1) A once-buzzy music/youth culture magazine, now much better known for their TV/video/documentary products, publishes abhorrent, brutally sexist review. (No one has had a meaningful conversation about a review in this magazine in at least a decade.)
2) A pop culture writer screengrabs it, puts it on her Tumblr, and writes a scathing parody.
3) A niche group of Internet people read the review for the first time and get offended.
4) The publicist for the band, a man (and a nice guy, for what it’s worth), emails the V*ce writer directly and calls him out. The V*ce writer publishes the email with a flip response. This incident is not included in the Tumblr backlash, which avoids actually addressing the guilty parties.
Who wins here? Who loses? On the one hand, V*ce gets more press for a review than it has probably gotten in the entire Pitchfork era; if anything, this is probably encouraging. And said pop culture writer’s Tumblr is probably breaking its traffic records, and this is where this kind of protest/push-back gets problematic to me: Tumblr protests are insular and semi-private by their very nature. They preach to the choir and too often mistake anger for accomplishment. In a way, no matter how many reblogs they get, they’re as equally self-serving (“Click on my blog to have your liberal values reinforced!”) as they are a public call for change.* (The Tumblr post, funny as it is, is not a call for change: it’s a vehement attack on the sexist writer. Which is cathartic but not exactly educational. Am I wrong? Is anger enough here? What would do the most good?)
It bears mentioning that there have been a number of pretty serious, gross sexist-music-writing incidents this year and the backlash against each has failed to prevent the next. Again, it might actually be a source of troll-feeding encouragement. This is not going away. How can it? Screengrabbing and not linking is a good step, I think, but it’s only one of many.
5) The Grass Widow album is really great, by the way. That’s the easiest thing of all to forget after this. Where is the best Grass Widow review? It has to be just as important to encourage good work as it is to discourage bad work.
* This is, yes, a personal Tumblr. I’m trying to have a conversation, not start a march.
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- solikewise said: consciousness is rarely raised by being on the receiving end of anger – so it all becomes a game that goes nowhere – uplifting, forgiving voices would create an entirely different dynamic, with different results..
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