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The sexual non-sexual Jonas Brothers
May 3, 2009 12:21 PM   Subscribe

The most important article you'll ever read about the Jonas Brothers which smartly breaks down the extreme disconnect between their message, their medium, and how hot foam spray guns figure into the conservative culture wars.
posted by mathowie (208 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, which one is the cute one?
posted by Cyrano at 12:30 PM on May 3, 2009


Right. The Jonas Brothers are the first teen idols. Donny Osmond and David Cassidy were authentic rockers and didn't manipulate young girls at all.
posted by stavrogin at 12:31 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Count me in on the "Thought the hot foam was a comedic exaggeration on South Park's part".

I guess calling themselves the American Medical Association wouldn't have sold to the tweens, right?
posted by The Whelk at 12:31 PM on May 3, 2009 [23 favorites]


I *heart* this comment in particular: Anonymous said...
hey look i'm not a crazy fan of jonas brothers but don't you think that you see only the bad in them? you know what? they are the best and why? because they are normal kids that are living their dream... what is wrong with that? If there weren't The Jonas Brothers i wouldn't have a dream... and if you don't have a dream you can't have a purpose! so stop criticise them... what is wrong with you?? oh my God could you tell me something an tv that don't contain SEX?? LOL!! if you hate The Jonas Brothers save it for yourself! and you know what? thanks to JONAS BROTHERS i am steel a virgin!! so back up!
1:06 AM

posted by hippybear at 12:32 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Holy mother of fucking god.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:33 PM on May 3, 2009


Right. The Jonas Brothers are the first teen idols. Donny Osmond and David Cassidy were authentic rockers and didn't manipulate young girls at all.

Yes, that was the point. You are so clever.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:34 PM on May 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


If 'N Sync was a punk rocker's Abu Ghraib then The Jonas Brothers are the punk rocker's Auschwitz.

Worst metaphor ever.
posted by scody at 12:34 PM on May 3, 2009 [41 favorites]


Holy fucking shit.

They spray white foam on their audience.
posted by Avenger at 12:35 PM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I stopped reading when he called the music "unadult" as if that's self-evidently damning. There's plenty to hate about the Jonas Brothers, but c'mon - it seems like this guy is just so dazzled by the fact that he's in his twenties that he can't remember what came before.
posted by obvious at 12:36 PM on May 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


'After subtly massaging the budding sexual urges of thousands of pre-teen worshipers who have worked themselves into a lusty frenzy, The Jonas Brothers ejaculate their horrid metaphor into the gaping maws of their Hannah Montana harem who have now completed their souls, having received the warm, foamy jism of their young male slavemasters.'

I am worried that having this paragraph in my web cache has put me on a list somewhere.
posted by permafrost at 12:40 PM on May 3, 2009 [60 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think the problem is that it is music for children, but that it is so thoroughly product. That being said, if you don't believe The Stones were also product, and if you think rock and rolls "sex, drugs, groupies, etc." narrative is often equally inauthentic and equally manufactured, you're simply buying into a different marketable mythology. The Stones aren't great because they were somehow honest spokesmen of an unpopular, revolutionary message -- that was just marketing. The Stones were great because, despite manufacturing a product that had already become a set of salable cliches, they nonetheless made great fucking music.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:41 PM on May 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


If 'N Sync was a punk rocker's Abu Ghraib then The Jonas Brothers are the punk rocker's Auschwitz.

Best metaphor ever.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


if it helps end this nonsense, i will take you all to the parking lot of T.G.I.Friday's.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


This started out good, and then devolved into a variation of Back in My Day plus other histrionics that bogged down the writer's ultimate point. I happened to see the full South Park episode he links to when I was in the States last month and I think it's a much better take-down, illustrating just what's so noxious about the Jonas Brothers enterprise far more articulately than the blog post. Anyone know if the full episode is online?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:44 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, that was the point. You are so clever.

He's saying the Jonas Brothers are manufactured teen idols who sell sex to kids under the guise of innocent pop music. And that they suck. Which of these things isn't true about any teen idol? Who cares? They'll be gone in a couple of years and someone new will replace them.
posted by stavrogin at 12:44 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


RAHRRR!!! NERD RAGE!

Someone needs to tell him that the Jonus Brothers is not meant for him.

That, and he's a puritan of the worst sort. He damns them for being white, he damns them for being Christian. Most of all, he seems to use them as a focal point for his rage against the whole conservative Disney cultural metroplex.

Also, the quest for true authenticity is a hipster's ghetto. Real rock bands? No such thing.
posted by zabuni at 12:46 PM on May 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


South Park already dealt with this in a much more funny and effective way because they skipped all all the handwringing. Yes, The Jonas Brothers are a manifestation of Conservative America's disconnect with reality and double standards, but there are many, many more things that wrong about Conservative America than a boy band. The Jonas Brothers don't even make it to the top 100 list.

The foam spraying is funny because I thought South Park was making it up. I'm, however, pretty sure it's innocent and fun rather than being about jizzing down pre-teens.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:46 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The south park episode says it better than the article. But seconding stravrogin, was 50s Elvis and the young girls screaming for his shaking hips any different than the Jonas Bros foam? Music industry uses overt sexuality to reap financial rewards from young teens, film at 11.
posted by about_time at 12:47 PM on May 3, 2009


so all tit takes to be "breast of the web" these days is to put up a blog someunderwear on the interfishnet stockings and essexntially masterlyregurgibate an episexode of cable television only adding a the referential man-meat about the rolling stones and ann coulter to what matt and trey already-and-wanting pointed out of the closet?
posted by the aloha at 12:49 PM on May 3, 2009 [17 favorites]


Yah but Elvis wasn't constantly giving speeches about how it's not about sex and how girls should remain pure before marriage.
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Donny Osmond and David Cassidy were authentic rockers and didn't manipulate young girls at all.

I can see the line of development from Donny Osmond's wholesome whitebread Mormonism to the Pentecostalist Jonas Brother's purity rings, but there's nothing to explain the sheer in-your-face Freudianism of the heartthrobbingly chaste trio spraying their audience of shrieking preteen girls with arcing jets of sticky white foam. Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, eat your hearts out, because that's what you'll have to do to top their act.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I loved this rant. OTOH, since when was American popular teen culture not about sexual frustration and hypocrisy? Also this bit seems to sort of missing the point:
And nothing about The Jonas Brothers suggests the rich ethnic diversity of America.
As entertaining as "Joe Jonas and his half-brothers by different fathers Jose and Tyrone" would be, I think it's not unreasonable to expect that a family band would all, you know, be of the same race.
posted by Nelson at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2009 [23 favorites]


You know what I realized yesterday? The new Jonas tv show is nothing more than Flight of the Conchords for "tweens". Seriously.

Compare this with this. Obviously the Jonas clip has 30 seconds of conversation before the song, but the entire set up is no different than FOTC: You take a musical group, throw some contrived situation together, and add in a ridiculous song. Boom. Instant hit for at least a season or two.[1]


1I love Flight of the Conchords, but I sometimes wonder how much longer it will really be around.
posted by niles at 12:51 PM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


I forgot to add: the Gay One is really hot.
posted by Nelson at 12:51 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anyone know if the full episode is online?

It seems to be listed here, although whether this works outside the US of A, I have no idea.
posted by hippybear at 12:52 PM on May 3, 2009


That's just the thing (Stravrogin and about_time) -- part of what seems to piss him off is that the sexuality of the Jonas Bros. is fundamentally coy, when coyness in large part has historically defined the rock n' roll's brand of sexuality. It's all the more infuriating and hypocritical because of the purity rings and their associated rhetoric, but that just makes the coyness more overt; it doesn't make it special.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:52 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am so angry right now. And yet I can't be the only person who wants desperately to be sprayed with hot foam.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:00 PM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


A Jonas Brothers Guide for Adults.
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on May 3, 2009


I was a teenager in the early nineties when a high school friend of mine, one of the smartest people I've ever met and who had a dream at the time of becoming a cartoon animator and had learned everything he could about the animation industry, told me that Disney is an inherently evil organization that doesn't hesitate to kneecap people who oppose it and like the CIA would make liberal use of subliminal messaging or any remotely mind-control-like stuff it could get its hands on and would be willing to do United Fruit company sort of things to get its way.

At the time I didn't totally believe him, because although I can readily believe in corporate profiteering it certainly sounds like a conspiracy theory or something and is obviously the complete antithesis of every single message conveyed, like something straight out of the Soviet Union. But over the years congruent things like this just keep popping up.
posted by XMLicious at 1:02 PM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


The shooting your audience with firehoses full of fluid? GWAR did it first, and better.
posted by boo_radley at 1:04 PM on May 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


The south park episode says it better than the article. But seconding stravrogin, was 50s Elvis and the young girls screaming for his shaking hips any different than the Jonas Bros foam? Music industry uses overt sexuality to reap financial rewards from young teens, film at 11.

You skimmed it didn't you.
posted by nola at 1:05 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


GYOFB. Wait, he did. I'm not entirely sure that I've heard the Jonas Brothers. I'm pretty sure that I'd hate listening to them. I'm glad they exist if their mere existence or the labeling of them as musicians sends a hipster into an angsty temper tantrum. Hell, I'm glad hipsters exist because they offend the sensibilities of everybody who's checked in their youthful ideals because they passed 30, or 40 as opposed to honestly outgrowing them.
posted by substrate at 1:05 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


If that's the most important article evah about the Jonas Brothers then ... wow, I ought to become a music critic. The standards must be incredibly low.

It seemed like a lot of silly hand-wringing and hysteria-mongering, to me.
posted by jayder at 1:07 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]




I hate Disney. With the heat of ten thousand flaming Bambi's mothers.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure that I've heard the Jonas Brothers.

I wish I had never heard of the Jonas Brothers, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady GaGa, or a host of other people. But I have... god help me, I have.
posted by Justinian at 1:10 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


So basically this guy saw an episode of South Park, liked it, and paraphrased it.
posted by cribcage at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


I think what the article was about at it's core is how the Jonas Brothers are SEX but sold as good clean fun. I'm guessing in a few years wholesome Americans everywere will be having gay sex, rebranded Agape Love, kids will be doing heroin to get closer to Jesus, and parents will be having key parties they call "breaking bread together"
posted by nola at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


I remember when the boy bands came out and I'd catch the occasional song on MTV, SNL or the radio and thinking how completely boring the songs were, but at least they were competently performed.

I finally saw Jonas Brothers on something (maybe SNL) and I was shocked how completely horrible they were as singers. They were bad. Brittney Spears bad.

But aside from that teen idols have always been about a safe place for teenyboppers to place their sexual urges. The purity rings are a particularly cynical addition but the basic concept is nothing new.

David Cassidy -> Andy Gibb -> Shaun Cassidy -> Bay City Rollers -> New Kids -> Backstreet Boys -> N'Sync -> Jonas Brothers

The funniest part of the South Park version was the quick cut to Mr. Slave in the concert audience.
posted by Bonzai at 1:13 PM on May 3, 2009


This guy seems to be taking the Jonas Brothers a little seriously. Like, a lot seriously.
posted by fshgrl at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jonas Brothers are a business, they have no authenticity. Multiple revenue streams looks great on the balance books, you have to give Disney props, they're good on increasing shareholder value (or at least in perpetuating the perception they are). Besides who wants to be real with teenagers, what kind of message "Go ahead and sleep with him, you're going to anyway, just don't come crying to us when he's getting head from the slutty girl 6 mos. from now, oh yeah that's not just high school drama that's going to be the next 10 relationships of your life."
posted by geoff. at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bonzai, you leave Britney alone!
posted by Michael Roberts at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've been fortunate to be out of the cohort that has to hear anything about the Jonus Brothers at all. Other then posts like this every once in a while, stuff like the south park episode (which I saw parts of) they're almost totally off my radar.

So I guess there are some positives about getting older.
posted by delmoi at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


This guy sounds like McCarthy. Calm the fuck down, step away from the Tiger Beat and go listen to your Sufjan Stevens records. Since when has teen pop culture EVER been a moral compass. When these kids are 18 and have outgrown this shit, they'll want to distance themselves from it all - and all the better that it's such obvious crap.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:21 PM on May 3, 2009


And PS - yeah delmoi, I'll admit that until 3 months ago I had no idea who they were. My only exposure to them was a movie preview, and even then for a while I thought it was a movie about a group. This is when I really did think of myself as an old bastard.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:24 PM on May 3, 2009


Besides who wants to be real with teenagers, what kind of message "Go ahead and sleep with him, you're going to anyway, just don't come crying to us when he's getting head from the slutty girl 6 mos. from now, oh yeah that's not just high school drama that's going to be the next 10 relationships of your life."

Funnily enough, out of curiosity from reading about her in Rolling Stone, I listened to a bit of Taylor Swift. A few of her songs say exactly this.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:28 PM on May 3, 2009


go listen to your Sufjan Stevens records.

Sufjan's as bad as the Jonas Brothers. He talks a christian game, but I hear he's put up to three fingers in a lady's private place and all at the same time too.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:30 PM on May 3, 2009 [14 favorites]


The 'Stones [sic] never once sold a lie.

Oh, what omniscient (and misspelled) bullshit. What deluded bullshit.

The, um, "'Stones," well Jagger anyway, stole an American art form and sang with fucking fake American (as in African American, sort of) accents. Mick sang "sure" as "sho'." Give me a goddam break about their "authenticity." Talented, yes, and lying sellouts from day one.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:37 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


The sex thing aside--and I'll say I was as shocked as anyone to learn the foam was for real and leave it at that--the article tangentially brings up another topic that's bothering me more and more lately, as the father of a young girl. These manufactured pop icons just completely dominate kids' cultural awareness. The Jonas Bros, Hannah Montana, even Nickelodeon's distressingly ubiquitous "iCarly"--everybody's famous, or a rock star, or wants to be one. (Witness iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove, whose singing voice I honestly find to be indistinguishable from that of Miley Cyrus.)

I know kids will always want to grow up to be rock stars--who wouldn't?--but I fear the way all of these programs depict kids as famous, or in a position of power, just reinforces the idea that if you're not famous, you're nobody.

Is it really different now than when I was a kid? I don't know. Live-action is more common today. I think the ratio of cartoons to live-action I watched as a kid approached ten to one. Maybe I'm just grouchy you can't watch Looney Toons on basic cable anymore.

Oh, well; thank goodness for SpongeBob: an average Joe content with a crummy, dead-end job. Truly the superior role model for our kids.
posted by kjh at 1:37 PM on May 3, 2009 [17 favorites]


For the record, The New Kids on the Block sniff panties on stage now. Donny, obviously. Joey just posts crotch shots to Twitter; he's the coy one. I have a hard time getting to terrified by the Jonas Brothers' fetishized faux innocence after seeing how thirsty 30-year old women are to amass and regress to puberty in order to re-sexualize the experience.

They did also tell us to go home and blow our husabnds, so don't feel too threatened.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:40 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, I think the article was a little hyperbolic. I mean the penultimate sentence is: "The Jonas Brothers are lighting sexual fires with ignorant sparks, hypocritically extinguishing the flames of knowledge, the wealth of understanding we have about ourselves as sexual beings."

Human sexuality isn't just about "sex is fun" there will always be a tension between wanting to fuck and the benefits that accrue through not doing it. Like it or not the Jonus Brothers represent a legitimate point of view, even though the band itself is an artificial creation design to put parents who want their kids to hold that view at ease.

The problem that social conservatives have is that modern birth control, condoms, etc have mitigated a lot of the more serious problems with sex: Pregnancy and STDs. Fear mongering won't work, and so there is a need to "sell" purity. So you get things like the Jonas Brothers and purity rings.

Also apparently The Zack Efferon movie "17 again" is actually another attempt to sell purity to kids.
posted by delmoi at 1:41 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think the article was a little hyperbolic.

I think that observation is a little understated.

The Jonas Brothers are lighting sexual fires with ignorant sparks, hypocritically extinguishing the flames of knowledge, the wealth of understanding we have about ourselves as sexual beings.

Plate, meet beans.
posted by ornate insect at 1:48 PM on May 3, 2009


If that's what the foam means, I'm afraid to read anything more into You Can't Do That on Television.
posted by starman at 1:50 PM on May 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


The problem is that The Jonas Brothers conceal sexuality under the guise of sex-free fun.

Actually, the problem is that this blog post never explains why this is a problem. Should all music performances for teens end with condoming a banana?
posted by palliser at 1:51 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I remember when the boy bands came out and I'd catch the occasional song on MTV, SNL or the radio and thinking how completely boring the songs were, but at least they were competently performed.

Well, they did have some quality material to work from. "I Want It That Way" was written by Diane Warren, e.g.

The Jonas Brothers, OTOH, don't have a very strong set of songwriters to call from, since Disney isn't investing in songwriting but in the TV/movie experience. They could sing "Bingo" and "Camptown Races" and no one would care. Well, OK, they would care, which is why they're using some pap songwriters, but they're not out investing in good writing.
posted by dw at 1:52 PM on May 3, 2009


Hmm, as someone who grew in with the N'Sync/Backstreet Boys cohort of girls, I kind of see one of the primary function of teen idols as a safe way for early teens to ease into expressing the fact that they are interested in boys, without the risk and messiness of having real relationships with real boys.
posted by fermezporte at 1:58 PM on May 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


unfortunately, he's not really grasped the REAL meaning behind the jonas' brothers lyrics

"He's cool, he's hot like a frozen sun.
He's young and fast, he's the chosen one.
People, we're not bragging,
He's the American Dragon.
He's gonna stop his enemies with his dragon power,
Dragon teeth, dragon tail, burning dragon fire,
A real live wire!"

"There's a whale in the pool with my mother"

"Yo I'm so hot
Just like a tamale
So destructive
Just like a tsunami
Everytime I'm near
The red cross is there
Cause that's how I'll be doing things
Because...

Nick J is off the chain"

who resembles a dragon, hot like a frozen sun, as if he had been sleeping for eons in the depths of antarctica? - who would resemble a whale in the pool? - who is destructive just like a tsunami? - if one translates nick j into the unspeakable language of the old ones, what name does one get?

my fellow americans, this is worse than marketing - it's worse than white bread sex appeal - it's EVEN WORSE THAN SATAN!!

the jonas brothers are preparing the world for the RETURN OF CTHULHU!!!!
posted by pyramid termite at 1:59 PM on May 3, 2009 [32 favorites]


As entertaining as "Joe Jonas and his half-brothers by different fathers Jose and Tyrone" would be, I think it's not unreasonable to expect that a family band would all, you know, be of the same race.
posted by Nelson at 3:50 PM on May 3 [3 favorites +] [!]


Eponysterical?
posted by Slap Factory at 2:06 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Worth it just for this link in the article:

Fox News is so horrified at a "disgusting" sexual photo or video clip that they decide to show it to you over, and over, and over.

posted by Space Kitty at 2:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason these boy bands engage in coy, implicit sexuality "under the guise of sex-free fun" is that this is pleasing to their core audience: girls in their pre-teens or early teens who are just starting to be aware of their sexuality. They do not, in general, wake up one morning wanting to hear that they are to be fucked like an animal. They want to hear other things, and the Jonas brothers tell them those things. Obviously, they should be hearing honest things about sex, but that's not a rock star's job. Coming to a sexual awareness through fantasy that is only impliedly sexual is perfectly normal, and there's no reason to take that away from young girls. I liked it, anyway.
posted by palliser at 2:11 PM on May 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


If that's what the foam means, I'm afraid to read anything more into You Can't Do That on Television.

True dat. It's probably a good thing the author has never heard of Gallagher.
posted by Slap Factory at 2:12 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting that.
posted by zzazazz at 2:13 PM on May 3, 2009


*Smiles smugly, knowing his teenage daughter prefers Hollywood Undead*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:17 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


nola: "I think what the article was about at it's core is how the Jonas Brothers are SEX but sold as good clean fun."

More like Janus Brothers, amirite?
posted by Rhaomi at 2:22 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe five year old girls should listen to Nine Inch Nails instead, or perhaps hipster approved traditional indie rock.
posted by iviken at 2:30 PM on May 3, 2009


The shooting your audience with firehoses full of fluid? GWAR did it first, and better.

ah GWAR...i went to a GWAR concert with a friend once...we were both dressed as fairies. i spent most of the evening airborne and got pantsed like 3 times. we got soaked in the fake blood of a puppet jon benet ramsey (decapitated by puppet monster penguins), and my wand got totally broken. later we went to the bowery bar, just a couple of bedraggled, filth-covered fairies, to scare the hell out of the world's fashion elite...ah, i miss new york.

sorry. continue.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:31 PM on May 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


I just want to make it perfectly clear that I, a 27 year old man, am much cooler than pre-teen girls are.
posted by I Foody at 2:31 PM on May 3, 2009 [36 favorites]


I am angry that I am writing about The Jonas Brothers on this blog.

No one made you write it.

Go get laid, you'll be less angry and won't have to think about the Jonas Brothers, unless you're into that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem is that The Jonas Brothers conceal sexuality under the guise of sex-free fun

Well, yeah. That's what gets you hot when you're an 11 year old girl. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this guy has never been a girl on the verge of puberty. I think there's a good idea in his blog post, especially concerning white, middle-class, conservative parents and their apparent obliviousness to Disney's marketing sex to their kids. But they're only oblivious because they want to be. If they choose to I'm sure they can remember what it was like when they were their daughters' age, sleeping under their NKOTB posters. But they don't WANT to remember because then they'd have to face the facts that these girls aren't only responding to the sexual imagery because it's being sold to them; they're responding because they are normal, healthy girls who are only a few short years away from becoming fully sexual beings. When you're a girl that age you can't handle sex directly but you definitely know that there's something going on down there that extends a bit further than just thinking a boy in a band is cute.

Acting like marketing sex to girls by using squeaky-clean, non-threatening young men is a new phenomenon is just silly. That's how every young male teen idol in the history of the world has been marketed. Be disgusted with the marketing if you like but this guy isn't saying anything that every American woman who ever owned an issue of Teen Beat already knows.

On preview, what palliser said.
posted by lysistrata at 2:33 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the hyper-conservative adults who were outraged -- outraged! -- that the word "SEX" might have appeared for a half-second in The Lion King look on with glowing approval and happily shell-out hundreds of dollars to provide their kids with "wholesome" entertainment. At it's core this is no less sexual or subversive than commercial hip-hop, but you know, it's not... (whispers) black.

The Lion King is black? Or did we switch metaphors?

The problem is not that The Jonas Brothers are making their young fans sexually aware; I would praise The Rolling Stones for accomplishing the same feat. (And doing so with important music that displayed exceptional proficiency and intelligence.)

I.e. back in his day.

Quite the contrary; teenage life is sexual emergence and rock music often times is sex. The problem is that The Jonas Brothers conceal sexuality under the guise of sex-free fun.

Ah, brown sugar how come you taste so good?
Ah, brown sugar just like a young girl should.

Nope, nothing hidden in Rolling Stone lyrics.
posted by DU at 2:37 PM on May 3, 2009


The, um, "'Stones," well Jagger anyway, stole an American art form

So, tell me: would you also say that Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle "stole" a European art form and are therefore inherently "inauthentic" performers?

Or, going further back, is every black performer who ever sang a song composed by a white jewish boy (hello Irving, hello George and Ira etc. etc.) "stealing" music that doesn't "belong" to them?

Tell me, what's your ethnic background? What artistic forms did your people create (wholly, solely, and without any input from any other cultural tradition)? Are you resigned to only expressing interest in and potentially practicing those forms (which will, I imagine, number exactly zero) and no others?
posted by yoink at 2:54 PM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wait a goddamned minute here. I'm pretty sure the guy who runs that blog is my former roommate from Seattle. I lived w/him and his band (who made a recording studio out of our basement).

Ironic, in hindsight, that he chose to go off on a sexual tangent. My recollection of him in the late-90s was that of a self-proclaimed celibate.
posted by revmitcz at 3:01 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


More like Janus Brothers, amirite?

Or The Jenis Brothers?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:11 PM on May 3, 2009


The NY Times article about Purity Balls linked in the post is truly frightening.
posted by HumanComplex at 3:14 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Right. And the author is probably bitter because people laugh behind his back when he tells them about this seminal old band he just discovered called The Bay City Rollers.
posted by paddbear at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2009


Anyone who has been in a position to see under the hood of the music industry understands that the hot "indie" band of the moment is almost as much the product of carefully calculated marketing campaigns as the Jonas Bros. and their ilk.

There's a charming myth that indie acts emerge from their local scenes spontaneously, purely on the merit of their brilliance, and then go directly to your favorite college radio station or music blog. No. Many people have spent much time and money to position each of these acts in the proper milieu, and to build buzz among the proper tastemakers.

Next month there will be a new crop of cool hipster bands. It's as faddish and trend-driven as any other sector of pop music. Nothing is authentic, everything is manufactured. (And that's OK.)
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, I thought the foam thing was something South Park made up. But other than that:
* Disney = evil...well, duh.
* Preteen girls get tingly about well marketed pretty boys = duh
* Jonas Brothers make music that sucks if you know anything about music = well, you know the routine.

Seriously. Marketing pretty boys to sexually budding females has gone on for a long time. Frank Sinatra, anyone?

The difference is that *some* previous incarnations, like Frankie, had talent. Many of them probably did not. Leif Garrett comes to mind. (Boy he had good hair though. Not so much now, mind you.)
posted by dejah420 at 3:27 PM on May 3, 2009


I, for one, enjoyed this blog post, and the embedded videos. I don't really know much about the Jonas Brothers so I thought it was interesting.
posted by grouse at 3:30 PM on May 3, 2009


The apparent dichotomy, in this thread, between liking teenypop crap and liking indie rock, is stupid as hell.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:31 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Maybe five year old girls should listen to Nine Inch Nails instead

This makes me realize that I'm probably majorly damaged from NOT having some simplistic meatsingers to cream over in my pubescence. NKOTB was definitely pre-pubescence for me, not really sexualized to any degree I was aware of. Backstreet Boys came at the end of high school. Too late.

I was in middle school from 1992-1995. 12 years old and pinning up pics of Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan and Trent Reznor is kind of peculiarity-inducing. Don't have a crush on Kurt Cobain. Seriously. He's not a good model of availability.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:48 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


The difference is that *some* previous incarnations, like Frankie, had talent.

Frankie Say Relax.
posted by hippybear at 4:00 PM on May 3, 2009


and you know what? thanks to JONAS BROTHERS i am steel a virgin!! so back up!

I think the problem here isn't so much that Disney is selling fake sex in a harmless, white boy package (though, that is a problem), its that the package comes with this undefined set of moral values. Parents allow their kids to focus all of their energy on the Jonas Brothers because they're perceived as safe. As a result, kids get no outside cultural exposure, and cultural (and educational) bankruptcy results.

I'm not saying that being made by your parents to listen to other kinds of music, or go to other kinds of movies, or listen to adults having conversations not about Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers teaches you how to spell "still." I am saying they're two symptoms of the same problem: children's culture and education contracted out in increasingly few hands.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:03 PM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Nothing is authentic, everything is manufactured.

Perhaps everything in the sphere of culture (and I include language itself as the living cultural artifact par excellence) is simultaneously both authentic and manufactured.

Not to get all semiotic, but all human expression, whether linguistic or non-linguistic, and from the most profound to the most banal, is, by virtue of its being expressible at all, mediated to some degree by the social constraints, imperatives, and possibilities inherent and familiar to us as expression to begin with: i.e. its being semi-interpretable, semi-intelligible, etc. And yet it is also potentially novel: grammatically novel, dispositionally novel, even novel in its insidiousness. Even a copy bears some trace of the original. Culture is a sort of palimpsest.

If it (a given expression or cultural product) strikes us as mere corporate pabulum, or as mad, goofy, insincere, fraught with danger, sublime, superlative, patronizing, hollow, predictable, what have you, it still falls under the category of "human expression." And that is a category that is by definition, I would submit, always a mash-up of the organic and the processed. The upshot is we can all relax: it's all been done before, nothing's been done before.

posted by ornate insect at 4:05 PM on May 3, 2009 [17 favorites]


Also: if you think kids don't have the power to be incredible culture consumers and producers, all you gotta do is check out the last thread about the PS22 Chorus.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:05 PM on May 3, 2009


Yeah I think the SP episode pretty much covers everything there is to be said about the Jonas Brothers.
posted by SirOmega at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2009


The upshot is we can all relax: it's all been done before

You are SO correct.
posted by hippybear at 4:12 PM on May 3, 2009


I count myself lucky. I've clearly insulated myself well enough from popular culture because since this Metafilter post was literally the first time I'd ever heard of The Jonas Brothers. I kid you not.

Of course, having read the article and the ensuing conversation, now that I do know of them they sound like every other mundane thing that pop culture has spewed forth a dozen times before, only this time it seems to come with a refreshing dash of hypocrisy. The Jonas Brothers and their ilk are the very reason why I've cut myself off from what the kids call cool these days.

I'm holding out to the vain hope that society and pop culture will eventually come full circle, and creativity, integrity and music and art will really matter again. It's a dim hope, but I'll hold onto it nonetheless. In the meantime, I'll continue to stay here in my pop-culture bunker. Call me when this generation produces its Dylan, its Rolling Stones, its Pearl Jam or Nirvana. I'll come back out then.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:16 PM on May 3, 2009


I don't think he's quite outraged enough.

The idea of concert audiences being sprayed with foam is more hilarious than really disturbing. I mean, I doubt that any 8-yr-olds in the audience are going to be hit by some foam and suddenly start thinking "Omg, it's like I've been blessed by gallons of Jonas Jizz™!"

Also, the linked article about (fantastically named) Purity Balls had the weirdest ending sentence.
posted by efio at 4:22 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brilliant. I've never really thought about the Jonas Brothers very much. Now I have something new to rant about.
posted by ob at 4:24 PM on May 3, 2009


Can you imagine how cynical you would have to be to be happy making this? Honestly, it is well worth becoming better informed by watching it.

That was awful shit. The singer's voice is awful. The lyrics were awful. The tune was awful. The musical structure was awful. The entire thing was poor quality, unskilled crap. Quality is obviously not necessary when you have the Disney media empire supporting your sales efforts.

I'm disappointed. I guess disappointed by tweens' musical tastes, and by those who exploit tween naïvity and gullible dippiness. There are many better musical groups out there that Disney could prefer to use when marketing their latest sales effort. The kind of money the Disney Corporation makes out of its marketing-created teenaged/youth superstars, the cost of using talent is chump change.

Doesn't seem like they're even trying to be good any more.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:28 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I took an elbow to the face at the Mastodon show last night and lost a lens from my glasses. Good times.
posted by sciurus at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


The idea of concert audiences being sprayed with foam is more hilarious than really disturbing.

It's like Rammstein for preteens.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2009


The Jonas Brothers and their ilk are the very reason why I've cut myself off from what the kids call cool these days.

This is part of the issue, though. The Jonas Brother's aren't cool - they're pre-cool. Their intended audience basically doesn't have any artistic taste yet, and these pretty boys are shoved at them. Thus, the musical question for them isn't one of Jonas Brothers vs everything else out there, but one of Jonas Brothers or Not. And Not means you're lame.

I'm not sure this is really any different than what's come before in some ways, but for two main things: 1. The hypocrisy, and 2. the fact that Jonas Brothers are aimed so squarely and exclusively at adolescents and younger and away from anyone who would recognize the hypocrisy for the bullshit that it is. Sinatra, Elvis, the tones - they had neither of these traits.

In any case, it might not do that much harm, but given a choice between an evil corporation intentionally getting the girls all hot and bothered while layering on further anxiety and doubt about those feelings and, you know, NOT having that happen, I'd rather Not. Call me lame, if you must.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


told me that Disney is an inherently evil organization that doesn't hesitate to kneecap people who oppose it

In my experience, this is only a small exaggeration. I get the impression that Disney gets what it wants. And it demands a lot. I don't think the get vindictive, though: they just get what they want. If you can't provide it, you don't exist.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:33 PM on May 3, 2009


I'm disappointed.
By what? What exactly were you expecting? How can anyone be disappointed by bubblegum?

The hypocrisy
What hypocrisy? I don't get it: it's a tweeny-bopper band. It's like talking about the hypocrisy of Six Flags, the Grimace, or Twizzlers.
posted by ornate insect at 4:39 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Thus, the musical question for them isn't one of Jonas Brothers vs everything else out there, but one of Jonas Brothers or Not. And Not means you're lame.

Replace "Jonas Brothers" with any number of bands aimed at preteens, and I think most of us went through the same thing, though.

Which is what puzzles me about this article - he begins by explaining that when N*Sync were big, he hated them for being manufactured, plastic, sexy-but-not-sexual, and now in retrospect he sees there was actually some talent there. But these Jonas Brothers, they suck!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:45 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think I can state myself any more clearly, ornate insect. I said what I'm disappointed about.

But, here, let me engage in outright hyperbole:

Disney behaves like the creepy stranger in the van offering free candy to the children.

Or like an accountant mis-advising mentally handicapped clients, cheating them of what they should be getting.

Or like a music business partnership that can't write good lyrics, can't invent good melodies, can't play their instruments worth a damn, and can't even bloody well sing, being marketed as a fantastic, sensationalist, omgbbq!!1! Musicians!, and marketed to people who don't know any better.

I find it mildly fraudulent and mildly distasteful. And disappointing, because what's the point if not to make a good product? Is it just about money? Music is about that? Nothing more? Bleh.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:06 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


The, um, "'Stones," well Jagger anyway, stole an American art form and sang with fucking fake American (as in African American, sort of) accents. Mick sang "sure" as "sho'." Give me a goddam break about their "authenticity." Talented, yes, and lying sellouts from day one.

The point he was trying to make by referencing the Stones was that they made absolutely sure that we all knew they had come specifically to fuck the daylights out of our wimmin. They were pretty damn brash for the time, actually, and yes it sold, too. But that part of what they were selling was not a lie.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Inane culture-products from the [big media corp] machine blowing up through its own corporate networks is mainstream culture today. Has been for some time of course. The system's been perfected over the last, oh, century.

I imagine, as an outsider looking at the US, Jonas Brothers the natural result of that system creating a product (to capitalize on young sexual energy) which get pass all the censorship, red tape, and taboos in the clusterfuck of conservative-capitalist-christian values that is heartland USA circa 2008.

Every urge and feeling you have throughout your life is a marketable product you should be tricked into paying for. It's like a law or something.
posted by Glee at 5:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dude, don't get me started about the hypocrisy of The Grimace. That guy's a total sell-out.
posted by sugarfish at 5:11 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


And disappointing, because what's the point if not to make a good product?

It's a great product, espeically because it's aimed at those who don't have a lot of knowledge of other products

Is it just about money?

For the company, yeah.

Music is about that? Nothing more?

There's different types of music. If you don't like the Jonas Brothers, don't listen to them. Yeah, yeah, they're destroying civilization, whatever. Everyone should chill out and not spazz out over damn thing teenagers do/say/like. They're a different species, most people who aren't teenagers aren't going to understand them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:14 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Which is what puzzles me about this article - he begins by explaining that when N*Sync were big, he hated them for being manufactured, plastic, sexy-but-not-sexual, and now in retrospect he sees there was actually some talent there. But these Jonas Brothers, they suck!

That just means he likes to dance around in his underwear to Justin Timberlake now, but he's too "punk rock" to admit it.
posted by stifford at 5:16 PM on May 3, 2009


dewd, take a pill.
I'm sure the author listens to original punk like Green Day or Fall Out Boy. A 20-something outraged by teeny bopper pop - wow such a new sensation. Corporate America in control of mainstream music? Say it ain't so (ordnary).
posted by hooptycritter at 5:30 PM on May 3, 2009


Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Took my then 10 year old kid to see the horror movie "Ghost Ship". If you're seen it, you know there's nothing particularly special about the film, nothing good or great, it uses a lot horror and movie cliches.

She loved it, because those cliches were totally new to her and seemed like exciting twists in storytelling. Fast forward 6 years and we're watching the same movie on cable one afternoon and pointing and laughing over how silly it is. I asked if she remembered seeing it in the theater and liking it and she just rolled her eyes and said something like "God, don't remind me. I was just a kid back then."

So yeah, chill out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2009 [11 favorites]


The point he was trying to make by referencing the Stones was that they made absolutely sure that we all knew they had come specifically to fuck the daylights out of our wimmin.

Except for Charlie. Charlie Watts is basically the Jonas Brothers of the Rolling Stones.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:45 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


The NY Times article about Purity Balls linked in the post is truly frightening.

really? what's so wrong about dating your father until you're old enough to get married?
posted by sexyrobot at 5:53 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


@nola: I actually read the whole article, and that was because I had seen the whole south park episode and was interested if there was something new being said. There wasn't.

Whether overt or coy, it's all marketing and that's obvious from the large Disney Channel logo on all their "rock posters" etc. The sexuality is something that parents should be suspect of given Disney alums Britney and Christina, among others. And I don't think Disney is being that coy for this age of viral videos, pepsi blue, etc; that is, most people (and kids) are pretty sophisticated and can see right through the hypocrisy/duality of the jonas bros message (and apparently they don't mind or care).

Plus come on, is the Jonas Bros spouting foam at a concert really so bad as the 12 million people killed in the holocaust or our nation's recent history of torture? Is that effective writing? No.
posted by about_time at 5:57 PM on May 3, 2009


The author is obviously at that sensitive age where pop music still seems important but nostalgia is new.

I miss my 20s.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:58 PM on May 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


So, these Jonas Brothers' balls are made of purity? Am I getting this right?
posted by orme at 6:01 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Today is James Brown's birthday.
posted by ornate insect at 6:02 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


This isn't just about selling sex to the tween demographic, this is a lifestyle choice made for them. These girls will grow up to be women whose entertainment choices all center around an unrealistic view of love. These are the future consumers of Lifetime movies, radio stations that play all day easy listening love songs and anything that Oprah spews out.

I have a girl in this demo and she has never shown any interest in The Jonas Boys. But her friends that love them and Hannah Montana have mothers that read magazines to learn how to think and complain because the men in their lives never match the ideal they've been sold.

Parents love this Disney shit because they can plunk their kids down in front of it without having to pay the least amount of attention to content, secure in the notion that they are "good" parents that would never let their child be corrupted.

And Disney really took a turn into selling romance porn with The Little Mermaid. A whole kid's movie with the theme of "you gotts kiss the girl" to a calypso beat. And our plucky herione will give up her voice to get her man....yech.
posted by readery at 6:06 PM on May 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter: Overthinking a plate of boy bands.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Except for Charlie. Charlie Watts is basically the Jonas Brothers of the Rolling Stones.

Bwut? The self-depricating but enormously jazz drummer, he was the fake one?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:12 PM on May 3, 2009


Enormously talented, of course.

Aaaand I'm guessing you were joking.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:13 PM on May 3, 2009


Parents love this Disney shit because they can plunk their kids down in front of it without having to pay the least amount of attention to content, secure in the notion that they are "good" parents that would never let their child be corrupted.

Some parents. Other parents introduce their children to Disney shorts like "The Reluctant Dragon" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk". And I'd give girls more credit than blindly accepting that Jonas Brothers = realistic expectations of what romance should be.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:16 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aaaand I'm guessing you were joking.

Yeah, I was mainly riffing on the fact that Charlie Watts is about as sexually menacing as a bag of oranges, especially when compared to the other Stones. Nothing to do with musical talent.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:21 PM on May 3, 2009


Yeah, I was mainly riffing on the fact that Charlie Watts is about as sexually menacing as a bag of oranges, especially when compared to the other Stones.

I often wondered what Charlie would be up to while the other Stones were banging away at groupies. Making coffee? Feeding his fish? Building a ship in a bottle?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:25 PM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


"At the time, as a teenager listening to late 90's "socially conscious" hip-hop, I hated 'N Sync. As a thoughtful adult today, their legitimacy is obvious."

Lost me there.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:25 PM on May 3, 2009


You know, I thought that the foam rant was a bit of a stretch until I heard the girl in the second video scream "It's in my hair!" and then I got really squicked out.
posted by danb at 6:34 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yawn.
posted by signal at 6:44 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least when GWAR sprayed you with fake cum, you knew it was supposed to be fake cum.
posted by bardic at 6:48 PM on May 3, 2009


Yeah, that's when I came too.

Kidding, you're on your own. Freak.

Kidding.
posted by Glee at 6:52 PM on May 3, 2009


That article was overwritten, overthought, and overwrought.

From his "I hate that I'm writing this" introduction to his completely inappropriate comparison of pop music to Auschwitz and Abu Graib to his insistence that The Rolling Stones, N-Sync, and "late 90's socially conscious hip-hop" are somehow pure uncommercial artistry, it angers me far more than the Jonas Brothers ever could.

But all you kids should definitely get off his lawn.

Also, "This thread is the first I've heard of these Jonas Brothers" is the new I don't even own a TV.
posted by mmoncur at 7:02 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, tough crowd. I liked it.

I think the article was a little hyperbolic.


Well, yes, it was, in the literary tradition:

hyperbole (hīpûr'bəlē) , a figure of speech in which exceptional exaggeration is deliberately used for emphasis rather than deception.viaat the same time, their hypocrisy is creating this shame in girls who are just beginning to explore their feelings of sexuality, and hey, now the Jonas Brothers can sell more merchandise, like purity rings (like the PONED ring on this site, which, as explained by the Jonas Brothers, is a slang term for being owned, and reminds them not to let down their standards!) because their fans feel bad for the sexual urges their idols whipped up into a frenzy.

It's incredibly exploitative of these girls--and instead of recognizing that, a lot of parents are like, "Oh, how wonderful, our daughters want to be virgins forever!" and are welcoming the whole Jonas Bros. Inc. conglomerate into their homes with open arms. This insidious evil earns Disney, as the creator of the Jonas Brothers (who may actually be talented in their own right, but are being molded into Stepford Rockers), millions of dollars a year.
posted by misha at 7:03 PM on May 3, 2009


This is the liberal version of "OMG Ozzy Osbourne makes kids worship the devil!"
posted by Bookhouse at 7:07 PM on May 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


To my knowledge, Ozzy Osbourne never sold sacrificial chickens in his name, though.
posted by misha at 7:10 PM on May 3, 2009


He's probably mostly pissed off because he doesn't understand most of the mainstream girls his age who will never sleep with him and he sees going to a Jonas Brothers concert as the first step for the next generation of mainstream girls who will never sleep with him and he's bitter that someone is not doing something about this machine that creates girls that will never sleep with him.
posted by spicynuts at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2009


I made it as far as:
At the time, as a teenager listening to late 90's "socially conscious" hip-hop, I hated 'N Sync. As a thoughtful adult today, their legitimacy is obvious.
1. socially conscious hip-hop?
2. N Sync is legit?

huh? What is this fella on about?
posted by zenon at 7:38 PM on May 3, 2009


Bullshit. The Jonas Brothers are cool. It's not their fault what the 50-year-old men with the checkbooks do.
posted by jbickers at 7:38 PM on May 3, 2009


This is the liberal version of "OMG Ozzy Osbourne makes kids worship the devil!"

To my knowledge, Ozzy Osbourne never sold sacrificial chickens in his name, though.


His 1984 tour, however, did feature an electric catapult that fired raw liver into the audience.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:50 PM on May 3, 2009


You got one thing right, Matt: That was the most important Jonas Brothers article I will ever read! Also the sexiest, most oblique, most obsequious, most saturnine, and most yellow.
posted by Mister_A at 7:51 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is exactly why I'll be raising my children on Parliament and Stevie Wonder
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:58 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, you should try to force them to listen to crap like the Jonas Bros, so that they will naturally rebel at age 11 or 12 and listen to the Pogues.
posted by Mister_A at 8:01 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


parliament? stevie wonder? they've sold out - i'm raising my children on count ossie and the mystical revelation of rastafari
posted by pyramid termite at 8:03 PM on May 3, 2009


I am heartened to see that Poptimism has spread far enough that most people know to dismiss questions of authenticity.

Hey, didja know that when the Beatles (a far superior comparison point than the self-consciously marketed "bad boys," the Rolling Stones) sang that they wanted to hold your hand, they really wanted to do speed and bang German groupies?

I mean, I realize that the supposed trump of the Jonas Bros. is the "No, they really just want to wait," but the interesting essay that should precede is "It's a privilege to coopt the fun of sexuality without the risks," not the one we got where it's an apoplectic rendering of the observations any high school student should be able to make. Of course they're aping the language of commodified sexual promiscuity that is dominant in the media. Pat Boone did the same thing and made a career out of it—Tutti Frutti, loose booty.
posted by klangklangston at 8:06 PM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Parents love this Disney shit because they can plunk their kids down in front of it without having to pay the least amount of attention to content, secure in the notion that they are "good" parents that would never let their child be corrupted.

Well, as a parent of a kid rapidly approaching the demographic in question, I like this Disney shit okay because I can sit down and watch these shows with my older daughter, and some of them are kind of funny and cute and we can (gasp) enjoy them together and bond over them a little. And if I didn't do that with her, I would not have had the recent pleasure of seeing John Doe guest star on Wizards of Waverly Place. Sucks to be the plunk-down parents who missed that piece of awesomeness.

I'm kind of grossed out by the whole "purity" thing, as I prefer a different approach to sexuality for my daughters, but we're not really at the age where this is in play, and by the time we are, it'll be coming from a whole different group of influences, so for now I can ignore it in good conscience.
posted by padraigin at 8:07 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those poor Obama girls.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:09 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I need to make a kids show that introduces them to free jazz, japanese noise, and mid-century serialists. They'll be asking their school chums if they have the new Merzbow cd-r, and begging to see the new Peter Brotzmann documentary.
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I need to make a kids show that introduces them to free jazz, japanese noise, and mid-century serialists.

Sorta of like John Zorn and Diamanda Galas doing the music from classic 1970s Sid and Marty Krofft shows (The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters) while CTW does a version of Krapp's Last Tape, complete with sets by Takashi Murakami, Thurston Moore dressed up as Eeyore, and Karen Finley dressed up as Abe Lincoln? Is that sort of what you had in mind?
posted by ornate insect at 8:30 PM on May 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


The NY Times article about Purity Balls linked in the post is truly frightening.
really? what's so wrong about dating your father until you're old enough to get married?


Giggity! Rounding the bases, oh yah!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 PM on May 3, 2009


GWAR! I fell asleep at an Agony Column show once. More accurately, I passed out in a chair just right of center stage. At any rate, I agree that the first few paragraphs of this guy's rant are fantastic, and then he does indeed venture off into the land of creepy dude-ness.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:36 PM on May 3, 2009


Here's the full undiluted fury of my rage against the Jonas Brothers:

meh.
posted by GuyZero at 8:47 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


What artistic forms did your people create

yoink, "my people" are underclass Southern and Eastern European (and no, not Jewish) white trash who never "created" anything except for a car part on an assembly line.

"Your people." Please. What sort of blue-blooded asshole uses a term like "your people"?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:52 PM on May 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: they made absolutely sure that we all knew they had come specifically to fuck the daylights out of our wimmin.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:08 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


> I often wondered what Charlie would be up to while the other Stones were banging away at groupies. Making coffee? Feeding his fish? Building a ship in a bottle?

Sketching hotel rooms:

"Watts has expressed a love-hate attitude toward touring. In Canada's Macleans magazine, he told interviewer Brian Johnson that he has had a compulsive habit for decades of actually sketching every new hotel room he occupies – and its furnishings – immediately upon entering it. He stated he keeps every sketch, but still doesn't know why he feels the compulsion to do this."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:18 PM on May 3, 2009 [10 favorites]


Bless 'im.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:19 PM on May 3, 2009


Yeah, Charlie's a righteous chap.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:27 PM on May 3, 2009


MetaFilter: Plates of sexy boy beans.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed. I guess disappointed by tweens' musical tastes.

Wait, really? Tweens? 10 - 12 year-olds? I mean, everybody likes to think that they were the cool kid whose older brother snuck them in to see Husker Du or Evol-era Sonic Youth shows, but that's just the myth they've built for themselves in the intervening decade(s). I mean, 99.999% of 11-year-olds have always had shitty musical taste. Big fucking deal. By the time they're in high school or college, most of them are going to be listening to better music. The rest of them will be perfectly happy singing along to "Cheeseburger in Paradise" while their frat brothers do keg stands. Get off your high horse.
posted by dersins at 9:46 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I love south park, I hate the jonas brothers and this article articulates how i feel about them very accurately. Thanks for this!
posted by eiro0701 at 9:50 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


We're only a few years out from neural marketing replicant based boy bands that are based on technology that scans tweens' brains and generates an idealized face/body type derived from a complex algorithm that maps their hormonal patterns and aesthetic preferences. Each girl (or boy, if that's his thing) will see a different image. Future versions will project aural constructs as well so everyone will see and hear a different boy band while sharing some kind of common marketing bond.

I just inhaled a fair amount of glossy car shine so I may be going crazy, or having prophetic visions. Take your pick.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 PM on May 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


What's the matter with Jimmy Buffet? He's light, but he's nothing but upfront about that. Some of his music is inventive, some of it is very lyrical, his band is pretty tight, etcetera. He at least shows enough professionalism to try to deliver his best. I'm not so sure Disney is trying to deliver their best.

I guess I mostly have a beef with Disney. I think they can be better than this.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:04 PM on May 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'd love to see Disney try and work with the lyrics, "I've got a waterbed, filled with Elmer's glue".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:17 PM on May 3, 2009


Come on. Let the tweens have something to masturbate to. Adult dislike of them makes them even better. Eventually there will be a NiN type for them to move on to.
And then in 2025 there will be a reunion show and the tweens will get sitters for the night and creeeem.
posted by k8t at 10:43 PM on May 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I need to make a kids show that introduces them to free jazz, japanese noise, and mid-century serialists.

Because kids love old shit.

Masterful understanding of child psychology on display here.
posted by Wolof at 3:24 AM on May 4, 2009


Mild threadjack (yeah, I know this thread is dead n'all, but still): If you watch the South Park parody of The Jonas Brothers, they have Mickey Mouse himself beat one of the Brothers bloody, swearing up a blue streak because they want to get rid of their purity rings. How in the world of copyright law did Stone'n'Parker get away with that?!
posted by spoobnooble at 4:32 AM on May 4, 2009


fair use, parody.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:35 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it's called parody ?
posted by Pendragon at 5:40 AM on May 4, 2009


Very clever legal tip-toeing. It's a parody character, the clothes are different from the trademarked model, and you'll notice that at no point in the entire episode does anyone utter the name "Mickey."

They got away with this a few seasons back when they made fun of Michael Jackson, who is notoriously litigious, by not actually saying the name "Michael Jackson" at any point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:11 AM on May 4, 2009


"Nothing is authentic, everything is manufactured.

Perhaps everything in the sphere of culture (and I include language itself as the living cultural artifact par excellence) is simultaneously both authentic and manufactured
.
posted by ornate insect at 12:05 AM on May 4"
I think if we want to go ahead overthinking this particular plate of beans we could benefit from re-reading an essay from 1934: "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" by Walter Benjamin.
posted by kolophon at 6:26 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had never heard of the Jonas brothers before this post. I have "two under two" at home, so that's really not a surprise. But I'm happy to be brought up to speed.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:36 AM on May 4, 2009


I did not know the foam was for real, which is hilarious.

Reading this and then the comments made me a bit thoughtful. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the author had some girl issues growing up. I know, understatement of the century, but bear with me:

I grew up rejecting all of this "manufactured music" stuff. Partly because I was male, but also because I grep up in a relatively cool family as far as music, etc. went. This had a side effect of making me kind of a pretentious jackass for a while, but that's not important.

Now, when you grow up rejecting all of this and "not getting it", you, as a straight young pubescent male, are probably pretty pissed off at the fact that all of the newly-awakening nymphs around you are lusting for that image and not something more realistic. You know, like yourself, fucking adonis incarnate.

What I found was that up until I was a legal adult, the majority of the crowd I was surrounded by went from teen-band celeb lust to just differing phases of celeb lust, which had some interesting effects. The most long lasting of which is that I instantly get anywhere from annoyed to legitimately angry when I see this in action- It instantly brings back memories of standards that I could not possibly live up to, and how much of a failure I felt like back then. It also made me a bit misogynistic, which was really conflicting for me. I liked girls, but man, if I found out they were into a celeb, they were a target of rage.

I got over all this - but much later than I should have.

I suspect that the author has gone through something similar, but hasn't got over it yet.

And by "got over it," I mean, like, actually touch a girl.
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:43 AM on May 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Dear parents,
You can't imbue musical taste on a 9 or 10 year-old. Lord knows I tried. From the time she was old enough to respond, I began cramming Beatles, XTC, John Hiatt, Kevin Gilbert, Johhny Cash, Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, etc. down my daughter's gullet. The end result was, while she liked some of it, by the time she was 12, she'd listen to XTC, then Good Charlotte, then the Beatles, then the Backstreet Boys.

I despaired at that point, and hoped that the seeds had been planted. She's 17 now, and still loves Green Day, but recoils in horror at My Chemical Romance, so I think it's beginning to work, or maybe she's just growing up.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:56 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Sorta of like John Zorn and Diamanda Galas doing the music from classic 1970s Sid and Marty Krofft shows (The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters) while CTW does a version of Krapp's Last Tape, complete with sets by Takashi Murakami, Thurston Moore dressed up as Eeyore, and Karen Finley dressed up as Abe Lincoln? Is that sort of what you had in mind?"

I was thinking more of a Boredoms plus Pokemon seizure hour, with Chris Speed and Christian Marclay getting into hijinx that can only be solved with the severed head of Peter Tork.

"Because kids love old shit.

Masterful understanding of child psychology on display here.
"

They sure as hell love this rehashed Osmonds-meets-Monkees shit.

But please, tell me more about how the Jonas Bros. are a brand new phenomenon the likes of which the world has never seen, asshole. Don't you have a baby to shake?
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 AM on May 4, 2009


Yeah, what's up with the ending sentence of the NYT article? to force the reader to add really twisted conclusions? like: ...TO DROWN THEM. Muahahaha!

(or worse)

goes back to bean eating, analysis
posted by NikitaNikita at 8:46 AM on May 4, 2009


yoink, "my people" are underclass Southern and Eastern European (and no, not Jewish) white trash who never "created" anything except for a car part on an assembly line.

"Your people." Please. What sort of blue-blooded asshole uses a term like "your people"?


So...I take it you've changed your mind about the Stones not being the right kind of "people" to sing an "American art form" then?
posted by yoink at 8:48 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I spent some time trying to tickle out why this is maybe more upsetting than funny. Part of the answer is the overtness of the sexuality of their act. Parents should be able to pick up on these things. It's not just a pretty boy in front of a sequined curtain shot with a filter on the lens. (Like this. Comparing these guys to the Stones or any other teen- or adult-oriented rock group seems silly.) Their act and their marketing is overtly sexual, and the children who watch them are participating in a group sexual rite of passage that is full of images and symbols that they are just beginning to recognize but cannot in any way understand.

This is fine, maybe, but a portion (certainly not all, but a portion) of the parents who are stamping this with their approval are sexually conservative and may feel uncomfortable explaining what sex is to their children. An even tinier portion (perhaps minuscule) may get angry at the schools for doing the job for them. Having something like this be a child's introduction to sex seems like a terrible idea. Maybe in another country with healthier attitudes towards sex it wouldn't be such a big deal.

One other thing weirds me out, and that is how foreign these girls' experience is to anything I've gone through. I'm a dude, and like, my sexuality never involved anything like that. Ever. I'm fairly certain. It seems unhealthy to me compared to my experience growing up, and I can't untangle whether that's a fact, or if I'm just not working hard enough to get more perspective.
posted by Nonce at 8:59 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Slight derail: my comment up above, about Sufjan and fingers and lady places, which has gotten far too many favorites, was a reference to this.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


He lost me at 'NSync's "legitimacy."

Really? Being a role model for kids and refuting "allegations" that you're gay as something to be ashamed of? That's more LEGIT than wearing "promise rings?"

INTEGRITY FAIL.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:08 AM on May 4, 2009


Disney really took a turn into selling romance porn with The Little Mermaid. A whole kid's movie with the theme of "you gotts kiss the girl" to a calypso beat. And our plucky herione will give up her voice to get her man....yech.

This is kind of a derail and minor point, but in fairness: it's not like the scene where she decides to let her voice be pulled out of her throat by a cephalopodic mistress of the occult is portrayed to the audience as a healthy choice for a teenage girl to make.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:17 AM on May 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


As a thought exercise I want to take some popular Disney girl performer and have her spray down her legions of young boy fans with the jizzy foam cannon.

Just because I suspect that it would make everyone involved more than a little uncomfortable for reasons that they weren't quite able to articulate.
posted by quin at 10:05 AM on May 4, 2009


"Is black better than gold?"
"A Gold Card will get you Jonas Brothers tickets. A Black Card will have all three of them sucking your cock within the hour."
posted by FatherDagon at 10:32 AM on May 4, 2009


Sorry, mathowie. Nothing new to see here. No digg.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:47 PM on May 4, 2009


One other thing weirds me out, and that is how foreign these girls' experience is to anything I've gone through. I'm a dude, and like, my sexuality never involved anything like that. Ever. I'm fairly certain. It seems unhealthy to me compared to my experience growing up, and I can't untangle whether that's a fact, or if I'm just not working hard enough to get more perspective.

I'm hoping maybe you'll elaborate, nonce...I'm not sure what you're getting at here. palliser, lysistrata, and other women have posted what I was going to say already, that the marketing of "safe" non-threatening boys who are attractive and go on about waiting to find true wuv forever and ever with the right girl is absolutely on the money for pre-teen girls and therefore nothing new. It sounds like you're implying this sort of thing--which can seem like hypocrisy from an outsider's point of view, to be sure--is somehow unhealthy relative to, what? Adolescent male sexuality? What does that entail, staying up late trying to see past the scrambling on the Playboy channel and pilfering copies of Penthouse? Is it the hyper-concentrated hysteria over something so seemingly bland that's confusing or squicks you out? 'Cause that's kind of par for the course, at least it was for me and all the girls I knew when I was 12--you can be obsessed partly BECAUSE of the idea these bland duded will never, ever break your heart or hurt you. It's silly but makes perfect sense when you're a sixth-grade girl...

I guess I'm just curious and hoping you'll offer some clarification.
posted by ifjuly at 2:54 PM on May 4, 2009


I can't speak for Nonce but if I understand him properly what he's saying makes sense to me. It has to do with what you said here ifjuly:

you can be obsessed partly BECAUSE of the idea these bland duded will never, ever break your heart or hurt you.

That's the thing that would seem unhealthy to me, to get into that idea to the point of apparent screaming madness, over someone who is an abstraction and you don't know personally and so can never disappoint you. Unless they have some big public scandal that's enough to overcome your starry eyes, they never do break your heart or hurt you, do they?

I certainly did the trying to see past the scrambling and looking at Penthouse, but for my part I didn't get crushes on them, I just got off physically. My crushes were always on real people that I knew in person, who did end up disappointing me, even if it was done gently.

I would be inclined to think that someone who developed this sort of relationship to a celebrity they'll never know might end up comparing future relationships to it and perhaps developing unrealistic expectations in relationships with real people. It's like, I had this friend who became a Catholic nun and I think that part of the motivation might have been that she was disillusioned with her relationships with real people because they could never match up to her relationship with Jesus. (Of course... I suppose it could be that she's actually the healthy one in all of this, that celibacy is the way to go...)

It seems that the way things turned out for me might be healthier than teen celebrity idol worship in that single respect alone (because I wouldn't say I'm very healthy overall), but not because of any virtue on my part, more than likely just pure luck.
posted by XMLicious at 4:42 PM on May 4, 2009


Though both of these are unhealthy relationships with adolescent sexuality, at least boys maintain a position of control. The Jonas Bros are the ones setting the terms of the relationship here: in a way, even when you turn the MP3 player off, you don't turn the obsession off because of the monoculture.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:50 PM on May 4, 2009


you don't turn the obsession off because of the monoculture

As the parent of one or two tweens depending on where you draw the lines, you overestimate the size of the "monoculture". Kids know who these people are but I've never met one who actually gives a shit about them. Nintendo has a much greater share of mind than Disney from all I've seen. I heard several kids - kids under 8 - discussing which Rock Band songs are the easiest/best this weekend. But no one talked about any of the Disney medianaughts.

Also, hearing a 7 year old say "Eye of the Tiger sucks" made me want to hug him and revile him at the same time because it's AWSOME
posted by GuyZero at 4:57 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Though both of these are unhealthy relationships with adolescent sexuality, at least boys maintain a position of control.

I should say that I did know guys who appeared to have developed crushes on Playboy Playmates or sometimes movie actresses, so I don't think it's an exclusively gender-delineated thing.
posted by XMLicious at 5:17 PM on May 4, 2009


I don't think it was so unhealthy to have celebrity crushes, especially at a certain age. 12-14 year old boys were often awkward, aggressive, aloof, unfriendly monsters who never really did anything, at least nothing I was exposed to. Handsome, talented celebs filled the void till the boys could handle conversing with us girls. Which for a while, they could NOT.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:34 PM on May 4, 2009


Handsome, talented celebs filled the void till the boys could handle conversing with us girls. Which for a while, they could NOT.

Well, the straight ones, at least; the burgeoning gay guys were pretty great to hang out with even at that age. Because, of course, they could also converse at length regarding which hairstyle suited David Bowie the best.*

*The one on the cover of Low.
posted by scody at 5:58 PM on May 4, 2009


I don't even think the object of the fantasy is all that important. He doesn't have to be a rock star to be "unhealthily" (or safely) unattainable and idealized. After all, if Kurt Cobain is "not a good model of availability," Mr. Darcy is a fucking black hole.
posted by palliser at 6:21 PM on May 4, 2009


I'm not afraid of a universal monoculture (those kids from PS22 continue to amaze me every time I watch the videos) but I'm am afraid of an individual monoculture: for some kids, Disney is their only source of entertainment, and it will not only convince them to eat sugary cereal, but distort their impression of how relationships / romance / whatever works.

See also Dan Savage on This American Life, talking about The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. When kids' only examples are sitcom characters and/or rock stars, then they will tend to imitate artificially designed situations.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:06 PM on May 4, 2009


"Because, of course, they could also converse at length regarding which hairstyle suited David Bowie the best.*

*The one on the cover of Low.
"

I'm a straight guy and I could tell you that the cover of Low (or maybe Changes) is the best Bowie's ever looked.
posted by klangklangston at 8:36 PM on May 4, 2009


Oh noes! There's this great movie you guys should definitely see.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:23 PM on May 4, 2009


Call the stones, Ludo!
posted by XMLicious at 9:40 PM on May 4, 2009


Labyrinth?

Now that's a movie about safe, barely concealed sexuality!
posted by Snyder at 12:50 AM on May 5, 2009


l33tpolicywonk, "Dan Savage" and "This American Life." Sweet Lord, did you people hear the latest TAL: "Return To The Scene Of The Crime"?

I had no idea who Dan Savage was. Listening to him live on stage telling his story about his mum, being raised catholic, his homosexuality, his faith. Just listen to it ("Act Three. Our Man of Perpetual Sorrow."). I'm at work and just writing about it...brb
posted by Glee at 1:07 AM on May 5, 2009


Don't you have a baby to shake?

Even by your own pathetically low standards, this is vile, and I'm guessing you know this.
posted by Wolof at 3:38 AM on May 5, 2009


From the Feb 26 FPP: 5 Reasons Why I Truly, Madly, Deeply Love the Jonas Brothers.


2. They act their age. Unlike some of today's tween sensations (I am looking at you, Miley), the Jonas Brothers don't pretend to be deep. They embrace their youth and resist the urge to preach to their fans. They don't sing about global warming or how their parents just don't understand them. Their lyrics are simple, refreshingly free of angst and easy to understand. So what if they are all about love? Love is the answer, you know.


But what is the question?
posted by amicamentis at 4:41 AM on May 5, 2009


"Oh noes! There's this great movie you guys should definitely see."

The discussion was over when Bowie's hair looked best, not when his cock looked best.
posted by klangklangston at 7:52 AM on May 5, 2009


The question of authenticity is an important one, I think. I play in a regionally popular bluegrass band... our slice of the listening audience is so tiny, dense and fiercely loyal that we have fans who will attend three or four of our shows each week. I've heard them describe our music as "real music" and "honest, American music." I think that's why the pseudo-genre of "American roots" has become so popular recently. With the release of our new album we're no longer a "bluegrass/old-time" band, we're now "American roots" or "string band" music.
Very recently, a good friend of our was signed by Warner and moved down to Nashville to start making music. He'll get a lot more money than we ever will - he'll probably make in-roads into Southern rock or Country music world. And, to be honest, we all had him pegged for this kind of music from the first time we saw him wielding a red-white-and-blue electric gibson with his named emblazoned on the neck. The thing is, however, that he has done this for years - this is really who he is. And I know that when his next album goes aluminum, there will be a whole group of folks lined up to call him "inauthentic."
We play banjos and mandolins and fiddles and I suppose we're about as "authentic" as you can get, but Frankie has always done what he's doing now, and he loves it to death, and I'd never call him inauthentic. He's honest about loving the music he makes, regardless of how much he gets paid by the guys wearing the suits. The same probably applies to these Jonas yahoos. White foam and all. Hell, the foam cannons were probably their idea. Sounds like something a 16 year old would find fun to do on stage.

Also, my little sister was a huge fan of N'Sync back in 2001. She and her friends worked up a little dance routine that they'd do around our rural neighborhood. Finally, one day the bunch of them went to NYC on a school trip. Lo and behold, they ended up on the street below Carson whats-his-face doing his live show. They did their little dance out on the street and they got invited up to do it live on MTV. So they did it and me and my brother somehow acquired a tape of it later. At the time, we kind of just stuck the tape in a drawer, because we knew it was basically like a government bond. Really worthless at the time... but, oh lord, after accruing about 8 years of interest, that thing is now worth its weight in gold, if gold = little sister tormenting power. My sis is now in medical school and is probably the brightest out of the three of us, but her brothers will always have a tape of her dancing to N'Sync on MTV. So I really see these Jonas brothers as providing a whole new generation of mean older brothers with the kind of priceless teasing that only gets better as the years go by.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:33 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


So what if they are all about love? Love is the answer, you know.

Oh. Dear. God.

Please do not conflate the puppylove "take me to a movie and hold my hand" sort of lust/desire for partnership the Jonas boys sing about with the concept of Love As The Answer. It's insulting to everyone involved.

Well, except to Love. Which is just Love, and will Love you no matter what.

(Sort of like the Jonas boys promise to, only in a much more Universal sense.)
posted by hippybear at 8:40 AM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The question of authenticity is an important one, I think. I play in a regionally popular bluegrass band... our slice of the listening audience is so tiny, dense and fiercely loyal that we have fans who will attend three or four of our shows each week. I've heard them describe our music as "real music" and "honest, American music." I think that's why the pseudo-genre of "American roots" has become so popular recently. With the release of our new album we're no longer a "bluegrass/old-time" band, we're now "American roots" or "string band" music."

I'll say a couple things to this: First off, roots bands have audiences for whom "authenticity" is important. But that "authenticity" is nebulous and weird and has all sorts of contradictory connotations, and mostly just means "music we're comfortable with."

Like, "authentic" in that you write your own music? Well, plenty of roots bands (which I'm just using as a shorthand) play from a folk songbook, and that gives them the cachet of "authenticity," in that they're authentically representing the music of their genre. But a big complaint about boy bands is that they don't write their own songs. Likewise, if you do write your own songs, are they about those major themes of American folk, carousing and murder? If, say, 16 Horsepower sings a song about killing a man, but they've never killed anyone, is that authentic or inauthentic? I know roots bands that sing about all sorts of mayhem they've never participated in (country bands too). Does it being traditional make it authentic?

The second theme is one you point out above, defining "authenticity" as outward expression matching inward intent. "Being true to whom one is." But that's, if not impossible, incredibly difficult to judge from the outside, like all subjective declarations. As an audience member you can only ever really know that your response is authentic, not the performance.

Finally, the discussion of authenticity is at the soul of debates over Rockism to the extent that for me, and for many people who have worked as music critics or argued about music in the last ten to twenty years, "authenticity" seems like a dead end as far as positive attributes. It's too hard to make any sort of positive case because it's not used consistently, it doesn't predict good music, and it's fairly reactionary.

I remember getting into a critic fight over this, back when the Holmes Brothers released an album around 2002ish. All of their promo material kept talking about how they were authentic blues players who really came up in the lifestyle, etc. But the music was boring, and I clumsily said that if this was the result of authentic blues, then all the criticisms of Johnny Lang et al. were illegitimate because the music itself was of equal quality—slick, trouble-free blues. I can recognize that I was still hung up on some notions of what made blues good or bad beyond the sound itself, and I think I blundered into an area where people assumed that race was my main point when it was only a proxy for what I was trying to say, but it was another example of the weird places that being hung up on authenticity can take you.
posted by klangklangston at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Well, except to Love. Which is just Love, and will Love you no matter what."

Arthur Lee disagrees.
posted by klangklangston at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2009


klangklangston: nice! bonus points all around!

Arthur Lee

.

posted by hippybear at 12:02 PM on May 5, 2009


I'm a straight guy and I could tell you that the cover of Low (or maybe Changes) is the best Bowie's ever looked.

I had it bad for the Thin White Duke, especially as The Man Who fell to Earth, and I feel pretty straight, most days. I kinda dig androgyny, though, even in women.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:55 AM on May 6, 2009


I think what you mean is that you dig mullets.
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 AM on May 6, 2009


The Thin White Duke throws darts at mullets.
posted by scody at 12:06 PM on May 6, 2009


There was a track from "Low" playing on the PA of Whole Foods the other day. And I was all like "Hey, 'For your love'! I'm just a little bit afraid of you!" And the lady buying $20 shampoo was all like, 'I'm trying to read the ingredients here'.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:08 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm hoping maybe you'll elaborate, nonce...I'm not sure what you're getting at here. palliser, lysistrata, and other women have posted what I was going to say already, that the marketing of "safe" non-threatening boys who are attractive and go on about waiting to find true wuv forever and ever with the right girl is absolutely on the money for pre-teen girls and therefore nothing new.

I think marketing anything that goes on and on about waiting to find true wuv forever and ever is pretty ridiculous, except in really wonderful and wry and multilayered efforts like The Princess Bride, and possibly harmful when a portion of the audience might actually begin to believe it.

I guess that's part of my hesitation. Is it really a big deal to them? Or do girls not really care so much? It seems like the audience cares a lot.

It sounds like you're implying this sort of thing--which can seem like hypocrisy from an outsider's point of view, to be sure--is somehow unhealthy relative to, what? Adolescent male sexuality? What does that entail, staying up late trying to see past the scrambling on the Playboy channel and pilfering copies of Penthouse? Is it the hyper-concentrated hysteria over something so seemingly bland that's confusing or squicks you out?

Hyper-concentrated hysteria does squick me out, yes. That's a large part of it. I don't think encouraging mobs is a good thing, and the context of children discovering their own sexuality makes it weirder.

Stealing copies of Penthouse does seem benign in comparison to encouraging this sort of emotional involvement only with even more crazy sexy emotional weirdness.

But not having experienced the other side, I may be misunderstanding it.
posted by Nonce at 3:14 PM on May 6, 2009


Nonce, I think a useful exercise might be to turn this around and apply similar thinking to the "typical" way young boys explore sexuality. I could see someone getting all concerned about boys stealing copies of Penthouse or trying to get around their parents' firewalls to see Internet porn -- that the boys will never have a respectful, intimate relationship with a real woman because their formative sexual exploration was so narrowly focused on t&a. But that would be silly.

These crushes can be a Big Deal to a girl at 11, and completely meaningless to her at 16. It's just a roundabout way of getting to sexual maturity.

And in just the same way that girls have proto-sexual interests like these even if they don't know the Jonas brothers from the Jones brothers, boys have proto-sexual interests like these even if Penthouse isn't around. A conservative religious mother I know can never get her hands on the Macy's catalog fast enough to keep the women's underwear pages from being ripped out by her 10-year-old son.
posted by palliser at 4:32 PM on May 6, 2009


I'm still steamed about Tommy Kirk - wearing those white jeans like a young Alain Delon, and prancing around bare-chested, hints of beastiality and all. And then he turned out to be gay. No doubt a miracle to certain young men, but likely a sad lesson for many tween gals.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:24 PM on May 6, 2009


Nonce, I think a useful exercise might be to turn this around and apply similar thinking to the "typical" way young boys explore sexuality. I could see someone getting all concerned about boys stealing copies of Penthouse or trying to get around their parents' firewalls to see Internet porn -- that the boys will never have a respectful, intimate relationship with a real woman because their formative sexual exploration was so narrowly focused on t&a. But that would be silly.

These crushes can be a Big Deal to a girl at 11, and completely meaningless to her at 16. It's just a roundabout way of getting to sexual maturity.


Hey, male and female sexuality in America sucks. All is fraught. I think overexposure/early exposure to pornography really can warp men's ability to interact sexually with women. It's not a silly idea, it's the truth for some people. There's research and stuff about it, even.

It doesn't seem silly to me to think that idol worship is unhealthy. I do think that; it is unhealthy. Obsession is not a positive emotion, and it weirds me out to see it be encouraged in girls in America. The gender bias is the most interesting part to me. Different, also bad things are pushed onto boys in America, but not this.

It does not seem like the end of the world, but it does seem like something I don't want any future children of mine to be exposed to. They will be exposed to it anyway, of course. The only way to stop it would be to wall them off from the rest of the world and screw them up in even more important ways. That seems sad to me.
posted by Nonce at 8:37 PM on May 6, 2009




I just wanted you to know, ericb, that I saw this link and clicked through to it. And I can say that is the epitome -- no, the apotheosis -- of non-threatening tiger beat preteen fantasy pics. Except that they probably should have shaved his pits; too suggestive of virility.
posted by palliser at 9:19 PM on May 16, 2009


New York Times: Boy Band Is Starting to Feel the Heat.
posted by ericb at 1:06 PM on May 25, 2009


“People are wrong when they say the bubble has burst,” Mr. Wright continued. “It’s just changing. We are focused on longevity and transitioning to a slightly older audience. When you do that, you risk losing some of your core fan base.”
(I don't feel we're less popular; our appeal has become more selective.)
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:42 AM on May 26, 2009


I have a wacky brain disorder that makes it so that whenever I hear the word love in a song, I translate it to cum. The more bubblegum the song, the more hilariously fucked up. To wit: This, this, and this.

Anyway, as far as WTF boyband pop goes, I've gotta say this really takes the cake.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on June 2, 2009


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