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Saturday, July 23, 2005

To The Slaughter
When Liss and us drive to Hillside together today, we will probably end up discussing Gwen Stefani. This is likely what we (and by "we," we mean "I") will say:

Consider every other fair-skinned female pop star of any accomplishment in recent memory. Or at least our recent memory. They were all about something.

Madonna, of course, was about lots of things. Still might be. Depending on how much you thought she was about in the first place. Britney was a virgin. Now she's reality TV (see also: Lohan, Lindsay). Christina has always been the over-compensating, but forever over-shadowed, second-child. Jessica is America personified. As, in her own way, is Hilary. Ashlee is celebrity eating itself. Kylie is "at least partly in the tradition of artists like Klaus Nomi, Sparks, Gary Numan, etc."*

Gwen, so far as we can tell, has no such subtext. She is essentially about nothing. Except being a pop star. And making pop hits. Her shit is bananas. All style, no substance.

(Even the Harajuku girls. They may be racist, sexist, patronizing, colonial, frustrating and problematic. But what is Gwen trying to say with them? Other than, 'I thought it would be neat to have a bunch of Harajuku girls follow me around while I pretend only I can see them because I'm a weird pop star. Cool, huh?')

(Obviously it's problematic for a male of voting-age to argue as much about a female. So let's clarify: we don't think Gwen is empty. We just think she's about nothing. There's a difference. For the record, we think Gwen probably tests as a genius on standard IQ tests and is in absolute control of her every action and reaction. She is an empowered woman and probably a champion of feminism. Young girls should look up to her. And we also don't think she's dumbing herself down or even being manipulative. Probably the opposite. In fact, she's probably smarter than 93% of her peers.)

(We also realize that whenever you say something is about nothing, it instantly becomes about something. We wish there was some way to get around this. But there probably isn't. Except maybe to never to mention to anyone that you think something is about nothing. We promise to do that next time.)


*Direct quote from a rather contentious debate, about a year ago, on a music critic messageboard of local repute.

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