Thursday, July 8, 2010

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming: More On Liz Phair's "Bollywood"

Er, so I jotted off a post before I realized the extent of the backlash against Liz Phair's single, "Bollywood."

Right now I feel like a hypocrite, or a bandwagon-jumper, or a vaguely hypocritical bandwagon-jumper. My love/hate relationship with Liz Phair is well-documented. I'm fascinated, not by her, but by the influence she's had many women's lives. I am not one of them. I've tried to come up with a plausible reason why her music never resonated with me, and I simply don't have one aside from being a little too old when Guyville hit, and too busy trying to keep my head above water, financially, during the years when I should have been all teen-angsty. That the themes in her music are presented as "universal" has always bothered me, too. (Universal? Maybe if you're white, straight and preferably middle-class.) But this isn't about the Liz Phair of yore. From the LA Times (via Broadsheet):

"Hating Liz Phair is fun, almost as fun as turning the pop-fashion tide away from M.I.A. by doubting her motives behind having a child with a wealthy man, or dissecting the ways Sarah McLachlan was stupid in her attempts to revive the Lilith Fair. This rough summer for feminist pop musicians doesn't strictly reflect sexism; often, women are the most vocal in expressing wrath toward role models who suddenly seem all too human. For Phair, who enjoyed a modest revival when ATO Records reissued her groundbreaking debut album, "Exile in Guyville," in 2008, being the object of others' effervescent scorn has become old hat: every album she made after that one sent more of her fans into attack mode. The fact she called this new one "Funstyle" -- as well as some of the music included in the package -- indicates that she now means to make this hating game her own."

And maybe some of us just didn't like the song.

Later in the article, the author makes comparisons to Frank Zappa and Dr. Demento as evidence that "Bollywood" is indeed satire. Fair enough. (I'd go one further and throw Alex Chilton's Like Flies On Sherbert in the mix, if only for the WTF? factor.) Maybe Funstyle is a novelty album, but that doesn't make it above criticism, and not all criticism is "hatin'."

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