High on the Hill Lived a Lonely Goatherd

I’ve been thinking about NM’s pondering about why feminists aren’t supposed to like pop music.  I have to admit, I feel unqualified to even undertake answering that question because I’m uncertain what the definition of "pop music" is.  I fake it whenever discussions come up, but really, I have no idea.  Is it just popular music?  What’s on the top 40?  A certain style?

Fuck if I know.

I do know this–I’ve gone from thinking that Gwen Stefani is a joke to thinking that she’s a genius.  Maybe it took the arrival of Fergie to solidify my love for Gwen.  It’s only in seeing someone fail to properly execute what Gwen executes so effortlessly that you appreciate what Gwen does.

Gwen, it seems to me, lacks all sense of boundaries, of propriety.  There is no limit she respects, nothing she finds that she can’t use, if it strikes her fancy.  The world and all its imagery is hers, not to use for shock value, but to use for fun, for pleasure.

She lacks Madonna’s deathly serious desire to make a bunch of provocative artistic statements.  She lacks Fergie’s desperate seriousness.  She lacks Beyonce’s grounding (is there a song Beyonce’s done that you can’t imagine some woman somewhere saying, "Hell yes, that’s what I’m trying to say!"?).  She lacks attachment to the real world at all.

More than any other female pop artist I can think of, she lives in a world of theater.  Even in her early stuff with No Doubt, the videos had a tinge of Grease III about them.  Yes, there were annoyances and yes there were troubles, but here, for 3 and a half minutes was a big musical number, with dancing and clowning around and acting and amazing feats of acrobatics.

So, we turn to "Wind It Up," which may be the best Gwen Stefani spectacular ever, which, I should warn you, contains yodelling.  Not the overly sincere yodeling of Jewel or the slow nod to the past i-dee-o-lay-dee-hoo, oh of Gillian Welch, but some honest to god fake Odel-ady-odel-ady-odelay-hee-hoo.  

Gwen is standing on a fake hill surrounded by fake sheep dressed like a fake nun yodeling away her little sample from The Sound of Music.  And just when you’re at full "What the fuck?" there are horns and, yet again, marching drums and suddenly we seem to be in the middle of three big musical numbers.

There are dancers dressed like the Von Trapps with Gwen in front of them.  Gwen in white in front of a pink background.  Gwen winding up a dancer.  There’s a male voice.  And then Gwen starts in with her half-rapping verse delivery calculated, I’d bet, to shame Fergie into quietly rejoining the Black-eyed Peas.

Everything is covered in stylized Gs.  There’s more of the nun.  Now there’s a weird synthesizer part, beeping along like a Devo video is on in the background somewhere.

She’s beautiful and fresh looking in her blue dress, in the big bed, smiling like this chaos is the most fun she’s had all day.  The strings build tension… to what?  To Gwen’s advice about how to listen to the song: "You’ve got to let the beat get under your skin/ You’ve got to open up and let it all in."  You won’t be able to control yourself and your motions will cause the boys to stare.

And now Gwen is examining curtains and talking fashion.  Then, she’s sewing the curtains, like some Scarlett O’Hara whose task is never finished, which, I suppose, is fine, because Gwen doesn’t sew curtains into dresses out of desperation; she’s got no deadlines.

Next, she’s chained to a fence, dressed in flowing white, like Ann Darrow, without the threat of Kong.

"I know he thinks you’re fun and stuff, but does he know how to wind you up?" 

Women, throughout the video, are presented as having the key to their own pleasure.

So, yeah, I don’t know why we look down our noses at pop music.  It seems like there’s some really interesting stuff going on there.


Rosy-fingered Dawn

This morning, the dog and I walked through fog so thick it was like being brushed across the face by cold lacy white petticoats worn by a very large god, who, perhaps, was walking across town on her way into the sky, her light blue dress barely visible from the ground, an oval hint of pink above.

The fog made everything strange and I felt especially cozy with the dog, since she was the only thing I could see clearly.  Much farther away from her and things lost focus and then we lost sight of them.

It’s really amazing how, the longer you live some place, the more you come to see.  You’d think there’d be some moment when you’d come to know everything about your little stretch of the dead end there was to know and then you wake up to the most beautiful, mysterious fog.


Conservative Persons and Accomplishments Appreciation Week

It’s CPAAW over at Flank Two Position.  For those of you who’ve been following the conservative soap opera, you’ll remember that Roger has been repeatedly tossed out of conservatism by Terry Frank, who recently came under fire for saying that you had to be able to have children in order to have a real marriage, which, as you can imagine, came as a painful shock to infertile conservatives everywhere.

Today Roger says:

In a recent comment on this site, Terry Frank wrote the following:

There are those who are cheerleaders for the accomplishments of men…and then there are those who are waiting on the sidelines for someone to trip and fall so they can heckle. I put you in the heckler division.

The “you.” this case, is me. I take it by implication that she is, by contrast, one of the “cheerleaders.” Now, I’m not totally sure that’s what she means, and I don’t want to say that I am sure, because Terry has a established quite a pattern of saying something that seems to be perfectly clear and then claiming that everyone has misunderstood her somehow.

Roger and I agree on very little, but god damn, if life is indeed just high school writ large, I’m happy to sit in the back of the country and make snarky comments with him.

Roger Abramson–the conservative person I appreciate today in honor of Conservative Persons and Accomplishments Appreciation Week.