Posts Tagged 'graffiti'

Because men like to write on public spaces

Tagging, my son calls it.

That weird thing that used to be called graffiti. Now, when I talk about men having a bizarre desire to write things (usually their “tag” which is actually their “name” which is stupid enough  in itself) I am not talking about “street art”. Street art for me is that things Banksy does, or Shepard Fairey or Invader (although it is worth noting these are all men as well). I am talking about that non-art-non-creative defacing of public property that ranges from the changed funny street sign to the dirty words written on park benches.

Now women have been known to carve their boyfriends initials into tree trunks… sometimes accompanied by their own and a heart… but that is about the end of it. This tends to be one of those blokey things.

Those who try to philosophise and glamorize graffiti will usually try to claim authenticity by being anti-establishment. Its status as anti-establishment comes from two main points. The first that it is illegal to deface public property (for some, this gives them ‘street cred’) and secondly, it is thought to be associated with gangs and it isn’t and this gives the graffiti artists a kind of defiant legitimizing; Their total sense of actualisation comes from being misunderstood as something else. (In other words – they will have to continue to be misunderstood in order for them to ‘exist’)

Actually, graffiti is one of those ‘college boy’ acts of subversion like DJ’ing and doing lines at a party. These are banal, conformist acts of ‘subversion’ that are only shocking to middle class white boys who long to be mistaken as tough, wild and most of all free. graffiti is actually a rather ho-hum way of expressing oneself, unless real talent is applied – as in the case of the aforementioned artists – and lets face it, how often does that happen?

In romance novels if men feel the need to be subversive they usually do it properly. They take on an enormous challenge, or as is often the case in romance, they are fighting off the terrifying enemy. there is no need to rush off to perform acts that represent subversion just because they are in college doing exactly what mummy and daddy wanted them to do.

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