October 07, 2005


Re the last post about Slits/Phair -- more clarification and deeper splay of point coming in essay in next week's Chicago Reader, but for now, I unriddle like this re The Slits:

My contention is that primal and all the other words are often used to write off their genius. It's standard cliche used to abnegate what they were REALLY DOING (good band/goodrecords), and keeps them from ever being judged on their band-merits like everyone else, it's "primal"=basic=unevolved =below=child-works=not worthy of serious examination=not legitimate.

It also perpetuates the stereotype of women being "instinctual" (not cerebral) et al. -- ie.--they're possessed by this animal nature (they are agressive), they are wild (they do not care), that they are diletanttes (not serious/real musicians)--and of course they are sexualized to no end, and of course there is the speculative judgement on WHERE AND WHAT IS THEIR DESIRE? Girl Musician Careerists can be forgiven if they have chops, if they are serious and they do not acknowledge or engage our gaze--but the loamy idea behind the Slits legacy-- is that their genius was never their doing: It was the dumb luck of Ari's step dad being Johnny Rotten, or that Viv dated Joe Strummer, that they wrong great songs-SONGS CALLED CLASSIC IN THE PUNK CANNON MIND YOU--and we are always reminded that it is "inspite of their inabilities". We cannot credit their genius, we can empower the animus, it always remained qualified by "the fact" that they "could not play". And I am not trying to be revisionist, but they issued their albums 3 and almost 6 years in to their band hood, songs blazing. They were playing! They were playing the whole time! They were like anyone else: They went to a Patti Smith gig and were inspired and said "me too!" -- and started the the process of becoming a band from there--like anyone! But for girls and women, then and now (unless we're talking Michelle Branch pap), there is still the barrier of qualification, of hooks jumped and status quo achieved, legitimacy and heirarchies. (Journalists then and journalists now are on the same wagon.)-- We still assign "AUDACITY" and these other wretched words to the discourse on the works female artists, making them and other women ever-aware of the cultural edicts that strips them of toll-free permission.

There are some words and ideas in here still forming, in this non-theory--and I feel like there is this thing I can almost tell you, but the right words for it are not exactly known yet. (I say non-theory not to discredit of say this a inexact anything. It is just that it is this weird grey thing that hems you in, and it's hard to get it's shape. You have lived with it your whole life, and it's more like an electric dog fence than anything you have the recipe on. Like Betty called it: a mystique. Unpacking the patriarchy is sometimes, really, on some Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Old Clock shit.)

Peter Macia backs us up like a Pip .

Posted by Jessica at October 7, 2005 11:50 AM | TrackBack