October 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Last I heard she’s sleeping rough
Back on the Derby beat
Bottle of White Horse in her pocket
A wolfhound at her feet
They say she got married once, to a man named Romany Brown
But even a gypsy caravan was too much settling down
They say her rose is faded now, hard weather and hard booze
Maybe that’s the price you pay for the chains that you refuse
Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
And I miss her more than ever words could say
If I could just taste all of her wildness now
If I could hold her in my arms today
Well, I wouldn’t want her any other way
I wouldn’t want her any other way
Richard Thompson – ‘Beeswing’
October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
“People were drawn to Fischer’s energy and generosity, his absence of guile, his almost childlike enthusiasm. Raw and emotional, disinclined toward introspection, he has the kind of gregarious, magnetic personality that instantly won him friends for life; hundreds of individuals – including some he’d met just once or twice – considered him a bosom buddy. He was also strikingly handsome with a body builder’s physique and the chiseled features of a movie star. Among those attracted to him were not a few members of the opposite sex, and he wasn’t immune to the attention.
A man of rampant appetites, Fischer smoked a lot of cannabis (although not while working) and drank more than was healthy. A back room at the Mountain Madness office functioned as a sort of secret clubhouse for Scott: after putting his kids to bed he liked to retire there with his pals to pass around a pipe and look at slides of their brave deeds on the heights”
– from Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster (1997) by Jon Krakauer
October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
I was flicking through the Evening Standard last night on my way home from work when this article caught my eye, mostly because of its pun-tastic headline:
Now I know the argument being put forward in the above article isn’t exactly clear, but I think we can extrapolate a hypothesis.
1. Adele is very successful, and a woman.
2. Most other world famous and successful solo pop singers are also women.
3. Matt Cardle has a shit, pissy voice.
4. Girls tend to outperform boys at GCSE level.
5. Poor male performance in the pop charts and in GCSE exams is connected.
6. This indicates that men are no longer ‘necessary’.
Of course, I’m assuming that this ‘argument’ was intended by its author to be taken with a pinch of salt. At least I hope it was. And of course, it’s a shitty little article in a shitty paper and therefore matters little. Even so, it really got under my skin – not because of its own odiousness, but because of what it says about modern gender discourse.
Let’s start with the basics. Yes, there are some stellar female solo pop singers out there. In fact most would agree the solo pop singer bracket is female-dominated, with one major exception (Justin Bieber?). There are, however, other musical brackets to consider.
Hip-hop, for one. That’s a pretty major musical bracket, eh? And when it comes to the hip-hop elite you notice something: they’re male. Dr Dre, Jay-Z, Eminem, and 50 Cent are not only stratospherically famous performers but also hideously predatory and wealthy businessmen with interests outside of music.
Another less obvious point worth making is that when you look into the success of the women named in the article you notice something slightly alarming (from a ‘girl power’ point of view): the Hand of the Male. Lady Gaga’s ‘creative director’? The person responsible for those attention-grabbing outfits and all that camp music video malarkey? It’s this bloke. Beyonce, hailed as an example of strong modern femininity, sings songs about ‘putting a ring on it’ – i.e. taking possession through marriage – and her breakthrough Destiny’s Child track ‘Independent Women’ hailed “the honeys who makin’ money” as if earning an income was equivalent to making a feminist stance, rather than a practical and expected necessity. Oh, and Adele? She’s working on her 3rd album and claims it will take longer than the others because she now, finally, has full creative control. Her manager? This bloke. Who needs men? Beyonce, Gaga, and Adele do, apparently.
So on one hand we have hugely rich and famous male rappers (Jay-Z et al) who have full creative control and a range of business interests, and on the other hand we have rich and famous female singers (Beyonce et al) who are, for want of a better phrase, ‘propped up’ by men.
That much should be clear to anyone, and to an extent I’m shooting fish in a barrel here. The important point, though, is that no one would consider championing Jay-99problemsbutabitchaintone-Z in the Evening Standard as an example of why we don’t ‘need’ women.
It seems to me that towards the end of the 20th century it became fashionable to imply in public arenas that men were inferior to women. Rather than die away, this phenomenon has now entered the fabric of our social discourse to the extent that a throwaway misandrist article like the one above doesn’t even raise an eyebrow in most people. I would suggest that this is a damaging thing for both genders.
For men because I imagine it’s pretty shit to grow up in a society that finds it funny to suggest that the reason you’re projected poor GCSE results is because your gender is a bit shit.
And for women because this aggressive hangover from ‘girl power’ is not helpful in the slightest. Firstly, it leads to blind idolisation of successful women no matter how they became successful (Jordan, Jade Goody, Beyonce, etc), thus obscuring inequality at every level of society. Secondly, and most importantly, it lends a ‘men vs women’ illusion to every sphere, making it far too easy for otherwise sensible women to blame ‘men’ whenever they are thwarted or dissatisfied.
More importantly… it just really pisses me off.