Rachel Maclean Make Me Up



I came across this film via one of the OCA Facebook pages (thank you Catherine, Sarah-Jane). I’ve watched it two or three times now, it’s on BBC iplayer online until tomorrow night (4/12). If your preference is toward the surreal, the satirical, the feminist, you might enjoy it. I’d love to find a way to watch it again. Language is strong and there are some scenes that are very uncomfortable to watch.

It’s like a feminist rendering of a cross between Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation. It is stuffed full of contextual references spanning ancient art to vloggers and social media. It makes me think about the pressures applied on women about what we wear, what we eat, how we are judged. A superb section in the latter part of the film provides a soundtrack of women’s voices through recent history, and a view of  feminism over time.

This is the kind of film that makes me think that if I was studying UVC I would be able to write about it in a lot more (intelligent) detail. As it is, I watch it, and things chime with what I know and I know that there’s more feminist work to come from me. I was intrigued by how Siri paints an extra pair of eyes onto her face to fool the surveillance software, this reminded me of Julie Cockburn’s use of embroidery on images to confuse Google’s Reverse Image search. The saccharine hair colours and manga style costumes remind me of my ten year old daughter, who recently requested pink hair dye to go with her pink glasses. Followed in short order by her comment that any designer who thinks girls need bows and charms on their underwear “needs to get a life”. This film is dripping with curves, with pink, with stereotypes and the patriarchal gaze delivered via an “authoritarian diva” as Siri and Alexa struggle to subvert it.

I’m wrapping this up here because I need to write something about it before it disappears off iplayer and I have only my memories.


Full film – until 11pm 4/12:


3 thoughts on “Rachel Maclean Make Me Up

  1. Stefan J Schaffeld - Visual Artist December 4, 2018 / 5:56 am

    Thanks for adding your thoughts about it – gave me a different angle to my body works . re make up and fooling surveillance systems, you might find this interesting : https://www.jillianmayer.net/makeup-tutorial . Didn’t know that Siri is a woman 😉 re Alexa , my wife told me quite some stories from school when school kids get addicted to ask Alexa at home and not interested in actually leaning things , as that ‘wise thing knows all’

  2. Stefan J Schaffeld - Visual Artist December 4, 2018 / 5:59 am

    … and thanks for the link to Julie Cockburn –

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