Oct 31 Qs

Pre-meeting Qs from students for 10/31:

On O’Donnell’s: Children, Youth and the Culture Plans of Canadian Cites
In addition to economic imperatives, such as cultivating future audiences for art, cities and foundations make claims that engaging youth in artistic activities fosters sociability and well-being. Do you think that it’s really possible to separate these desired economic and social outcomes? As well, the strong emphasis on social cohesion and economic feasibility seems to be prioritized at the expense of the subversive potential of creating and disseminating art and culture, with civic engagement accounting for only 10% of city imperatives. Does creating ‘healthy and cohesive’ communities through children’s participation in art simply mean socializing them into their proper roles as producers and consumers in the neoliberal city?
I enjoyed reading this assigned reading however I feel kind of disappointed in which the way the report findings were reported. For example Canadian Heritage in the purpose of this report had a negative connotation that “Canada’s most promising young artists” (p20) will benefit from Canada Heritage whereas other youth without promise disregarded. O’Donnell is “suggesting that those without promise should contemplate work in other fields” (p20). I am familiar with Canadian Heritage and I specifically looked at the bibliography as to what O’Donnell is referencing. I scanned The Canadian Heritage 2010–2011 Report on Plans and Priorities and couldn’t find the statement regard “Canada’s most promising young artists”. But what I did find in this report how Canada Heritage is a major funder and contributes to Katimavik the National Volunteer Youth Service Program that I had participated in promoting a Canadian identity through volunteerism with arts and cultural component. I feel the O’Donnell jumped to conclusion on a term that really means Canada’s most promising young artists is really about young talented Canadian artists whether they developed their talent or were born with their “gift” doesn’t necessarily mean to find employment in other fields. In Katimavik, this program allows youth between the ages of 17-21 years to explore, create, develop a identity Canadian youth nation building investing in cultural diversity.

On Kern, Intro and Chapters 1 & 2 of Sex and the Revitalized City

After reading chapter 1, I began to think about other cities in the world. The need to bring a higher quality to life by reforming cities, introducing new concepts for tourist attraction or reconstruction of the infrastructure is a tactic and motif cities in reformation take. In Toronto the building of condominiums brings benefits to the city but also neglects some of the population. As it attracts single women to provide independence it excludes others. The reformation of most cities excludes the lone mothers, low income families and welfare earners who also strive for aid. The question is how can a city include all aspects of its population rather than focusing on one at a time?

Kern discusses how neoliberal assumptions of subjectivity work with certain co-opted feminist ideologies to reinforce female condominium ownership in “revitalized” urban environments. Specifically, concepts of private property ownership tied to deeply-rooted assumptions about North American citizenship are merged with liberal feminist ideals of economic independence and female autonomy outside of (heterosexual) marriage. Why does Kern say these ideological connections are profoundly ironic and problematic? How do the female respondents complicate notions of home ownership as establishing the “perfect” responsible citizen? Who is left out in the “hierarchy of tenure”? And where is state responsibility in all of this?

Kern (2010) invokes the Foucauldian concept of ‘governmentality’ to illustrate how neoliberalism translates to new modes of governance in which the individual self-regulates and self-disciplines according to normalizing ‘truths’ (see p. 9). In this modern reconfiguration of power relations, the individual assumes responsibility for self-governance through acts of ‘choice’ and self-discipline.  In this way, how does the condo ‘lifestyle,’ (i.e., the amenities, recreational services, courtyards, communities, the organization of space and time) engender selves and bodies that self-regulate according to commonsense notions about personal fulfillment and ‘quality of life?’

The author notes that “the ability of some women to participate in gentrification… rests on the displacement of other women”(p.29). Does the idea of gentrification represent how individualistic society is today and how do we overcome this process? Will changing policy be sufficient or will the transfer of policy into action/reality be a problem once again?

On Boyd, “Producing Vancouver’s (hetero)normative nightscape”

How does the dance scene in Vancouver reinforce sexed, gendered and class-based norms?

Boyd discusses in her article the experience that many people have when venturing downtown to the Granville Strip – the hypermasculinity that causes bar fights and sexual harrassment alike (par. 29). The pumped-up, alcohol-fueled “macho“ behaviour is so bad that the participants of the research, so-called “indie kids“, often choose to avoid the area completely. Instead, they choose to hang out at “less mainstream“ venues – ones where they apparently feel safer, despite often being located in the frequently avoided East Van (par.30). The “aggressive masculinity“ described in the article is definitely a phenomenon that I have experienced in downtown clubs on the Granville Strip and in other major cities, and I had also personally noticed the difference of heterosexuality expressed in “mainstream“ vs. alternative locations. Upon also reading the O’Donnell article on youth and culture plans in cities, I began to wonder if arts and creativity as both an economic and social focus, as O’Donnell recommended cities should have (p.3), were also responsible for the different feelings of safety and sexuality created in these alternative venues. As Boyd notes, nightlife is often frequented by youth, and the focus of most “club culture“ is purely on compulsive heterosexuality and performative gender roles (par.6). Alternatively, the “indie kids“ equally identify as heterosexual, but express their gender in ways that go against the norm, and unify themselves “over common interest in particular aesthetics of music, art, dress and dance“ (par.9). Do you think that the fact that most alternative events or venues are created around some sort of music or art directly contributes to less aggressive expressions of masculinity, or higher feelings of security or safety in the youth that experience them?

Though I would not refer to myself as an ‘indie kid’ (I really dislike labels/categorizations), I do agree with some of the concerns that both Boyd and the indie kids raise about hetero-normative spaces in this article (i.e. issues around safety, surveillance, etc.). However, I was both troubled and concerned with the ways in which the indie kids described ‘hyperfemininity’.  For example, Boyd has included excerpts from interviews she conducted with women from the ‘non-mainstream’ scene, and I noticed that an individual referred to some female “mainstream patrons” as “Barbies”, and when commenting on “the performance of gendered roles”, one person mentioned that: “[…] You know, like the big guys, with the baseball cap who’s loud with his beers yelling, being all loud and having possession over his woman who’s always wearing tight revealing clothes or hairspray” (p. 182). The use of the term “Barbie”, and the comments directed toward some women’s exterior appearance – i.e. “tight revealing clothes” (p. 182) are extremely problematic, because in my opinion, the indie kids  are not only engaging in a form of body policing, but they are also slut-shaming women who dress in a manner that they may not approve of. Ironically, even though indie kids criticize mainstream discourses, through their negative comments, they are reinforcing misogynistic perceptions of women, as well as participating in a form of ‘female-on-female’ hate themselves. Perhaps, this is an example of the “reversed elitism” that Boyd refers to on page 185?

Boyd accurately identifies the heteronormative gender construction of the Granville strip and Gastown, but I would be interested to learn more about gender construction in the ‘alternative’ nightlife scene.  The short section in the paper dedicated to the alternative scene does prove sound but I think that it could do with some more analysis as to how this scene is constructed, and how it thrives and continues.  The discussion of Vancouver as a ‘no fun city’ has just recently resurfaced this past week in the Huffington Post and in our school’s newspaper, The Peak, providing some more insight into the current Vancouver nightlife scene.  (ed: here’s a similar story from The Peak written in 2008. Can you send me the more recent article?) So I ask the class, how is gender constructed in the alternative scene?

Through the reading, the issue of space and place is discussed in regards to the entertainment establishments along the Granville strip. How does the placement of the nightclubs along the Granville strip affect the use and functionality of the space of Granville Street? Taking into account the fact that is a public space and looking at individuals who wouldn’t necessarily be frequenting these clubs.

With the constant change in mainstream society, [ed: and how “mainstream” is defined?] what kind of changes do you see in regards to the nightlife in Vancouver?

Boyd’s (2010) study went from 2005 to 2006, and suggests that Vancouver, as a neoliberal city, “produces, maintains and reiterates the moral contours of heterosexuality” as the defined hegemony found in the nightlife of Granville street entertainment district (2010, p. 169). Do you believe this is true? Why or why not?

In the Boyd article we see how Vancouver’s nightlife is seen to be segregated into mainstream and non-mainstream entertainment venues. Do you feel that since the interviews in 2008 that this has changed? And do you feel that Boyd describes indie kids in an appropriate manner? And do you think it is fair to state that all indie kids are the same? Or do you feel that is creating another divide and social stigma?

In Boyd’s article, many of the participants who belong to the ‘indie’ community are involved in the cultural industries. From their responses it would seem that they view the art/ indie dance community as antithetical to commercial or mainstream ‘entertainment’ and mainstream people. So then how can the same government that privileges the entertainment district through enacting more lenient policies on businesses on the Granville strip also be supportive of the arts? Is this simply ‘reversed elitism’ on the part of indie dancers? Is there a way for the city to support alternative spaces/ subcultures and mainstream spaces/ culture simultaneously or is there a fundamental difference between the people who occupy these spaces and their respective political ideologies?

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