Yoko Ono Offers Impossible Make-Up Tips for Men

by Jillian Steinhauer on March 20, 2013

Yoko Ono is usually a bit much for me: I find things like smile apps and instruction pieces that tell you to “Make a wish” and “Keep wishing” cloyingly precious. (Maybe I’m just a cranky, cynical New Yorker.) But Ono has a new video called “Make-Up Tips for Men” (made as part of her clothing line for Opening Ceremony) that I actually adore, precisely because it cuts the sweetness with camp.

Because it’s Ono, it’s not like these are practical make-up tips. Instead, men are given commands like, “When you see a rainbow in the sky. Breathe it in,” for daytime make-up and, “Let everything in your room shine and sparkle,” for evening make-up. The instructions are accompanied by a beeping tone, a clubby beat, breathy “uh-huh”s, and the voice of Ono herself (I think) throwing out random phrases, including the gem, “I’m throwing away the mirror.”

The visuals are probably the best part, though — the face and upper torso of a very pretty boy covered in clouds and daubs of pink and purple drift across the backdrop of a sky-blue room; another pretty boy gets a sparkly Afro; a third appears to materialize from TV static. The video’s whole aesthetic, from the free-floating red telephone receiver to the digital rendering of the skeleton of a dance club, seems to easily drift along the currents of net art — with an added bit of fabulousness.

h/t @artsy

  • Get Hyperallergic in your Inbox!

    Subscribe to our email newsletter. (Daily or Weekly)

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.
  • So good! <3 Yoko

  • J Livingston

    Thanks for posting this. Very much enjoyed seeing it. But seriously, dismissing an artist who’s 80 years old and whose work and music span decades (including works that’re harsh and inventive and thoroughly groundbreaking) by saying “Yoko Ono is usually a bit much for me.” Really? Who are you and what have you done (or written) that it should impress me that you “actually adore” this? Either treat Yoko as a serious artist who’s done lots of interesting, influential work (whether you like it or not) or simply post the video and let us enjoy. Spurious condescension makes you — and Hyperallergic — look silly and shallow.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      Hi J,
      You don’t have to agree with my opinion on Ono, but I’m not sure why expressing it makes me spuriously condescending. It’s true—I don’t usually care for Ono’s pieces. I’m not dismissing her as an artist; I’m saying she isn’t my taste. There are a lot of other artists who are also a bit much for me, in different ways. I don’t see how describing why I don’t care for much of her work means I’ve dismissed her and not treated her seriously.

  • J Livingston

    “a bit much” is not criticism, it’s blithe dismissal. That’s all. Maybe my objections have to do with your using the language of personal preference, rather than the language of considered criticism, about a very influential artist, who, because of her gender and her generation, has had plenty of blithe dismissals. The history of how women artists get written about is riddled with knee-jerk put-downs, rather than with complex and respectful criticism. (see: Lucy Lippard and many others.) Perhaps your language was just about the language of blogging — where people are free to share personal reactions without feeling compelled to justify or explain. I just think of Hyperallergic as more of a critical journal than a personal blog,and would have expected a more nuanced treatment, especially of an artist who’s created many works, and records, that are considered harsh and edgy. And that carved out space for others to make work that’s anything but cloying. But I do appreciate your posting the piece, as many people I know are excited about knowing it.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      I do see your point. For me and for this post, I think it comes down to blogging and blogging language—of course Ono deserves thoughtful, considered responses to her work, but this post was not meant to be an essay or a review or any very long, in-depth thing; just a brief intro to a wonderful video. I’m glad you think of us as more of a critical journal, and I don’t want to discourage that at all! But we do also post short, snappier things sometimes, which this was/is meant to be. All of that said, it’s always a good idea to be careful and considered about one’s (my) language, so thanks for writing.

  • J Livingston

    Thanks for your response. If I see it was intended to be a personal post rather than a critical post then I think about it differently. I think, right now, we’re in interesting territory where the lines between how we speak in social media or speak amongst friends is also publishable. Is a blog a magazine or something else? Is a critical journal also a place where people speak informally about things they like and don’t like? It’s all very interesting. Thanks again for posting, and for the dialogue.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      “Is a blog a magazine or something else? Is a critical journal also a place where people speak informally about things they like and don’t like?” YES. These are the questions I think about all the time. Especially with a site like Hyperallergic, which does cover a lot of bases and try to be many things at once. I don’t see a lot of models for what we do, as most sites have delineated “blog” sections for their shorter, pithier content, whereas we jumble it all together. I find it complicated and all still a very open question.

Previous post:

Next post: