Viktoria Modesta: The Lady Madonna Gaga of Cybernetic Pop Culture
I’m really keen to know your thoughts on this video.
Quite a few people are commenting “who cares shes an amputee!” or stating that the video makes them cringe because she is being “so self-referential” and trying to cash in on her disability. Meh. I think it’s a bold move. She is who she is and I think the video, and her attitude, could herald in something that has been approaching for a while now. What do you think?
The London Olympics and Paralympics of 2012 seemed to be the moment the role of prosthetics stepped confidently into the limelight of cyberpunk and cybernetic implants.
Cybernetics could always be called high-tech prosthetics, but what about the cyberpunk vibe where some people actually have working limbs and body parts removed? Because, in their minds, to replace them with these components is to improve upon what they have. To some degree this is what Viktoria Modesta did, although there were medical imperatives to do so. In the main, the notion of voluntarily giving up a limb for a manufactured substitute is currently fiction – almost (see article on Biopunks, Grinders and Synthetic Biology ). But like the folks who insert shaped metal beneath their skin, to the folks with full facial tattoos, through to biopunks and grinders, there is going to be a tranche of human society that wants to adopt this as a statement of who they are. Self-expression, in all its “so-called” weird and often wonderful ways.
In the West, there’s a huge number of military personnel returning to society with lost limbs. We’re now getting a glimpse of the kind of adaptations these individuals can utilise to bring their confidence back, to give them a life with mobility again. More importantly, a normalised life, where such non-organic appendages are actually perceived with curiosity and cool admiration. Depending on price-point and the fulfillment of the promise governments have made to look after wounded veterans, of course.
The video touches on Nazi iconography, the SS-style uniforms with peaked caps and insignia, and idea that an amputee is not tolerated (in Aryan society) and does not belong (in the Lebensraum). The video doesn’t close the question. It’s not meant to. It’s there to raise the question, albeit with a candy-coated tongue in cheek.
There is a fetishistic aspect, where the Nazi image is already associated with Sub/Dom culture, the amputee has a niche market of being attractive to a certain type of mind. Compare it to the David Cronenberg movie Crash (1996) based on the J.G. Ballard novel.
Sex and cyberpunk don’t always have go piston in socket.
Cyberpunk culture is evolving and emerging into our reality from the fictional tropes laid down by writers such as Bester and Gibson and through music and movies. But it is also fragmenting. What is cyberpunk? Cyberware. Bioware and synthetic biology. AIs, cyberspace and brutal gangs of computer crackers. A fashion code. An attitude to carry quietly within. The blunt monolith of corporate power in a homogenous, interconnected world with orbital and deep space assets. The “fuck-you” finger of defiance by the individual fighting the endless hunger of consumerism and globalisation spreading via UTOC (and MOCID). Beautiful landscapes laid to waste and ruin through industrialisation on a spirit-crushing scale. Advanced slavery to service rare earth mining and consumer electronics. Flooding. Extreme storms. Refugees from conflict over shortages of basic food and clean water. The looming shadows of a dark future pushed away by the neon and sodalum glow of new technology. Starting to sound familiar…
As such, there will be some people who view themselves through a cyberpunk lens that will recoil in horror at the glitzy, Swarovski crystal imagery of Viktoria Modesta.
Others will embrace it.
For me, I hope more people get turned-on to the idea of Cyberpunk as an alternative, edgy, passionately technological point of view and seek to read more through books and graphic novels, and so push the bubble of this genre further into movies and mainstream. The future will start to appear today. And I’ll sell more novels.
Cyberpunk – which flavour are you?