The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Archive for July 31st, 2009

One more thing about the Hottest 100

Posted by Nic Heath on July 31, 2009

Triple J’s Hottest 100 (OF ALL TIME!) has generated a lot of comment for its rather mannish aspect. I don’t mind, obviously, that it is last fortnight’s news (and now it is another radio station in the news) – I’m all for an ongoing conversation about where women figure, and how well they fare, in popular culture. And if it is even an issue at all.

There is a good list of links to various articles and posts on the topic at Hoyden About Town. Clem Bastow covered it for The Age, listing the women who did make it into the poll, while Mel Campbell, at The Enthusiast, worried that ‘the Hottest 100 also legitimises radio industry strategies that ignore women.’

The skewed result may seem like a blip on the radar when viewed in isolation, but I think it becomes more like a worrying trend when considered alongside other cultural lists – like this year’s Miles Franklin Award shortlist. All men there too. And again, it isn’t like there are no books written by women worthy of being included in this particular shortlist. Pavlov’s Cat posted a great response to this ‘aberration’.

So that is mainstream popular culture. Away from official recognition of cultural pursuits there are women being creative and garnering interest – anecdotally, I went to a day-long gig on Sunday which was headlined by Beaches, an all-female group who I don’t think identify as being unusual because of that.

Sophie Best, from Melbourne’s Mistletone (which released Beaches’ album), gave me a fresh perspective on the skew last week – citing shocking conservatism – and I’ll give her my last word:

There’s obviously so many great female artists. I get really mad when people do articles about women in rock, I find it really patronizing because women have been making music, women have been a huge part of music since the music industry began. Before there was even an industry women have always played music! I find it really strange when people act as thought there’s something unusual about women playing music.

I’ll give you my personal theory if you like. I think it’s because the very idea of music being a competition, you know that there’s a ladder, and that there’s a contest and someone’s going to come out on top, is inherently a male idea. To me that seems to come from the sporting world, you know, the idea that someone’s the best, they’re going to win, they’re going to be on top, it sounds like footballism to me and to me it’s nothing to do with what music and art is about. I said I didn’t blame Triple J but maybe I do blame them for actually making music into a sport like that..

I always hate those lists, they’re always really bad…they always come up with the most god-awful winners. And if you think about it even yourself if you had to do a list, it’s really hard to do, to say what are the best songs. It’s a ridiculous question…My assessment of that is that the whole concept of having a hottest 100 is male, in that clichéd way of the male way of being competitive. I don’t think music is about that, I don’t think music is about whose best. I don’t think it’s a competition.

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