Thursday, 20 March 2008

L'Évolution De Shiina Ringo

The young Shiina Ringo. A young girl still coming to terms with the world around her. Unaware of the fact that she would go on to become the most important woman in music, and a huge success in the future. Although she was already probably deeply interested in the avant-garde stylings of ゲルニカ.

Here is a teenage indie Ringo, no doubt standing backstage at a performance. Fully committed to music and clearly showing no regard or care for the economically motivated music industry, Ringo here is an urban teenage Trobairitz with songs to spare and a touch of punk humility that provides an earnest bedfellow for her free thinking personality.

Ringo as she crosses over from her 19th to 20th year. As we look into her eyes, we see an incredibly fiery determination stare back at us. A girl wielding a guitar, such potent, exotic, and iconic imagery in our modern times. The way she clings to it, we sense she may be uncertain in her musical abilities, but as we look into her eyes once again, we realise she is full to the brim with confidence. This particular guitar, the "Duesenberg Starplayer" was unpopular at the time, but after people were blown away by Ringo, it suddenly started selling in Japan. She singlehandedly saved the company on the eastern front. She is even mentioned in the history of the Duesenberg company. Amazing stuff.

We all know this Ringo. The Nurse Ringo who shocked the world in a Situationist stunt that was a shoehorning of docile cosplay into the subversive terrains of feminism. Her pristine wear and immaculate makeup capture an ideal, which Ringo simultaneously challenges with aggressively sexual independence. Suddenly the domino of mainstream society, necessarily erect to prevent collapse, had fallen and the cracks were showing in Japan's flawed hegemony. The famous video for "本能", the famous scene in which Ringo mounts another girl and proceeds to caress her neck with her tongue. The nurse persona, typically caring in a sterile environment, now sexually aggressive. A woman, licking the neck of another female, a provocative piece of footage in itself, but when you consider it's Ringo, it truly becomes something quite amazing - incredible defiance of society's unwritten laws and comforts, the likes of which Japan had never seen. And I know a fucking lot about Japan so don't try arguing with me, YOU WILL FAIL. When asked about it, Ringo bluntly retorted with "Women need sexual fantasies too" Genius, typical Ringo genius.

I covered KZK in detail previously, but as a new album came along, so did a new image for Ringo. In contrast to her previously aggressive, guitar wielding self, we were presented with an elegant chanteuse. A woman that had been brought from the 1930s, now sporting vintage aristocratic dresses that resembled nothing less than effervescent cascades of fabric which embraced Ringo like a loving partner, and opera gloves. Ringo herself had matured into a refined beauty. In this particular image her face is covered with a veil, shrouding it like the personality she shrouds with publicity. This stylistic shift was also represented in her music - once again, refer back to the KZK post for more info.

After the inner and outer overhaul of Ringo's final solo album, we can only guess that she reached a kind of enlightenment through the creative efforts of her career. Here, in her Jihen days, she seems to be distilling the bustling and wildly fascinating overflow of melanged cultures into a sharp, purposeful direction - one which has proved so novel as to drive spectators into pondering what this new approach to life should be called. Outfitted in the casual, yet old fashioned clothing of a working girl from the 18th century, it was suggested to be "Petite Bourgeoisie" and disapproved of, although this is perhaps the best summation of Ringo's unprecedented philosophy here. Harkening back to a time of repression in an escapist manner seems to once again bring up questions of dichotomy and contradiction - is Ringo exploiting a time of social dread because she thinks the clothes look nice? No. Ringo's idea is anarchist at heart, encouraging us to wield whatever comes to hand, even burdens and enemies, as weapons of empowerment and self-actualisation. To make lemonade from lemons. To turn Hitler into a picket sign.

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