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Ariel Pink And Beta Male Misogyny
Joe Kennedy , September 24th, 2012 04:03

Joe Kennedy finds that behind twee's pretence of gender equality lie the same old battles of male versus male antagonism

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As a comic psychopathology of middle-class men in their early thirties, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong's soon-to-return Peep Show has many strengths. It captures the emotional scurvy born of a diet of unfulfilling white-collar work and joyless hedonism, and is – for a programme that can seem misanthropic on first viewing – surprisingly poignant in its telling of a story about the travails of being happy in a culture where horizons of expectation morph incessantly.

However, one success of Bain and Armstrong's writing has gone largely unacknowledged, namely its identification and confrontation of a brainiac misogyny which has little in common with unabashed chauvinism and UniLAD-style 'casual rape banter'. This might give some Quietus readers pause for thought. While David Mitchell's bookish, socially-squeamish Mark Corrigan has few surface similarities with modern-day underground musicians, the series offers a perspective on a skewed attitude to gender that has subtly become entrenched in subcultures which often congratulate themselves for their hostility to the lumpen sexism of the mainstream.

Much of the humour (and the tragedy) in Peep Show stems from Mark's unshakable confidence in his own victimhood: he fails repeatedly to take responsibility for what befalls him, reasoning instead that the world has it in for men who eschew football and clubbing for comfortable sweaters, canal boating and nights on the sofa with Das Boot. This works itself up into an odd superiority complex which pivots on a paradox by which society's stereotypical alpha males are simultaneously resented because of their apparent desirability and (smugly) pitied for their supposed shallowness. In Bain and Armstrong's representation of the beta male worldview, the terms and conditions of class conflict are transposed onto the male civil war in which the Corrigans are the – hopeless – proles.

Despite his small-c conservatism in 'real' politics, Mark is borderline Maoist when it comes to the internecine rivalry of men, something that becomes particularly clear on the rare occasions that his clumsy romantic advances are reciprocated. Being in a relationship isn't, to him, its own reward, but an indication of a drastic redistribution of sexual capital which avenges him on those – especially Jeff, his alpha arch-enemy – he believes have 'oppressed' him. Women are treated as nothing more than symbols of advantage in a battle men fight between themselves.

There's a good occasion for broaching this subject now. In a recent interview with The Wire magazine, Ariel Pink – the Lomo Beck set to become chillwave's first crossover star – got talking about "beta male revenge", that staple of Corrigan fantasy. Apparently, their intelligence and empathy means that "beta males have got it figured out so that they don't have to chase or rape their prey, so to speak". Now, I had to read over this sentence a number of times to ensure that I hadn't nodded off and fallen prey to some hypnagogic misunderstanding, but every time I went back and checked it still said the same thing. The new man, apparently, will gradually come to assert his authority over the Neanderthals of days gone by, wielding his intellect and therapeutic literacy as, once upon a time, white-shirted archetypes splashed on the Brut and flexed their biceps. Pink's life-script is basically swiped from the half-forgotten eighties college-movie spoof Revenge Of The Nerds: tellingly, above cover art showing its heroes surrounded by cheerleaders, that film's tagline read "now it's time for the odd to get even".

The grossness of the statement goes beyond its reduction of women to instruments of revenge in a centuries-old dick-swinging contest. It also contains an implication that men can – and perhaps even should, if we read this as dating advice – feign sympathy with feminist anger about institutionalised, 'traditional' misogyny in order to pull. It's hard to believe that the problems Pink has with alpha male sexual attitudes are motivated by anything other than a desire to heal his own old playground wounds, and there's certainly no desire for gender equality behind it. Indeed, in another ill-fated interview, this time with Fader, he went abruptly off-piste to state that his ambition was to be able to 'support' a partner who would "fucking, you know, stay home and make French fries and have babies". Some support, that. For all that self-styled beta sensitivity, romance gets utterly subordinated by Pink's wish to have a trophy partner to show off to his neighbourhood's SUV-driving jocks.

If you spent any part of the last twenty years in indie clubs in British tweecore strongholds such as Norwich, Leeds or Sheffield, you may well be familiar with this pseudo-feminism. Remember all those guys who really loved Le Tigre or Electrelane or Bis or CSS, but ultimately might as well have been in the triples-for-singles meat market up the road when it came to putting their money where their emancipatory mouths were? I certainly knew a few. The sense that the sexual democracy of that scene is a sham, amounting ultimately to the perpetuation of the same old male privileges in a more passive-aggressive way, is one of the (many) things to have consistently undermined twee's claims to political credibility.

There's no direct continuity, but twee and its attendant bookish 'niceness' is one of the guiding influences on the Amerophile Dalston aesthetic Luke Turner described in his recent piece on Swans for Riot of Perfume. The male image in E8 these days is performatively unsexy and unthreatening, dominated by a combination of preppy and nerdish tropes (chinos and deck shoes meet satchels and rusting bikes). Semiotically, it appropriates the Thatcher-era alienation of Morrissey or the Postcard bands to the Corriganish cause of being 'better', because smarter and more sensitive, than alpha males.

In fact, it's in some ways a visual analogue to twee indie-pop's greatest musical crime, Tullycraft's 'Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's too Stupid to Know About'. One of the most irritating contributions to the history of recording, the Seattle band's opus is an attack on an ex's new partner who 'thinks Green Day's pretty swell' and listens to Sting while remaining oblivious to various Calvin Johnson side-projects and "the Bartlebees and Neutral Milk Hotel". It presumably wasn't intended – I think they're meant to be romantic - but the song's lyrics demonstrate something lacking at the core of the beta-guy take on relationships: once again, it's all about making a woman the intermediary in an exclusively male antagonism, which is in this case also a debate about taste in which the girlfriend is invited to act as adjudicator.

This year has thrown up plenty of depressing evidence that men still have to accept the challenge of becoming, to quote Pink's buddy John Maus quoting Alain Badiou, "the pitiless censors of ourselves". The UniLAD affair was a prominent instance of this, but it seems inevitable that plenty who would (rightly) condemn such oafish banter will be willing to give the likes of Pink a free pass as what they're saying tends to be less aggressively misogynistic. However, there's no advance towards equality – however empathetic one strives to appear – to be made by treating women as vehicles of retribution against school bullies and other alpha types.

john
Sep 24, 2012 8:34am

admirable sentiments but are we really going to base think-pieces on the stupid things that musicians occasionally say in interviews? this appears to have a very sketchy relation, if any, to his music, and the link to the twee thing is clumsy as hell.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 8:37am

Hurrah. Nailed so much of what's obnoxious about this beta male bullshit, and kudos (and thanks) for calling out the noxious crypto-misogyny of twee-dominated scenes (see also Brighton, Glasgow, Nottingham). All that's missing is the analysis of (gender)queerness as pose in those scenes - another area where Pink is the standard-bearer.

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Sep 24, 2012 9:02am

And he has shit hair.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 9:12am

A whole load of projection and not much substance. Again, semiology/semiotics isn't even a soft science, it really doesn't "mean" anything whatsoever and given that this is the basis for the entire argument, the way things look and the ways in which they can be preferably read, it's just pure sophistry at best and self-aggrandizing nonsense at worst. Of course because it falls on the side of the good guys, pro-women and anti-objectification, it'll get a free pass and a pat on the back for picking some pretty low-hanging fruit. But it's bollocks. I call it out.

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Z
Sep 24, 2012 9:40am

Completely fucking accurate and on-point. Can't wait for all the comments by male readers about how this is yawn-inducing right-on PC bollocks - here's a hint, lads, just because you find this to be picking at "low-hanging fruit" it doesn't mean that this doesn't ring true for loads of women.

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John Doran
Sep 24, 2012 9:45am

In reply to Petra:

I agree but this is something that should have its own feature maybe.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 9:51am

In reply to Z:

Let's not forget that this site has wanked furiously over famous actual wifebeater Mark E Smith on countless occasions so let me just hesitate before congratulating the site for kicking someone who simply uses outdated lyrical tropes and frameworks whilst actually having done nothing wrong.

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Sep 24, 2012 9:52am

In reply to John Doran:

Could be. I linked it on my FB wall and it's getting a shitload of love from women and queers. Go tQ.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 10:04am

In reply to Dan B:

Dan - sexism is wrong. Calling women 'prey' or 'a pussy in the pocket'(cr Wire interview) is wrong. I agree that Smith's work bears a little more scrutiny than it often gets but that doesn't do the work of invalidating this piece. People cherrypick what they are prepared to put up with to stay with the art they love. I do it with hip hop, I do it dancehall, I do it with R&B - I tolerate some shitty sexpol for the art I love, we all do, but that doesn't mean I think those politics are above critique, nor do I want to see scenes replicate those politics in how they deal with women and queers. Nowhere in this piece does it say you can't enjoy Ariel Pink - just that his 'beta-male' pose bears critique. If you can't deal with reading critique, this perhaps isn't the music website for you.

John - that comment about the women/queer love for this piece was me too, sorry I failed to post my name, have flu brain. <3>

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 10:17am

In reply to Petra:

I don't think I'm saying that Ariel Pink is in any way beyond reproach. If truth be told I'm not a massive fan of his music. What I'm saying that the manner of the critique is flimsy but easy to agree with because its heart is in the right place. Sexism is wrong, as you say, and it's not self-evident enough insofar as it does need to be restated time and again. I just feel the base material could have been better chosen and less grounded in 'some things a TV character expressed that loosely maps onto this thing a complete space case musician said'. I'd be interested to read something about pose, because I'm pretty pro-Butler on the idea of play, are you saying that there's elements of people in privileged positions playing at being historically socially-oppressed persons? That would be something I'd want to read.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 10:20am

Go on, then. What specific parts of what the article says are flimsy? In fact, can you define "flimsy" for us? I'm currently assuming you mean there are parts of the argument that are easy to overturn; if that's indeed what you mean, what are they, and how would you overturn them?

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 10:33am

In reply to John Tatlock:

The entire 'beta male' premise that the article lays its foundation stone upon is especially unstable; it takes as given this idea that there is indeed a hierarchy that is applicable and that men can neatly taxonomise within alpha, beta, presumably gamma & delta would be #uniLAD. There isn't. It's pseudo-scientific bunkum. Any article that attempts to group things together that do not expressly group themselves together must be treated with suspicion: what is the author trying to assert by this forcing together, what does the author want, and what does it say about his own prejudices? Ultimately this is no better than those American pick-up artist dudes, who, for all their vulgarity, are open about their reasons for taxonomising their quarry. A much better article about 'this sort of thing' (and whose thesis is sort of lifted here) is 'Emo: Where The Girls Aren't' by Jessica Hopper.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 10:37am

I guess this is something for Joe to confirm or correct, but that's not how I read it. It seems to me to be running with Pink's self-imposed "beta" label and trying to unearth what that implies. Not particularly accepting that there's any such classification in a meaningful sense.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 10:41am

In reply to Dan B:

Yes, I'd say that a significant problem with the 'beta-male' as proposed by Pink and which (as Joe argues successfully) as found in lots of indie-ish scenes in the UK is that queer and feminist gestures developed by riot grrrl and queercore - which were once genuinely radical, or at the very least subversive - have been thoroughly detourned. Saturating the monoculture against which they once were pitched, they now seem to me to signify a form of abjection which as here, hides a ton of resentment.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 10:43am

In reply to John Tatlock:

If there's no classification on part of the author then there's no tie to a wider phenomenon and no article!

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Joe K
Sep 24, 2012 10:48am

In reply to Dan B:

Dan - I'll reply to some of your other wrongheaded remarks later, but to suggest that I 'lifted' a 'thesis' from an article you're familiar with is probably not a great move. As it happens, I've never heard of the piece, let alone read it. Link?

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 10:48am

In reply to Petra:

I'd be interested to read that to see how you get around the thorny issue of potentially projecting bad faith on people who want to be part of something and making a territory out of something that was based in deterritorialising certain social constructs. Anyway, I've said enough for one day.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 10:49am

In reply to Dan B:

Give it up, Dan. This article feels spot on to me. It's not as though you're really in a position to identify the way structural sexism works within music scenes, is it? The beta male - or, as I've been calling him for years, the killer nerd - dominates, and not by chance, almost every music scene where feminism made an inroad. It's a backlash.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 10:51am

In reply to Dan B:

Yeah, I agree that's an issue. In terms of its effects, though, I think there's enough ground for a bad-faith reading. I'm not most interested in intent, though, I'm most interested in structures.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 10:53am

Maybe I'm being slow today, but I really don't see what "If there's no classification on part of the author then there's no tie to a wider phenomenon and no article!" means.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 10:55am

I mean, you seem to be having it both ways: if the author is classifying people, then his argument is bunk. If the author is not classifying people, then his argument is bunk. What?

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Joe K
Sep 24, 2012 10:55am

In reply to Petra:

Great précis - exactly what I was trying to get across, but probably obfuscated slightly with the Peep Show stuff! It contains several formulations which I wish I'd thought of to go in the article - I love the 'bad detournement' idea in particular.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 10:56am

In reply to Joe K:

It was on the Punk Planet site but that seems to be down. I didn't mean 'lifted' as in you stole it but I do unreservedly apologise if that's how it read. As for addressing my remarks, do as you wish.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 10:58am

In reply to Joe K:

This article stands up exactly as it is Joe. Really happy to read it.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 11:00am

In reply to Petra:

"It's not as though you're really in a position to identify the way structural sexism works within music scenes, is it?" Given that I have eyes and ears and that I operate within a music scene I'd say I'm perfectly positioned. Maybe I unconsciously reinforce patriarchal systems every time I get on stage but that's something I can't do much about. When I booked shows I'd book female bands and female-led bands as much as I could (there are more male bands looking for shows though). What more can I do?

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Joe K
Sep 24, 2012 11:03am

In reply to Dan B:

The inherent problem withg Deleuze-speak like this is that - as the man himself would have known - its rhetoric of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation has ossified and become what it set out to challenge, not least (coincidentally enough) in the work of people like Ariel Pink.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 11:04am

I will confess to having no idea what Dan's actual point is in this thread. I'm detecting a keenness to lay out certain credentials, though for what reason I'm not sure. But an actual point is eluding me. As I say, perhaps I am being slow today.

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Joe K
Sep 24, 2012 11:08am

In reply to John Tatlock:

John - as I said to Petra, spot-on. It's Pink's self-identification as 'beta' which made me prick my ears up in the first place, but after that I wanted to think about other places in which a similar attitude has emerged. It's not about classifications as such.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 11:10am

In reply to Dan B:

There's lots more you could do: it's great that you book women to play, but there's also a culture of misogyny to challenge. What you seem to be up to in this discussion is defending a culture you're invested in against people who say they've experienced problems with it. Since you don't experience sexism, and you're prepared to disagree with those who tell you they do, I'm suggesting you're not the best person to identify structural sexism within your own scene. The people worth listening to on the subject of structural oppression are those who experience it. Basic privilege theory, and I'd have thought a Butlerian would have that shit down.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 11:11am

In reply to John Tatlock:

My point is that I think the article works on some faulty assumptions regarding the safety and usefulness of semiotics as a 'real thing' and progresses forward on this. It's a well-argued piece if you don't read it too critically. It also has its heart in the right place which makes me seem like a shitheel for being critical of it - I support what I see as the author's general political worldview. I have no credentials to outline. I'm just a guy on the internet who disagrees with a thing and am sufficiently bored and futile enough to mention it.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 11:13am

In reply to Petra:

I see it and I challenge it. Nothing I've said here could make you think any different.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 11:13am

"My point is that I think the article works on some faulty assumptions regarding the safety and usefulness of semiotics as a 'real thing' and progresses forward on this." Go on. Which assumptions are faulty, where are they made, what following arguments build from them? I'm not being pedantic, I just really can't see any of this.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 11:16am

In reply to John Tatlock:

I have to go to work now John. If you disagree then fine, I can live with that.

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Joe K
Sep 24, 2012 11:17am

In reply to John Tatlock:

You see, what Dan's doing, I think, is something I really don't want to call out - because I have a lot of sympathy for writers who are wheeling out theory, and don't want to discourage it - but will have to as it's purely about point-scoring. I'm not sure how much genuine intellectual investment he has in bringing out Deleuze or, earlier, Barthes in this debate. Certainly, the thing about semiology/ semiotics at the very beginning reminds me of a comment Dan posted on a piece of mine from back in January where he said something along the lines of 'this article believes that the field of semiotics is axiomatic', which is the kind of fudge I would (and have) put a line through when marking work on, er, semiotics and semiology. I don't know what point he's trying to make either, but I have to say that his accusation that 'sophistry' my game is pretty ironic in the circumstances.

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A.B.
Sep 24, 2012 11:17am

Um, let me cast my eye back over the rudimentary literary theory I covered in my recently finished English lit degree and see how wrong I can get things: If all utterances are a performative gesture, then 1) one sentence does not define the whole man 2) you never know the intent of the statement - could be irony, could be irony of irony 3) quoted sans context - context makes a huge difference to the statement 4)therefore attack the statement not the speaker. 5) Gender is culturally constructed. Man/Woman - pah, no difference.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 11:19am

Dan, I don't have the opportunity to disagree, as nowhere in all this verbiage have you made you point remotely clear. It looks awfully like contentless obscurantism to me.

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Petra
Sep 24, 2012 11:19am

In reply to Dan B:

Hey I'm not trying to say your efforts or perspective aren't worthwhile, far from it. I just think this piece rings true for a lot of women in these scenes (certainly from the reaction on my wall I'd say it does) and I get tired of seeing sexism pointed out only to meet with defensive sophistries from men who assure me everything's fine really. It's like potential helpful resources or rallying points against sexism instead become iterations of the very thing they're designed to challenge. Depressing to read, and again, forgive me if this seems like a bad-faith reading, but truly it sucks that this piece has been met by these comments.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 11:46am

I just remembered something on the way to work. I opened for Ariel Pink back in 05 or 06. Far from staying at home and making some dinner, his wife was in the band in a fairly prominent role. Not saying he can't have changed into a roaring misogynist but his real world actions seem somewhat different to the stuff he said to a couple of journos.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 11:52am

In reply to Joe K:

Sure, you wouldn't want to get involved in point scoring. Dunce cap for Joe.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 11:57am

I have to concur with Petra's "truly it sucks that this piece has been met by these comments". Is this actually heading anywhere? It seems little more than some kind of petty beef with Joe, the site, or both.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:01pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

Sorry for forcing your arm up your back and making you read it John. PS. Joe, I didn't write that thing you quoted either, at least I didn't write it like that, pretty shoddy stuff.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:04pm

Man, this has descended into truly weak stuff. I will say this, for a man too busy to respond to actual points raised, you're conspicuously present.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:07pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

I am at work but work has not started. I arrived early to work. I've also responded as best I can. If you still think my argument has a fault then leave it there.

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Sep 24, 2012 12:11pm

In reply to Dan B:

Sorry, Dan. You actually said 'you have to assume that the field of semiotics is a given' -

http://thequietus.com/articles/08111-michel-houellebecq-robert-montgomery-opinion

- which certainly bears some relationship to what you said in your first comment here. Given that your implication back then was that the article *did* assume this, and that 'given' meant 'axiomatic' in the context, I wasn't exactly way off.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:11pm

As I say, you've not made an argument. I refer you back to y earlier question: "Which assumptions [regarding semiotics] are faulty, where are they made, what following arguments build from them?" I can't see how these are unreasonable questions. If there's any substance to the claim you're making, you already know the answers to this, and it's just a question of typing them out.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:13pm

In reply to :

I know what I wrote and I stand by it. You were wrong then as now.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:24pm

Well, now that's compelling argumentation. Do I also smell? Is my bike, perchance, a girl's bike? I'm just trying to plot out the parameters here. Could your dad have my dad in a fight?

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:31pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

I'd have to smell you, ask your bike how it identifies and see your dad (my dad's not much use though). As I pointed out, admittedly anecdotally, Ariel Pink's wife played a former incarnation of Haunted Graffiti in a not-insubstantial role. That's somewhat at odds with the article's suggested reading of Pink's statements, a reading which takes the statements as bald facts based in some revenge fantasy when indeed there's little lyrical content across Pink's ouevre that suggests these misgivings are anything but bad faith on Joe's part. Joe makes the mistake of assuming that the words and poltical implications contained within statements were based in reality when there is actual real world evidence that they may not have been entirely true. He has, in short, made the sign mean what he wanted it to mean. He has, in short, taken semiotics for granted.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:34pm

Not really. He's responded to some statement's Pink has made. If Pink doesn't mean those things, he's free to offer up an explanation of why he said them.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:37pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

"For all that self-styled beta sensitivity, romance gets utterly subordinated by Pink's wish to have a trophy partner to show off to his neighbourhood's SUV-driving jocks." No, he actively is projecting about Pink's politics and accusing him of being a pose despite ACTUAL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY BASED IN REAL THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED.

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Joe K
Sep 24, 2012 12:37pm

In reply to Dan B:

So, essentially you're saying that Ariel was just having a bit of Great Banter (TM)?

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:41pm

In reply to Joe K:

Oh christ not this old chestnut. I'm saying that what he said, though possibly ill-advised, does not correspond to the reality of his life, and that you picked on a target because what you knew at the time corresponded with your thesis.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:45pm

Well, hang on Dan, aren't you over-reaching here? You recall something about his domestic / professional situation from around seven years ago into which you appear to have no particular insight other than that his wife was on stage. If this is what you're resting the whole thing on, it seems a bit of a shaky foundation for such apparent certainty.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:49pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

Possibly am over-reaching but no more so than the snippets in the article. At worst they cancel each other out. We are then left with nothing and no ground to include Ariel Pink's name here.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:50pm

If one were so inclined, one could argue that you've looked at his band on stage and taken the semiotics of it for granted.

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David Bell
Sep 24, 2012 12:51pm

In reply to Petra:

This is a really great article. I don't know enough to say whether the extrapolation to 'twee' is fair or not: I certainly wouldn't class Pink in that category. But I'd rather these things were said than not, and the dismantling of a very identifiable 'beta male' trend is long overdue.

I'm also interested in the accusation made of Nottingham by Petra. Not because I'm defensive of my city in any way, but because from my (limited) experience of the twee-er side of things here (and I'll put my cards on the table - I know some of the promoters) this *isn't* an issue. (Nor do I think Nottingham's DIY scene is twee dominated.) But if I'm wrong I'm sure it's something the promoters I know would be keen to address.

Finally, I'd say that from my (again, limited) experience that there is some excellent stuff - both musically and politically - coming out of the queer/riot grrrl end of what might be called 'twee' (Martha, for example); and that there are a number of 'twee' scenes that identify as queer/feminist/vegan etc, and that gender politics there may be better, though so long as we live in a patriarchy there will always be work to be done.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 12:51pm

So your point is... what? "This is a bad argument, this article, and I've got one just as bad"?

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:53pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

And spoken to them for an hour or so as well as members of their touring party at the time (including the namechecked John Maus and the New Orleans duo Belong) and thought they were all really decent if fairly spaced-out people and gone and taken that for granted too, yeah quite possibly, quite possibly. I'm not the one writing the article though.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 12:54pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

You're just babbling now mate.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 1:06pm

"I'm not the one writing the article though". What's the relevance of this? Should we hold your arguments to a lower standard? How would that work?

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 1:08pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

I thought you'd decided that I had no argument. Make up your mind!

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 1:14pm

It's puzzling, this dodging back and forth between flinging out twenty dollar words and then straight down to playground stuff whenever asked for clarification.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 1:23pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

John, I think you're being deliberately obtuse because Joe is - if not a friend - but a cherished colleague and I am a known antagonist of this site. Your pressing of me personally is beginning to look a little like an act rather than something performed in good faith and only serves to highlight your own strange insecurities (I am projecting but according to you guys that's alright). Anyway: of course I do not think that my arguments should be held to a different standard of rigour at all and I'm not being evasive; I am not the one potentially libelling somebody based on two lines in articles. The burden of proof lies with Joe's thesis.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 1:33pm

I dunno. I don't recall saying projecting was all right. I honestly can't make head nor tail of this. "A known antagonist of this site" seems a rather dull thing to be, and somewhat undermines any bleating about other people arguing in bad faith, if it's your justification for all this wibble above. For the record, I wasn't arguing in bad faith at all, or personally pressing you; I was extending you the courtesy of assuming that somewhere underneath all this you might actually have an interesting and worthwhile point. I think I've given that supposition enough time to feel comfortable abandoning it now.

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 1:41pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

Well, when I say 'known antagonist' what I mean is that I have posted a series of comments on here that range in tone from hostility to praise but people only remember the former so I'm considered an antagonist: Mr. JD himself announced below an article that he'd asked around after me to see what I was like in real life and had deduced from someone who hasn't seen me in as long as I've not seen Ariel Pink that I was a troll. If you think that I have no point, or that the point I do have is incorrect, that that is fine. I would contend that if you really thought that I was a mush-brained thick or zero interest to you then you wouldn't have spent nearly a day trying to prod something out of me. But if this indeed where we're leaving it, then all the best to you and yours, nothing personal is intended in these comment sections.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 1:46pm

Precisely my point: I *didn't* think you were just trolling. I do now, though.

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Stewart
Sep 24, 2012 1:46pm

Having experienced the Glasgow twee scene first hand, I'd say it's mostly full of lovely people. But there were always a few sleazy guys who fitted Joe and Petra's descriptions. Of course, this stuff goes on throughout the wider indie scene, but the point is that the twee scene can have an unfortunate habit of considering itself superior while failing to address its own privilege.

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John Tatlock
Sep 24, 2012 1:48pm

In reply to Stewart :

Yeah, I think perhaps where this over-shoots - or perhaps where it could use a little clarification - is that I'm not sure this kind of misogynist subterfuge is *typical* of these scenes, as much as it's something that possibly gets an easier ride than it should when it does appear. If that makes sense.

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Stewart
Sep 24, 2012 2:40pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

In fairness to the twee scene, there are some acts who are well aware of the indie-boy 'let's use our cultural capital to get laid' mentality. The Just Joans' Hey Boy You're So Sensitive is a nice example:
"Dolly Mixture home made t-shirt, Woody Allen six disc box set, Marks and Spencer v-neck jumper - any chance I can get your number?"

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Allan J Begg
Sep 24, 2012 3:56pm

Best comments bunfight in a while. Really enjoyed the article too.

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Al
Sep 24, 2012 4:12pm

90% of the guys I've met on the twee scene are nice or clearly have asperger's. There are misogynists too, I'm sure, and come to think of it they probably are the ones who get up and dance a bit too enthusiastically to Bis.

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Nesbit
Sep 24, 2012 4:47pm

In reply to Petra:

"the noxious crypto-misogyny of twee-dominated scenes (see also Brighton, Glasgow, Nottingham)."

Can you provide specific examples of this- I'm not aware of any twee-dominated scene in Nottingham, or therefore any crypto-misogyny- and so I'm intrigued as to how and where this manifests itself

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tenbenson
Sep 24, 2012 5:19pm

Can someone please just give Dan B a menial job at the Quietus? I mean, he shows you his butthole every day and you just won't sniff it...

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Dan B
Sep 24, 2012 5:42pm

In reply to tenbenson:

Heh!

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Craig
Sep 24, 2012 8:23pm

Congratulations, Quietus. Another stick to beat the twee/indiepop scene with, seemingly entirely arbitrarily. Keep it zeitgeist by bringing a 16 year old track to reinforce your prejudices with, by a band that were a pretty obvious knowing caricature of the whole concept of twee, mocking both the attitudes of those who mocked it AND the sillier elements within the scene, the fetishisation of the obscure and so on.

Indiepop has its gender equality issues, ones that are not ignored. Tarring it with shit that is NOT exclusive to it is lame and arbitrary, especially in an outlet like THIS, which is a massive sausagefest most of the time, with an editor who is openly hostile towards tweefuckers like myself.

Ariel Pink is and has always been a scurrilous gobshite, and the WIRE piece was dreadful and has been, in my experience, condemned by all who've expressed an opinion. I don't recognise this "free pass".

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Sophie
Sep 24, 2012 8:52pm

Great article. Andreas Huyssen's book After the Great Divide makes a relevant argument about the misogyny of modernist avant-garde literary culture: ‘At the same time, it has also become clear that the imaginary femininity of male authors, which often grounds their oppositional stance vis-à-vis bourgeois society, can easily go hand in hand with the exclusion of real women from the literary enterprise and with the misogyny of bourgeois patriarchy itself.’ Problem's older than Madame Bovary...

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Mars
Sep 24, 2012 9:05pm

Eh, he's just putting out a mating call for a woman with no personal ambition beyond parenting while he continues his pop career - and there are plenty of ladies that are willing to fill that role. All others need not apply - he can't handle you.

End of story.

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Sep 24, 2012 10:06pm

In reply to Sophie:

Can't critiques of people from different times like that lead to undue pessimism in the now though? Not read the person you mention there, but while I recognise what he's saying he's probably talking about bygone men from pre-feminist years who would definitely raise our eyebrows and/or hackles. There seem to be as many rich women as rich men getting praised for their badly recorded records these days, so optimistically in their scene there might be some equality. That John Maus fellow doesn't seem to be weird about women, even if he doesn't get as much attention because no one can remember his songs, so it might not be endemic.

All the same, Ariel Pink can kiss my stink. He hasn't got any excuses for coming out with this kind of shit. Honestly, I can't see what he's got to do with this twee lot directly, the ones who dress up as kids and listen to shit music. But they can shove off too. Best invention of the 20th century and all they can do with it is stare at their fucking sandals and think about smoothies.

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steve
Sep 25, 2012 12:05am

Man, you are reading way too much into what he said. "Prey" ought to have been in quotes, and to infer anything about men faking sympathy with feminists is just imparting your own anger and hang-ups.

The nerds have taken over, though, and they're just as bad as the guys they replaced. It's still a club, just one with different standards of admission.

People have all kinds of motivations for things that they do, and some are unsavory. But really, who cares? If some scrawny hipster pretends to be gay in order to get chicks, what's it to you?

Any society in which the situation described in this article is a serious problem must be one without poverty, pollution, or crime. I'd like to live there. Too bad it isn't England, though. This is article is a great example of privileged whining.

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Peter
Sep 25, 2012 3:13am

In reply to Craig:

To this point of Pink being a scurrilous gobshite, it would be interesting to read a version of this article that addresses Pink's well-documented mental instability and drug use. That he's saying like this is interesting to parse, but I don't particularly see him as representative of any common social group other than those who need medical help. That certain less disabled male fans of his might adopt some of his style/mannerisms or play his music to pull girls would be additionally interesting analysis for you to attempt and for us to read.

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Johnny Nothing
Sep 25, 2012 5:33am

Alpha male is a relative concept. So that a group of resentful supposed beta males will gather together for tea and sympathy and within them a new hierarchy establishes itself. Competitiveness is a basic element of the psyche and an evolutionary stable strategy. Women can be just as crassly competitive as men when it comes to choosing a mate. Everyone measures themselves against those around them, everyone has feelings of inferiority and superiority and to deny this is to lie to yourself. Those impulses one chooses to suppress are what mark one out as a decent human being. Or not as the case may be. Apologies if any or all of these points have already been made but I got knee-deep into the argument before turning back.

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Nesbit
Sep 25, 2012 6:56am

In reply to Peter:

Petra, can you please provide some evidence of 'noxious crypto-misogyny' in the 'twee-dominated scenes' in any of the cities you cited in a previous commnent? Or at least perhaps point to any blog pieces or whatever that might illustrate what you're asserting. It's very damning, what you've said, but is there any basis in fact to what you've said? As so few people in 'indie' seem to be comfortable self-identifying as 'twee', I'm intrigued as to how 'twee' dominates anything.

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CORRECTIONS
Sep 25, 2012 8:28am

yawn-inducing right-on PC STUDENT NEWSPAPER bollocks.

Why do I keep returning to this website ?

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Barry C
Sep 25, 2012 10:43am

Crab

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Rhiannon
Sep 25, 2012 11:33am

'As a comic psychopathology of middle-class men in their early thirties, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong's soon-to-return Peep Show has many strengths. It captures the emotional scurvy born of a diet of unfulfilling white-collar work and joyless hedonism, and is – for a programme that can seem misanthropic on first viewing – surprisingly poignant in its telling of a story about the travails of being happy in a culture where horizons of expectation morph incessantly.'

Does Private Eye take pseuds corner submissions from the internet?

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Joe K
Sep 25, 2012 11:57am

In reply to Rhiannon:

Last I heard, Private Eye were contemplating opening a Pseud's Corner Nominations Corner, consisting solely of contributions by people who think writing that doesn't restrict itself to monosyllables or dares to make vaguely analytical references to popular culture should be derided.

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Ian Hislop
Sep 25, 2012 12:03pm

In reply to Joe K:

Do they have a 'smashing display of dignity corner' where UEA lecturers and their mates who all write for the same publication gang up on people for not liking their articles?

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Beep Beep
Sep 25, 2012 12:59pm

I realize this might not look good, but, although I consider the piece to be entirely accurate when it comes to this sort of behaviour, from having seen it firsthand, I don’t think the mix of derogatory remarks towards the alfa type is an exclusive of males. Sure, this has nothing to do with misogyny towards women, which is the whole point of the article. Just saying that beta-females hating on the alpha-females (often labeled as “sluts” by both beta-males and females) and pining for alpha-males is a present reality.

I don’t waste much time on Ariel Pink. At least not after having heard 5 minutes of his godawful smug reinterpretation of the more dreadful side of 80s radio. I lived those days and don’t need them back!

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ed
Sep 25, 2012 1:29pm

A fascinating subject, treated a bit clunkily. Loads of bold ideas, and I would love to read a more studied and thoughtful investigation of under-the-radar misogyny in non-mainstream scenes / genres, but this didn't quite do it for me I'm afraid.

Fair play to tQ for commissioning it, though: would definitely like to see more along the same lines.

And yes, that quote about Peep Show is straight out of Pseuds Corner, I'm sorry to say: nothing wrong with an analytical approach to popular culture, but that bit felt rather self-indulgent and over-embellished.

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gichidan
Sep 25, 2012 2:46pm

The fact that the article and commenters are using the phrase 'beta male' without any irony is so depressing.

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Jimi
Sep 25, 2012 3:32pm

It's just another example of the beta male indie culture persistently using its position of once-upon-a-time victimhood to excuse it's behaviour. It's the 'i was bullied so I can never be the bully' attitude that is also a little too prevelant in most popular (read: geek) culture. We have no dragons to slay but we haven't lost the attitude of persecution

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gichidan
Sep 25, 2012 3:58pm

STOP SAYING 'BETA MALE'. NOW!

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Spacious
Sep 25, 2012 7:24pm

I feel that this article makes a relevant point, but attempting to tie it to the person of Ariel Pink and whatever "scene" you would ascribe to it is a loss.

Like his music or not, it seems specifically designed for the beholder to project all manner of horseshit upon it. Same goes for the personality and utterances of Ariel Pink. You may as well parse the crypto-misogyny of drug-induced psychosis.

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Dan B
Sep 26, 2012 4:53pm

Having read the transcripts from Justin Lee Collins' trial today, I reverse my position and fully agree with this article.

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casmilus
Sep 28, 2012 7:19am

In reply to Dan B:

I didn't know JLC was an "indie" boy. I thought he always insisted he was in to Kiss and Saxon and various old metal bands, although on the few occasions I saw him on TV it always struck me that the whole business was rather forced. Almost as if he'd adopted the "metal fan" persona at around the age of 19, as a pretended-obsession to make himself seem vaguely eccentric in his own limited milieu. Perhaps there are some parallels between that behaviour and some "indie" subcultures.

Still, now we'll never get to see him try to Bring Back The Smiths.

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Dan B
Sep 28, 2012 7:59am

In reply to casmilus:

I was being mildly facetious but I agree with what you say.

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Louder
Sep 28, 2012 9:19am

who gives a fuck... Mature Themes is one of the albums of the year, I couldn't care less if Gary Glitter made it, still brilliant.

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please respond
Sep 29, 2012 12:59pm

I don't even *own* a TV

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Lana del Reich
Oct 1, 2012 4:03pm

In reply to ed:

Logorrhoea writers
are not always pseud-sters
when they have a point.

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Lana del Reich
Oct 1, 2012 4:10pm

In reply to please respond:

A Leicester academic
tried to be eccentric
disowning all TV.

Seven minutes after
he said he was a watcher
of 'Goodness Gracious Me'.

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Mark K
Oct 5, 2012 1:18am

I love when you come a cross a term for something you notice but don't have a name for; "beta-male misogyny" nails it.

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Joel
Oct 11, 2012 10:58pm

I haven't yet had time to comb through all of these comments, but I just had to say that the abovementioned Tullycraft song truly is awful. Really regret youtubing that there. hahaha

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JCMcGee
Oct 13, 2012 10:30am

In reply to Joel:

Suck on this fratboy:

http://youtu.be/3Wq5xj5pPlI

Twee was never about adressing gender inequality...it was always about winding up idiots.

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david rafn
Oct 16, 2012 5:06pm

this article is one of the stupidest things I've read lately. Does Ariel Pink speak for some group of men? He is an authentically talented jerk-off and that is pretty much it. I think this writer is very lazy and decided to build a theory out two unrelated pop culture moments that he happened upon in the same month. Is it some surprise that there are both traditional douchebags and hipster douchebags? Oh my god! call Adbusters! Someone has to tell the world!!! (sarcasm) Epsilon male out

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Dingo
Oct 17, 2012 2:36am

Aren't the terms beta and alpha based on unquantifiable scientific terms that have yet to be substantiated and peer tested within human males.

Why are we still using them then if this is the case? Isn't it then also a Catch 22 that we're ranking males in this outdated manner? There's a lot of good points in this article anyway, (although I think Ariel Pink is fairly tongue in cheek and shouldn't be taken all that seriously).

I get annoyed with that 'fuck me sensitivity' mentality as well. I used to have a mate who would only go after extremely attractive girls and, when I accosted him on it, actually had the gall to tell me that 'he doesn't prescribe to leagues', (regarding the fact that they have to accept him for who he is and not vice-versa), with absolutely no irony in his tone.

This attitude isn't anything new though, going back to French literature with stories like Beauty and the Beast and Hunchback of Notre Dame, (which is why Shrek was cool). Unfortunately you do get women who also prescribe to the 'he's no looker so he must be nice' attitude as well.

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Oct 17, 2012 9:18pm

SOMEONE WENT TO GRAD SCHOOL

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Rudi
Oct 18, 2012 12:34am

Your prose is fucking unreadable. I've read this piece twice and I still have no idea what you're talking about, though I am now fairly certain that you're totally full of shit.

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Oct 23, 2012 4:10am

In reply to Rudi:

You have enough of an idea to get annoyed about it though.

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Ben
Nov 25, 2012 2:33am

I stopped reading when you referred to Ariel Pink as chillwave. You have no idea what you are talking about.

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Max
Dec 12, 2012 5:23pm

Joe K + Petra incredibly spot-on about everything.
a righteous piece!

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Christian
Dec 18, 2012 1:09pm

Males appear to be totally confused nowadays. This confusion can be side-tracked by listening to Voodoo by D'Angelo on a loop.
Great article Joe - maybe it's just me, but I find a definite undercurrent of hate lurking within the new crowd hitting South London lately. I guess it's all about conviction, none of these people seem to have any real conviction - it's like all done for some ulterior hidden motive. Expression needs to be free and full of love.

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John Watt
Jan 6, 2013 12:53am

This is by far the best thing I've read on The Quietus.

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rob j
Feb 19, 2013 4:22pm

Love the quietus and the daft contributions - granted ariel pink was bullied at school and says some daft things but he is a hyper active little artisitic dynamo making great music and championing some great musicians - why use the term chillwave ? I cant respect you as a person or a music writer for using that term! are you an American? are you buzzing on the EDM wave bro ? despite talking alot of sense and some interesting ideas and analysis of Mark Corrigan it is a bit of a chucked together piece - this was a very useful article in some ways to look at the comments and to see some perfect examples of FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS so little work was done on that day between Dan B John Tatlock, Petra and the writer Joe K when they could of been doing something useful like making their coleagues a cup of tea or better still getting a sandwich!

- tying it all together this Beta Male Revenge idea to Ariel Pinks throwaway remarks is very thin - ive talked to him and interviewed him and his mind is extremely sharp and rambles all over the place and makes tons of jokes some funny some extremely hand in mouth unfunny and he has a kind of verbal diaherra within his verbal garbage are some gems - picking up on some remark he made in chin stoker monthly and attaching it to some flimsey theorizing and hipster lambasting is pointless p o i n t l e s s - but i had fun reading it ! especially the comments ! go you , but please try and be more coherrent I do hope you write some more black sky thinking pieces , interesting that someone made a comment about south London ... in the negative .. thought it was the new dalston!

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gomme splosion
Apr 13, 2013 1:17pm

I like where this article is headed, bringing attention to the problem of sexual competition + the othering of women as objects of social capital. As a long time fan of Tullycraft(yeah cringe all u want;)), I was,
1. surprised I was actually reading a blog post about them in 2013!
and
2. surprised at your reading of the song 'Pop Songs...". In relation to the rest of their music, I always thought of the song as an *intentionally* annoying and obnoxious anthem to pan-sexual experience the unprodroductive jealousy, snobbery that makes up what we call 'sexual competition'. Haha, I mean, they mention CUB for chrissakes! :D

By the by, have you ever heard 'Superboy and Supergirl'? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9UrmyCzyfI

There were some sentences that confused me:
"Remember all those guys who really loved Le Tigre or Electrelane or Bis or CSS, but ultimately might as well have been in the triples-for-singles meat market up the road when it came to putting their money where their emancipatory mouths were?"
-?- What's wrong with "triples-for-singles"? (What is it exactly?) What's wrong with meat markets? Gurl, don't we all just want to go out, drink, dance and have sex sometimes? amiright?

That sentence comes off an an uncomplicated, anti-porn/anti-sex/anti-sex work, idea of 'sexual democracy'. Though I'm not sure you meant to say that, but this sentence could also be seen as another edge of the patriarcal system which conjures up this whole alpha/beta, hunter/gatherer, man/woman, sexually aggressive/sexually passive nonsense.

I really liked your article, and the links forward. Thank you!

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Cobordism
Nov 16, 2014 6:23pm

If you can't sum up all your aims in the first line, they're too diffuse.

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