42 percent of fatalities but make up only 14.6 percent of the state’s population. In Chicago, the data is even graver: Black people represented 68 percent of the city’s fatalities and more than 50 percent of cases but only make up 30 percent of the city’s total population.
In the South, the numbers are also grim. In Louisiana, black people accounted for more than 70 percent of deaths in a state population that is about 33 percent black. About 33 percent of the state’s 512 deaths as of Tuesday morning have occurred in Orleans Parish, where black people make up more than 60 percent of the population and where 29 percent of people live in poverty, according to 2018 census data. (via)
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photograph by the amazing Vivian Maier via

Monday, 11 May 2020

Movie Women's Spaces. Archetypal Settings ... All Leading to Marriage.

"It's interesting how often movie women occupy spaces that might be thought of as masculine (...). These spaces, however, are never remembered as female spaces. This is because movies suggest to us that these are men's spaces that unusual women - remarkable women, wonderful women, movie women - are occupying because of their specialness. They occupy this space inside the frame on behalf of the women in the audience, who will never occupy it in real life."

"The woman is trapped in her limited spaces, and her options for mobility are not presented as horizontal. That is, she can't move easily from job to job across an occupational landscape in the movies. What she can do is more spectacular: she can go up, or she can go down. Thus, one of the most common plot forms of the woman's film is that of the rags-to-riches story (she goes up) or its mirror image, the riches to rags (she goes down).
When a woman goes up, she climbs by marrying or seducing men or by shutting men out of her life. Either way, her mobility is linked to the old problem of men and her relationship to them via her decision about love and romance. When she goes down, it is always because of men. (...)"

"The woman's world on film is a box within a box. The female protagonist has her internal self, desirous of freedom, sex, a job, or a wardrobe, and this is the interior box. The exterior box is the actual setting of the movie, and her private world is contained within it. The easiest way for the movies to tell a story about a woman's world is thus as a personal story about a woman in a specific kind of limited setting with defined parameters.
The way this works can be grasped by considering four typical settings of the woman's film - the prison, the department store, the small town, and the home. They are archetypal: anything else - from the science lab to the nunnery - turns out to be pretty much the same thing. These places are astonishingly alike, on an ascending scale of size. They share one dominant characteristic: clear markers for right and wrong. (...)
The woman starts out on one side or the other. She can begin on the wrong side of the tracks, in the kitchen, down in the stockroom, behidn the perfume counter, or in the prison cell. How does she progress? By using her assets, which are beauty (recognized and commented upon) and brains (concealed and used in covert ways). The rich boy in town marries her and moves her across the tracks. The son of the department-store owner notices her, marries her, and removes her from the working world. The homeowner's son notices her, marries her, and makes her the mistress of the home (shifts her over from the kitchen to the bedroom). The prison doctor notices her, realizes she really isn't a criminal at all, and gets her a pardon or rehabilitates her. He'll marry her later, when it's more socially acceptable. (...)" (Basinger, 1993)

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- Basinger, J. (1993). A Woman's View. How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930-1960. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- image ("That Touch of Mink", 1962, Cary Grant and Doris Day) via

Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Tall-Man Stereotype. Do Blind People Share it?

A great many studies support positive social perceptions of tall men and associations with independence, dominance, leadership, intelligence, academic achievements, competence, and socio-economic status. Tall men are more likely to win political elections due to presumed greater leadership skills, are seen as more attractive and preferred as mates (marry earlier, remarry more often, get more replies to so-called lonely heart advertisements).

In the current research, we aimed to examine whether blind people, who live in a culture with a strong tall-man stereotype, but are not able to see the stature of men and therefore associate it with particular, positive traits, share the positive tallness stereotype. Our goal was to compare preferences of congenitally blind and sighted individuals in the area of interpersonal attractiveness, namely in its four aspects – perceived intelligence, wealth, leadership skills and social-economic status. It was hypothesized that congenitally blind people have not developed the tall man stereotype (...).
Participants (n=77, i.e. 43 sighted and 34 congenitally blind people of whom 17 male, 17 female) were read to a short story about a fictitious person called Thomas who in one version was 1.66m tall and 1.90m in the second version. Afterwards, participants were asked to assess to what extent Thomas was intelligent, wealthy, a good leader, and how high his social status was.
In the case of intelligence, sighted participants assessed "tall Thomas" (M = 3.62) as more intelligent than "short Thomas" (M = 3.09) but no differences where found in the blind group. Sighted participants rated "tall Thomas" as wealthier (M = 3.62) than "short Thomas" (M = 2.95). Again, blind participants did not differentiate. Sighted participants also evaluated "tall Thomas" (M = 3.57) as a better leader than "short Thomas" (M = 2.73) while blind participants did not distinguish between tall and short Thomas in terms of leadership skills. Similarly, sighted people ranked the social status of "tall Thomas" higher (M = 3.57) than of "short Thomas" (M = 3) while there were no significant disprecpancies in blind participants' assessments (Stefanczyk et al., 2019).
The results of our research indicate that blind people do not associate tallness with a man’s interpersonal abilities, unlike the sighted participants, among whom we observed a pronounced, positive, height-related stereotype in the case of perceived intelligence, wealth, leadership skills and status. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis and suggest that seeing might be necessary to develop the positive stereotype of high male stature. Relatedly, the preference for tall men seems not to be a biological inclination, but rather a learned association.
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- Stefanczyk, M. M., Wernecka, N., Sorokowski, P., & Sorokowska, A. (2019). Do blind people shre the tall-man stereotype? Current Psychology, LINK
- image of tall Max von Sydow via

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Hollywood, the Other, and US-American Identity. Excerpts.

(...) Hollywood has systematically vilified groups of peoples as part of the business, but with clear ideological bonds/repercussions. The Russians have been both evil and the redeemed partner, according to the exigencies of the times, and their Asian counterparts have coped the Otherness in a good share of Hollywood’s movies, especially when addressing the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile the Arabs, who seem to have substituted them in recent years, have impersonated vilified roles from Early Hollywood cinema. But all of them seem to represent for the Americans a set of ancient, modern and latent threats that reassure the identity of this hastily built country. We may even go further and affirm that these Others are, somehow, the American identity itself. In the times in which it was about forming a nation, the Indians served as the opposite force; when it was the prevailing power in the world that was emerging, it was the turn of the Russians then the Arabs to take up that role.

In the end, it seems unlikely that Hollywood machinery will be able to live without these recurrent Others, fresh fodder for stereotypes, degradations and, ultimately, obliteration. The United States have historically created a cast of enemies who are already part of themselves, by stressing the bonds of the states by identifying common fears and threats. Hollywood’s role in the process is not only undeniable; but possibly vital and indispensable, too. (Gelado & Sangro, 2016)

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- Gelado Marcos, R. & Sangro Colòn, P. (2016). Hollywood and the Representation of the Otherness. A Historical Analysis of the Role Played by the American Cinema in Spotting Enemies to Vilify. comunicación, 6(1), 11-25.
- photograph via

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

International No Diet Day. An Abstract.

"This study investigated how people’s attitudes and motivations towards losing weight are influenced by societal pressures surrounding weight loss, their interaction with the obesogenic environment and individuals’ attitudes and motivations towards weight. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 women currently attending commercial weight-loss programmes. Participants experienced conflicting messages regarding weight norms, with the media portraying powerful social norms relating to thinness and beauty, and changes to the food environment and interactions with family and friends commonly undermining weight-loss activities and promoting increased consumption. Providing social and environmental support for the behaviours needed to produce weight loss may need to be a primary focus for obesity policy." (Whale, Gillison & Smith, 2014)

- Whale, K., Gillison, F. & Smith, P. (2014). "Are you still on that stupid diet?" Women’s experiences of societal pressure and support regarding weight loss, and attitudes towards health policy intervention. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(12), 1536-1546.
- photograph by Harry Meerson via

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Irish English Stereotypes in Cinematographic Representations

"In general terms, we can observe that basic stereotypes about IrE pragmalinguistic norms and communicative style—for example, implicitness, evasiveness, downtoning and conventional pessimism—correspond to “salient and distinctive elements” of Irish sociocultural norms (Kallen 2005: 142–143). However, with respect to the specil c pragmalinguistic realizations of Irish sociocultural norms we can observe a stark contrast between pragmalinguistic stereotypes, i.e. the features that are perceived to characterize Irish conversational style and the actual linguistic realizations of a variety of speech acts as well as the functional spectrum and distribution of even the most salient pragmatic markers."

Pragmatic markers:
The stereotypical use of "like" in Irish English in cinematographic representations is said to be typically associated with Irish tentativeness or uncertainty, for instance, "Ah, I'm only having a bit of fun, like." or "Submarines they've built themselves, like." Another pragmatic marker used stereotypically is "sure". While it is used as a feedback signal or affirmative answer in British and American English, in Irish English, it has "a whole range of interpersoanl and disocurse-organizational functions" such as emphasis, reinforcement, epistemic stance, and mockery, e.g.: "I'm Irish, sure. Racism's part of my culture."

Request strategies:
Cinematographic representations of Irish English request strategies differ from pragmalinguistic forms used in natural settings insofar as a stereotypical request is highly indirect, e.g.: "You couldn’t confirm this in writing, could you?"

Compliment responses:
Responding to compliments means a dilemma since speakers need to decide to respond somewhere between accepting and appearing immodest and not accepting and contrasting one's opinion to the complimenter's one. Irish English speakers seem to use more non-agreement micro compliment responses while American English speakers clearly prefer strategies of acceptance. However, in sum, modesty and agreement maxims are distributed more evenly in Irish English than in American English. Neverheless, in "the cinematographic representations of IrE under scrutiny the macro strategy of non-acceptance appears to be stereotyped".

Responses to thanks:
Reactions to thanks can vary and either express pleasure at performing the action ("great pleasure", "anytime") or miminise the favour or effort invested by using negative politeness ("no problem", "don't mention it"). Irish English speakers seem to invest more creativity into minimising thanks. In cinematographic representations of Irish English speakers, strategies of avoidance, topic shift, and credit shift are found.

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- Furkò, B. P. (2013). Irish English Stereotypes. A Variational Pragmatic Analysis. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Philologica, 5(2), 123-135. LINK
- photograph of Peter O'Toole via

Monday, 4 May 2020

Self-Regulation of Prejudiced Responses. Excerpts.

"Experiment 1 examined subjects' reactions to rejecting a lawschool applicant because of his sexual orientation. This was a discrepant response for both low and high prejudiced subjects. However, the response violated low prejudiced, well-internalized standards for low prejudiced subjects only, so that the discrepancy was larger and more personally significant for low than for high prejudiced subjects. The central question was whether low prejudiced subjects experiencing such a discrepancy would manifest evidence of the engagement of self-regulatory mechanisms that, theoretically, should facilitate the subsequent inhibition of discrepant responses. The results provided clear, converging evidence that the discrepancy experience did engage these self-regulatory mechanisms."

"First, the discrepancy experience produced negative self-directed affect among low but not high prejudiced subjects. Theoretically, such guilty feelings should motivate discrepancy reduction (e.g., Rokeach, 1973) and should serve to establishstrong cues for punishment (cf. Gray, 1982). Second, the discrepancy experience heightened low but not high prejudiced subjects' self-focus. This finding is consistent with Pyszczynskiand Greenberg's (1986,1987) contention that ego-relevant discrepancies increase self-focus, which promotes subsequent regulation of behavior. Further examination of the self-thoughts provided a third indicator of the activation of self-regulatory mechanisms: Low prejudiced subjects in the discrepancy-activated condition were uniquely preoccupied with their personal prejudice-related discrepancy experiences. In fact, over half of their self-thoughts were focused on such discrepancies. Finally,the low prejudiced, discrepancy-activated subjects appeared to attend carefully to discrepancy-relevant information. They spent significantly more time reading the essay than their not-activated counterparts, whereas this difference was not significant for the high prejudiced subjects. The low prejudiced, discrepancy-activated subjects also showed superior recall for the portion of the essay concerning why prejudice-related discrepancies arise. Theoretically, the enhanced attention to discrepancy-relevant information and the heightened attention to personal discrepancy experiences should help low prejudiced individuals eventually gain control over their discrepant responses(see Gray, 1982)."

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- Monteith, M. (1993). Self-Regulation of Prejudiced Responses: Implications for Progress in Prejudice-Reduction Efforts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(3), 469-485.
- photograph by Bruce Gilden via

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Prejudice. A Tripartite Conception.

Three components of prejudice are often mentioned: ignorance (arriving at a conclusion before considering facts), hostility (derogatory and hostile attitudes), externalisation (directed at others). Akhtar (2007) proposes an expanded definition since "this conventional tripod" is found "a bit wobbly".

Ignorance and ignoring are the centrepiece of prejudice's definition, however, the author argues, what constitutes a fact remains unclear "in these days of post-modern relativism" asking the question whether we should "restrict ourselves to external reality" or if "the facts in the internal, psychic reality matter as well". Limiting oneself to the former, though, does not mean that we are kept from using revisionist strategies and that sociopolitical interests "readily put a spin on available information to create suitable facts".
Hostility is true of most prejudices but they do not necessarily have to be negative and "naïve idealization is as much a manifestation of prejudice as is ignorant devaluation".
Externalisation of badness are projective mechanisms but they can also involve attitudes about oneself, i.e. turning the target of prejudice into the self (Akhtar, 2007).
Then there are the characterologically narcissistic situations of self-glorification in which a fatal denial of one's blemishes, hostility, and exploitativeness is evident. This too constitutes judgment withouth knowing the facts, though the facts here are mostly intrapsychic ones. On a large group level too, self-glorification occurs as a result of "robbing" a hated group of its good qualities and claiming them for oneself. Also involved here is a negation of the problematic aspects of one's own history. (...) One thing becomes clear in the end. Prejudice can be as easily directed at oneself as it is against others. This pertains to beoth its positive and negative forms, and is applicable to both individuals and groups.
This brief epistemological excursion demonstrates that prejudice can (1) occur in the presence of knowledge, (2) involve good feelings, and (3) be direced at oneself. 
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- Akhtar, S. (2007). From Unmentalized Xenophobia to Messianic Sadism: Some Reflections on the Phenomenology of Prejudice. In H. Parens, A. Mahfouz, S. W. Twemlow, & D. E. Scharff (eds.). The future of prejudice. Psychoanalysis and the prevention of prejudice (7-19). Lanham & Plymouth: Jason Aronson.
- photograph by Bruce Gilden (New Orleans Mardi Gras, 1982) via