The Aesthetics of Gendered Dumbness / Hyperallergic

“World’s Fastest Talker Attempt – 650 WPM” (YouTube video via

CHICAGO — What happens when blogs GURLDONTBEDUMB and WEIRD DUDE ENERGY face off in the reblogosphere, dueling it out in a viral battle-of-the-sexes? This post compares these two Tumblrs, both of which index hyper-gendered pop culture tropes, readily spinning off memes for the easy consumption of an A.D.D.-addled web audience.

GURLDONTBEDUMB (GDBD) is comprised of Eileen Mueller and Jamie Steele, two Chicago-based artists who maintain separate practices in addition to this experiment in collaboration. WEIRD DUDE ENERGY, a collaborative Tumblr started in 2008, is run by Los Angeles-based Christine Boepple, a project manager who also runs 22 other Tumblrs, and Kerry McLaughlin, a writer who also works on music videos.

GDBD takes a concerted approach to visual representations of silly, squeamish, and gross girlish excess at its best. The project is neither a feminist response to the amount of misogynistic images found online nor does it cast itself as anti-feminist. It is a curious collection of internet-specific imagery that reflects how users perceive the realm of the “feminine” —  signifying femininity via a gamut of visual referents: cute animals, anything pink, politicians, pop stars, paintings, and YouTube memes.

A collaborative project that operates under a unified curatorial premise both on the Tumblr and offline in art spaces around the Midwest, GDBD is related to co-founder Jamie Steele’s art practice, which satirically subverts feminine stereotypes by using über-blinding, hyper-gendered colors and objects. In her 2012 video, “Buff,” for instance, Steele amplifies the audio on a video of herself rubbing together patent leather neon pink high heels. The result is five nearly-insufferable minutes of that fingers-against-the-chalkboard squeak.

The video is reminiscent of the work of performance artist Kate Gilmore, who dons feminine attire such as a tight dress and immaculate high heels, and then places herself in physically strenuous situations and environments that she must then escape (see Between a Hard Place and My Love is an Anchor). Her work, like Steele’s, comments on the social construction of femininity, and operates in an endurance-based performance space slightly akin to Vito Acconci and Marina Abramovic. However, GDBD extends such metaphors beyond the gallery walls. As a collective, they are interested in the types of visual messages that already exist on the internet, with a tongue-in-cheek nod toward their one-dimensional, oh-so-dumb nature.

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