Let us start with Lauren Laverne, off the telly, doing what she does best.
Punka, probably one of the best anti-(Lo-Fi) rockist anthems, ever. And Kenickie look amazing and fun and everything I wanted to be and failed to be when I was a teenager. Damn them.
Here is the explanation of rockist that I stole from Wikipedia as I appear unable to come up with a definition that isn’t ‘Oh you know: really annoying people with annoying ideas. *GAH*’
Rockism is an ideology of popular music criticism, coined by Pete Wylie and used extensively in the British music press from the early 1980s. The fundamental tenet of rockism is that some forms of popular music, and some musical artists, are more authentic than others. However, in recent years the term has been used increasingly in a pejorative manner. Critics have further charged that the ideology is racist, sexist and homophobic.
I’ve been reading lots of riot grrl histories at the moment (It’s the zeitgeist, don’t you know.) and been thinking about lo-fi/diy culture in general. It’s something I am torn on, especially with regards to feminism.
My first feelings towards DIY is that (as a crafter and illustrator) it’s wonderful and important to jump right in. It’s important to not care what people think. Especially for women who in the past may have felt pushed out of rockist perfection and guitar wankery, I remember how excited I was when I first saw this:
(I never formed a band.)
This punk do-it-yourself attitude informed a lot of the beginnings of riot grrl. But there is an issue with this approach, if you start off chaotic and unprofessional you automatically bring you audience down to only people who ‘understand’ you and your scene. Riot grrl meant something to riot grrls. Reading Girls to the front by Sara Marcus I feel a lot like other girls outside the movement didn’t feel cool enough to be part of it. A lot of the meetings were about how put upon they were as majority middle class white women but when Kathleen Hanna ran a workshop on race and privilege of white women there was disquiet. We’re not talking about a movement without issues. (I will speak about this later with regards to the Slut Walk and the shock I have about agreeing with Liz Jones about something. Jesus these really are end times.)
Basically my issue with lo-fi is it automatically keeps things small, any band who makes it has apparently sold out to The Man. When you are talking about a movement that could change women’s lives this is dangerous.
In How to be a woman Caitlin Moran explains my exact point in a better way than I can:
I mentioned in conversation that I think Riot Grrrl bands should do interviews with the mainstream press, as the kind of girls who really need a hardcore feminist movement – in council blocks, listening to New Kids On The Block – are unlikely to come across a photocopied Riot Grrl fanzine being handed outside a Sebadoh gig. Any revolution worth its salt needs to get its message across to as many people as possible.
Moran also talks about the difficultly of finding women in the mid 1990s (Britpop era) to grace the cover of the Melody Maker. To be honest I think there were good girl bands out there but they were never given the same footing as the men. She uses this quote from the pleasingly mental Julie Burchill to explain most people’s attitudes:
A girl in a dress with a guitar looks weird – like a dog riding a bicycle. Very odd. Hard to get past it
Personally I think this is bull, but it’s true that it is how a lot of women in rock are seen. And this is my second issue with the DIY aesthetic applied to women’s rock. I don’t like a lot of professional indie bands. I am not interested in guitar wankery but I wish to god there was a woman who was seen as the equivalent of Dylan in song writing, who is Hendrix with a foof. And who were seen as on exactly equal footing. I love Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith but they live under the shadow of all these men. I don’t want women in the shadows any more.
NB on a vaguely related note, some of you may have seen this happen:
I think we can all agree that Lauren, bless her, has got herself a little excited. But can you blame her? I’ve never particularly liked Zane Lowe but this is about the most unprofessional thing I’ve ever seen.
The below is offered without comment