Sunday, September 07, 2003

After that last admittedly sombre entry, here's some antidotal fun: first, a video (Real Audio, sorry) for "House of Jealous Lovers" by the Rapture (for some reason, it's really hard not to type Ratpure instead). This video is so cool that Canadian winters are jealous.

And, apparently randomly, to return to the Liz Phair -- or should I say Liz Phair -- shitstorm (sigh, I know it's old news, but with elapsed time sometimes come new perspectives, so humour me), was it all just a brief squall in a coffee cup? I mean, the record really hasn't sold all that well. How offensive can this "sellout" be? More seriously, was the bizarre kneejerking that took place on its release (as opposed to the earlier jerking of other body parts that no-doubt accompanied the much-loved Exile in Guyville) a symptom of sexism, or ageism, or both? I'm not sure about this Exclaim article's insistence that the alleged sexism only rears its disapproving head when female artists go poptastic, though.

The sexist undertones of these criticisms are positively outrageous, offering reason to believe that journos might not be ready for a woman whose lyrics are both sexually liberated and aimed at the mainstream. Pre-packaged sexpots like Britney Spears are forgiven their commercial aspirations only because their lyrics paint them as lovelorn and submissive young women.

This cited example of an acceptedly safe "prepackaged" Britney, even if true, can be offset by a mainstream-approved hammer-headed sexually-liberated Madonna, surely? Not to mention that other "mature" denizen of the pop charts, Ms. Minogue. But it did appear to be an obvious backlash, however elusive the motivations behind it. Can the alleged sexism even be unraveled from the apparent ageism? Who still thinks that adult females with rapacious sexual appetites are a bad thing? Whether at 26, 36, 46, who cares? And if it was male indie rock fans who did all the kneejerking, that makes even less sense. Is there anything more enticing to a geek fantasy than a confident fully flowered sexual woman (okay, other than a confident fully flowered sexual woman with a lightsabre and a generous view of open-source technology)? Who the hell else is the target audience for MILF porn, anyway? And why would they punish her for expressing in the pop arena what she did so gleefully in indie land?

There I go again, asking a shitload of questions and then refusing to answer them, dammit. There was (and is) more going on there, though, and I haven't figured it out at all. It can't be as simple a thing as young male sexism. I'm not saying it isn't sexism, just that it's not simply sexism alone. You'll note that the New York Times savaging was by a female writer, and yet check out Kenan Hebert's fairminded review at Gigantic mag for a counter-example (if only for the Ari Fleischer comment, which almost gave me a hernia). I'll give Kenan the last word, especially as I was too damn lazy to review the record myself at the time (for which this blog entry is only partial penance):

I have to respect it for what it is -- another step in the musical life of Liz Phair, another pool she's putting her toe into, another venue in which she wants to succeed. I wish her only the best. If we can't let our artists make their own mistakes, we never really loved them to begin with.

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