Lewis%2C+Jeff+_2005_+Better+than+Sex

Lewis%2C+Jeff+_2005_+Better+than+Sex - ABOUT THE Semes—...

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Unformatted text preview: ABOUT THE Semes— SPORT, CULTURE oSr SOCIETY The Sport, Culture and Society series deals with issues intersecting sport. physical activity and cultural concerns. The focus of the book series is interdiscipiinary, groundbreaking work that draws on different discipiines and theoretical approaches, such as socioiogy, phiiosophy, cuitural anthropology, history. cultural studies. feminist studies. postmodernism. or criticai theory. The Sport, Culture and Society series seeks to reflect both. the variety of research concerns from a meta-disciplinary perspective and discussions of current topics in sport one] physical: activity and their relationship to culture. I The editors: Karin Volkwein-Caplan (USA), Keith Gilbert (Australia), and Otto Schantz (Germany) For further information about the book series or the submission of proposais piease contact: Karin Voikwein-Caplen, West Chester University, Department of Kinesiology, West Chester, PA 39383, USA, e-maii: kvolkwein@wcupa.edu Keith Gilbert, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Burwood Campus, 221 Burwood Highway, 3125 Burwood/Victoria, Austraiia. e-maii: keith@deekin.edu.au Otto Schantz, University of Kobienz-Lanciau, Institute of Sport Science, Universitétssttafie 1, 56070 Kobienz. Germany. e-mail: schantz@uni-koblenz.de Sport, Culture & Society, Vol. 6 Keith Gilbert (Ed.) Sexuality, Sport and the Culture of Risk Meyer & Meyer Sport gm CHAPTER 7 Sexuxurr, SPORT AND YOUTH Better than Sex: Surfing and the Imaginary of MaieFema'e Desiring I :1" (Harrie 8 ' HargreaVesr 1- (1994i)- Sportr‘ng females. Critical issues in the histo ' ' . 0’ mid socrology of women’s sports. London: Routiecige. .- CHAPTER 8 o Kinkema M. K. 8: 'Harris C. Janet. Mediasport studies: Key Research and: emerging issues, 2001. , ._: '_ Better than Sex: Surfing and the Imaginary of o Kramer. 1.. Trew, K. & Ogres. (1997). Young People’s involvement in; MaieFema'e Desiring Sport (Genderrssues in sport participation). London: Routledge. . 7' o Magurre‘, 1., iarvie, (3., Mansfiled L. & Bradley 3. {2002): Sport Worlds. A= . Jeff LEW” Socroiogrcal Perspective. Champaign: Human Kinetics. _ :3 a Officral Gazette of RS No. 12/96, 67/93, 39/95, 18/98, 25/98, , - I ROMEO: Alas that love, whose view is muffled, still a Stevcenson, C. {1999). Inside sports. Becoming an international athlete, 3_ Should without eyes see pathways to his will! ton on. Routledge. . .- I on me, What fray was here? Yet tell me not, for i have heard it all. Here's much to—do with hate, but more with love. Why then, 0 brawling iove,- O loving hate, 0 anything, of nothing first createi Q heavy tightness, serious vanity Misshapen chaos of weEI-seerhing forms, Feather of lead, bright smoke, coid fire, sick health, Stili~waking sieep, that is not what it is! That iove feel I that feel no love in this. ~ Dost thou not laugh? BtNVOLlO: No, coz, I rather weep, (Romeo and Juliet, i, i) Dangerous Desire Within a context of violence, desire and death, Romeo's perturbations _ constitute a critical motif in the mediated history of youth sexuaiity. Even where it evades tragic consequences, the intensity of sexuai desire seems to index a convergent agonism betwoen pieasure and risk, deiight and devastation, This convergence of opposite intensities, aiong with the (im)possibility of their resolution, paraiiels the tacanian notion of ‘iack' where desire is danger since it ‘lacks’ the very thing it seeks: desire will collapse upon itself when it overcomes this lack through gratification (Laoan, 1977). The vitality of the desire, that is, survives through the absence of its object. The unexpected tragedy of Romeo and iuliet's ‘love' is a consequence of their own extremity and the extent to which they pursue the resolution of these countervailing claims. Shakespeare's radicai re-working of the comic—romance genre incited both excitement and discomfort for the unsuspecting Eiizabethan audience (Levenson, 2000); behind this formal experimentation, however, is a playwright who, through his own innovative . Better than Sex: Surfing and the Imaginary oi MaieFema'e Desiring CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 8 eruxurr, Spear AND Your“ WWW WWW—WWW aesthetic. is seeking tounpack the desire/danger compound, exposing his protagonists to the shock of complete gratification. Undoubtedly, it is this shock which brings Romeo and luiiet to their tragic deaths. Shakespeare. indulges his own aesthetic dangers as he exposes the ecstasy of youth sexuality to the hideousness of a social and cultural condition which cannot‘ tolerate the ultimate and complete expressivity of love‘s perfection. This expressivity of youthful sexual desiring has constituted a significant . libidinal force in popular aesthetics and in cultural history more generally. However, the Romeo and Juliet tragedy has been significant for the popular‘ imaginary as much in its resistance as in its adoption. in order to resist- gratification within the danger/desire compound popular aesthetics has most often retreated from Shakespeare's radical resolution. preferring instead to re—create the comic-romance in terms of a supplementary compound (im)possibllity/banality. This compound doesn't negate the- desire/danger compound, but acts rather as its co-extensive other, a supplementary aesthetic which interacts with. as it challenges, the potentiality of gratification. This potentiality remains forcefully present,‘ even in its absence, since the the trajectory of desire, even impossible desire, is a gratification which perfects itself as complete presence; the counterfiows merely inscribe this trajectory with an interacting and alternative trajectory which dissolves the ordinariness of banal desire into the cyclical and comprehensive communion of the opposite poles of despair and durability — despair because of the (im) possibility of perfect love and sexual gratification; durability because the alternative is death without even the (im)possit)iiity of gratification. The translation of the Romeo and luliet mythology into post-industrial cultural texts seems to propel the potential of tragic consequence through the interplay of these and other aesthetic tensions. Youth movies have sought to deploy this mythology through a romantic and sexual intensity which perpetually threatens itself with resolution but which in the and resists, fearing the consequences of implosion and aesthetic-cultural shock. in the ascent of the comic-romance genre the (im)possibility of sexual perfection remains fixed to its countervailing impulse of banality; at the moment of its likely accomplishment the ineffable and infinite possibility of impossibility transfers itself into a dreary continuity: the lack persists in the forever moment of its unattainable purity and pleasure. The shock of Romeo and Juliet is that it‘ succumbs to that delicious and hideous (imlpossibility, raising itself from the contradictions Romeo is describing in the opening quote into the realm of absolute tragedy. in many ways, these compounds and the force of their expression are most clearly captured in the narrative movies set. around the surf beach. The interplay of masculine and feminine desires are intensified as they are ‘naturalised’ through the metaphoric conceit of the surf and water more generally. While varying in many respects, these movies share a particular interest in the intersection of surfing lifestyles and the tensions which underscore relatively familiar comic romance aesthetics. The violence and relational perturbations which characterize the youth sexuality of Romeo and iuliet are represented in these recent textual forms, most particularly as they express specific ascriptions of gendered desire. eSpeciaily male desire for women. For feminists such as Leanne Stedman (1997) and Margaret Henderson (2001), however, the gendered desire that is represented in surf movies and narratives is largely overbaianced, expressing an increasingly patriarchal and hyperboiized masculinity which demeans the surfing ability and sexual aesthetic of young women. Stedman, for example, identifies an historical momentum which transforms the early representations of surfing from a potentially positive gender space into an hyperbole of masculine expressivity. in the 19605, Stedman argues, surfing provided a new opportunity for the subversion of gender ascriptions w however, “while the proliferation of cultureabased lifestyle groups can fragment and undermine oppressive modern structures, as the suriing sub- cultures initiaily did, postmodern cultures also constitute structures that may be no less oppressive" (Stedman, 1997: 85). The postmodernisation of culture generally and surfing in particular (see also Lewis, 2000, 2003i, leads Stedman to a despairing rejection of surfing textualities and their liberational possibilities —— The surfing subculture has been able to draw on the patriarchal symbolism of ‘mainstream' society to ‘neutralise’ its misogyny, usmg longstanding distinctions between nature and culture and between the sacred and the profane There is now far more emphasis on conquering a wave {nature} than on simply experiencing it. The relation of male surfers to nature/women as Other is one of ambivalence: desire structured aroun‘cl fear? While the wild moods of the ocean are attributed to ‘Mother Nature', those elements of nature that are essential for good surf — wind, tide, swell and sand movement - are cultivated and controlled by the surfer's male god, 'i—luey'. In the surfing world, women are disorder; their identification with ‘Hueyiess' Nature makes them unpredictable and out of gontrol. (Stedman, 1997: 86) :HAPTER 8 Stedman concludes that the progression of surfing and surfing textuaiization over the past several decades constitutes a kind of descent“ into commodification and 'hyper-mascuiinity. Postmodernism and the surfing subcultures fail us because they have no capacity to resist the ideological force of patriarchy and the acquisitiveness of male desire. in this chapter I want to offer an alternative reading of male/female sexual desire and its association with surfing and surfing textuaiities. While I have made some comments about this elsewhere (Lewis, 1998, 2000, 2003), I want to suggest that the discursive construction of youth sexuality within the context of (hyper)mascuiinity and surfing does not in itself constitute an inevitable recourse to patriarchy and patriarchal structures, as Stedman and others contend. Rather i want to look at the ways in which dangerous youthful desiring is effected through representations of surfing, most especially in surfing narrative films. ' This is not to deny the significance of patriarchy nor sexism more generally in surfing; it is rather to situate sexual desire within a broader cultural framework. one that signifies a more complex impression of sexual expressivity in surfing. i am focusing here on the maie-female compound as this is the most common category of (‘heterosexual') desire deployed in the narrative surf texts. But I want to insist at the outset that the emphasis on (especially masculine) heterosexuai desire cannot and should not be disengaged from female desirability and female desire. The categories I use here are semantically convenient more than taxonomicaily exclusive or closed. indeed, the principal focus of this essay centres on the ways in which these categories merge and contend with one another through the dynamic of language and ianguage systems. The Soiiton Wave As indicated, the surfing wave has become an important fiimic motif for identifying sexuality with nature. i want to suggest that the ‘soliton wave', a natural phenomenon first identified in theoretical physics, might provide a valuable metaphor for describing the connection between surfing and sexual desire. The soliton or ‘wave of translation' was first noticed and recorded by a Scottish engineer, John Scott Russell. in 1834. While watching the movement of a canal boat, Russell observed the presence of a large, solitary wave which suspended the vessel in a state of unexpected and violent agitation, leaving it suddenly behind and ‘assuming the form of eruaurv, SPORT AND YOUTH ; +- _,_ ..__.v - , T - -_, Better than Sex: Surfing and the imaginary of iVialeFBmtIe Desiring CHAPTER 8 a large solitary elevation, a rounded, smooth, welt-defined heap of water which continued its course aiong the channel apparently without change of form or diminution of speed‘ (Russeli, 1845). On horseback, Russeil pursued the wave along the canal for severai miles, believing that he was witness to something truly remarkable. This ‘wave of translation' exhibited some astonishing quaiities, most particularly the absence of entropy or repetition. During the latter half of the twentieth century, Russell’s notion of a soliton wave that is both unique and inexhaustible became empirically significant for many disciplines, including hydrodynamics, audiology, meteorology, astronomy, computer science, and thermodynamics (taksman, 1988). Equally, however, the theoretical potential of the soliton stimulated the interest of physicists working in the frontier zones of chaos, quantum and fractal mathematics. Theorists saw the soliton as a phenomenon which converged the seemingly opposite properties of waves and particles, noting in particular that the soliton provided a coherent and consistent explanation for the ways in which any given cosmic phenomenon might prove unique and 'unrepeatable in relation to independent observation. That is, the soliton confirmed an original and unique connection between the natural phenomenon or event and theobserver — the human and the natural, consciousness and phenomena. Along with other dimensions of quantum and fractai theory, the soliton also stimulated the thinking and imagining of designers, aesthetic theorists (see lencks, 1995) along with a phalanx of ‘foik’ and ‘new age' theorists for whom the soliton represented an expression of cosmic forces, fertility and sexual pleasure. For some new age theorists, such as the ‘actionlove’ web community, the soliton wave constitutes an expression of mystical sexual pleasure — “Deep-WaveSoliton-Orgasms are like a sequence of deep water wave groups governed by the Quantum Mechanics‘ nonlinear Schrodinger equation" (Lin, 2003: 2). As the convergent expression of brain wave and sexual ecstasy, the ‘actionlove' notion of soliton emerges as a culturai signifier. Within a cultural imaginary the expressive value of the soliton, especially for a postmodern conceptualization, resides in its capacity to integrate countervailing intensities - bio'logy/cuiture, body/mind/spirit, movement/stasis, origin/repetition. in a sense the perfectness of the soliton as a cultural imaginary constitutes the idealized ‘expressivity' recommended by Deleuze and Guattari (1987), an expressivity that is pure and unconstrained by social structures or fixed language. This is the ‘piane of pure immanence’ which absorbs nature and culture into a singleflexpressive but infinitely mobile vector — 123 CHAPTER 8 WWW—Mum eruaurr, SPoRr AND You're in any case. there is a pure plane of immanence. univocality, composition. upon which everything is given, upon which unformed elements and materials dance, that are distinguished from one another only by their speed and that enter into this or that individuated ' assembiage depending on their connections, their reiations of movement. A fixed plane of life upon which everything stirs, slows down or accelerates. A single'ab'stract Animal for all the assemhiages ‘ which effectuate it. . . . it is no longer a question of organs and functions, and of a transcendent Plane that can preside over their organization only by means-of anaiogical relations and types of' divergent development. it is a question not of organization, but ‘of composition, not of deveiopment or differentiation, but of movement ' and rest, speed and slowness. (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987': 255) While Deieuze and Guattari arespeaking here of a state of being in the world, there is a strong sense in which the soliton wave might constitute an' ideal expressivity for the processuai plane of movement and Composition. We have noted elsewhere that Deleuze‘s ideaiization (Deieuze 1992, see Lewis 2003) suggests that the surfing act might constitute a ‘rest' or ‘puise‘ in the ever unfoiding of dynamic motion. To extend this idea, we might see the ‘wave' as an infinitely ‘writeable' text, a pure and dynamic plane upon which the surfer inscrihes an expressivlty which constitutes a communion of eiemental ecstasy — a convergent communion of nature and culture. The wave and the surfer are mutually aestheticized through an unfolding present (and presence) within each other's sphere of articulation. The ‘ ecstasy of communication (Baudriliarci, 1983) might seem a compiete composition of human nature, an assemblage which enables the language of the act to distinguish itself from hierarchical social structure, along with the dangers and deiimiting effects of permanence. The soliton, that is. provides the expressive plane of pure immanence, a convergent and dynamic aesthetic where neither nature nor cuiture supersedes the other but co-exists within the moment and momentum of the convergent wave/surfer. The soiiton constitutes an ideal metaphor for the communion of flow and particulation which inevitably iterates the sexual desiring of unconstrained pleasure that indulges itself as origin without destiny, composing without entropy, and ecstasy without climax. The soliton becomes the natural expression of the perfect and pure act. Not surprisingly, the surfer's‘attempt to describe or explain the ‘effectuation' of this ecstasy leads to the sort of supplementarity about which Derrida (1974, 1978) speaks in his analysis of writing. The m tom... ' " . - “We, a ,- " ,. Better than Sex: Surfing and the Imaginary of MaleFemale Desirm idealization of the surfing act as convergent nature/culture is inscribed inevitabiy with its oWn implausibiiity, its own ‘lack’. The notion that a great surfing session might be ‘better than sex‘ clearly enunciates'bom the (im)possibility of the soliton and the banality Which leads to its ‘transiation' as text. in this way, the inadequacy of the language supplement which must somehow impose itseif as analogue (or surrogate) for the event/experience converges with the idealization of the soliton-as-text. When Derrida speaks of supplementarity in language he is describing the ways in which meaning is deferred through various progressions toward an irretrievable origin and an equally intractable destination. The surfer's impuise toward a linguistic supplementation of ‘original’ experience entraps ‘surfing' in the same intractabiiity since the origin of the original experience is fundamentally constituted through the language that has created its possibility. That is, the experience itself and the expressive union of surfer and wave cannot in themselves eschew the formative power of surfing as language. Consequentiy, the surfing text, which functions as supplement to the act, is itself a supplement to the text; wave, surfer and text are enmeshed in a compiex interdiction by which the expressivity engages upon itself as potentiai more than fact. The soliton wave therefore is sensibiy created as a utopia of the surfer imaginary. Desire for that perfect accomplishment of union (text-wave- surfer) which might resolve itself in an ecstasy of perfect expression perpetuates the desire as much as necessitates the danger of its gratification. In this sense, the Romeo and iuliet myth of danger-desire becomes archetypicaily constituted through the narrative formation of surfing. if surfing is better than sex, better than the entropic release of orgasm, then it can oniy be articulated as a soliton ecstasy ~— wave without energy~loss, perfectiy shaped, smoothly forming and unfolding in a perpetual immersion of convergent pleasure. The sexual gloss of the water body expresses itseif in the surfer imaginary as entirely sexual, even as it exceeds sex and itseif in the ideal communion of body/mind/spirit, nature/culture. This dream of the perfect wave and perpetual ecstasy is expressed in the title of surfing's most iconic surf documentary movie — The Endless Summer: the search for the perfect wove (Brown, 1964). The merging of opposite effects in this title functions in a slmilarway as the lattice which conveys Romeo to iuliet's window: the overlay of danger and desire reads the desiring body (surfer/lover) through a lexical ascent of the imaginary object and its ultimate lack (wave, woman). We note, therefore, that there is an ‘endiess' summer, a perpetuity which engages in the ‘search’ for perfection and not its discovery or gratification. The soiiton as it is AFTER 8 ' erumrr, SPORT AND YourH M transferred to text seeks to overcome the lack as it would resolve and sustain the desire/danger, banality/(im)possibility, nature/culture compounds in a harmony of perfect supplementarity. ' As indicated elsewhere (Lewis, 1998), this ascent to precarious lexical supplementarity ~ the precipice of lexical orgasm — generates the sort of hyperbolic imaginary that is common to surfing texts. Thus, while Stedman and others are highly critical of the ideological content of texts like the comic strip Conad Mon, l have suggested that the extravagance of the character and his over-sized 'balls' are in fact an expression of the compound desire-terror. Gonad Man's ‘prosthetic‘ enhancementis a form of extended desire which actually caricatures the precariousness of the sexual imaginary of the surfer, rather than confirms it. As Buchbinder (£998) and others have explored in recent men's studies, the anxiety of performance demand has frequently led men to overstate their sexual capacity, even in the act of conceding its limits or deficiencies. Similarly, Pamela Anderson's breast augmentation. as featured in the surf TV series Baywatch, is not merely freakish, but is a cultural gesture which is becoming increasingly prevalent on the beaches of California. Pamela's ‘unnaturally' large breasts are naturalised as a sexual focus which is ‘engendered' as part of the televlsuai contract between watcher and watched. This augmentation of the silicon soliton breasts emphasizes the hyperbole of sexual surfing and the implicit dangers attached to desiring and desirable bodies. The caricature of the Pamela pleasure constitutes the sort of- misrecognition about which Lacan speaks: the watcher is seeing an image of an absent self in the sexual hyperbole of this desiring. The pretension of ‘ Gonad Man as a Nietzschean extrawman is matched by the Pamela desirability and sexual extravagance. in both cases, surfers are exposing themselves to the (imlpossibility of the soliton — an indefatigable courage and sexual power annexed to the impossible ecstasy promised by Pamela‘s perfect body. The self that is projected into these texts is highly precarious, an extreme expression of the more modest textualiaations we will now examine. Beach Party in many reSpects, the rise of youth culture from the 19505 and 80s marks a clear movement toward a more fragmented and open individualism. The transition from industrial to symbolic capitalism (Bell, 1973, Baudriilard, 1981, Bourdieu, 1984, 1990) is marked by the proliferation of lifestyles and '-.«'¢'-—~ww—-—ma-£ w' ".'W~w~w v' :- ....uy ‘. Mm Better than Sexz. Surfing and the imaginary of Male?emale Desiring an accelerating exchange of signs and meanings. As numerous commentators have explained (see Hebdige, l979, 1988, Bourdieu, 1984, 1990, McRobbie, 1994), the symbolic exchange of style and consumer choice marks a significant moment for the emergence of youth culture. Through the medium of wave technologies — especially TV and the transistor radio — youth culture was able to refresh itself continually through an ongoing engagement with fashion and self-generating ideas, designs, texts and styles. Capitalist commodities were both adapted and invented by young people who were able to create themselves in terms of a distinctive and self-defining culture. Teenage sexuality, as it had been explored in Romeo and Juliet, becomes central to the formation of this new mode of symbolic exchange; an immersion in the culture of teenage lifestyle emerges as a critical component of sexual attractiveness. The sexual revolution of the 19605 depended, in fact, on the subversive and transgressive stylizing of young people, and their preparedness to explore new modes of social and libidinal expression. ‘ As we have noted at the beginning of this chapter, the soliton of youth sexuality, most particularly its compound of banality and (impossibility, is powerfully articulated in the ‘wave' of teenage surf culture. TV and movie crossover texts like Gidget (1959) and the Beach Party series adapted the California surfing culture into various commodlfied textualizations. As well as the movies and TV programs themselves, surf products, automobiles, hairstyles, music, beachwear, tourism and even real estate were discursively and commercially generated through a surfing lifestyle and its implicit sexual potency. in many respects, the original Beach Party (1963), while deriving some of its inspiration from the emerging surf documentary genre, contributed significantly to the evolution of teen movies generally and the surf narrative movie in particular. The troubled desiring of the two protagonists (played by Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello) functions within a context of adult anxiety, surveillance and social constraint. in this sense, Beach Party references to the Romeo and luliet archetype though the lovers resist the actualizations which might transport them to the realm of absolute tragedy. The soliton loving, therefore, exists within and through the precariousness of dangerous desire, but neither the desiring nor the danger is ever fully realised. in fact, what becomes immediately evident in the teen movie genre generally. and the teen surf movie in particular, is that an unrequited or unfulfilled desiring provides an ideal vehicle for dramatic intrigue and audience engagement — the critical components of successful CHAPTER 8 " m lPTER 8 M Sexuaurr, SPORT AND YOUTH commodiflcatlon. Of course, Hollywood had already recognised that a love interest was an essential ingredient in the social comedy format; the teen surf movie. however. provided even greater opportunities for sexual display and the intensely perplexing and paradoxicaily stimulating conditions of raw teenage sexual energy. The commercial success of television, with its immense demand for textual product, banality and seriality, provided a template for a movie industry in which a love interest and therefore audience interest could and should be protracted. film series like Beach Party mimicked the television model in order to extend the commercial-viability of sexualised teenage bodies. lean Baudrillard (1984) has described this process of commodifled sexual arousal in terms of the culture of hyperreality. According to Baudriilard, following. Umberto too, the density of mediated images and information constitutes a new reality, one in which everything is an imitation of everything elsa. in a world without source where the sign merely points to itself rather than to some grounded reality. humans are condemned to live in a state of perpetual uncertainty. Referencing only to these proliferating slmulacra, televisuai audiences are unceasingly aroused by images which stimulate a sexual interest that has no focus. in this sense, teen movies or other texts which stimulate sexual desiring create the ideal conditions for an ecstatic consumerism. With no clear orientation for the arousal, audience members will merely redirect their desiring toward a nefariously associated capitalist product. Beach Party, therefore, is in its very essence'a sexual text which overlays its arousal with a commodified supplement. a ‘better than sex‘, which seeks its gratification in the broader culture of consumer activity. Even if we only partially accept Baudrillard's explanation, we can see clearly that a protracted desiring is part of the formulaic inscription of the commercialised teen surf text. The simple paradox, however, is that this inscription of capitalist interest is achieved by the subversive intensity of teen sexual desiring. it is precisely this desiring - and its immanent dangers m which constitute the radical predisposition of the teen movement, especially as it is associated with surfing. The tragic potential of teenage sexuality is interpolated through the ceiebrationai playfulness of the ‘beoch party’ motif, intensifying the possibility of sexual ecstasy through its destabilization. in this way, the aestheticization of the surf transforms the familiar filmic analogue of water and sexual concupiscence into a’ foreground of transgressive youth sexuaiity. The beach and the delirium of' ‘the party' are rendered within a Bacchanalian context of sexual intrigue and sexuai potency. While once the crashing waves were interpolated as an Better than Sex: Surfing and the imaginary of MaleFemale Desiring imagized surrogate for actual sexual depiction (the release of bodily fluids) the continual presence of water in the teen surf movie serves to protract the desiring and desirability of young bodies. it is not the achievement of sexual release that is important but the aestheticized perpetuity of sexual wanting and desire. This new ubiquity of water ‘naturalizes' the absence of gratification even as it endangers itself through the possibility of excess cliche or fatigue. I I While later surf texts like Gonod Mon and Baywatch express this potential for excess in caricature. it is represented in films iike Beach Party as an excessive sentimentalism. The translation of nineteenth century Romanticism into popular romanticism articulates itself through the subjugation of tragic consequence. This is precisely the reformation and convergence of an impossible soliton ideal with its own banality. indeed, the ideal of perfect love or perfect marriage which had dominated the romantic comedies of eariier Hollywood is both threatened and confirmed in the perpetuity of water. The soliton of the Beach Party series is configured through these alternatives. in order to sustain the effect of desiring, that is, Beach Party effectively undermines the ideal which is continually re-presented as the orientation and destiny of the Avalon—Funiceilo love interest. The surf and the parade of alternative sexual desirings disrupt, as they protract, the trajectory of this desiring. At the moment when the desiring implodes upon itself, the text collapses into excess and banality. Big Boys: Big Wednesday As we have noted. feminist commentators like Leanne Stedman and Margaret Henderson argue that 3960s surfing was more open and transgressive than its later forms. According to this .view, texts like Gidget and Beach Party had not yet been fully colonized by ‘hypermasculinity' and the controlling effects of patriarchy. images of female surfers were not uncommon and the beach was regarded as, a relatively open space in which feminine expressivity was still possible. The transgressive potential of teenage sexuality, inciuding girls‘ sexuality, had not yet succumbed to the imperatives of cultural hierarchical systems. Even though the social imperatives of boyfriend and marriage remained ascendant in 1960's (McRobbie, 1990, 1997), girls' lives, the activities of surfing, heachgoing, partying and sexual choosing enabled characters like Annette and Gidget to establish a radicalised gender lineage which leads ultimately to the Charmed sisters and Buffy. in essence, and as Meaghan. Morris (1988) has’jargued, CHAPTER 8 Better than Sex: Surfing and the imaginary of MaleFema'B Desiring CHAPTER 8 CHAPTER 8 Sexuaurr, SPORT AND YOUTH W M erratic in Big Wednesday, it drives a series (of dramatic tensions which lrradiate through the soliton ideal - individual/community. freedom/ responsibility. youth/ageing, lust/marriage, transgression/ authority courage/fear, surfer/other. Unlike the TV or series movies of the 19605 Big Wednesday centralizes male sexual and athletic prowess, drawing these tension into a climax which is marked by the the intensity of male fantasy these popular characterizations constitute a mode of feminist heroinism which often precedes social change. " surfing and surfing textualization as masculine patriarchy re-asserts its cultural privilege. While Stedrnan correctly identifies an intensification of masculinity and the capitalist commodification of masculine bodies from the 19705 and 19805 into the present, these trends are as much about the For Leanne Stedman, however, this transgressive potential collapses in l i i nature of the soliton and its precarious compounds as it is about a re- assertion of patricarchai sexism. Transgression in surfing is enabled by the precariousness of the danger/desire, banality/(im)possihility compounds. This transgressive potential is not dissolved by the strengthening of masculinity in surfing; rather, it is constituted through the same compounds. and their potential for soliton expressivity. The risit of exhaustion, conformity, despair or banality remain bound to the alternative potential for unrestrained danger and even complete or perfect sexual gratification. The poiitics of gender (or any other mode of cultural politics) are formed in terms of the ways in which the compounds play themselves out as aesthetic expressivities. in fact, the discourses of the feminist ideal and the sexual revolution provide a broadened cultural space for the iteration of the soliton expressivity. Masculinity (as much as femininity) itself begins to find new expressive opportunities within the framework of these compounds as they are enhanced through feminist and other iiberatlonal discourses. it is. therefore, not simply a case of masculinity aggressively colonizing surfing for its own ends, but masculinity operating through the new discourses of- youth culture, feminism and sexual liberation to shape and create a broadened cultural domain. This masculine expressivity is fortified, in many respects, through an increasingly popular and competitive social space (the wave) which articulates itself in terms of sexual rivalry (the female body). Dangerous desire is thus concentrated through new variations of the soliton where surfing is increasingly commodified, textualized, internationalized and utopianized (Lewis, 2003). Within this context, along with a widening mode of sexual expressivity, the danger/desire,-banality/(im)possibility compounds are narratized through the intensifying masculinity of films like Big Wednesday (1978), Blue juice (1995) and in God’s Hands (1998). in each. of these films romantic sentimentaiism is challenged and ultimately subsumed within a discourse of-‘social and sexual scepticism. Surfing, in' fact, becomes a counterpoise to the perfection of love in idealized marriage and family life. While this counterpoise is somewhat incomplete and even and sexual release. While referring specifically to a freakish meteorological and swell event when only the best and most courageous surfers enter the water, the bigness of Big Wednesday also analogizes the big waves with the phailus and masculine sexual prowess. Through what we might call the ‘Gonad Man complex' the male protagonists in Big Wednesday become obsessed with their own performativity and the soliton imagining which drives them. The sexual proportion of masculine bigness, however, is expressed not merely as individual capability but also in terms of an heroic order of buddies. While the lesser men (and women) wait and watch on the shore, the entry of lack, Matt and Leroy into the realm of the soliton represents a final excursion into the metaphysics of resolving agonism. John Malius, the director, creates a mystical context for the heroes as they paddle into the immense waves. As with Albert Faizon's Morning of the Earth (1972) and the later surf narrative film in God’s Hands, the surfers in Big Wednesday assume an Homeric demeanour which seems, momentarily at least, to obscure the divisions between nature/culture, danger/desire and (im)possibillty lbanality. The sexual calamities, personal dissolutions, conflicts and relationship problems seem to recede with the shoreline. The extremity of the men and the nature they encounter conveys them to the edge of tragedy. One of the characters, in fact, after some courageous wave riding gets ‘wiped out' and nearly killed. His life suspended in the precarious and dangerous depths, he is finally drawn back to the surface by his friends. This return to the living casts the impossibility of the soliton quest into stark relief as the film must ultimately and unrelentingly withdraw from tragedy — and its capacity for resoiving spectacularly the inevitable contradictions and countervailing intensities of everyday existnece. Big Wednesday concludes in smallness (banality) with the individuals returning to their separate and individuated dominions — and the inevitable trajectory of their ageing. Youth expires as the soliton imaginary fades into a form of .discomlorting nostalgia, a rendering of ‘what we were’ rather than who we can be. The protracted desire is passed like a baton (literally a surfboard) to the younge} generation AFTER 8 Ssxuaurr, SPORT AND YOUTH W l2 as finally the buddies retreat to a bewildering prospect of shoreline ageing and the inevitability of their own separation from one another. Unlike Romeo and luliet, the death imagined in Big Wednesday is protracted and vacant, a dismantling of honour rather than its perpetuation as a testament of love. The bigness is necessarily a smallness, a final concession to the (im)possibiiity of this soiiton performance, even within the moment. The Nietszchean extra—men fade within the calamity they had hoped so desperately to transcend. in fact, the film’s tonal nostalgia concedes this very point: the extravagance oi the desire, expressed through the series of party and fight scenes, constitutes an unruliness that has overstrained itself. The bodies in the text struggle between compliant domesticity and an excessive desire for release and perfection. The film’s good humour is mediated thrOugh a strained concession to the hero motif popularized in buddy, sports and war movies: The heroic masculinity of Big Wednesday, however, is tempered by the film's . ultimate and inevitable banality, a banality which again centers on the ageing of the principal characters and the (imlpossibility of their desire for a greatness within the soiiton expressivity. Their youth, athleticism and sexual vitality are besieged by a biological diminution and the forces which unceasingiy return them to the-mundane and quotidian conditions of the social world. a Even so, it is the social world, or at least its incarnation as community, which saves them from the tragic consequences of their desire. The unruly young- males who fight and compete for sexual favours dignify and protect themselves through the constitution of their own community. They save each other from the dangerous surf, but more generally they save each other from the dangers of banality and despair. in the buddy genre tradition, the survival and heroic aspirations of the individuals is a contingency of the group. The film agonizes through this problematic contention between individual expressivity and collective responsibility. Individuals struggle against and within the group in order to articulate their particulate order; in the end, however, the collapse of the soliton ideal is measured against the possibilities of collective care. Sexual expressivity and the brute power of the individual remain incomplete as the desire for the soliton experience fades into a desperately ioneiy middle age. The climax of this surfing experience is articulated as a collapse of faith. a rendering of the male climax which is little more than a footnote to despair. luliet and Romeo live on in the text despite the threat of consummated desire. tntropy and the (im)possibility of the soiiton is confirmed. Better than Sex: Surfing and the Imaginary of MaleFema'e Desiring Multiple Climax: the Perspective of Women in Surfing in many respects, 'Biue juice and In God’s Hands replicate the themes and ideas explored in Big Wednesday. in all cases men and their masculinity are engaged through the soliton of large and dangerous waves. The narratives are conveyed through a desire for soiiton which is perpetually threatened by the possibility of death, a failure of courage, bodily weakness, the exhaustion of desire and the banality of resistance. in each of these movies women are both part of the desire, and the symbol of its gratification and exhaustion. it is not, however, that women are the mere sexual focus of the dangerous desire but rather they are part of its teios. Women and the unruly pleasures of sexual wanting — symbolised in the perpetuity of water, party and sexual display — are constituted in terms of the masculine-[feminine engagement. Masculinity and femininity are co-extensivities, formed through an intense but precarious desiring. if surfing can be described as ‘better than sex’, then it is because women and surfing are constituted as the unnamed or unnameable desire which propels masculine imagining and action. To borrow once more from Lacan, the male/female compound is the double entry matrix of the soiiton, an interdependency which generates the force and momentum of the soiiton imagining. The exhaustion of this desiring is articulated through its domestication and personification in banality. it is not, therefore, that women represent this banality, but rather that they are entrapped by the social forces which bring it about. The threat of retirement from the soliton does not represent the success of the feminine over the masculine; it is rather a part Of the conditions of the imagining, a necessary element in the possibilities of its failure and gratification. Not surprisingly, then, these films also share with each other and with their audiences a sense of aestheticized bewilderment. The seeming convergence of failure and gratification, along with the extravagance of the soliton , can really have no other effect. Audiences are mesmerized by the soiiton which seems, of itself, to represent the fullness of a living which has no clear or direct consequence. The potential for excessive ecstasy is matched, therefore, by the sense of extravagant despair. The gratification, if it exists at all, cannot survive the entropy of time and supplementarity. The viewer, like the actor, is merely playing out the imaginary of the soiiton, constituting a presence which necessarily and immediately dissolves itself into future and past conceits w alternative imaginings which return the text and the viewer to the fracturing Contentiousness of (im)possibility and banality. For the female viewer, this ephemera and despair might seem even CHAPTER 8 133 CHAPTER 8 SEXUAUTY, SPORT AND YOUTH more acute, since the masculine, which dominates the sport, is exposed as a self-perpetuating.vacuity, an entropy which moves the action from one wave to the next but which finally cannot accomplish the perfection of that desire; The unceaslng ‘desire’ to supplement the ‘desire' through its ongoing textualization is not merely an act of commercial intent; it is a necessary part of the cuitural project which seeks to overcome the ‘lacir' which threatens to collapse all things in despair. in this sense, a film like Blue Crush (2002), which focuses on female surfers and the soliton of femininity, is not a radical departure from the surf narrative lineage, but is rather a supplement to its intentionality. For the protagonist of Blue Crush the soliton is expressed in terms of a surfing contest in which she is hoping to establish herself as a senior professional surfer. As with the male films, the challenge expresses itself in terms of desire/danger and a sexual expressivity. The familiar conceit of the woman establishing herself through the respect of the male surfers is modified- somewhat since the protagonist must also earn the respect of the female competitors. Her near retirement from the soliton quest is manifest through her romantic entrancement with a successful football player who has already rejected the notion of a perfected and enduring love. Even 30', Anne Marie remains entranced by the possibility of 3 Romeo and juliet ideal, accepting the threat/pleasure of marital banality as an inevitable consequence of her femininity. in fact. it is only when Anne Marie recognises that the integration (double entry matrix) of the feminine/masculine is imperfect that she is able 'to‘ return to her greater quest of the soliton. The imagined ‘infidelity' of the new lover re-engages (im)possibility to the banality of perfected iove, restoring threat and displeasure to the ideal of her desiring. The return to the soliton, therefore, is enabled by the restoration of a sexual passion that is threatened by its alternative tensions of banality and (imipossibility; Anne Marie, like the heroes of Big Wednesday, must seek to transcend the compounds of shoreline desiring through an exertion of her extrawwoman will. Significantly, it is not that Anne Marie rejects the desiring, but rather that she modifies its banality through the integration with dangerous desiring; the football player isn't rejected but the desiring is modified through the transcendent desiring of the soliton quest. Also like Big Wednesday, Anne Maria is able to overcome her fears in the soliton through a constituted dependency 4* salvation by a ‘buddy‘. X’s life is suspended within the same tragic threat and she is only able to survive by the intervention of others. When the film concludes, Anne Marie is safely l .m___.._._. ._', .. ' Better than Sex: Surfing and the imaginary of Maleremaie Desiring restored to the shoreline having evaded the Romeo and “Him: tragic consequence. But the imperfection and .particuiation of the dangerous desiring remains prevalent. it is not old age that threatens Anne Marie, but the inevitability of imperfection and the failure of perpetual ecstasy. Anne Marie-herself persists though this too is aconcession to imperfection; the supplement continues since its only alternative is despair or death. Multiple Climax 2: Beneath the Black Rock The danger-ecstasy of sexual surfing is expressed in a more menacing way in films such as Puberty Blues (1981) and Black Rock (1997). More than any other surf narrative fiim, Black Rock provides an imagining of the ultimate collapse of the soliton where danger ultimately exceeds its supplementary other. Based on an actual event, Black Rock tells of a desiring which articulates itself as excess and as a gratification which succumbs to violence. despair and death. Like splitting atoms, the compounds of femininity/masculinity, desire/danger, culture/nature, pleasure/threat, (im)possibility/banality irradiate through a violent disaggregation which leads ultimately to the rape and murder of a teenage girl on the beach. This is more than an act of sexual violence; it is also an expressivity of extreme terror in which surfing and the brutaiity of its competitive masculinity overextends itself in a particulation, an individualism, which shatters the controlling agency of its otherness — collective responsibility and care of others. As in Euripides' The Bocchae, the excess of a Dionysiac pleasure erupts into horror when the momentum of desire breaks away from its compound; dangerous desire becomes merely dangerous as an unrestrained nature dissociates its cultural contingencies in order to release the absolute potential of gratification. This also is the story of Romeo and )uliet, by which the interdependence of nature and culture is shattered by the excess of desiring violence and a masculinity which unhitches itseif from the counterpoise of its soliton femininity. Supplementarity, therefore, is a functioning contingency of the soliton imagination. The interaction betWeen contending conceits provides the aesthetic weid that is necessary for signification and cultural expressivity. Surfing exists as a social and cultural space in which new modes of expressivity are possible. in particular, it draws together the potential for a transgressive expressivity, though this is not of itself assured. The beauty of surfing exists in its moment of flight. inevitably, though, this moment can never exist without the interpolation of the supplement, the CHAPTER 8 m Sexuaurr, SPORT AND YOUTH text. Surfing gives expression to a youthful and dangerous desire. But it is oniy in the complement and supplement of this desire that pleasure is conceived. The dividing away of dangerous desire creates the conditions for tragedy, despair and horror on the one hand, or an unreienting banality on the other. Surfing is a sexual act whose gratification should never over-reach the human impuise to imagining and story-telling (supplementarity). if the story is ‘better than sex’ it is a soiiton that can never be realised but must end in devastation References: o Arthur, D. (2003). Corporate sponsorship of sport: its impact on surfing and surf culture. in J. Skinner, K. Gilbert & A. Edwards, Some Like it Hot: the Beach as a Cultural Dimension. Meyer and Meyer: Oxford. 0 Baudrillard. i. (1981). For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, trans. C. Levin. Teios Press: St Louis. ‘ o Baudriiiard, i. (1983). The ecstasy of communication. in H. Foster (Ed). The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodernism. o Buchbinder, D. (1998). Performance Anxieties: Reproducing Masculinity. Aiien and Unwin: Sydney. Baudrillard, i. (1984a). Simulations, trans. P. Foss. Semiotexte: New York. Beii, D. (1973). The Coming of Post-industrial Society. Basic Books. New York. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction. Routiedge: London. « Bourdieu, P. (1990). Language and Symbolic Power. Polity: London. Deieuze. G. 8: Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus. trans. Brian Massumi. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapoiis. - Deleuze, G. (1992). Mediators, trans. Martin loughin. in Crary and Kwinter (Eds), lncorporatians. Zone Books: New York. 0 Derrida, l. (1974). Of Grammatoiogy. trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. John Hopkins University Press: Baitimore. o Derrida, l. (1979). Writing and Difference, trans Aiken Bass. Routiedge and Kegan Paul: London. Hebdige. D. (1979). Subuculture: The Meaning of Style. Methuen: London. Hebdige, D. (1988). Hiding in the Light: On images and Things. Comedia: London. 0 Henderson. M. (2001). A shifting linefiup: men, women and Tracks surfing magazine: Continuum, i5 (3). 319-332. I iencks, C. (i 995). The Architecture of the lumping Universe. Academy Editions: London. Better than Sex: Surfing and the Imaginary of Maieiemaie Desiring O O O. CHAPTER 8 W Lacan, i. (1977). Ecrits: A Selection. Tavistock: London Lakshman. M. (£d.) (1988); Solitons s rin - ': i - Dynamics. p ger Series in Nonirnear Lanagan.‘ D. (2003). Dropping in: surfing, identity, community and commodity. in i. Skinner. K. Gilbert & A. Edwards, Some Like it Hot: the Beach as a Cultural Dimension. Meyer and Meyer: Oxford. “ ‘Levenson, l. (Ed) (2000). Romeo and‘juliet. Oxford: London. Lewis. l. (1998). Between the lines: surf texts. prosthetics and everyda theory, social Semiotics. 8 (1), 55-70. y Lewis, J. (2000). Cultural Studies: The Basics. Sage: London. Lewis, J. (2003). in search of the postmodern surfer: territory,terror and masculinity. In 3. Skinner, K. Gilbert 8: A. Edwards (Eds), Some Like it Hot-The Beach as a Cultural Dimension. Meyer and Meyer: Oxford. Lin. Dr. (2003). Quantum mechanics of sexual orgasm: deep water and mallow water soiiton wave type muitiple orgasm. Research Center for utipe Sexual Orgasms, http://wwwactionlove.com/cases/ htm. 24/7/03. ' {385859311 McRobbie. A. (1991). Feminism and Youth Culture: from jackie to lust Seventeen. Macmillan: London. McRobbie, A. (1994). Postmodernism and Popular Culture. Routiedge‘ London. ‘ McRobbie, A. (1997). More: new sexualities in giri's and women's . magazines. in A. McRobbie. (ed). Back to Reality: Social Experience and Morris. M. Cultural Studies. University of Manchester Press: Manchester. (1988). The Pirate’s Fiancee: Feminism, Reading Postmodernism. Verso: London. I Russeil, i. 8., ‘The wave of transition' in The Report of the Fourth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. York September. 1845. cited in ‘lohn Scott Russell: the soliton wave: http://www.iaiitirk wheel.corn/edinburgh/informationflohmscottmrussel.htm. 24/7/03. Stedman, L. (1997). From Gidget to Gonad Man: surfers, feminists and postmodernisation: Australia New Zeaiand journal of Sociology 33. 1. Filmography Maiius, John (1978) Big Wednesday Steven Vidier (1997) Black Rock Bruce Beresford (i981) Puberty Blues William Asher (1963) Beach Party CHAPTER 8 _. gfixmum SPORT AM) your” Piay Hard - Party Hard: Youth Culture in Paradise (Hawaii 9 pa. Wendie (1959) cage: , SECTION C: SEXUALITY, YOUTH AND John Stockweli (2002) Blue Crush Zairnan Kind (1998) in God’s Hands 5,; Rgsx TAMNG Cari Prechezer (1995) Blue juice _ Brown, Bruce (1964) The Endless Summer: The Search for the Perfect Wave CHAPTER 9 Play Hard — Party Hard: Youth Culture in Paradise Allan Edwards Introduction xper'iential consumption (Hirschrnan and Holbrook 1982, Holbrook and Hirschman 1982) is characterised by leisure time usage, hedonic response to surroundings, piay activities and heightened feelings, all of which result in fun. enjoyment and pleasure (Williams and Burns, 1994). in other words. experiential consumption transpires in a setting where individuais are affected by distinct outcomes of consuming rather than buying (Hoibrook and Hirschman 1982}. in accordance with Holbrook and Hirschr‘nan's suggestion that hedonic consumption, piay and feeiings afford a rich texture for the description of experiential consumption situations, we report a study couched in a fertile experiential setting, the annuai schoolies festivai on the Goid Coast. The Context of Schoolies Week Schoolies Week is a month~long graduation festival ceiebrated by Year ‘12 school ieavers from ail around Australia. it takes place after the Year 12 Leaving Certificate between mid-November and midDecember. The event is predominantly held on Queensland's Goid Coast. however, alternative destinations inciude Byron Bay. Noose and the Sunshine Coast. Every year thousands of Year 12 students from around Australia (as weil as a few from New Zealand and other countries, make pians for a holiday to celebrate their end of school years and the compietion of their Leaving Certificate. Around 50,000 sohooi leavers arrive for “schooiies” each year. Research by Queensland Events Corporation into the 2003 event identified Schooiies as the Gold Coast's highest money earner, bringing in over $59 million into the economy. $4 million more than the highly successful lndy Carnivai. Statistics revealing that the 2002 annuai ‘Schooiies' festival at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast was the most vioient ever has put the Queensland government under strong pressure to reguiate the event. ...
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