Bonnie Lane: How to Be a Better Man in 2019
How to be a better man?
It’s a timely question in the #MeToo era, but this performance piece by Bonnie Lane provides disappointingly few answers.
The artist’s previous sexually-charged performance works have placed her body irrevocably in the public domain, and she informs the audience that she was inspired to create this piece by male strangers propositioning her and sending her unsolicited pictures online.
She reveals that she intended to lure such men to her show, using her nude image in the promotional art as bait, in order to confront and re-educate them.
And indeed, her performance space is set up like a classroom, with Lane perhaps planning to assume the role of teacher.
The concept could have been both a bold statement and a fascinating social experiment.
Lane’s performance also touches on the way that public figures, particularly female public figures, experience a loss of control over how their own bodies are used and perceived.
Her indignation at the online admirers who told her she was “too skinny to call herself curvy” was both funny and thought-provoking.
Unfortunately, none of these ideas is adequately explored. A fiery opening monologue is full of wonderfully abrasive and challenging rhetoric directed at men, but thereafter the show loses its way.
Lane seems to have lost confidence in her convictions, and her lecture presents remarkably few opinions of her own.
A slideshow of sexually explicit messages that Lane has received plays behind her as she speaks, and it would have been easy to use these as jumping-off points to discuss perceived problems with contemporary masculinity.
She suggests that such online harassment is caused by the “male ego”, but then reveals that she herself has sent explicit images to random strangers. It was difficult to extract any clear message from her musings.
There are plenty of good ideas here, but they are still very much in the gestational stage. Lane promises to teach her audience how to be better men, but ultimately leaves them none the wiser.