By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
When July talks about "attention" being "shameful," in one sense she's referring to the '90s indie-punk ethos that shunned "selling out," putting the nebulous notion of "cred" ahead of "mainstream" success.
"I always felt a little bit outside of that," July says. "Just the fact that even my short movies always seemed, in a way, less experimental than they could have been. I always had a feeling like, 'Well, there is weird stuff I'm trying to get across here, but it would be so pretentious to do that in, like, an extra weird way. That was my idea of, like, good politics — anyone should be able to watch this and feel like it's relevant to them. I never didn't want to make it be sort of grand, you know?"
But she's also talking about another kind of "shame." As a former counterculture feminist, July is fascinated by the way the Internet has created new venues for young women to express themselves — and a little dispirited by the fact that so much of that "expression" seems to amount to exhibitionism cheerfully geared toward a predatory male gaze. She's particularly curious about the wave of YouTube videos featuring young women dancing alone in their bedrooms.
"The whole thing of dancing on the Internet — I don't know what I would think of it if I was a young person now, but back then we would have all been, like, 'Oh, that's degrading,' or, 'Is this going to be empowering enough?' " July contemplated reaching out to these video-making girls, to see if she could connect their less-than socially conscious use of YouTube to "the Joanie4Jackie fantasy that I had. [I was] trying to figure out how to directly be, like, 'You're so close to making movies, you're obviously using cameras, you're doing it alone. I get wanting to be in it.' Yes, we [are] all making movies in our bedrooms and sharing them. It's just not quite what I pictured."
July's complicated feelings about this YouTube trend led to the subplot of The Future, in which Sophie, to compete with a younger colleague, attempts to create her own series of dancing videos. July also started the process of making the old Joanie4Jackie movies available online.
But when given the opportunity, July's sense of feminist responsibility did not compel her to conquer Hollywood just because that door was open. "My worst nightmare was being yet another woman who just makes one movie, you know?" she says. But after the success of Me and You, though she took what she refers to as the "obligatory" meetings with studios and production companies, "It was just so clear to me, like, 'Oh, that would be the route of total ruin.' "
Her ambitions were still vast — maybe too vast for the mainstream film industry. Rather than capitalize on the buzz for her first film to swiftly make another, she was determined to use her sudden higher profile to get projects in other media off the ground.
"I was actually as calculating as the next person, just not in that path," July admits. "I was, like, 'OK, now I'm going to get a good literary agent, and get a good book deal that I never would have gotten before this movie.' And you know, like, make [my audience] wider, which is what I always wanted."
July acknowledges that her undisguised hunger for attention, funneled into multiple, different types of art about a hunger for attention, can be "very embarrassing. One thing about being so self-generating and having not been discovered at, like, 25 by somebody else — there's no way to hide that I wanted this."
I ask her if she feels famous. "Well, I guess not like a real famous person, you know?"
Does anyone ever feel that way, I wonder? Even if Angelina Jolie understands that she's the most famous person ...
July interrupts. "But to her she's, like, 'Weird Angie.' She still feels really bisexual and freaky."
July acknowledges that, to some degree, her current life offers that attention that she's always desired — and she's had to actually interrogate that desire. "There was a period of time when I was doing press for the first movie, where it seemed like, 'Maybe the momentum of this will just get to a certain, like, speed and I just won't even have to be a person anymore.' Is that what happens? Is that what being famous is? You don't have to have, like, that Sunday where you're depressed and, like, not knowing what to do? And of course that so wasn't true that it seemed, like, newsworthy to me."
July says she's 5"5', but with her rail-thin frame she seems smaller, even fragile. It's a midsummer Monday morning, and she directs a cadre of burly men assigned to install her show "Eleven Heavy Things" on the lawn outside MOCA's Pacific Design Center on Melrose. When our photographer starts snapping photos of the artist in action, she pauses to fuss with her hair while checking her reflection in the window of my freshly washed Honda. Later I notice that her pants — slate gray slacks with elastic at the ankles — are being held up by a large safety pin, gathering excess fabric at her right hip.
This is much better: http://www.mrdestructo.com/201...
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