so i recently finished perfect from now on: how indie rock saved my life, john sellers's paean to guided by voices and catalogue of a life of musical crushes. i've been predisposed to sneer at rockcriticboys since chuck klosterman took a cheap shot at a friend of mine in sex, drugs, and cocoa puffs, and i generally have little or no patience for books that read, at first glance, like extended music blog posts. that said, this one is sticking with me* - particularly because of this passage:
Why is it, by the way, that few men get whopping crushes on female musicians and ramp up their interest in the music as a result? There's rarely any swoon factor, at least in the circles I've hung out in. I'm sure you can find countless guys who'd say that Harriet Wheeler was a chipmunk-cheeked cutie, or discuss their inexplicable attraction to Kim Deal, or utter the unspeakably dumb words "Liz Phair? I'd fuck her." But not one of these dudes would say that looks factored into their assessment of the music; music is either worth listening to or it is not. And they certainly wouldn't stoop, as one breathless female Village Voice critic did, to opening a review of a Decemberists album with four hundred words about her attraction to the band's frontman and other indie darlings just like him. Holy shit, that sucked.eight different feminist steam pockets exploded in my head when i first read it, but damn it, he's right. except for a kid i knew in high school who, when asked about why he dug kristin hersh's music, would start mumbling incoherently about her blue eyes, i've never met a guy who favored a hot chick's music because she was hot. plenty of female artists are marketed for their looks - your gwen stefanis, your britneys, your pussycat dolls [shudder] - and yet their consumer base is overwhelmingly female, too. you can't really compare acts like those (in terms of hetero sex appeal and how it translates to sales) to, say, justin timberlake, a decent musician whose squee! factor made him a superstar. what gives, man?
my theory, or the only theory i've got thus far that doesn't make me ashamed to be a lady, is that fangirls are a byproduct of mainstream (sometimes aggressive, sometimes subliminal) sexual repression. they crop up in periods like the '50s, when shrieking and swooning and gettin' all flushed was acceptable at a concert but a no-no on a date, and the '80s, ten of the unsexiest years in modern history; boys and men don't need to squee! because they get away with more (a guy with a playboy is normal; a girl with a playgirl is...do girls even buy playgirl?). this doesn't sound quite right, though, and it certainly doesn't explain why i had a door poster of jon bon jovi on my wall in sixth grade. any theories, folks?
*my verdict on sellers and the book is still out, pending additional explanation of this passage in appendix a:
TOP FOUR INDIE-ROCK ARTISTS WHOM EVERYONE LIKES BUT WHOM I AM LUKEWARM TO, AND WHY
1. Elvis Costello
"Alison" ruined everything else for me.