Friday, September 09, 2005

PussyCat Scratch Fever

They're like the Spice Girls, only... not. They're basically the saucy girl group of the Bush era. So why don't I like 'em?

First of all, the Pussycat Dolls have a My Space. Second of all, they performed at the Teen Choice awards (it makes sense; you got teach those kids how to dress bad and lick their lips when they're young). Third of all, according to (gag) Maxim: The Pussycat Dolls are "the best thing to happen to dawgs since fire hydrants." Fourth of all, they were founded by Jonathan Antin's sister, Robin Antin (Jonathan Antin appears to be the most narcissistic and annoying man of the hair scene universe). But I can't hold who her brother is against her! (although, sometimes evilness does run in families, i.e. the aforementioned Bush family and the Simpsons). So let's take a look at what R.A. has to say about the PCD:
"“Inside every woman is a Pussycat Doll,"” says Robin Antin, the innovator behind the singing-and-dancing ensemble that has risen from underground cool to major label hot. "“It'’s about female empowerment, about being confident with who you are. It'’s about singing and dancing in front of a mirror by yourself and having fun. "
Sounds good, right? Pussycat Dolls. Hmmm . . .I'm thinking the concept is sorta like Carmen Electra meets My Scene meets The Girls Next Door meets Bust meets CAKE. Burlesque, after all, has made a big comeback (thanks to post-femnism and thanks also to the reminder that bodies other than those plumped up with silicon and sculpted by personal trainers are also sexy). And I'm all for women being encouraged to enjoy and feel empowered by their sexuality. So... why don't I like The Pussycat Dolls?

I guess I'm not crazy about their lyrics (even though they stick in my head like glue):

Dont cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me
Dont cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me
Dont cha, dont cha
Dont cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me
Dont cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me
Dont cha, dont cha ( the lyrics in full here )

I think I'm missing the empowering part. What's up with addressing some other girl's boyfriend? I mean, I know it's just a fantasy, but why this triangulation? Over and over? I'm not saying that the triangulation isn't titillating (Cruel Intentions anyone?). But I'd rather dance in front of the mirror to "Like a Virgin" or "Work It" or "Nasty" or "Push It" or "She Bop" or ...I could make a list songs and songs long.
"To me, a Pussycat Doll is fearless but also vulnerable,"” says lead singer Nicole Scherzinger. "We're strong but we like to play too. The line in "‘Don't Cha'--"‘don'’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me"’--is meant to be empowering. The Pussycat Dolls are not about just being hot but also about saying something with real feeling."”

I guess I'd buy the girl-power shtick if the lyrics were directed toward women, but the lines are clearly directed to a male listener. And perhaps the empowering part would be more convincing if I didn't think women were just as likely to identify with the girlfriend as they were with the singer. But I bet at least half of the women who hear this song think, what is that bitch doing singing to my boyfriend?

And, btw, what is the lead singer getting at when she says "vulnerable" and "saying something with real feeling"? What does that even mean? Why is everyone always talking in these empty platitudes?

In The Newlyweds, Jessica Simpson pops out of a cake and joins The Pussycat Dolls for a raunchy rendition of "Happy Birthday" as a gift to Nick (and of course Pa Simpson was there too, watching. Um, ew! And I'm sure that car wash scene in her "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'" video was his idea too. And did you know J's mom, Tina, was one of Pa Simp's first "youths"? Yup. She was in his first youth group. icky.).

In a nutshell, it isn't so much that I don't like The Pussycat Dolls as it is that I'm wary of them. It's the whole set of trends, really -- Gossip Girl, The Girls Next Door, My Scene, and the worst.fashion.ever-- in which women are depicted as either sex kittens or shoppers, that have me worried. There seems to be a whole category of products that have been packaged as "pro-girl" even though the politics of said products suggest the opposite. At the very least, it's a troubling version of girl power, and one that seems to be enjoying a renaissance of popularity thanks to Bush-era capitalism. So popular, in fact, that it may even be influencing the cover art of... literary magazines?

Behold the new cover of lit mag Fence. As Rebecca Wolff makes clear in her editorial, tits sell. And who doesn't, RW asks (noting that she is in her eighth month of breast feeding), like tits? I've always liked Fence, regardless of what is on the cover, and despite the fact that they've always rejected my poems. (Though it's hard not to be cynical when it seems that you'll be guaranteed publication if you just write a sesitina about a blow job. So edgy!! So risque!! So McSweeney's!! Stick that in your propriety New Yorker.)

But its a fine line, really -- the one between pushing the envelope and pulling it shut. Thanks to similar packaging, it's harder than ever to figure out what's what. Especially when there's so much money to be made (and spent). Especially when what's more economically viable, regardless of its politics, is often passed off as the most "normal" or the most "correct." After all, if people -- men, women, parents, children -- buy it, it means they like it, and if they like it, it's gotta be okay -- right?
Today, there is a Pussycat Dolls line of makeup from Stila and The Pussycat Dolls Lounge opened in April 2005 inside Caesar'’s Palace in Las Vegas, featuring a different roster of performers. The future may hold a line of clothing, lingerie, perfume, videogames, TV and movie projects, and other lounges.
Wiil people buy it? Will women? You bet your bottom dollar. My question is, why do women still have less to spend?

9 comments:

Scott said...

If you continue to eye these things critically, they cannot harm you.

Encourage others around you to do the same and we'll all be better off.

Just keep in mind that, while viewing the things around us critically is important, we have to be sure we're not going easy on the things we like.

rockslinga said...

yo,
i don't think that pussycat song is necessarily targeted towards guys. whenever i would hear that song, when i had a girlfriend, i would yell back, "No. I like my girlfriend. i think she's hotter than you. i think she's freakier than you. etc." i mean, you probably hate them because they have zero talent. having a washboard stomach is cool-- if you're an amateur bodybuilder. it has nothing to do with good music. i mean, i'm happy for missy that she's dropped the weight, but i'm in ot for her jams, not her thigh circumference. and the pussycat dolls name is just fucking lame. women aren't pussies, nor cats, nor dolls. there's nothing empowering about a bunch of dumbasses, nomatter what their gender, telling me they'r hotter than my girlfriend.

tobishka said...

Re: Fence

1st objection: "tits make US want to buy things"...umm, i resent being put into any "we" or "us" etc. as a general rule, but especially here (though this is preceded by her "metaphorically speaking"-- i don't know and don't care what the fuck she means by that as there are tits literally on the cover

2nd objection: it's cause tit's are beautiful...i agree, and have my own thank you, but if this was a plea along the lines of "hey, over half's us gots 'em, we should be proud/unashamed etc." then i would expect a picture of ACTUAL tits (rather than the promise of them) and in a manner that doesn't resemble a cheap version of playboy

3rd objection: also, this really reveals wolff's ideas about poetry and publication....whatever sells.
she tried it with "established" poets (and i hope she gets an angry letter from jean) and now only seems to have their work in there for "cred." blow job sestina's and the like are NOT "pushing the envelope" or anything suggesting "innovation"-- i believe it's a lazy way of pretending to be "controversial" while really only caring about the bottom line.

4th objection: which leads me to- why should i give a shit if poor ms. wolff isn't making her money? i've been encountering this a lot from other, reasonably well-funded, poets who bitch about having to have a "real job" in the summer-- shouldn't we be giving these self-involved self-believed "genius'" funds to write the next great book of poetry? bite me.

whoa, that was a rant, but really i have always, in general, despised rebecca wolff's approach to publishing poetry (this of course having nothing to do with her personality- she could in fact be a very nice person)-- which is such a shame, cause i feel given her "luck" or whathaveyou, she could have made an interesting thing.

tobishka said...

Re: Fence

1st objection: "tits make US want to buy things"...umm, i resent being put into any "we" or "us" etc. as a general rule, but especially here (though this is preceded by her "metaphorically speaking"-- i don't know and don't care what the fuck she means by that as there are tits literally on the cover

2nd objection: it's cause tit's are beautiful...i agree, and have my own thank you, but if this was a plea along the lines of "hey, over half's us gots 'em, we should be proud/unashamed etc." then i would expect a picture of ACTUAL tits (rather than the promise of them) and in a manner that doesn't resemble a cheap version of playboy

3rd objection: also, this really reveals wolff's ideas about poetry and publication....whatever sells.
she tried it with "established" poets (and i hope she gets an angry letter from jean) and now only seems to have their work in there for "cred." blow job sestina's and the like are NOT "pushing the envelope" or anything suggesting "innovation"-- i believe it's a lazy way of pretending to be "controversial" while really only caring about the bottom line.

4th objection: which leads me to- why should i give a shit if poor ms. wolff isn't making her money? i've been encountering this a lot from other, reasonably well-funded, poets who bitch about having to have a "real job" in the summer-- shouldn't we be giving these self-involved self-believed "genius'" funds to write the next great book of poetry? bite me.

whoa, that was a rant, but really i have always, in general, despised rebecca wolff's approach to publishing poetry (this of course having nothing to do with her personality- she could in fact be a very nice person)-- which is such a shame, cause i feel given her "luck" or whathaveyou, she could have made an interesting thing.

femme feral said...

One of the things that annoyed me about the PCD is that they seem to have been repackaged recently to be totally, explicityly hetero. It sucks that a more fluid version of sexuality has yet to really break the Top 40 (save for your coy 80s boys).

And, yeah, Fence could be more interesting. Luckily, RW seems to know and publish lots of talented people. And it also seems as though she also knows the girl who posed for the cover. While I admire her candor, the strategy seems...troubling. It reveals a pretty cynical attitude toward the magazine's potential audience. Personally, I just like to read good poems, which is why I spend so much time reading online journals (which are, of course, free). Of course people have the right to make $$$, but we don't have to think they're honorable just because they're doing it in the name of literature.

elka said...

To add insult to injury, they stole the song from Tori Alamaze

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tori_Alamaze
 
(review from amazon.com)

Just as my title suggests, this "new remixed version" to Tori Alamaze's song is almost exactly the same song. It wouldn't be that bad to remake a song except that Tori Alamaze released the song not even one year ago and it was supposed to be her first breakout single and here are these circus clowns that steal her song and claim it as their own. This is Tori Alamaze's 15 minutes not The Pussycat Dolls! ( what kind of name is The Pussycat Dolls anyway?). They have made a song that was an underground strip club/dance club anthem into some pop roller skating garbage sung by some girls with no soul and no style. It is so wack. To make it even worse Busta Rhymez contributes to the complete hi-jacking of this song. This is a sad thing that has happened in the industry. Someone makes a song on a label and the label, like they own the artist, just gives the song to another group without any money being paid or respect in the credits or anything; It's almost unbelievable. I really hope Tori Alamaze gets another chance to blow because this is thievery of the worst kind. The Pussycat Dolls will get what is coming to them and they will be exposed down the road as the talentless shoe scum they and the record label are. If this seems harsh, it is; This made me upset to no end. Zero Stars.

porkmuffin said...

while i am not a fan of PCD, i do have a myspace account. so does my band. does that take away the cooless?

femme feral said...

NOTHING can take away your coolness PS!!! And if I was cool enough to have a band, they'd probably be on myspace too - it def. seems like a good way to get your band out there. I just don't trust myspace for some reason... probably because I don't really trust anything that's really super popular . . .I'm just too cynical.

Anonymous said...

I happened to come across this page after a google search using the terms "pussycat dolls" and "scum". Personally i think you folks are being a little too tolerant towards imbeciles like this bunch, as i've been forced to listen to the squeaking platitudes of these short-skirted morons for nigh-on a month now due to the fact that my boss likes "a little something to listen to while he works." Now don't get me wrong, I've got the "fatass" (or is that phatass, i don't know) headphones to resort to keeping myself sane whenever the absolute cr*p which seems to be the stock in trade of radio one or whatever it is the guy chooses to listen to gets too much for my sensitive little ears, but it staggers me that any such station in this country or any other could resort to playing drivel like this more than five times in a day. Which they do. Every day.

Isn't it possible that elevating the musical mores of the man in the street might make people just that little bit easier to get along with in some small teeny weeny way? That maybe listening to a bit more, ooh, I don't know, Willy Mason or Johnny Cash, might make all those wannabee cash money millionaires out there stop and think and LISTEN a bit more? As opposed to listening to these whining airheads go on and on and on about how unique and individual and 'freaky' they are?

I could just be a bigot, i guess. Maybe as people grow older they realise that this sort of claptrap is not really music at all in any way shape or form, but I wouldn't necessarily count on it. It seems that the b*ll*cks making its way onto the 'popular charts' these days just smells more and more like the Eastern board offshore outlets of the Thames.

And while i'm here, what does anyone think of this james blunt 'individual'?