Friday, 29 June 2012

More British Sounds

For Godard womanliness has been pretty much always a mask which can we worn or removed, similarly to the black wig that Bardot plays with in one of the scenes of Le Mepris (1963). However, at times when a spectator can more freely speak out his and her own desires, we can potentially produce new variations of those who are looking and those who are being looked at. The polysemy of images is now capable of speaking differently to different spectators. One could then validate Godard's early statement "all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun" by replacing the first with Chippendale style, muscular and oiled male body visible to a desire. Particularly to the desire of a gay male spectator. Adding fuel to the flames, in some of his films Godard gives good reasons to consider him a homophobic. Why does Paul in Masculin, feminine respond to the sight of the men kissing in the bathroom stall by scrawling "A bas la république des lâches" (eng. The republic of cowards) on the door? Why does another Paul in Passion so violently and roughly pushes away a male hotel staff who is in love with him? Has Paul become a synonym of a French intolerant?

Same questions seem to resonate through the work of William E. Jones. In his More British Sounds images from The British Are Coming (1986) collide with dialogue from See You at Mao (1969) also known as British Sounds, produced by the Dziga Vertov Group under the direction of Godard. “Workers have come to expect too much,” a narrator explains, as an English lad in a state of undress polishes the boots of a royal guard in full uniform. The soundtrack consists of a speech from British Sounds layered four times in the structure of a round. Gaps in the dialogue – filled by Godard’s heavy breathing in the original – allow certain key phrases to be heard in the chaos. The super-reactionary spouting venom must have seemed horrendous and absurd in the late 1960s, but his line was practically adopted as policy in early 21st Century America. The fetishistic sports underwear, skinhead tattoos, and bad boy snarls have been widely adopted as well.

Stills from More British Sounds, William E. Jones, video, color, 8 minutes, 2006

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