PopCornucopia is all about free associative pop culture tidbits as they strike my fancy, just like kernels of corn exploding into fullness at a random and unpredictable pace. And of course, the cornucopia is the horn of plenty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Venetian Chases

Some strange force of the cosmos is telling me that hot pursuit in Venice is the thing.

I never understand most of their lyrics unless I look at them in translation, but I've loved Fettes Brot, kings of German melodic hip hop, since I was 15. The release of this song is where it all began :

Matthew Goode is uber adorable:

See? So I hope you will forgive me for watching the truly awful Chasing Liberty. Shamelessly and sacrilegiously hijacking the plot from the untouchable Roman Holiday, there's a scene in it that features Matthew and Mandy Moore (who is the President's daughter) running away from restaurant staff and the secret service agents she's been trying to lose.

Venice's intrinsic cinematic qualities aside, what is with the chase thing here? The labyrinth passageways? The maze of bridges? Some odd link between canals and kineticism? Anyone got any other theories to offer up?

Really, though, I'd like to see them try this in Ganvie, the Venice of Africa.

Ganvie was one of the most incredible places I visited when I was in Benin. Once again, I am reminded of the power of the lens remembering the day I was there.

Ganvie was originally a site of resistance built to evade pro-slave trade Dahomey warriors whose codes prohibited water invasions. It is a community that perseveres today and the people who lived there sustain this way of life in such a way that their relationship with tourism is not wholly welcoming. I do not assert that in contempt, I assert that in veneration. In the 'developing world', tourism is characterized as a necessary evil, resorted to for survival and commerce. But the citizens whose lives are infringed upon by the acts of tourism are rarely portrayed as reluctant or hostile to the infringement. Often, they are viewed as benign and complicit, sometimes even aggressive and greedy in the tourist trade.

Ganvie ran counter to this stereotype. Some of Ganvie's inhabitants see tourists as a disruption and an invasive force. To take a picture of them without permission, was often viewed as an invasion of their privacy. This was most indelibly demonstrated when Kenneth, one of the other students on the trip, was trying to take a picture of the general landscape as we pulled away from the town. A woman fishing espied him with his camera poised. Thinking she was the target, she waved her arms frantically and yelled "NO, NO NO!" Refusing the probe of the gaze, railing against it, saying to no to having your everyday life become western spectacle, and retaining your agency to keep your personhood and your community for yourself rather than willingly proffering its image to a stranger--these are all things that rang true in that moment. In an image obsessed world, where people constantly whore themselves out for fame, Ganvie is a site of blessed resistance. Contrary to what this blog might often project, for me, indulgence in pop culture and the cult of celebrity must always be tempered with an awareness of its dark undercurrents.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home