Heart of Glass

I’m rounding off an extended run of girl-power entertainment today. It totally wasn’t planned, because I don’t plan these things, but we’ve enjoyed a week’s plus of awesome female singers from Billie Holiday to Lily Allen, all of whom I admire for different reasons. Though it wasn’t planned, it did get me thinking deeply about women’s roles in culture and who some great female role models might be. I came to the conclusion that while the male-dominated, patriarchal film and publishing industries aren’t letting very many truly empowered females emerge into the pop culture sunshine, music is a different community entirely. Music has always been a home for the eccentric, the outrageous, the unconventional – anyone too crazy or too unwilling to stuff themselves into more conventional career paths. Anyone with the wherewithal to learn an instrument or write song, and the exhibitionism to do it in public can conceivably be a rock star. Music is a special creative medium in that it’s collaborative but not prohibitively so. Painters and writers are lone visionaries working in isolation – there is something particularly narcissistic in working alone and taking all the credit for it, and the people doing it tend to live inside their own heads. Film-making on the other hand is such a complicated web of interconnected tasks and talents that not even the most visionary director can truly take full credit for his films. Music lies somewhere in between, balancing between personal vision and team effort. What I’m saying is, it’s the perfect art form for crazy personalities to flourish, and it’s from music that all the really great, ahead-of-their time, transgressive, trailblazing heroes and heroines have come. At least for me. I’ve always particularly looked up to rock stars – female, male or hazy cosmic ones – simply for finding a way to be their weird selves when being your weird self wasn’t an option for many people, thanks to society having a stick up its ass. All of which brings be to one of my favorite people, Debbie Harry, who for me pretty much created the image of sex-positive feminism. She took the image of the gorgeous hot chick and made it her own, made it a cool creative thing to be – not a skank or a bimbo or a nasty backbiting bitch, but nice cool person with something to say for herself. She taught us that if construction workers call you “Blondie!!”, embrace that image and have fun with it.

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