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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bunch of Hysterical Women

I'm pissed. Not at Anthony -- he's entitled to his opinion, and I think he's more misconstruing and minimalizing the danger than avoid ing. Not at Chuck Eddy -- he's free to run whatever he wants. I do wish someone at the Voice had thought about this a bit more, though. Do we really need writing on why something like "Wait" could be defensible? Other than stirring up the inevitable controversy, does such a thesis contribute anything to the public minds?

I'm just pissed at the world in general.

Pitchfork got it right on this one, and I'm especially glad to see a guy stepping up on it. The main responders (Hopper and Shepard) have been women, which is awesome, but this is NOT a woman's issue. It's a fucking human issue, and until more men are willing to call a prick a prick (so to speak), it's only going to slowly get better. Thanks to Ian for speaking up, too, even if we don't exactly agree.

Comments like this one: "Accusations of phallocentrism and misogyny are usually accompanied by humorless disinclination to debate that's instinctively, um, autocratic." by very good writer Alfred Soto are every bit as offensive (and more insidious) than the original pussy-beatin' stuff. If the YYT can get away with "oh, I'm only joking" and every girl grows up knowing that "I'm only joking" means it's time to shut the fuck up, then what does it mean when a male critic says, "Hey, you're humorless"? It means, "Shut the fuck up because you're not entertaining me and you're being self-righteous and that's so uncool." The thing is, I like Alfred. It's an issue, and not a personal thing.

But where's all the debate, and why is this shit (the music) being produced, and why are people buying it? A week or two ago, I asked in an incoherent ramble why people were afraid of the label feminist. I never thought it would become such an immediate issue, though.

I look forward to hearing from (hopefully) Mark Anthony Neal and filmmaker Byron Hurt.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Alfred Soto said...

Hmm. Well, I never intended my remarks as anything other than a funny cop-out. Honestly, I don't think Chuck Eddy or Anthony can be faulted for what is at heart a succinct, intelligent review. We're critics, right? We're supposed to make sense of our contradictory reactions to music. Most of the problem came from readers assuming neither Miccio nor Eddy had a right to post such an ambivalent response to a piece of music.

(btw I really dig your site. I've been reading it, er, under the stylus for a while).

1:04 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Hi, Alfred. I guess I mis-read your intent, but it's touchy spot since feminists are so often pigeonholed as icy, overly-serious, etc. I hope I'm clear that my hackles are up about your comment and not you (esp. as you were simultaneously being complimentary elsewhere!).

I would agree that Miccio and Eddy have the *right* to get that piece out there -- I just think it's not a good thing, and I disagree with Anthony on some pretty key points.

And, it just struck me, I actually wrote in praise of Louis XIV not too long ago (somewhere on the Stypod), despite not liking what they stand for. Ambivalence often equals good, I just don't think "Wait" is a piece that offers room for that.

(and thanks -- glad you like the site!)

1:33 PM  
Anonymous zeth said...

I thought I was being a prude and/or approaching my 30s cantankerously when I first heard the song...glad to know I'm not the only one who's horrified by it (and its ugly ramifications). I'd say more, Justin, but you've said it all better than I ever could.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Adrien said...

While critics continue to wring their hands over the fun machismo of Louis XIV (come on, Justin, they're harmless), "Wait" is just plain creepy. I'm actually more offended that the music overall is a lame, one-note gimmick.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

Haha! That's true, everyone seems to be forgetting to talk about the quality of the song. Despite all the "ooh, minimalist -- single of the year" responses, it's really not entertaining.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Well, dude, I did point out the "oh, and the music is shit" angle both on Stylus and on my own blog a while back. Guess I need more readers.

Also, I assume you've read it over at Anthony's blog, but it bears repeating: I think he's right when he says "declaring something defensible doesn't mean its beyond critique, it means you feel it deserves critique and discussion as to its qualities", as opposed to something indefensible. If "Wait" really was indefensible, we shouldn't be hearing any coherent arguments on one side, and both sides (if we can assume there are discrete "sides" here) have had good points. And less than great points - Jessica Hopper talking about how those of us who disagree with her about things are "those who are ensconced in their power within the patriarchy" and that's why we disagree doesn't help either her or the people she's speaking to.

And yeah, if Alf hadn't already spoken up here, I was going to say something about how I don't think he was saying what you thought he was saying...

1:10 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

That's right, you did call it trash first (and gave it a zero in the singles round-up if I remember right).

As for the defensible/indefensible argument, I just see that as semantic playing. Anyone with some basic knowledge of rhetoric, logic, etc. could defend nearly anyting. To someone who radically disagrees, the argument wouldn't be coherent, but to a third-party, the stance would be "defensible", since someone was making a defense.

I also think Anthony's defensibility-critique claim is a cop-out for slapdash writing or thinking (at this point, I'm not sure which). To claim something's defensible merely because your own writing critiques it (and, actually, doesn't critique it in this case) is a bit of specious reasoning.

Jessica's got a bit of post-speak going on, but I essentially agree with her. And I've hardly read Foucault...

Yeah, Alf: I feel bad about setting you up as a villain in all this. Your words really drew a reaction, but I missed the tone. I still stand by what I said about the literal content -- I just wish I had a different person as the speaker. :)

1:38 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

I think even Alf's original comment has been misemphasized, though: In "usually accompanied by humorless disinclination to debate", the important part (and I think/hope Alf would agree with me on this) is the refusal to debate, not the humourlessness.

That refusal is often humourless, yes, but I really don't think anyone is actually saying that people (men and women both) who find "Wait" disgusting are lacking a sense of humour, and I don't think he's poo-pooing people's reaction to the song as much as he's pointing out the way that _some_ of those reactions are problematic (as opposed to invalid).

But, uh, yeah, I probably shouldn't speak for him.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

My trouble with the comment is the way that it plays on such a hurtful feminist stereotype (including both the humorlessness and the unwillingness to debate).

Your point's well-taken, though.

10:33 PM  

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