Well, here we go: it is the end of my time at Bitch. And the end, sadly enough, of She Pop. That happened really fast, you guys! I kind of felt like we were just learning how to talk to each other! But it has been a good ride, I would think. And I hope it has been so for you as well. There has been a lot of shouting, some excitement; all in all, everything you want from a show.
On this day - my last! Sorrow and woe is me - I feel compelled to look back on the beginnings of this blog. And to re-read my very first post! It included immortal passages such as the following:
Pop stars, finessed and manufactured though they may be, are
reflective of wider cultural attitudes. They have to be: that’s how
they get to be popular in the first place. If they weren’t speaking to
people, no-one would listen. And the way that we talk about them is
often extremely revealing… If we feminists refuse to take pop spectacle seriously, if we
dismiss it as too shallow and silly to merit consideration, we’re
missing out on everything it has to teach us.
Reader, if there is one thing I have learned, by writing this blog and paying attention to the conversations surrounding it, it is that “we feminists” definitely DO NOT have trouble taking pop spectacle seriously. People have been more passionate and engaged and polarized and intense about this topic than I had ever imagined possible. Which is kind of bizarre! Before I started writing this blog, I considered myself more or less well-versed in what was going on, pop-wise; however, I had also always maintained a bit of a skeptical distance from it. Pop stars, to me, were really more like products being shilled to me than anything else. And while I could look critically at those products, the idea of loving them - or even hating them - was foreign to me. It would be like idolizing your toaster, forming strong opinions about the variety of toasters on the market, and looking down upon your neighbors for their inferior toaster choices.
In retrospect, I see that this position was just plain silly. These people are products, true; and they’re offering us a product that is purely, blatantly, cynically market-driven a lot of the time. “Authenticity” doesn’t enter into our conversations about them, because authenticity was never the point; in fact, if I’ve learned anything about this subject, by living with it for the past few weeks, it’s that I personally prefer blatant, obvious inauthenticity to the pretense of integrity. At least the shiny, synthetic, plastic appeal of the blatantly fake is better than the unearned self-righteousness of people who are dominating the market by “keeping it real” in the most radio-friendly manner possible. I’d rather hang out with Katy Perry than Bono, I guess, is what I am saying. But despite the fact that a lot of this stuff is market-tested and faked and blatantly calculated to appeal to us, sometimes it just works. And that’s when passion enters the picture. Pop stars may very well resemble toasters in certain respects, but although your toaster probably has a lot of marvelous qualities, it can’t effectively sum up your feelings about your most recent breakup; if it could, you might well have a lot of people ready to passionately defend their toasters against all who would criticize them.
Pop music gets under our guard, enters our consciousness, takes hold of our affections, often without any inspection by an inner critic, simply because it’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s dumb fun. It’s silly. It’s often girly - and since “girly” means “frivolous” and “unworthy of consideration,” we somehow don’t see the need to think about it too closely. Many of us don’t even realize how strong our feelings about it are, until those feelings are challenged. That’s certainly been true for me, in my conversations with the commenters here. And that’s why I’ve loved this blog: people have been having hugely passionate, invested, feminst conversations about stuff that often escapes serious feminist critique. The moment when someone brings up Luce Irigaray in your Lady Gaga Halloween costume thread is the moment when you realize you’re a part of something amazing.
And, of course, there are moments when critique is useless. When something just works because it works. I’ve been watching this clip from “Gimme Shelter,” of a performance by Tina and (yes) Ike Turner, and I can’t even begin to unpack everything that’s present in these few minutes of film. There’s a pure, raw, true, blatant sexuality there that not many performers have ever been able to convey on stage. There’s also immense, unavoidable pain - which, in light of what we know now about Ike and Tina, is even more devastating than it must have been at the time. This is a song about an abusive relationship and a song about getting off; it’s a song about redemption and a song about degradation; it’s a song about power and a song about powerlessness; I can’t even tell you what it is, because it is also always something else. But I can show it to you! And it comes with Bonus Sexist Mick Jagger Reaction!
Good point, Mick! It is nice to have a chick! Occasionally! And with that, I leave you.