EDITOR’S NOTE: The playlist diary has been a tradition of WAXY JANE since the very beginning and I will never miss a month – it is a tower that I can’t stop adding blocks to. But after this election everything that isn’t activism feels frivolous and distracting in a way that seems harmful to progress. For the past week I’ve been trying to balance the anger, fear, hatred and hopelessness that crash over me like raging waves. Sometimes coping with those emotions means finding a way to make myself “happy” or a facsimile of happy for a moment with some sort of distraction. If you are in the same place as I am, I hope that this playlist brings you a moment of distraction to replenish yourself enough to get back to the good fight – ensuring that our LBGTQ, black, muslim and female citizens are safe, loved and heard.
I’ve always been a very selective consumer of Pop Punk. Some of it just didn’t sit well with me. Growing up in the age of emo was cool. Fueling the fire of teenage angst with the concept albums about death, songs of misplaced blame, heartache, hyper-idealized teenage fantasies was . . . indulgent. I liked it, it felt morbid, destructive and correct – being a teenager is death and rebirth in its own right. Letting the child within you pass on and rebirthing into more conscious human is a mourning period I think everyone goes through, whether or not it is fueled by Yellowcard, but not before yelling and screaming and proving you exist! I guess this is where pop punk was either the complete adrenaline or complete sorrow for me. It’s either living life in the most outrageous terms (raging till you see the sun) or making out in the grass next to the mausoleum.
Jessica Hopper’s article Emo: Where the Girls Aren’t was a huge eye opener (and an absolute must read for any music fan or person wanting a deeper understanding on feminism and music) as to why I never completely felt comfortable with the genre.
“Emo’s characteristic vulnerabile front is limited to self-sensitivity, every song a high stakes game of control that involves “winning” or “losing” possession of the girl (see Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, New Found Glory, and Glassjaw albums for prime examples). Yet, in the vulnerability there is no empathy, no peerage or parallelism. Emo’s yearning doesn’t connect it with women—it omits them.”
Then Jessica asks the question that I struggle with daily, if not hourly,
“Who do you excuse and why? Do you check your politics at the door and just dance or just rock or just let side A spin out? Can you ignore the marginalization of women’s lives on the records that line your record shelves in hopes that feigned ignorance will bridge the gulf, because it’s either that or purge your collection of everything but free jazz, micro house 12”s and the Mr. Lady Records catalog?
It’s almost too big of a question to ask. I start to ask this of myself, to really start investigating, and stop, realizing full well that if I get an answer I might just have to retire to an adobe hut in the Italian countryside and not take any visitors for a long time. Or turn into the rock critical Andrea Dworkin, and report with resignation that all music made by men propagates the continual oppression and domination of women. Sometimes I feel like every rock song I hear is a sucker punch toward us. And I feel like no one takes that impact seriously, let alone notices it. It is “just” music.”
It is because of facts and questions like these that I’m hesitate to claim the I’ve been listening to My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Something Corporate and Motion City Soundtrack on never ending repeat for a month – the tide of the world has made me even angstier than usual, I guess – but I feel shame in it. Shame that I didn’t even think about the sexism of the genre until I read Jessica Hopper’s piece, shame that I still carry the same feelings of agony that I did as a teen, shame that I still think skinny whiny boys are cute. I hope that one day the next Liz Phair flips the script on one of these albums and tells the story from a female perspective,the wrought fear, excitement, fun and misery of being a teenage girl in the 2000s, and gives a voice to the glamazon beach goddess that breaks all the hearts – she has a story to tell beyond the one that male pop punk has given her. I want to hear it.
Listen to the October playlist diary below.
Check out the other playlist diaries here.