The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘rock criticism’

“Hey Boss, I’ve Got This Awesome Metaphor To Use As A Critical Tool…”

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 1, 2008

It’s no secret to anyone working in the music business that it is a foul and shallow money trench (thanks, Hunter S.) where sexism still flows freely; as a music critic by day, I would say that the music journalism/criticism world is even more riddled with back-slapping boys’ club-isms, whether it’s the complete lack of female artists in The Age’s recent 50 Greatest Australian Albums list, or simply the distinct lack of female staffers at titles like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.

(Incidentally, it also seems to be very hard to discuss the sexism inherent in music criticism without being accused of bitterness, sour grapes or, even better, having my period. Go figure.)

So when I was trawling the net for Weezer info (having written a column on the topic this week) and I stumbled across this review of their most recent album, from Australian webzine Wireless Bollinger, my eyes rolled so hard they almost fell out – to wit, the writer, Ed Butler, paints each of Weezer’s most noted records as, wait for it, women! (Sorry, “girls”.) Stick that in your Music Criticism 101 pipe and smoke it!

Pinkerton. The apex of indie pop-rock. Smart, funny, willfully abstract; if it was a girl, it would be the perfect girlfriend – challenging, attractive, good dress sense, a mysterious, darker side, a real class act.

Weezer (The Blue One). The debut de rigueur of indie die-hards the world over. Flawless guitar pop. If it was a girl, it would be your best friend’s gorgeous younger sister – not so challenging, but great fun to spend time with on the odd occasion, and always tempting to revisit.

Make Believe. Urgh. The drunken, shambolic chick passed out in the corner of the pub, semi-conscious fingers clinging desperately to a half empty bottle of vodka.

Nice, huh? He then takes a holiday from trying to be Lester Bangs for a few paragraphs (conveniently forgetting – as most jock wannabe critics do – that Bangs was, in fact, a feminist) before returning with this denouement:

Right now, if The Red One was a girl, she’d be the slightly unhinged girl with a twinkle in her eye, Doc Martens and a tutu. In other words, probably not marriage material.

Now, I’m no fan of metaphor in criticism at the best of times (I used it when I was but a wee critical bairn; I look back at it and cringe, hard), but this instance is particularly odious. I mean, where do I start? Fitting value judgments, lecherousness, and sexist stereotyping into a handy metaphor, all within the space of a capsule album review? Ed Butler, you are clearly “THE MAN”!!


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