Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Androgyny and The Great Gender Bend
A philosophical question: What came first—the gender bending artist or their music? Does the music they create pull this persona from within, or is it the persona that pulls the music out?
In our modern culture, are we attracted to the lack of sexual characteristics or is it more the possibility of either?
Take for instance: Prince. Or, The Artists Formerly Known As Prince. Or, Prince Again. (Does anyone know what he actually goes by now?) Now, I wouldn't necessarily consider him androgynous, but he certainly knows how to blur the sexual lines, and he is certainly more sexual (in his early '90s days, as witnessed by the following video) than many of the more typically androgynous performers.
Alas, no ass. (Really, what the hell has happened to America? I haven't seen an onstage orgy on cable since, well, since 1991. A real cryin' shame.) Now that I'm thinking about it, he really looks like a woman in drag more than anything. (He sure does have a pretty face, mm hmm.)
Now, on the other hand, consider THE David Bowie. Andro? Yes. Sexual? Depends. (For me, the answer to that second question is an unequivocal "YES," but I'm aware that many do not share that sentiment.)
Let's taste, shall we?
I'm Afraid of Americans (featuring supersexy Trent Reznor)
With Bowie—and getting back to my original thought—it seems as though his portrayed gender identity comes paired with his music; that the persona brings certain things forward, and they exist hand-in-hand (evidenced by his Ziggy Stardust era, where he actually named the persona). Prince, on the other hand, seems to let his music come through and his true self express its nature. Yes, he is a showman, but there is also honesty in his self-portrayed sexual being. (Am I going way out on a limb here?)
Annie Lennox is more of the Prince variety of andro; she has something to say, says it in her music, and then cultivates the persona to bring power to her message. (Ok, this is all very confusing. I'm getting lost. And sorry for no Annie Lennox videos; they are all disabled. But if you want to see Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), then go here.)
Thoughts on androgyny in music?