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Pop, misogyny and the aftermath of Manchester May 28, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This article by Alexis Petridis really resonates with me. He writes in the aftermath of Manchester, about how as a music critic his view of the large scale pop shows aimed at teens and younger left him cold but bringing his daughter to them changed his mind.

I’m not entirely convinced, I point people to Mark Ellen’s brilliant dissection in his autobiography of the utter cynicism of some international pop artists. And I’ve never been to a big ‘pop’ gig of that type myself.

And yet.

A year or so ago one was on at Croke Park and the creature saw people streaming towards it (and by the way that’s another odd aspect of this, the kids murdered the other day are identical to those I’d often see going to such gigs because I live in proximity to Croke Park). The group, One Direction IIRC, was one she had previously dismissed, but when she saw the fans going she wanted to go (and even a Hard Working Class Heroes all ages gig in the Working Mans Club on the quays late last year which she was really into, particularly the louder punkier/rockier stuff, can’t dispel the attraction, not really). So… I can get this having sat through various pantomimes, dancing competitions, community talent shows, and stuff like that. It may not be for me, it may often be cynical and money grubbing, but… for them it can, if halfway good, be excitement incarnate.

Almost no music is as widely reviled as pop aimed at tweenage and teenage girls. It is sneered at as vacuous and bland, pap for an undemanding audience incapable of telling good from bad. Sometimes it deserves to be reviled – when the people behind it are audibly as cynical and patronising as the people who sneer at it, when the grim stench of “will this do?” permeates the whole enterprise. But it also has a function that overrides any criticism you might want to throw at it. Live, it can provide the kind of indelible, empowering experience that was so beautifully described by the American rock critic Ann Powers on social media in the aftermath of the Manchester attack: “Telling your mom it’s OK and you’ll meet her right after the show, running toward the front hand in hand with your best friend like you don’t even have a mom right now, flirting with the kid who sells you a soda, dancing experimentally, looking at the woman onstage and thinking maybe one day you’ll be sexy and confident like her, realising that right this moment you are sexy and confident like her, matching your voice to the sound, loving the sound, falling into the sound.”

There’s another point that is worth making. Some have framed Manchester in terms of an attack on girls and women. I wondered at first at that, not that I dismissed the idea that that was a part of it, but I wasn’t sure of the centrality of it to the worldview of those involved (and it’s always worth keeping in mind that fractional numbers are involved in these acts) and then I read this…

These views are central to the western-based Islamic extremist too, who is often very young and almost always male. The language in which they are expressed is different, however, from that used by the ideologues. The leader of the 2002 plot to bomb the Ministry of Sound spoke of the “slags … dancing around” who would die.


1. sonofstan - May 28, 2017

Yeah, I’ve been to any number of pop shows in a working context, and maybe the fact that a Metallica show comes in the same kind of trucks and uses the same lighting/ staging/ sound rigs as a Britney Spears one flattens all distinctions for me, but if you think Spears is ‘cynical’ and ‘exploitative’ and Metallica are ‘authentic’ well….. it’s all show biz, but stuff boys like always gets a pass.


WorldbyStorm - May 28, 2017

Yep, there’s a lot of that unfortunately.


2. Starkadder - May 28, 2017

“when the people behind it are audibly as cynical and patronising…”

On that subject…is it not somewhat problematic that a big part of the audience for Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez,Katy Perry etc. are pre-teen girls, and yet a large part of these artists’ image involves overtly sexualized lyrics and videos?

And it seems almost compulsory that when a young female singer becomes 18, she has to adopt a hypersexualised image to show that she’s “grown up”. Look at the Hailee Steinfeld video “Starving”, for instance (which, BTW, is a good song).

I know a woman with a seven-year-old daughter. Her daughter loves all these singers, and she is a bit uncomfortable with these adult elements in their work. “I don’t like it at all, but I don’t want to ban her from listening to this stuff either. ” She said that “She had to draw the line” with the Grande “Side to Side” video-she let her daughter listen to the song but not watch the actual music video.

It does seem an unpleasant aspect of capitalism that music that would most appeal to children has to come wrapped in this rather
sleazy adult-orientated commodification.


WorldbyStorm - May 28, 2017

I have to agree. I’m in no sense prudish but horses for courses. Grande’s own output can indeed be empowering but reading a review of a gig the previous week it is clear that it’s fairly adult orientated in theme and to an extent presentation. No problem there at all bar the reality of very young teen and pre-teen elements of her fanbase. That blurring seems to me to be something that should be examined. Sure, some of it flies over the kids heads but some of it doesn’t necessarily.


Starkadder - May 30, 2017

“That blurring seems to me to be something that should be examined. Sure, some of it flies over the kids heads but some of it doesn’t necessarily”

The American Psychological Association did a report on “sexualization” of young girls a few years ago, and it makes
worrying reading:



3. Iceman - May 28, 2017

I think the angle that this is an attack on women is there. The people who carry out these attacks are trying to build a society that doesn’t value women very highly.

Judging by how women are treated in the Caliphate then a ready hatred of women is very evident.

But they would have likely been as pleased if it were all men and young boys who died so it’s not the full story either.


4. Iceman - May 28, 2017

I just came across this article about Abedi. The women hating angle is probably even bigger than I thought.

A pal of his was arrested for a gang rape of a girl l. In the court and outside it the gang tried for 2 months to intimidate her family. The mother believes Abedi was part of that gang.

His desire for women to live lives of virtue in a Caliphate doesn’t seem to stop him from hanging with gang rapers.


Iceman - May 28, 2017

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