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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I Can't Write Either

For the record, I just criticized another writer, but my last review (on the Magneta Lane) degenerated into typo-laced mid-level rant:

I'm disappointed in myself, too, especially since I was expecting some public response to this. I think I raise important issues about the critical application, artistic presentation, and mainstream fear of feminism, but it's all kinda garbled. Anyhow, the thoughts are there if you're into digging...

I'm taking comfort in the fact that nothing is f*cked, dude. ;)


Anonymous enrique said...

hey Justin, the very last paragraph of your magneta review was dead on. thou i am dismayed that the review portion of the actual music comprised of a little over a paragraph.

i think you're over-analyzing the debut album of 20 yr old girls. when they have the depth and breadth of a discography of Brian Eno, then i think it's prime to go that deep into the psyche of the artist, but a little premature in a pop review.

i don't mean this as a personal attack, your points are definitely worth discussing...i for one believe that female bands shouldn't have to be burdened by the feminist tag unless they choose it. when a male lead sings about his heartbreak and fucked up head as a result, he is rarely branded anti-woman in the press, right? it's just reality, you write about what you know.

a question i do have is that in the final paragraph you invite discussion about the whole issue to try to flesh it out, but where on popmatters is the forum to do so? i guess that's where as a reader i was left just scratching my head after reading it. it sounded like a good review but...

3:54 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Hi Enrique -- thanks for writing. First, you're absolutely right that I spent too little time on the actual music.

I don't agree, thought that I'm overanalyzing anything. I think there's a gap between the product and the artist, and I what I want to get into is the presentation of the product itself. My questions are more about what's the cultural (rather than musical) importance of the release. Musically, it's good, not mind-blowing -- I think the full-length will be worth getting.

I agree 100% that female bands should be labeled feminist unless they choose it. What I do question is why a group would reject it when they seem so in tune with feminist ideas (yeah, plural -- there are lots of branches of us out there). It's odd that the press kit calls attention to the non-feminist position, as if a publicist was worried that these guys (ahem) would get branded with a dangerous, income-reducing label.

Can you really take on Hole and Nancy Sinatra as your role models, sing feministy ideas, and then say, "That's not who we are -- no politics, please." I think it's one of three things:

1) Youthful naivete / lack of awareness

2) Publicity/label fears [And I say this with respect -- I like PB Records and have already written on Memphis, Fembots, and Stars this year]

3) Our culture's general misunderstanding and fear of what "feminism" is (or, better, feminisms are)

As for those male singers not being branded anti-woman, sometimes they shouldn't be, because it's honest and emotional, and sometimes they should be, but the press is too cowardly.

PopMatters doesn't have a public forum right now, but you can feel free to write to me offline or to I'd loooove to have this discussion in a more public venue if you (or anyone has an idea). I think the place of feminist performance and criticism in music could use a great deal of discussion from all quarters, and it's something I don't have a firm grasp on myself (hence the quizzical nature of my review).

Again, thank you for writing, Enrique -- I like hearing another view.

9:00 AM  

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