Firstly, wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re healthy, I hope you’re safe, and I hope you’re finding opportunities to cultivate peace and a sense of groundedness.
I do lean very heavily on humor in times of crisis, but if that’s not your energy right now, I get it. Just know that it is the unwavering energy of HB/LB.
And for today’s issue, we will be revisiting my favorite topic—the Noughties. A time characterized by innocence, naiveté, and fashion genius. A time when you could finally stand in your truth as a sun-kissed cis White girl. A time when a classmate felt comfortable asking me if I’m “sad I’m not living in the 80s, back when Black people were cool?”
In this time of “in this time of corona” jokes, let us remember that life is fragile, nothing is certain, and all living beings depend on one another. Kindness is Kween. Your wellbeing is important. Express gratitude for the present and your ability to have orgasms exclusively for pleasure. Whatever helps you manage your stress!
#SciammaHive… Are you here? Can I get a “what what”? Or perhaps a sustained gaze that carries with it a deep well of pain and desire? Or perhaps the rallying cry of the repressed baby queer (which is, of course, not saying anything and instead funneling all of your angst into your hair and body)?? Yes! I see you! Let’s go girls!
It is with great pleasure that I bring to you the third hypostasis in my personal Holy Trinity: Fat Girl, Fish Tank, and now, Céline Sciamma’s emotionally devastating 2007 film Water Lilies (though the French title Naissance des Pieuvres translates to “Birth of the Octopuses” which to me is more interesting than idk comparing young girls to flowers).
Water Lilies is the story of three young women, all under the age of 16, a synchronized swimming team, blossoming sexualities and the shattering disappointment that it comes with. Marie and Anne are outcasts—too thin, too fat, too quiet, too weird—but they are close friends. When Marie attends one of Anne’s synchronized swimming performances, she sees Floriane—confident, beautiful, mean, and impossibly magnetic. In that moment, the three girls are knocked off-center, and everything about their contained suburban life changes.
There’s a reason I’m addicted to these kinds of films. I’m thirsty for the stories of young women with full inner lives, young women who are selfish and rude, tender and vulnerable, naive and insightful, young women who are told they have no power, so they either shy away from it or hold tight to whatever small piece they manage to grab.
I have been Marie, I have been Anne, I have been Floriane at different parts of my life. I’ve swung aggressively from hating all parts of myself to complete and total self-admiration. I’ve been the one who wanted another so badly as well as the one who toyed with desire just because I could. I’ve been kept secret, I've been touted around. I’ve been lonely, I’ve been supported. I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother*.
Sciamma tells her story with a deep sense of love for all her characters and handles the frame with a deft and gentle hand. She uses soft, tender sounds—rustling papers, heavy breaths, buttons, zippers, lips parting—to underscore the quiet yet fiery emotions that escape only through her characters’ eyes.
Plus she managed to snag an 18-year-old Adèle “bravo la pédophilie” Haenel (who walked out of the César Awards Ceremony after Roman Polanski was named Best Director… in the year of our Lord 2020…… chile………..).
Sciamma-Haenel. Artistes. Légendes. Power Couple.
You can watch Water Lilies on Criterion Channel (if you were ever on the fence about subscribing, now’s the time!). Or, you know, if you wanna do a little google for “Water Liles Movie Watch Online Streaming Free,” that’s none of my business.
I hope you’re ready to shake your cutie lil booty to some Arab pop, because once you go Samira, you’ll never shed a tear-a. But you will remain an idiot who uses rhymezone.com poorly.
Where to begin with Ms. Said? She’s a Moroccan gal who just decided one day to become super famous in Egypt and then DID. She’s been dzippin it and dzoin it since the 70s. She continues to drop bangerz despite it being illegal to be 60 and hot as fuck. And she released one of the world’s best pop/dance albums in 2004 at the age of 46. That’s like 2.5 Billie Eilishes!
Nous stanons, vous stanez, ils/elles stannent!
And here’s the thing about pop stars when they’re 46—when they know they’ve got the material, they don’t bother with “choreo” or “stage presence.” They simply show us what it looks like to be a woman in her prime. Samira said “I stand and I sing” and we thank her for it!
There is something so rousing about Aal Eih. The beat is infectious. Said’s vocals are Powerful, Clear, and Sensuelle. And if Google Translate is to be trusted, she sings about pining over an emotionally insensitive P.O.S.
So before your muscles completely atrophy whilst in quarantine, I am prescribing you a once-a-day solo dance party to any track on Aweeny Beek of your choice, but it is imperative that you 1) begin with Aal Eih and 2) finish the entire course of drugs (drugs = songs, course = album). Dancing must be vigorous and be primarily focused on making that ass clap. This is crucial to your health and safety!
Friends, while we can not congregate in person, we can congregate in the comments section. Last issue’s attempt failed terribly, but I think if you go to this link, you should find the comments section. And if that link doesn’t work, just go to https://highbrowlowbrow.substack.com/ and figure it out.
Or maybe you all found the comments section and just chose to socially isolate yourselves from me on all platforms. I go to therapy now, so I can handle it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt! At least let me be shameless and needy in this time of “in this time of corona” jokes!
Wishing good health to you and yours <3
*and my child in HB/LB