Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gender in Entertainment (from Emily)

In this miserable time of midterms, economic crises, and transporting cats overseas (oh wait, that last one just applies to Erica) I thought it would be a nice time to do another entertainment post.

So, here are some interesting songs and videos that address gender issues, whether directly or indirectly:

First up, here's a song called "Empty Face". I apologize for the poor sound quality of this video; it was the best I could find on youtube. What makes this song interesting? Well, even though it presents a pretty standard stereotype of an unloved, unhappy young woman who dates scum bags, this song makes an interesting paradigm shift. When it first mentions "another successful scumbag seduction," it sounds like a scumbag is seducing her. As it goes on, though, it sounds more like she is going out of her way to seduce scum bags. Interesting. Very interesting.

You all know that the song "I Kissed a Girl" already addresses interesting gender concerns, but listen to  Max Vernon's version of the song. Rather than produce a mirror image of the song by singing about kissing a boy and hoping his girlfriend won't mind it, Max sings the song with most of the original lyrics about kissing a girl and hoping his boyfriend won't mind. But he changes the lyrics enough that it's clear he's still a man singing the song. It has a fascinating effect that makes it sound like a man from a homosexual world, who's singing about the horror and confusion of kissing the forbidden other gender.

Another example of  a man crossing gender boundaries in music is the Glee version of "Defying Gravity", sung by a gay character named Kurt. Personally, I prefer this version over most other versions I've heard, though I of course love Idina Menzel's version like any good Wicked fan. I wonder, though, how different the song would appear if they had chosen a heterosexual male character to sing it. Because "I kissed a girl" makes pointed references to gender, Max Vernon couldn't have escaped those associations if he's tried. But the writers of Glee went out of their way to drag gender into the equation. I wonder why?

Now, let's end on an upbeat note. This is a song for anyone who's ever felt discouraged about their romantic prospects: "Haven't Met You Yet" by Michael Buble. 


  1. Is the singer for defying gravity male or female? I can't tell from the blog or the song... (0: If the singer is a male that is amazing!

  2. Yep, it's sung by a guy. Amazing how he hits those high notes, huh?