The fascinating fetishism of Arthur Munby is unpacked in the second chapter of Anne McClintock’s Imperial Leather. The chapter ends with a close examination of Munby’s massive photo collection of working class women, which reveals both his Oedipal longing and imperial ambition.
McClintock’s discussion of the panoptical nature of photography, along with the ambiguous desires of Munby, reminded me of a contemporary imperial technology: sexting.
To delve into sexting (and probably to lose a lot of McClintock’s nuance in the process), I’d like to apply her argument to G-Side’s “Pictures.”
“Pictures” – besides featuring one of the best instrumentals of 2011 – exudes imperial ambition.
The song captures McClintock’s notion of privileged panoptical time, from which “the world appears as a spectacle, stage, performance” (122). ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova rap about urging women to send them nude pictures. The two are thus able to collect and commodify women’s bodies, erase women’s voices (“there’s no need to speak”), and reify the panoptical time of photography. The duo are the surveyors of an anachronistic frontier, where the female body can be claimed and exchanged.
Like Munby, G-Side are more intoxicated with the (class and gender, respectively) differences made explicit by photography. “Pictures” is a love song not to women, but to their pictures. Far from being unsexed like Munby’s subjects, the women of “Pictures” are only sexed. The pictures become maps of the progress from foreplay to penetrative domination.
Of course, in this rough analysis, I’ve admittedly failed to mention several important elements: the fact that G-Side’s voyeurism is consensual (within the structural confines of patriarchy), intersections of race and class, and anything resembling psychoanalysis.
I’d also like to apologize for not writing about Drake.
And finally: If you enjoyed the beat on “Pictures,” listen to this.
∞ Patrick beane ∞
(P.S. Lucas, I owe you one for showing me Andrej Pejic)