The Ideal Indie Rock Woman: Still Pale, Still Malnourished, Now With Slightly Better Bangs

25style05_500.jpgFar be it from me to expect anything resembling forward-thinking discourse from a “chicks rock!” fashion spread, but it was more than a little disheartening to see the end result of New York Times Magazine‘s style section giving itself over to “girls who play together sashay[ing] in the season’s pitch-perfect ensembles.” Said spread featured five all-female bands, 80% of which were full of Feist archetypes who wore mostly dour expressions under their Emily The Strange makeup. (Only the two members of Yo Majesty were allowed to actually pose in a way that had the buoyancy suggested by the word “sashaying.” Perhaps that was because Shunda K. told the interviewer that she knew God loved her? Or maybe it’s just that their look doesn’t really fit with the perpetual-schoolgirl affect that the other four pictures were obviously going for?)

Maybe I’d be less offended by the whole thing if the online presentation wasn’t just flat pictures accompanied by T. Cole Rachel’s even flatter text; you’d think the multimedia presentation of an article that’s nominally about musicians would attempt to provide some musical context for why these bands were featured, or at least try somewhat half-heartedly to convince the readership out there that these five acts weren’t just picked for the spread on the basis of how they fit into the Marc Jacobs samples lying around the Times offices. (It’s not like a link to, say, an Electrelane video is all that hard to find on the Web.) But given that, after I showed this spread to a friend, he asked me “So, was this week’s issue of the New York Times Magazine secretly the ‘cool hipster girls‘ issue?” I’d say that this spread is probably the sign of what’s to come at the Times, because a good Web editor knows that even if their readership is alienated or turned off by its unrelenting coverage of certain fake trends, at least there’ll be someone out there to irritably blog about it.

Group Dynamics [NYT]
Earlier: The Ideal Indie Rock Woman: Pale, Malnourished, And With Really Bad Bangs

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  • jfury

    Aaaand not a single one is holding an instrument (unless you could the fraction of a harp and… a saw) or microphone. Cue Poly Styrene: “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard.”

  • thearcanemodel

    all good points, but the electrelane picture is the worst offender by FAR. what did the stylists DO to them!? 1) this is a band that already had an aesthetic of its own, albeit not one that ever overshadowed the music. 2) i am about 70% sure that girlfriend is wearing HAMMER PANTS. for fuck’s sake. at least the plasticenes look happyish, whoever they are.

    but yep, this is an unfun continuation of both the archetype you describe and the “year of the woman”/”women in rock” patronizing/ghettoizing of female musicians that regularly pops up every so often.

    sentence that unintentionally sums up the problems with this article: “Erika Forster wears an Alexander Wang romper.” “romper”!!! as in “one piece garment worn by wee toddlers.”

    all that said, is it wrong that i kind of covet most of what amiina (sp)? get to wear?

  • the rich girls are weeping

    Kill. Me. Now.

    Please?

    Poor Electrelane, they look positively gross and miserable. And they’re so NOT — such lovely ladies, generally. Oh, I could cry.

    Also: how did “pro-gay sloganeering” get past the copy editor?!?!

    I know I shouldn’t irritatingly blog about this stuff and send traffic their way, thus perpetuating the cycle, but ugh, being silent isn’t much of a better option. I guess being the dissenting voice is worth the trouble. Or something.

  • Sara Sherr

    Did I get this wrong or did Electrelane go on hiatus or break up?

  • thearcanemodel

    @Sara Sherr: it was my understanding that they did, although it kind of coincided with the release of their last album. one more reason i am surprised to see them here.

  • MTS

    I actually like that the photographer made using a cyclorama painfully obvious. Otherwise, my complaints (as a person with a degree in photo) lie with blowing all the detail out to the point that Yo Majesty looks white, and with the monochromatic clothing selection. I mean, why shoot color in the first place if it’s going to look black and white?

    I was under the impression that it was a fashion spread, and not an actual article. Since when did writing glorified catalog copy have to bear the same intellectual weight as Shakespearean poetry, anyway?

    And while yes, I think this is a stupid piece and there’s all those issues of ghettoizing/etc to talk about, I will give some points to NYT for choosing real people* to use for the layout over models.

    * I understand their concept of realness is limited to anyone fitting into a size 2, but that’s for another discussion.

  • Maura Johnston

    Oh, I’d say that the fashion copy in the Times Magazine often has intellectualist pretensions. (One could argue that by putting Electrelane et al in the mix instead of, say, the Pussycat Dolls or Leona Lewis, a certain intellectual reach is being implied.)

  • MTS

    @jfury: What any Photo 101 class will tell you: a portrait photograph should stand on its own, and not resort to obvious visual clichés such as holding an instrument.

  • Anonymous

    @MTS: Whoever did this lighting should be taken out and shot for making the Yo Majesty girls look so gray. It’s not that hard to do lighting that makes African-Americans look normal, especially if you’re sensitive enough to consider that. Better lighting would’ve helped these poor girls in the above photo as well.

    None of the chicks in this “series” look fuckable, competent, or adult. Why?????

  • the rich girls are weeping

    @slowburn: But, isn’t that what a hipster dude idolizes? Seems to me that they’re exactly (well, save Yo Majesty!) what your basic milquetoast hipster douchebag guy wants to screw and converse with. I’m speaking from painful experience here.

  • westartedthis

    @Sara Sherr: that’s almost word for word exactly what i wanted to say about Electrelane.

    useless post, i know, but…yeah poor Electrelane.

  • westartedthis

    @the rich girls are weeping: uh, the above post was in response to you.

    i don’t know the answer to Sara Sherr’s question – i thought the same thing.

  • Anonymous

    @the rich girls are weeping: You’re right, and that’s probably why I don’t screw basic hipster douchebags anymore either. (Well, that and the fact that those boys seem to have ED in proportions seriously outsized to their population, but anyway….)

    I’d hope, though, that the NYT realizes its readership is far larger, far smarter, and far more discriminating than that!

  • the rich girls are weeping

    Perhaps they’re all repressed homosexuals — which would explain why they like girls who look like 13 year old boys. Or maybe it’s all the PBRs — which is possibly why I like idiots with dumb hair and tight black jeans who always seem to have harder vices. Give me drug dick over brewer’s droop any day, puhleaze.

    Yes, I TOTALLY JUST SAID THAT. Wait, can I leave comments like this now that Idolator isn’t a Gawker property? Heh.

    No basic hipster douchebag has ever been interested in me, as far as I can tell. I guess I’m just too much lady for them. Then again, they also are all so socially awkward … for all I know I’ve left a string of heartbroken boys in my wake, but I DOUBT IT.

  • Anonymous

    @the rich girls are weeping: I’m buying you a PBR just for this comment. Thanks for a good laugh at the end of a long work day.

  • jfury

    @MTS: I don’t give a crap what photo 101 dictates. What’s more cliche — chicks modeling clothes and looking bored out of their tits OR chicks rocking out with their instruments? Give me a break.

  • the rich girls are weeping

    You’re welcome — glad I could be of service! Heh.