Thursday, 9 July 2015

Processsing Spring Breakers...

I kno this is late, like two years late but I only saw it last week...

(It was on netflix)

(It also gave me nightmares)

It drew parallels to Harmony Korine's early work 'Kids', particularly this critique by bell hooks (content warning for anti-black white supremacist murder and colorism):

"It's frightening to me now when people want to behave as though certain images don't mean anything. I thought of this when I saw Larry Clark's Kids and I went back like in circles of progressive white friends and I said, "Oh, God, you know, the racial politics in terms of representation in this film really suck." And they really wanted to say, it didn't matter. It didn't mean anything. And I was like, "Give me a fucking break. Like we know why the person is brutally bashed to death is a dark skinned black man, it's crucial that he's a dark skinned black man, because in fact, people’s antipathy to dark skinned black men is actually much greater than their antipathy to black men in some kind of general way. I feel that it's frightening that as mass media uses more certain kinds of representations for specific impact and effect, we're also being told that these images are not really that important."
-bell hooks

"One of the “extreme” aspects of the Spring Breakers world is the racial divide: On one side you have the hard-partying, white college students, and on the other, violent black gangsters—and one white guy, played by James Franco, who adopts the style of a particular section of black culture (including cornrows and a metal grill). "

"Korine may intend the obviousness of the racial divide to be provocative, but he fails to comment in any interesting way on this so-called  “hyper-reality,” instead merely reproducing a racist vision of the world in which black lives matter less than white ones."

-Aisha Harris

So what does this mean in regards to Spring Breakers as an aesthetic reference point? And such a recurring one in the popular imagination? Hazy white supremacy is an interesting/terrifying incarnation of white girlhood... and it is unsurprising it has been interpreted as a "feminist" one when the popular definition of the term so often seems to be the right to loudly commit the same atrocities white dudes do....for tho it meant so much to Selena and Vanessa on my screen when I was younger it is clear Korine speaks of the violent assimilation that America has trademarked so...boldly. In this unsettling anti-blackness and high brow low brow confusion by critics we can parallel it with showgirls for sure. Here are some picture notes I took from the first half of the film which had such a virgin suicides/petra collins style aesthetic which is just so insidious to disturbing...


  1. I feel u on this. I haven't seen Spring Breakers and I don't intend to, but I've seen Kids and Gummo and I feel like Harmony Korine is just this kid chuckling about all these horrible things, scenarios, ideas, realities and ~aesthetically~ warped versions of them. It reminds me of Lars Von Trier and I feel there's a similarity. I feel like they both think they're really deep and subversive when they're just bog standard screwed up white guys who think they're being challenging and controversial when really they're just spreading around romanticised, aesthetic-ised abuse and oppressive paradigms. Harmony Korine makes me wanna vomit lol

    1. SO glad you agree on this as like I was watching it thinking like 'is this just me???' as like I had genuinely seen a number of of ppl say it was like "empowering" and "feminist" and "transgresive" and using is it as a simple aesthetic reference point and then when I saw it it was like 'seriously??'

      As I mean I'm not exaggerating when I say it's literally white (and white assimilated) girls in bikinis murdering black men, like to refer to such a film as 'aesthetically pleasing' seems really grotesque to me??

      I mean we can talk and think about how these vague ideas of aesthetics are used to present certain beliefs as that's what art does! (like there's so many texts us ual students have had to read on that y'kno kant, berger and all that!) but like just seeing as like 'pretty' seems so sick to me??

      And oh my gosh yes I've never made that connection but YES, also in terms of what I've read on the power relations with the actresses on set. Like the movie dogville by lars von trier is the most abusive horrible treatment I think I"ve ever seen, the way all his female characters are treated to the point of almost masochistic exaggeration. Roman Polanski 1960's movies like repulsion and rosemary's baby also come to mind in that sense.

      Like I honestly don't see how such works are 'subversive' as they are enforcing all the existing power structures of patriarchal white supremacy anyway! That model of white weaponised femininity makes me uncomfortable as like the notion of white supremacist violence is obviously intrinsically evil?? Like just coz they use soft lighting and britney spears references doesn't turn it into this 2d gif set to go with like...lisa frank images and 10 things i hate about you quotes on riot grrrl or whatever. (not that i like riot grrrl but y'kno what i mean!)

      But then the directors claim such works as hyperreal which is a total cake and eat it situation as they are reenacting all this horrific stuff but having no social accountability for it!

      I just find it really disturbing and to see how its been embraced as like an 'aesethetic' thing just creeps me out even more..... o.O