You Better Work


American edition of John Newbery's Little Pretty Pocket-Book, 1787 (Isaiah Thomas, first Worcester, Massachusetts edition). This is the only known surviving example of the promotional toy.
Source: The Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

Illustration from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876.

There are no imaginative structures that can accommodate the wild play of the street into the proper domestic work of girls. Girls’ impudence cannot be recuperated for a capitalist enterprise, but rather threatens to disrupt the order of the household and ruin the children.

Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture

Well that is a question, I must say, and just like women! Why, I wanted the adventure of it.

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

[M]y light vessel of consciousness...couldn't be with verisimilitude a rude little boy, since, beyond the fact that little boys are never so ‘present,’ the sensibility of the female young is indubitably, for early youth, the greater, and my plan would call, on the part of my protagonist, for ‘no end’ of sensibility.

Henry James, Preface to What Maisie Knew

Toy Story. Pixar, 1995.

...a narrow version of acceptable girlhood: the impossibly high-achieving heterosexual white girl who plays sports, loves science, is gorgeous but not hyper-sexual, is fit but not too thin, learns from her (minor) mistakes, and certainly will change the world someday.

Sarah Projansky, Spectacular Girls: Media Fascination and Spectacular Culture

Image: Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On (2000)

You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti?
You want a Maserati? You better work bitch.
You want a Lamborghini? Sippin’ martinis?
Look hot in a bikini? You better work bitch.

Britney Spears, "Work Bitch," 2013.

Spears in "Baby, One More Time," 1998 (left); on the cover of Rolling Stone, 1999 (right).

Britney Spears, "Work Bitch," 2013.

Britney Spears, "Work Bitch," 2013.

Still from Hito Steyerl, How Not To Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational .MOV File, 2013. Tate Modern.

Britney Spears, "Work Bitch," 2013.

‘I still remember the effect I produced on a small group of Galla tribesmen massed around a man in black clothes,’ reported Mussolini’s son during the [Italo-]Abyssinian war of 1935-36. ‘I dropped an aerial torpedo right in the centre, and the group opened up just like a flowering rose.’

Paul Virilio, War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception, 1989.

Image: still from Footlight Parade, 1933. Choreography by Busby Berkeley.