Harmless Insanity


“She’s from another space and time”: Janelle Monáe and Post-Soul Temporality

I’ve created a short film, compiled from pre-existing interviews and performances, which interrogates the messages delivered vocally and visually through Janelle Monáe’s afrofuturistic performances. I’m interested in the way that Janelle Monáe jumps through through time, mixing sounds and styles of the past with dreams of the future that endorse equality and full humanity for those often marginalized. That’s why I find it imperative to begin with her conception of the android, “the new other,” and Monáe’s personas, Cindi Mayweather and Wendy Bangs. I hope to highlight Monáe’s black feminist grounding and her devotion to the working class. What I find remarkable about her multitemporal performances is that Monáe never escapes the present; she always cognizant of and performing against the everyday lived realities that, oftentimes, constrain marginalized bodies. As she says, her tuxedo uniform (and I would also argue her larger body of work) is an “homage to the working class.”

I hope that my video functions in a few ways. I hope to create a small archive of the diverse influences Monáe embodies and from whom she draws inspiration. I love that she’s done thorough research of her history as a black woman and, therefore, is highly aware of the power within and pressed upon her body. Because she is aware of a complex racial history, I read Monáe as participating in a post-soul tradition through Signifyin(g), ultimately remixing the messages of those before her in order to pronounce a new vision of blackness. The last montage of my video is purposefully atemporal in the hopes that it would create a space that allows for a body that renders all possibilities of blackness possible. In other words, I want to showcase how Monáe embodies the radical politics of Angela Davis, the funky empowerment of James Brown, and the elegant sensuality of Dorothy Dandridge simultaneously. 



Husky dog performs her overly dramatic death trick.

I’ve wasted fifteen minutes of my life watching this 8 second long video. 

It does not matter if a boundary makes sense to you. It does not matter if it seems inconsequential to you. Boundaries are the prerogative of the person who sets them. You do not know that person’s story, and they are not obligated to justify their boundaries to you. That touch that seems insignificant to you may be uncomfortably intimate for someone else. That interaction that is fine with others may trigger someone’s PTSD. You do not know more about someone than they know about themselves. Trust that they know what they are doing when they set a boundary with you, even if you do not understand why.

When someone sets a boundary with you they are saying “no.” No means no. Do not push people on their boundaries or ask for explanations that are not readily given. Doing these things indicates that you do not respect their boundaries. For many people, saying “no” once, setting a boundary, is difficult enough. Do not put them in a position where they must repeatedly do so. No means no the first time. Pushing them on it suggests a hope that you can wear them down, which is problematic at best and predatory at worst. No means no.

Ally Smells: Boundaries | Geek Feminism Blog (via dodgylogic)

White supremacy is the great silence of our world, and in it is embedded much of what ails us as a planet. The silence around white supremacy is like the silence around Sauron in The Lord of the Rings or the Voldemort name, which must never be uttered in the Harry Potter novels. And yet here’s the rub: If a critique of white supremacy doesn’t first flow through you, doesn’t first implicate you, then you have missed the mark; you have, in fact, almost guaranteed its survival and reproduction. There’s that old saying: The devil’s greatest trick is that he convinced people that he doesn’t exist. Well, white supremacy’s greatest trick is that it has convinced people that, if it exists at all, it exists always in other people, never in us.

— Junot Diaz

(Source: moonmarkedandtouchedbysun)