Sunday, September 05, 2010

Spectacle Rules in Women's Pop: Jon Caramanica

From the New York Times' Sunday Arts & Leisure section (July 25, 2010), this report by Jon Caramanica on the decline of "sincerity" (Lilith Fair, Sarah McLachlan) in women's pop and the ascendance of spectacle.

Featuring Lady Gaga, Christine Aguilera, Kate Perry, Kesha, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj (below).

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Gender & Indie

Girls: don't try this...

From GuidedByVeal, posted on the Guardian Music Blog on Sept 1, '10. Read the entire post here. Juicy excerpts follow.

Without a doubt, indie has a more enlightened sense of gender relations than many musical genres. You can see this in a number of areas, such as pioneering co-ed bands (Pixies, Arcade Fire, Lush, the White Stripes, Elastica, My Bloody Valentine, Quasi, Slowdive, the xx , Autolux, Beach House, the Kills, feel free to carry on) and the blending of gender-coded imagery where androgyny has been consistent in clothing and physicality...Androgyny can even been seen in the common use of falsetto by male singers as a higher register is usually associated with femininity. The blending of gender imagery is common in rock and pop, but the central value of equality, even between performers and audience has made humanist gender relations the ideal in indie.

However, in practicality, indie does not exist in some parallel universe. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen female musicians ignored in interviews. Additionally, female spectatorship and fanship is sexualised. There is an assumption if you are female at a show that you are sexually available to performers...This assumption that audiences are filled with sexually overwhelmed girls is belied by the fact that for rock and metal as well as for indie the audiences are disproportionately male.

At indie shows, you still see gender distinctions in distribution patterns and activities. Women tend to stand right at the front and by the speaker stacks, rarely in the central area where dancing might happen. Groping is absolutely taboo, yet women are still loathe to crowd surf because it only takes one jerk in an audience to violate a woman which limits her ability to participate in audience activities available to males. During my research I've been told by countless women that they refrained from crowd-surfing and most of them (including myself) had been groped at shows...

The restriction of female participation was part of the rationale for stopping stage diving and discouraging crowd-surfing. British indie has been – and still is – consistently and significantly more egalitarian in terms of gender relations than America. In the noughties, when indie aesthetics overtook alternative music in the US, it ostensibly produced more female equality...

However, even in 2006, when Pitchfork reviewed my book on the culture of indie music, the writer actually talked about my cleavage!

(Meanwhile, regarding crowd surfing, Lady Gag thinks otherwise.)