Monday, April 30, 2018

Another pop culture post..

I find Beyonce very easy to ignore.  Maybe that's an age thing, although I suspect that her appeal is much more American based than with other pop stars.

For what it's worth, with my very tiny exposure to her music and videos*, one thing I've never liked is her fashion sense which has always seemed to emphasise legs with thighs that I personally find too thick to be too attractive.  Is she responsible for the several years we have had of teenage girls/young women wearing very short shorts when going out for fun, regardless of bodily attributes?  Did other  groups popular (I presume) with teenage girls, like Little Mix, get their inspiration for their somewhat trashy fashion from her?

How young women dress and its implications is a vexing issue.   In theory, we all know that being more-or-less undressed does not necessarily have to correlate with messaging of sexual availability:  tribes of topless women and near naked men tell us that.  We can also all agree that extreme conservatism in modesty - such as in Saudi Arabia - shows the ridiculousness of taking the connection between dress and sexual availability too seriously.  

But there's this fine line where the logic hits the biology, particularly when you're the father of a teenage daughter; and you really do wonder, as I was a few weeks ago when seeing a stream of high school teenagers going to an alcohol free concert/dance party thing, that it's kind of odd how the teen guys are all dressed with much more baggy-short-T-shirt modesty than the tight tops and maximum thigh baring shorts fashion that is so "in" with teen girls now.**   Or has a disparity between young male and young female fashion (in terms of apparent sexual signalling) always been a thing?   I guess you could say that a shirtless guy at an outdoor concert or sporting event might be signalling something (maybe, more often, just that they are drunk), but in any event my impression is that straight young men are now much less likely to do that in public than they were in the (say) the 70's or 80's.   And how much of that is that just because of greater sunburn awareness?  

Anyway, this is all prelude to linking to an article at the Catholic Herald, of all places, that takes a somewhat cynical view of the much lauded performance of Beyonce at the recent Coachella festival.   The article notes that, despite the female empowerment theme  coming off the stage from her performance, the festival was noteworthy for the number of groping and sexual harassment complaints from the female attendees.  The article doesn't reference the libertine fashion of many of the young women attending (just Google "Coachella 2018 fashion" for an idea), but it does reference  the conformist liberation vibe from B:
Still, it is illuminating to compare her performance to the music festivals of yore. Woodstock opened with Richie Havens’s improvised performance of Freedom and closed with Jimi Hendrix’s noodling national anthem. Both expressed a sense that liberation was found in individual challenges to authority. Now that the counterculture has gone mainstream, liberation is achieved by conforming to the commands of the new authorities. Cops march in the gay pride parade and suits issue HR directives on diversity.

Beyonce’s brand of lockstep sexiness is the artistic expression of conformist liberation. Rather than an individual improvising on stage, she is the leader of phalanxes in freakum dress uniform, backed by a marching band. It is amazing how many of her lyrics take the form of commands – “Bow down bitches, bow bow down bitches” or “OK ladies, now let’s get in formation.” Freedom is now enforced.
I think he has a point:  although the attendees at 60's and 70's music festivals were no doubt also being accused by conservative oldies of conformist fashion, the music performances were (I suppose) more loose and individualistic.   God knows some of the 5 minute electric guitar solos were self indulgent...

So how do I end this ramble?   I don't know - you never want to blame the young women (however dressed, or whichever female performer they like), for being groped, or to excuse the utter jerks who do it to them - and while it seems impossible to not mention concern about sexual signalling in fashion if you're a normal parent, it is next to impossible to do so without it being interpreted as placing an unfair onus on a daughter for their safety. 

I suppose parents have fretted about this forever - or at least over the last 70 years - and it seems no  closer to a really satisfactory resolution.

*  I've just watched bits of several of her songs - I remain completely underwhelmed by her style of music.

**  (My daughter wasn't going there; it just happened that I was having a beer in a bar next door to entry to the teen event that was starting mid afternoon.)


not trampis said...

wow never heard of her,
Steve you must realise it is a family tradition if not a cultural to dislike the music your children like.

John said...

Not trampis the current generation very much appreciate the contemporary music of past generations, even way back to the 60's. The reason for that is most probably they heard their parents playing it. The music we like is very much determined by what we hear in our youth so the older generation won't like the modern music. However many critics argue that modern music has lost individuality and become much less creative. There are also studies pointing to that. What irks me is all the wimpy emo like male pop stars of today. Is there a Sid Vicious in the house?

not trampis said...

agree on that john.

I enjoy Coldplay and they enjoy Bruce Hornsby and the range.

Incidentally the Sex pistols were a pretty tight outfit which most ignored.

Overall generations will always disagree on music that is why My boys and I are always changing the station when in the car together.

It gets worse though My wife likes Abba and Neil Diamond!!

John said...

ABBA are often perceived as just a pop band but I've read accounts by musicologists who argue that some of their music is very well crafted and complex. The lyrics also make sense, which is not that common.

Never got into the Sex Pistols. I remember my brother telling me that Jesus and the Mary Chain were a tight outfight but to me it was just a lot of distortion. Sometimes don't I hear what should be heard.

Steve said...

Surprisingly, I found out a few months ago that my son was enjoying listening to Jimi Hendrix! Definitely wasn't introduced to him by me...