David Bowie Is
January 5, 2015 3:19 PM   Subscribe

"There was an interesting video installation that featured part of an old BBC documentary on Bowie. The commentary on the then-burgeoning star was fairly contemptuous, including a haughty sniff about how most of his fans were '14-to-20-year-old girls.' This is something that feminist and womanist cultural critics still observe — how a largely young female fan base is used to discredit the integrity and value of artists. This, despite the fact that, over and over, young women have 'discovered' and launched the careers of dozens of influential men and women. Like David Bowie, who is now considered so culturally important that he has a globally renowned exhibit dedicated to his career, which tens of thousands of people have clamored to get into."

See also the linked Guardian review of Chicago's "David Bowie Is" exhibition.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (77 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had no idea that I was a '14-to-20-year-old-girl' until I read this. This will come as a surprise to my wife who left a middle-aged man at home when she left for work this morning.
posted by nfalkner at 3:42 PM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm a feminist and I'm still more interested in finding this BBC documentary on Bowie. I know I'm a bad person.
posted by WhitenoisE at 3:43 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


The critics were leaning on him because they couldn't afford the ticket to Suffragette City.
posted by Renoroc at 3:53 PM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


I'm wondering which Bowie that early documentary is about. Boring Bowie, of the self named album? Space Oddity Bowie? Full on 70s Bowie?
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on January 5, 2015


I don't see why everything has to be gender based. Maybe at the start of his career Bowie had mostly young female fans. Much like Bieber has now.

Bowie did a lot of gender bending in his work and album covers. On The Man Who Sold The World he is in a dress on one of the alternate covers.
posted by Orion Blastar at 3:57 PM on January 5, 2015


Bowie Albums from Worst to Best

(Excludes Nothing has Changed)
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I wonder if the BBC documentary was featured in Showtime's David Bowie: Five Years?

I really wanted to see the exhibit in Chicago, but couldn't swing it. Doubt I can see it in Paris, either. Bah.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:01 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering which Bowie that early documentary is about. Boring Bowie, of the self named album? Space Oddity Bowie? Full on 70s Bowie?

IIRC, it was on end-stage Ziggy Stardust Bowie.

It was a good exhibition. The sound locations were sometimes slightly off, but worked a lot better than you'd think.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The point is that "has mostly young female fans" is then and now seen as a point of contempt even though it's usually an indicator that someone's going to be big. And people usually don't get big without being talented.
posted by bleep at 4:12 PM on January 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


David Bowie, who is now considered so culturally important that a hand-sculpted recreation of his natural teeth has been made...
posted by ennui.bz at 4:15 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, hilariously, the same documentary that Shakesville refers to was perplexed (and slightly scandalized, in a very low-key way) as to why so many young girls were into an androgynous man wearing makeup and glitter nailpolish.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:16 PM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Could we get more than just one example of this please before we make the generalization?
posted by tunewell at 4:18 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a little suprised it was full on Ziggy mainly because I would have thought they'd have lots of other things to freak out about by then.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on January 5, 2015


Yes, the doc is referenced in Five Years (which oddly has no mention of Iggy Pop); I think you can find it on youtube.
posted by brujita at 4:25 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


And people usually don't get big without being talented. [citation needed]
posted by ...possums at 4:27 PM on January 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think, more than anything, having young female fans tends to 'not count' for being popular, or acts as a negative indicator for quality - because anything a teenage girl likes has to be shitty. It's not that teenage girls have impeccable taste, it's that they have about as good of a taste in things as any other demographic, but they're treated as if they're worse than anything.

Man, teenage girls found the Beatles first. They can get it right.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:33 PM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


I think that a lot of media companies target the young females first in their songs, movies, books, tv shows, and now comic books.

Did anyone noticed that Disney/Marvel's Thor is now a woman? Disney/Marvel is making changes to get more young females to read their comic books. They had strong female characters like She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Wasp, Invisible Woman, Storm, Rogue, and even a brand new Ms. Marvel. But they had to make the male Thor unworthy to use his hammer so some mystery woman can become the new Thor.

I think that even back in Bowie's beginnings they targeted the young female market first, before any other market. I think they do that because young females are more likely to have more spending money than older females and younger and older males. The Beatles and Elvis did this too.
posted by Orion Blastar at 4:41 PM on January 5, 2015


The doc they're referencing is probably the Nationwide report right here.

"He's SMASHING! Sniff! Sob!"
posted by merocet at 4:46 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


My impression from the comic book side of things is that the new Ms. Marvel sold so many copies (it was seriously a ridiculous amount - in a good way!) that Marvel and DC are finally making things to target a teenage girl demographic (and even then, it's less Rogue and more the new Batgirl redesign and Spider-Gwen than Sue Storm) - the teenage girls were already buying comics, it just took them a long time to care. They certainly weren't a demographic that was courted earlier in this decade in comics.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:53 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I knew a girl who wore a button that read, "Are you man enough for David Bowie?" She'd made it out of the cover of the Rolling Stone (09 nov 1972, as it turns out).
 
posted by Herodios at 4:54 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I knew a girl who wore a button that read, "Are you man enough for David Bowie?"

Ooooh I want that!
posted by stinkfoot at 5:14 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


So.. Good call on Bowie, teenage girls. So-so on Leif Garrett, David Cassidy, and lots of others.. Bieber? Only time will tell, but I know which way I'm going to bet.

Which isn't to say that the tastes of teenage girls are uniquely bad. They're just not uniquely good, either. It's not a warning sign when a lot of teenage girls like an artist. It's a warning sign when only teenage girls like an artist. The same is true for just about any narrow demographic group you want to substitute in for "teenage girls".
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:43 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not that teenage girls have impeccable taste, it's that they have about as good of a taste in things as any other demographic, but they're treated as if they're worse than anything.

You’re right that teenage girls are no worse than anybody else and 90% of everything is crap, but I can see why a musician might want to create a bit of space between himself and the prime Bay City Roller demographic.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 6:04 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a 14-to-20-year-old girl

(Also, saw David Bowie Is at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago over the holidays and, as you might expect, loved it. Seeing Bowie's handwritten notes toward the Hunger City movie-that-never-was (based on the 1980 Floor Show, aka the Diamond Dogs tour, based in turn on the 1984 musical that didn't happen) and hearing him talk about my nom de blue was like Clark Kent discovering the tiny spaceship in his foster parents' barn.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:07 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Could we get more than just one example of this please before we make the generalization?

The Beatles?
posted by Pararrayos at 6:08 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or Elvis.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:34 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I knew a girl who wore a button that read, "Are you man enough for David Bowie?"

Ooooh I want that!


Well, her teenaged grand-daughter is probably wearing it now.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:39 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could we get more than just one example of this please before we make the generalization?

The Beatles?

Also Justine Timberlake, and moving away from singers, there were actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher, who I remember being derided for being pansy-ass pretty boys marketed to teen girls in the 90's and 00's.

Who's popular today? Justin Beiber, One Direction, Robert Pattinson--same thing may end up happening to them.
posted by picklenickle at 6:42 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of my friends who's a big Bowie fan also saw it this weekend. Her twitter/tumblr stream has been fascinating. I saw the documentary last year and am sad I didn't get to go myself.

Also: previously on this exhibit.
posted by immlass at 6:50 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Teenage girls liked the Bay City Rollers too. Where's your god now, feminst and womanist cultural critics?!?
posted by Naberius at 7:02 PM on January 5, 2015


"has mostly young female fans" is then and now seen as a point of contempt even though it's usually an indicator that someone's going to be big.

So have you folks ever heard of a band called 'Journey'?

Formed in 1973, it was sort of 'super-group', with two member of the Santana band (Santana's guitar protege and the organist who sang lead vocals on all their hits) and the drummer from Zappa's early 70s 'vaudeville band'. They recorded three albums of progressive and progressive-pop with impressive chops and less than impressive sales.

So they hired a tenor lead singer, started emphasizing vocals and harmonies, started writing more songs about relationships and fewer songs about space -- and became one of the biggest selling rock bands of all time.

Noting the disdain poured out on the band from some quarters, my wife pointed out: "that's just because they went from a band whose fans were mostly teenaged boys to a band whose fans were mostly teenaged girls."
 
posted by Herodios at 7:14 PM on January 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


I still don't see how the fans are mostly young females is some sort of insult or sexist thing?

In the case of Journey, they didn't hit it big until they targeted young females. Made songs about relationships instead of space. Later on the males liked it as well.

Is this some sort of secret to success? Target the young female market first and then the males will follow?
posted by Orion Blastar at 7:19 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


It worked on me, when every 9th grade girl I liked came to school in Police shirts from the previous night's concert. I returned to my laboratory, to reconsider my theory that The Police were "disco" and that they "sucked".
posted by thelonius at 7:25 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Supernatural was cancelled years ago. The fact that it appears to still be airing is due to the collective brain power of a million teenage girls, willing it into existence every week.
posted by Biblio at 7:36 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Some intoxicated ladies arrived dressed up in Bowie fashions and they were a hoot to be around. I found the wireless audio/headphone system fairly seamless and cool, moving from one display to the next. Like one poster wrote above, the notebooks were fascinating.

The music wasn't bad at all.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:37 PM on January 5, 2015


It's not that teenage girls have impeccable taste, it's that they have about as good of a taste in things as any other demographic, but they're treated as if they're worse than anything.

Those girls got it right with Bowie, and I guess the Beatles and Elvis fans were onto something. My generation of preteens, however, was cursed with New Kids On The Block. I hated them for 'Hangin' Tough' especially, but that could just as well have been directed to such hits as 'Be My Girl', 'Stop It Girl', 'Cover Girl' and 'Please Don't Go Girl'. I didn't trust any Girl who fell for it. I guess I can understand someone like David Bowie maybe not wanting anything to do with them, either.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2015


How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll spends some time on the relationship between dancing teenage girls and how pop music becomes popular.
posted by rhymes with carrots at 8:28 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


This sound on sound article about Heroes, linked to in Artw's link above, looks worth reading.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:08 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm back. Actually, that's an amazing article about how an amazing song was made. I was a 15-year old freak, skateboarding & playing in a Punk band in SF when Heroes hit the airwaves, and it made the most exuberant noise at one of the most exuberant times of my life. Let's Dance would do that again on a perfect spring day in '83. Play those at my funeral. And dance.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:39 PM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Nothing Has Changed - comparitive review of 3 different versions.
posted by Artw at 9:41 PM on January 5, 2015


Pushing Ahead of the Dame -
David Bowie, song by song


Someday I'm going to start at the beginning with this and listen through.
posted by Artw at 9:44 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that, in the case of the Beatles, there is also a very practical reason to think less of the teenage girls, at least the shrieking ones: their noise drowned out the music. It was loud enough at some points when I saw them that it was hard to do more than vaguely make out which song they were singing, and then only because you already knew the tunes so well. I remember it pissing my brother off royally that he couldn’t hear anything after he’d gone to all the trouble of nagging my Mother into buying the tickets (of course he was pissed off at me too because as an eight-year-old I also enjoyedshrieking and I joined in).
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:46 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


bleep: "The point is that "has mostly young female fans" is then and now seen as a point of contempt even though it's usually an indicator that someone's going to be big. And people usually don't get big without being talented."

What makes it sexist is not that it ignores some sort of special ability inherent in young girls of discovering talented musicians (that, in itself, is kind of a sexist position). The tastes of teenage girls can be as good or as bad as the tastes of teenage boys. As is pointed out upthread, you've got Elvis, and the New Kids on the Block. The Beatles, and Hanson.

What makes it sexist is that teenage boys also have a big spread of "liking talented musicians" and "liking shitty musicians", but they aren't used as barometers of shittiness. Neither teenage boys nor teenage girls are all that great at picking musicians, but boys are assumed to be neutral, while girls are assumed to have bad taste. That's what makes it sexist.
posted by Bugbread at 9:55 PM on January 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


That FIVE YEARS documentary was really, really good. Track it down if you haven't seen it. Wish I could make it to Chicago. Also Wish I could make it to Philadelphia for the David Lynch art exhibit. Sadly, neither will happen.
posted by old_growler at 10:14 PM on January 5, 2015


Could we get more than just one example of this please before we make the generalization?

Bowie, Beatles, James Brown, arguably all of Motown and much of Stax, Stones, everything derided as disco at the time and now relevant to music hipsters.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:26 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think part of it is that girls' taste is/was assumed to be largely driven by whatever hormonal soup drove sales of Teen Beat magazine. Heartthrobs are explicitly commercial products, with no pretense of authenticity. The commercial implications of boys' idolization of rock stars isn't that different, and neither of course is boys' vulnerability to look and packaging, except their admiration might more commonly (historically) have involved identification with the musician/s. And, until maybe the 90s, they were more likely to be the feeder team - boys with good taste were more likely (or thought to be more likely) than girls with the same palette to grow up to lead or join bands themselves, so maybe it was concluded they'd be the ones listening for the bass line or production, instead of dreaming themselves into the lyrics. Same story again, it's the idea that boys and men act, and girls and women are acted upon.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:57 PM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Teenage girls and nonbinary teenagers are also driving a lot of new perspectives on feminism, sex and gender, pushing many identities that people didn't have words for or that were listed as dysfunctions until recently, on places like Tumblr, which gets a ton of societal bullshit and scorn for being sort of flippant and oversensitive, in the standard way that patriarchy tends to devalue stuff that is used or liked by teenage girls. They also are a huge driving force behind fandom, which people make fun of and have a lot of scorn for, where hobbies with a bigger teenage male following tend to be viewed more neutrally. This cultural attitude also contributes to how girls are seen as vicious and mean when boys tend statistically to engage in more bullying.
posted by NoraReed at 12:29 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think that teenage girls are probably more experimental than teenage boys, and their musical tastes will follow this too. I remember that my sister liked U2 (who were very pretty boys) long before me and my brother did.

I've also seen it argued that lots of 70s and 80s feminists learnt how to organise by planning trips to see bands like Bay City Rollers. They grew out of the music, but then used those skills when they organised political events and marches a few years later.
posted by DanCall at 3:14 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


This article (by a real, live teenage girl) goes into greater detail about why it's stupid to write off teen girls' taste.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:44 AM on January 6, 2015


Teenage girls... are a huge driving force behind fandom, which people make fun of and have a lot of scorn for

Teenage boys have their fandom, but it's sport (usually football in every country outside the US). The difference is that girls actually grow out of the Bay City Rollers or Bieber, having enjoyed the safe space of fandom in which to rehearse all sorts of emotions and interactions, whereas men never leave the developmental stage of 'supporting' a football team, spending all their money on it, and discussing in minute detail the motivations and performance of a group of people they'll never meet. They're allowed access to a ridiculous fantasy life forever.

(The Beatles were a special case because they were actually in productive dialogue with their teenage girl fans (unlike Elvis) through their songs, due to their ruthlessly complete requisitioning of *all* the available Girl Groups' sound gestures and subject 'positioning' into their act (e.g. songs that had 'gossip' chorus commentaries like She Loves You' etc.

They would not have had the following they enjoyed in those early years had their sets not been chock full of songs by The Shirelles, The Marvellettes, The Cookies, The Donnays and others that all crop up on their first albums as well. They didn't even change the gender of the lyrics when they sang 'Boys'. All this was a lot more sophisticated than the classic idea of 'hormonal' screaming at Elvis.)
posted by colie at 4:50 AM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


MartinWisse: "Could we get more than just one example of this please before we make the generalization?"

Don't forget Icelandic pop sensation BABBA.
posted by signal at 5:12 AM on January 6, 2015


Teenage boys have their fandom, but it's sport (usually football in every country outside the US). The difference is that girls actually grow out of the Bay City Rollers or Bieber, having enjoyed the safe space of fandom in which to rehearse all sorts of emotions and interactions, whereas men never leave the developmental stage of 'supporting' a football team, spending all their money on it, and discussing in minute detail the motivations and performance of a group of people they'll never meet. They're allowed access to a ridiculous fantasy life forever.

Why are you harshing on cosplay?
posted by srboisvert at 6:29 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I agree that it's wrong to dismiss an artist because his or her fan base consists of teenage girls (or teenagers in general). However, while I don't doubt the fact that "over and over, young women have 'discovered' and launched the careers of dozens of influential men and women", I'm not convinced that young women's musical tastes are a reliable predictor of a musician's future success, future influence on music, artistic quality, or anything else. It may have been true for Elvis and the Beatles (and even Sinatra, who charmed an earlier generation of young women) but that's really just confirmation bias.
posted by Pararrayos at 6:32 AM on January 6, 2015


There really aren't any reliable predictors of future success - either popularly or critically (other than the high chance that there won't be any). There'd be fewer one hit wonders if there were.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:17 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Someday I'm going to start at the beginning with this and listen through.
posted by Artw


I think his book version of the site comes out pretty soon; that seems like the more civilized way to binge.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:20 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh good. I've been doing that with Philip Sandifer's Doctor Who stuff, so it's an approach that makes sense to me.
posted by Artw at 7:25 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and there's a crossover between that and Bowie, for extra fun.
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also T.Rex / Marc Bolan

In April 1971 as "Hot Love" was still reigning over the UK charts, Bolan flew to LA to cut the second T.Rex album. The results were previewed in July when the followup single "Get It On" was released to a four-week stay at #1, cementing Bolan's crown as the biggest thing in Britain. The audiences had been changing on the last tour, but as the group embarked on its summer tour--the first since the runaway success of "Hot Love" and the seminal Top Of The Pops appearance--they suddenly found thousands of screaming teenage girls with dabs of glitter under their eyes awaiting them. The media dubbed the new frenzy "T.Rextasy", as nobody had seen anything like it since Beatlemania.
posted by naju at 8:32 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


also The Walker Brothers.

The number 3 UK hit "My Ship Is Coming In," originally recorded in 1965 by Soul singer Jimmy Radcliffe, followed. Then in March 1966, The Walker Brothers hit No. 1 for the second time in six months with "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore."[6] Their popularity in the UK – particularly that of Scott – reached a new high, especially among teenage girls, and their fan club in that country was said to have been larger than The Beatles.
posted by naju at 8:36 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


T.Rextasy is my new favorite word. Thanks, naju.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:43 AM on January 6, 2015


The Beatles may not be the best example, as they evolved significantly from their teenage girl fandom days. They essentially became a very different band, almost the opposite of Journey's evolution described upthread. I don't think teenage girls would be the primary fan base of the band that recorded the White Album.
Bowie evolved as well, of course, but never really strayed too far from his base.
posted by rocket88 at 8:56 AM on January 6, 2015


I don't think teenage girls would be the primary fan base of the band that recorded the White Album.

They may not be the primary audience anymore, but I don't think there's anything about the White Album that would cause teenage girls not to listen to it. I did as a teenage girl and my tastes weren't eclectic back then (I also listened to the Backstreet Boys, sadly).

If the music is good people will listen, including teenage girls (with the caveat that the style fits with the music of the era).
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2015


Also, as a reminder - this is nothing new.

What is the reason of this phenomenon? The solution of this questions belongs to the domain of pathology rather than that of aesthetics. A physician, whose speciality is female diseases, and whom I asked to explain the magic our Liszt exerted upon the public, smiled in the strangest manner, and at the same time said all sorts of things about magnetism, galvanism, electricity, of the contagion of the close hall filled with countless wax lights and several hundred perfumed and perspiring human beings, of historical epilepsy, of the phenomenon of tickling, of musical cantherides, and other scabrous things, which, I believe have reference to the mysteries of the bona dea. Perhaps the solution of the question is not buried in such adventurous depths, but floats on a very prosaic surface. It seems to me at times that all this sorcery may be explained by the fact that no one on earth knows so well how to organize his successes, or rather their mise en scene, as our Franz Liszt.

That hack.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:16 AM on January 6, 2015


The concept that anyone has generalized free-floating "musical taste" that magically and spontaneously adheres to particular talented artists and bestows them with success and fame is kind of incomplete. Radio stations, record companies, A&R people, managers, and marketers have (or had, at least until recently) well-paying jobs to strategize, cultivate, generate, encourage, and create taste. The young women who screamed at Elvis and Beatles and Bowie concerts didn't just acquire their taste for them out of thin air, and neither did the sneered-at fans of NKOTB, NSYNC, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, or whoever the current fave is. There were multimillions spent and banked on making sure that these artists matched up perfectly with and persuaded fans to part with their cash for merch, music, and whatever else. David Bowie had Decca, and then after Decca failed at getting him over, Mercury Philips, and then RCA, spending wads of cash to make sure he was a hit artist.

The other thing to consider about Bowie, apart from all of his other undoubted talents and skills, is that he's also demonically and fantastically expert at marketing and cultivating his own legacy. He didn't originally title Young Americans as Shilling the Rubes for nothing.
posted by blucevalo at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The young women who screamed at Elvis and Beatles and Bowie concerts didn't just acquire their taste for them out of thin air, and neither did the sneered-at fans of NKOTB, NSYNC, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, or whoever the current fave is.

Maybe to an extent, and maybe I'm a romantic about pop, but fans of all ages respond to what meets their ears primarily and then word of mouth builds pop groups (nowadays through social media - like the Arctic Monkeys and One Direction). The Beatles performed around 300 lunchtime concerts at The Cavern club and nearly all of those were before anyone had spent a penny on marketing them. Decca and all the other main record labels then turned them down. In fact 'the industry', such as it was at that time, was busy spending money on rubbish like Adam Faith, who subsequently had to hire songwriters who could explicitly copy the Beatles in order to keep his career going.

If it was easy to throw money at a group and instantly get them up the charts, you wouldn't see such desperate lunacy among the marketers. Like Hollywood, 'nobody knows anything.'
posted by colie at 9:38 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


In my experience teenage boys music tastes are just as dismissed at teenage girls. Bad heavy metal type music is sometimes a predictable teenage boy focus in the same way that girls are often thought to like pop divas.

I've met very few teenagers whose music tastes impressed me. YMMV. But I don't buy the gender gap here.
posted by tunewell at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2015


The difference is that girls actually grow out of the Bay City Rollers or Bieber

I'm not sure that they do, completely. My mom was pretty excited to see Paul McCartney when he came around.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2015


True, my mum likes a bit of Rod Stewart in her life, but I don't think she's still writing him letters.
posted by colie at 9:54 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the perception that teenage girls like shitty music (and the unjustified reversal, that music liked by teenage girls is shitty) can be attributed in part to marketing strategies: There is a basic boy band/boy idol musical formula that has given us tons of crappy vat-grown pop. This strategy however is never (or rarely) reversed to target teenage boys. I'm not really up to date on what the kids are listening to these days, but I can't think of a young woman entertainer marketed as an ideal romantic partner to teenage boys. I'm speculating this is because current society would find a 18-year old woman singing suggestively to 14 year boys weird, but doesn't bat an eye at the reverse.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:58 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


In my experience teenage boys music tastes are just as dismissed at teenage girls. Bad heavy metal type music is sometimes a predictable teenage boy focus in the same way that girls are often thought to like pop divas.

There's another dynamic at work there, class snobbery, as heavy metal has always and will always be a working class music and as such has always been derided by the middle class elites determining what real music should sound like.

And even then no radio dj ever organised a mass burning of hair metal records.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2015


The difference is that girls actually grow out of the Bay City Rollers or Bieber


Are you kidding?
posted by tunewell at 10:24 AM on January 6, 2015


I can't think of a young woman entertainer marketed as an ideal romantic partner to teenage boys.

You know, thinking back, none of my male friends had female artists in their collections. At all. I know because I checked, and also asked them why this was. (Answer: "I don't know, never thought about it.") Well, maybe a woman would pop up here and there accidentally (e.g. Pixies), but 99.99% of their music was dude-centred.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:27 PM on January 6, 2015


You know, thinking back, none of my male friends had female artists in their collections.

How far back are you thinking? One of my male high school / college friends had a particular taste for the female singer-songwriters of the day (in addition to English prog bands, Steely Dan, and other 'chops-oriented' acts). An older friend still loved his 45s of pre-Beatle 'girl groups' that were popular when he was in his early teens (in addition to, later, The Beatles, The Who, The Yardbirds, and so on.)

Off the top of my head, my closest male high school / college friends and I had in our collections records by Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Minnie Riperton, Rotary Connection, The Mamas and the Papas, Mama Cass, Judy Collins, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Labelle, Linda Rondstadt, Phoebe Snow, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Renaissance, Chaka Khan /Rufus, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Glady Knight & The Pips, Staple Singers, Roberta Flack, Melanie, Supremes, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, and I don’t know what all pre-Beatle female singers and groups. Oh, and Skeeter Davis. Sue Thompson. Jeannie C. Reilly. Bobbie Gentry. Pet Clark. Dusty Springfield. Maria Muldaur. . . . and later, Pretenders, Blondie, B-52s . . .
posted by Herodios at 8:35 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


My mom was pretty excited to see Paul McCartney when he came around.

The Kanye of his day.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dr Dracator: " I'm speculating this is because current society would find a 18-year old woman singing suggestively to 14 year boys weird, but doesn't bat an eye at the reverse."

Lita Ford was 28 when I was 16.
posted by signal at 6:35 AM on January 7, 2015


From the member e-newsletter today:

Your excitement and enthusiasm made David Bowie Is the most attended exhibition in the MCA's history bringing over 193,000 people through our doors.


Knowing that the MCA is doing well makes me happy; it's such a fun and interesting museum. The Bowie exhibition was fantastic, especially the last room. I could have stayed in there all day surrounded by music and giant walls of video.
posted by heyho at 12:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Stuff Mom Never Told You literally just did a podcast on this!
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:57 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


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