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(Very Carles-like URL, I know, but the article isn't)
That stuff is worthy of Cokemachineglow for up its own arse-ness.
are bloody stupid.
as the paragraph that said bad things happen to male characters as well but that's not the point and gave up
that the representation of men and women is different in terms of agency and depth of characterisation. which, y'know, are pretty fundamental issues in any gender-based culture analysis
"Can we imagine, for a moment, what this song would be like if Meloy hadn't couched it in elaborate language and a pseudo-historical setting? Suppose "A Cautionary Song" were set in a modern-day housing project or a trailer park instead of a 19th-century port city; suppose Meloy asked the crowd to yell "PUSSY!" instead of "MAIDENHEAD!" Do you think The Decemberists would be able to get a crowd of pretentious white indie kids in Portland to cheer and clap for that song?"
That's like complaining that Sweeny Todd wouldn't be as fun if it was set in a modern hairdressers and the victims were made into Greggs pasties.
what on earth would possess you to focus on The Decemberists?
You feel in reading it that her heart's not really in it - she realises that her argument is as absurd as if she was arguing that Dostoyevsky was promoting the murder of old ladies when he wrote Crime and Punishment.
rather than even consider engaging with the subject.
Stay classy, DiS.
it's this thread's rollcall of misogynist twats
Could you please show me a history of where I've ever been a 'misogynist twat' beyond one joke post in this thread?
Fucking hell, don't be such a dick.
I'm sure you were just being 'ironic' though, right?
Are you really this dense? Do you really think anyone would reply to this with "silly bitch" seriously? If you scroll down you'll see I've tried to engage rationally with the argument. Please stop clutching at straws. Kthxbai.
but y'know, whatever's easiest to let you uphold your little position of superiority, right?
since I don't think "come on, it was just a joke" is a legitimate excuse. Or at least, if you are going to make a joke, try and make it funny rather than just overtly derogatory, just so people can actually tell you're being 'ironic'.
People do all the time. Read any story of this ilk on a newspaper web site and the comments are filled with posts like that. But if you aren't actually a sexist prat and just APPEAR to be one, then so be it.
Maybe the reason the males 'who also have bad stuff happen to them' get the story told from their perspective because the songs are being written by a man!
i mean, pretty sure colin meloy has roughly the same notion of what it might be like to be a woman as he has of what it might be like to be a pirate, or a chimney sweep, or whatever the fuck else he writes about. it's not a huge stretch of the imagination, so if someone is stretching their imagination to inhabit all these different roles (one example in the article is a song from the perspective of a premature infant's ghost...), i don't think it's particularly unreasonable to wonder why it's never occurred to him to write from the perspective of a female character
it's just not done all that often, that I can tell. I'd imagine it's difficult to achieve in terms of overcoming people's natural assumptions without just spelling things out in a very unartistic fashion. But what do I know.
My point was really that it's a bizarre thing to get upset about. "The same things happen to them but they get to be the narrator". I don't really see what difference it makes to be honest, but if you guys want us to petition Colin Meloy to write a song from the perspective of a dying, raped, pregnant prostitute just to make sure he's covered all his bases then I'll get right on it.
she is possibly suggesting that the female characters are being objectified by their lack of representation, which whilst questionable is, with the lack of contravening points of view, quite valid point to make when discussing misogyny.
sometimes this website makes me want to take up wishpig's mantle a bit...
not saying i am totally on board with this article - for one thing i am not familiar enough with the decemberists' work to have an informed opinion, for another i'm a bit wary of some of the apparent assumptions about authorial responsibility to 'comment' on what is depicted etc. but would anyone care to engage with the point about how far this can be paralleled with misogyny in hip-hop? my initial reaction is that there's a certain assumption of narrative detachment with meloy that we don't really grant to hip-hop. presumably when we listen to meloy singing in the first person about being a pirate raping someone, or whatever, there's a natural tendency to completely divorce the narrator from the writer; whereas on the other hand, with hip-hop lyrics, there's a tendency to assume that the first-person is a direct expression of the artist's own opinions, personality, etc. how far is that a justified assumption? could it be argued that some hip-hop artists might assume a falsified persona in the same way that meloy creates characters that have nothing to do with him? and that we only *assume* that hip-hop lyrics are expressing the artist's self because the character is a lot closer to our cultural expectation of what a hip-hop artist's 'real' personality/opinions should be like? would probably have to do some close readings of a variety of hip-hop lyrics to see if this analysis really holds any weight, but just some thoughts yo, it's cool if you wanna contest them or, alternatively: lol pretentious shite, let's just have a thread of responses about how the decemberists are quite good and that
In hip-hop, even if it's a falsified persona, they're still trying to at least create the illusion of it being their own, attributing it to themselves - and as a result, many people will interpret it as such. In Meloy's case, it's character based works of fiction - I can't speak for him but to me it's quite a fascinating perspective to write from because it's clearly so messed up, and designed to be interpreted in the same way.
LOL, but then I thought while I might not agree with the point she's making it's a totally valid one, why not question Meloy's lyrics and his depictions of women within them?
Her language is inflammatory, to put it lightly, but if nothing else it encourages people to look at another facet of not only their music but the music it's inspired by.
If the female characters are passive in the songs, merely victims, whereas the male characters get a voice then it seems pretty valid. I think the comments about hip-hop vs. indie is a pretty interesting one. All people harp on about when they talk about Odd Future for example are the songs about rape, I've never heard anyone talk about Decemberists penchant for songs like that before. The arguments that Meloy is in persona whilst hop-hop artists at least attempt to not appear to be is ridiculous, because if you assume that everything hip-hop artists say is true then you assume that the vast majority of them are either murderers, robbers, drug kingpins, pimps, etc or a combination of all of them, hip-hop stars have to be in a persona, otherwise they'd be the world's most unsubtle criminals and in jail as opposed to rapping.
my point was really more that they're clearly intended to be taken in different ways, but y'know...
I get where you're coming from, although I still think as a listener you have to be aware of what you're listening to and the reality. I still think Odd Future is a valid comparison though, purely for the amount of people going "OMFG BLACK KIDS TALKING ABOUT RAPE, SCARY! LOL". I don't agree with all of the article, but I can certainly see her point.
If each song is sung from the different viewpoint of individual characters, I don't see that as being a persona in the sense that "Colin Meloy is a badass who sings about raping and killing of women". I think you can distinguish between the subject matter of a song and whether the subject matters of songs is feeding into a larger persona that the artist is seeking to put forward.
I'm just here to say that their gig tonight in Birmingham was absolutely incredible. A perfect setlist, great atmosphere and a genuine, uninhibited performance.
Also the new album is CLEARLY the best since Picaresque, I don't really understand the mixed reception it seems to be getting.
Never listened to 'em. I have now though. And, even without considering the lyrical content, I'll not weep if I never hear anything by 'em again.
The article? Relatively interesting and contains some fair points, but slightly overwrought.
Irony? Strange employment of the word irony seems to be all over the shop.
Reaction? Defensive reaction on here is a bit weird and OTT. Kinda fits in with http://www.gabbysplayhouse.com/?p=1444 (my new favourite standard response to standard nonsense)
There were a lot of moments where I was thinking "but what about-" when they went on to address them.
I just find her argument a little redundant. The meat of Meloy's songs are the subject matter of most Western popular popular fiction. He's engaging with a heavy literary tradition - would this writer make the same assualt on Shakespeare becuase of what happens to Lavinina in Titus Andronicus, or Hardy because of what happens to Tess, or Shane Meadows for what happens in This is England 1986? She admits Meloy is a talented wordsmith, and her case study of A Cautionary Tale proves that - it's chilling. But it's a not a song that glorifies rape, even if you hum along to it. And to accuse a band that includes a prominent female member, and writes stunning parts for female guest vocalists, as being misogynist, strikes me as slightly self-defeating.
Fair enough to pick him up on claiming it as "irony", or justifying it via a handful of female folk singers. But I don't think it's really fair to take a couple of off-the-cuff responses to weighty questions as a indication of his stance, as opposed to a body of work that richer, deeper, smarter, and more affectionate that the vast majority of artists out there.
the objectification/fetishisation of women in B&S songs.
"The Decemberists have repeatedly abducted, raped and killed women, and their well-educated, liberal fans and critics have lapped it up."
Of course they have.
I know the criticism that provocative comments don't undermine a point made, but it doesn't make it any easier to buy into it.
I do think she's talking bollocks, because while I can see that the issue of depicting rape or misogny is rarely uncomplicated, she seems to dismiss Meloy's intentions as being irrelevant if his audience are capable of enjoying them on an uncomplicated basis. For a start, I think that misinterpretes the way in which many listeners actually listen to music - I'm not sure it involves a wholehearted embrace of the lyrical content even if someone is singing along.
But I think Meloy's intentions are completely relevant - he'a always seemed a literary songwriter, and I think it's pretty clear that he's singing in character about bloodier and more unpleasant times. I guess one would question why he has an interest in that area, but it doesn't mean that he supports what happens to the characters in his songs or that his audience does.
Anyway, a bunch of LARPERS with a quivering, tremulous lead singer... who cares?
only ever listened to one song, and he goes "Maaaaaayyyyyyy" instead of "Me" and i didn't like it. I have no place in this thread.
Although it has been hilarious to see y'all hulk out for the Decemberists at the first sign of an interesting perspective
This argument that Meloy's work is not deserving of this kind of scrutiny because he's writing from a "literary" perspective is total bullshit. Tyler The Creator confronts you with his character because he makes you feel like that character is speaking directly to you. The Decemberists trivialize the issues that they claim are supposed to seem "messed up" in their songs with goofy archaic language and ironic distance so you can still have guilt free fun shouting out an archaic word for pussy at their shows. That shit is no loftier than Oddfuture, and this kind of analysis of it I found interesting. John Darnielle said that mediocre songwriters sound like they're writing, great songwriters transcend that. He offered Nick Cave as an example of transcendence. There's no question as to which of those two Colin Meloy is.
And yes, god forbid people should defend a band they like when someone makes horribly pretentious arguments about their songs.
though I do think their lyrics are by far their strongest suit.
It's an interesting perspective, but the point about Meloy being a "literary" songwriter wasn't to say that no attention should be paid to his lyrics, only that it's entirely possible that if you're writing from the perspective of a character it doesn't necessarily mean you or your audience is condoning or supporting that view point.
I think there's a valid point as to the historical nature obscuring the violence, but I don't think it makes it misogynistic. The writer seemed to think that either Meloy was being disingenuous about what he was writing, or that his audience liked to revel in the violence against women without having to feel bad about it. Both unfair comments not really substantiated.
I don't think that Meloy is by any means a great writer, but I don't think this issue merely comes down to one of transcendence because that just seems to suggest that you can get away with genuine misogyny if you're good enough.
So Cave gets a pass and escapes this dull shallow anaylsis because you think he's a better songwriter, despite his writing being far more violent, far more disturbing, and him seeming to be far more obsessed?
All this articles shows is we live in an age when anyone can make a 'case' for virtually anything if they try hard enough, and some people will say they 'have a point'.
I'd happy label myself as a feminist, but this infantalisation of culture on the back what's effectively being passed off as academic theory, does no one any favours.
This needs to reside on the 'pointless' file along side 'Is Stephin Merritt rascist'.
If someone's willing to give me 50 quid I'll do you 1000 words on the religious intolerence in the lyrics of 'Iron & Wine'...no thought not.
God bless the internet, keeping people pointlessly occupied whilst thinking they discussing matters of importance since 1991.
but she mainly seems to be upset by the fact that the men in his songs get fleshed out, whereas the women are just characters that bad things happen to, nothing else. This might be a fair reason to not like the Decemberists, but I don't see how it translates to accusation of misogyny - just because the songs don't feature strong women it doesn't mean that there *against* women either.
comes from the fact it could be construed as objectification which is essentially misogynist, I don't really agree with that point however it's a fair one to make.
but I think it'd be a bit much to jump straight to misogyny, instead of thinking that writing about men is easier for him/he writes better songs that way etc. rather than as a deliberate choice to leave women out of teh picture
She's got a point.
I only listened to The Decemberists once and that was about 7 years ago. I just remember thinking "bit silly".
They any good?
the rest ... yeah, silly's about right
but I've never been bothered by any of their other stuff... If only there was a thread about this type of thing.
On a serious note, it looks like the article makes some interesting and valid points. Unfortunately, I love early, prewar blues so I can't talk. I have to accept it and off-set my guilt with other things.
I think there's valid points she's making about not having any analysis or subversion of the themes to justify writing new songs about these themes. I think there's some nostalgic voyeurism of some kind going on - although I don't think that in itself is a sexist issue. He's also been criticised, elsewhere, for writing about the Shankhill Butchers for similar reasons, which is fair, I think.
I think the problem with her article is trying to make these criticisms purely one of misgogyny. She goes out of her way to say that Meloy isn't sexist, but that his songs are due to the lack of depth and that by association his fans are for enjoying them. I think you could criticise the audience for not properly paying attention to the subject matter or critically engaging with it, but I think the accusation that essentially his audience wants to have a guilt free way of engaging in misogyny is someway off the mark and unfair.
So, I don't think it's too surprising that fans of the band overreact to being called misogynists.
Gender-equality in the representation of the characters within Decemberists songs.
WHEN DO WE WANT IT?
As soon as is feasible.