Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Simons say

By the time of rave I had read Deleuze and Guattari, and it all just seemed to genuinely be there in the music, at the heart of how it operated. The idea of rhizomatic networks applied to the world of white labels and pirate radio and record shops serving as hubs. And also the dementia involved. Deleuze and Guattari came out of the idea that normal life screws you up and that madness is a sane response to our civilization.

If there was ever any doubt that Simon Reynolds knows his shit, it's been Cheney'd out of the quail covey by his Seattle Weekly Jukebox Jury with Andy Battaglia. The name-that-tune format really lets Reynolds shine, especically when they're listening to Phuture's "Spank Spank" and he pounces, "Is this an acid-house track? Phuture? Something about the hi-hats..." Or when they put on Gang of Four and he deadpans, "This is very much about Antonio Gramsci." Which it totes is, it's just, y'know, weird to hear somebody say it so declaratively. He diagnoses Arctic Monkeysitis as a kind of perennial Beatles nostalgia, observing, "the core music-press readership is always looking for a four-man guitar band from Britain that reflects back their lives to them in a slightly heroic way." Notice the "man" part of the equation; do (boy) critics get jazzed about Electrelane and the Gossip and even the Sleater in quite the same way they do about the Monkeys and Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand? Maybe sometimes. But the downward pull of the girl ghetto always lurks, fierce and relentless--like Scylla, or Ann Coulter. The default setting for "new genius band" is still "men."

While we're on the subject of glasses-wearing British whiz-crits named Simon, I'ma get something off my chest. Remember when Perfect Sound Forever interviewed Simon Frith? That was the one that went like this:

PSF: You've talked about generalizations of record collecting habits where girls are 'dupes' and boys are 'cognoscenti.' How do you find this so?

SF: ...One of the few generalizations you can make is that if a boy likes a record, they'll [sic] go out and buy all of them (by an artist). You find that when boys buy a Bon Jovi record for instance, they have to go out and buy all the Bon Jovi records, whereas girls may have two...And that just kind of struck me through a lot of anecdotal experience- just to hear how girls listen to music, that they're not collectors like boys are. And that's something with a very long history and that goes across any number of cultures too. Being collectors and cognoscenti seems to be a very masculine attribute. How you actually explain that, I absolutely have no idea--what sort of cultural or psychology things are at play and such.

Apart from the fact that I do not appreciate being called a dupe because of what is (not) between my legs, I am not stepping to Simon F. I know it's just a generalization, and I understand the point he was trying to make. However, I feel obligated to stress that I do not fit this pattern. I can kick the collector/cognoscenti steez any day of the week, and I am a girl. My sister is this way, too. And I can think of at least one "cultural or psychology thing" at play--try gender socialization. Kids are brilliant at conforming to what is expected of them. If girls grow up being assured that they're weak, or nurturers, or dupes, that's what they're liable to become. As for Frith's later point that "girls are more likely to have female acts in their collection than boys are," yeah, I suppose--except for the most collectorly dude I know, who shops for 7 inches the way most people buy bread and whose house is practically constructed out of rare vinyl. Said dude's mantra is six close variants of "BOY BANDS ARE BORING" and he quizzes me on Raincoats trivia when we are supposed to be working. Whose anecdotal experience is Frith privileging here? How many girls have to be collectors before the generalization begins to break down?

P.S. So's not to be exclusive: Simon Price is also lovely.

1 comment:

s. hason said...

I fully concur on the gender socialization inherent in S. Frith's theory. I was raised by parents trying to avoid stereotypes, and I am as much a record hound as my brother. also re:the end of your post--
2 of the smartest music dudes I know here in portland had a long discussion a few years ago about how they were completely uninterested in bands that didn't have women in them, they posit that women approach music in a much more creative way, and don't get as caught up in "having the right (fancy) equipment" ie they are much more versatile. Also in my own experience with being in bands where I am the only girl vs bands where there is only 1 boy and the rest girls, things happen quicker and songs go further, strange and beautiful things come out much more when it's a majority of women.
so, no new ideas to add, but keep it up PP! stay with the struggle.