Today my friend mentioned how he needs to listen to my music sometime, but when I responded with interest in listening to his music, he replied that I wouldn’t like his music and would most definitely judge him for his taste in music. This experience from today along with our assignment to bring in a piece of music to share with the class got me thinking about how we define people by their taste in music. I know when choosing a song to share with the class I wondered how this song would make me appear to my classmates. Music can be such a personal part of who we are and sharing it with others, especially with people who’s opinions we respect, can be scary as just a single piece of music can say a lot about that person. When someone says that their favorite artists are Taylor Swift and Katy Perry one’s immediate thought may be of a fourteen year old girl wearing Lululemon yoga pants and a crop top, shrilly expressing her love for pumpkin spice lattes. Why is it that we jump to conclusions about people so quickly based on a single song or artist? Do these conclusions tend to really give us the full picture of a person? Does everyone judge others by their taste in music?
I recently started the new show, Girlboss, with a couple of girls from my hall. We were excited for this new show that featured a female lead who takes her life into her own hands and refuses to let anyone else dictate her life even if that means doing the exact opposite of what may seem to be the best idea, such as getting a college education, and what those she loves, such as her father, want from her. Girlboss takes place in San Francisco, the city right by where I live, and thus throughout the few episodes I watched with my friends I would continuously call out places I knew or related experiences that I had had with the city so in this sense the show brought about a sense of nostalgia for my home. What appealed to me about Girlboss was the flawed and relatable lead character, Sophia. Sophia is twenty-four years old, not much older than us, and she is struggling with the concept of having to grow up and will do anything to keep from having to conform to society’s standards of who she should be. Sophia wants to be free spirited, she wants to pursue her passions, and above all, as she determines by the end of the fifth episode, she never wants anyone to be her boss ever again.
It is interesting how a single piece of music can hold so much significance to one person and how that significance can differ from person to person. Today, I went to the local to have a latte and a scone and sit and get some work done with my friend on her birthday. While sitting by the window, sipping my small vanilla latte, and waiting for my computer to load, I was slyly people watching the long line of customers casually chatting while waiting to place their orders. The song from the overhead speakers switched to something familiar. An imperial, orchestral piece which felt so familiar but I could not quite place. As I sat there wondering what this piece could be from, I heard the girl, whom I’d previously overheard complaining to her friend about some :second year who should have known better,” wonder aloud to her friend, “where is this song from.” At this point, the song’s title popped into my head. “Mars, the Bringer of War.” It was a piece that I often listened to on my iPod on my walks home from school in high school and which we had played in the great battle scene of my high school’s production of The Three Musketeers. I smiled and immediately texted my high school group chat, although none of them seem to have remembered the piece. I wonder why that is. Why within a few moments this piece brought back a flood of memories to me while to my friends could not even remember it. Is it because I had already had a connection with the piece before the play? Or some connection that one can only make with hearing the piece and not just reading its name over a text? I wonder whether that girl ever recalled the piece’s name. What significance did this piece hold in her life?
I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch with my mom and aunt over the fall break which was quite an experience. It was an event that I had been looking forward to for months. The play is done as if you were at a rock concert which made it an experience to go through with my mom and aunt, as my mom hates loud noises and flashing lights and my aunt falls asleep during everything even after two diet cokes and a cup of coffee. But this did not detract from my experience as I was with my family, Darren Criss was on stage, and there was great music. The music in Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not like the usual indie music that I listen to, but after watching the show I immediately downloaded the full album and listened to it non stop. The majority of the songs in the musical not only all contribute to the larger message of the play but also stand alone as great pieces of music and tell their own story. The Origin of Love tells the story that her mom told her as a child of how everyone started as a person with two faces and two sets of arms and legs until we angered the gods who cut everyone in half and created a storm to scatter the halves apart so that humans would be doomed to wander through life until they hopefully find their other half. The last song of the show, and perhaps my favorite, is called Midnight Radio. It’s one of those songs that when you blast it through your headphones when walking outside alone fills you up with a certain energy, an energy that has a hint of pain but that drives you forward with a sense of purpose.
After hearing the wide selection of music in class today, I started wondering: do people feel that the sound of the song is more important, or the lyrics? Or do people feel that they have equal importance? Obviously it would be ideal to have a song with amazing rhythm and has gripping lyrics, but if you had to choose one…?
There isn’t a right answer, here, obviously, but I’m curious. For me, music has always been about lyrics, but I’ve also always been obsessed with words. What do others think? What is it about music that makes it good?
As Professor Doan likely knows from my papers, I am a big fan of Eisenstein’s “Principle of Comparison” and the conclusions that he draws surrounding that concept– so, I find Blink-182’s song “Go” to be very interesting for the fact that the juxtaposition of its two spatial elements, music and lyrics, shows very strong contrast. Additionally, I find this song to be very powerful and gripping, and the gripping nature of the song is a consequence of the nature of this juxtaposition. “Go” packs a lot of energy into its instrumentals and tempo with an upbeat feel at times, but the song’s lyrics seem traumatized and defeated. I find this interesting because upon further thought, it seems to me that this juxtaposition is purposefully grabbing the attention of the listener through this contradiction, and forcing them to think about it further. I think that in this case, the listener tends to recognize that tone as the internal tone of the “narrator” in the story (Mark, the singer, is the narrator as well; he is singing largely about his own abusive stepfather), forcing them to further empathize with the narrator. This empathy is in itself emotionally gripping, by drawing not only the emotion in the lyrics, but the listener’s understanding and imagining of the narrator’s fear and desperation.
This was the most true-to-the-original instrumental cover I could find, and the highest-quality version of the full song I could find.
Going back to the class discussion regarding beauty and the beast and theater experience, I feel that the audience can play a major role in how media is both interpreted and enjoyed. A couple weeks back, my girlfriend and I went to go see the new King Kong movie. We went to the Apollo and were seated in the smaller screening room with only a hand full of other movie goers. As the previews were going on, a family behind us kept making comments about the up coming movies. I payed this no mind because the movie had not started yet, but when the movie started, they kept going with the comments/side commentary. They had a loud reaction for everything. While this did annoy me, it also disconnected me from the movie itself. Instead of being drawn in by slapstick jokes or startling sequences, I was focused on the side comments. It just goes to show that many different factors go into experiencing media.
The first time I read Persepolis was in the 9th grade. When my class learned that we would be given readings from a graphic novel, one of the first thoughts that crossed most of our minds was: “Yay! That means lots of pictures! Which means easier readings!” And the readings did go by faster but it was not necessarily easier to read. The content was very powerful and disturbing at times which was made even more potent by the images and the knowledge that the story is autobiographical. I remember reading this at fourteen years of age and being astounded by what this girl, who was younger than I was, experienced. A story like this can be a very tough read but Marjane Satrapi’s decision to tell her tale via the graphic novel medium and use of light harder humor and childhood innocence made it so that the reader still gains a deeper knowledge of the struggle Marjane and her family faced but is able to laugh and connect with this innocent child who wants to grow up to be a prophet and has long talks with God (who “looks a lot like Marx”) about her purpose in life.
The Witness demonstrated the role of media in altering our perception of reality. One part that was particularly telling was when one of the interviewees mentioned how when one of the journalists’ response concerning the accuracy of the “37 who saw murder didn’t call the police” statement was that “it made a good story.” The writers made the decision to omit certain accounts and skew the truth in order to create a story that would most impact its audience. And it did. If you type “kitty” into the google search bar “kitty genovese” will be the fourth item to occur as a search option. This idea of altering the facts to make a good story does not surprise me (look at all the fake news sites today) but the idea that it was such a large and trusted news publication (The New York Times!) is more than a little scary. Furthermore, I agree that the claim of humans apathy was compelling and helped cement the story in our history, but what would have happened if the journalists had included all the facts? Would not the story of a woman who cried for help, whose neighbors may either slept right through or claimed to have called the police who may have some problem with their protocol due to the call log that did not report any calls and the possibly extremely long response time, and who ended up dying in her friend’s arms not be as compelling?
I saw some interesting similarities between March and Persepolis, and I felt that Fun Home was an outlier in the group. To refer only to the visuals of these stories, March and Persepolis were both in black and white. I think this was an important and powerful decision from the artist, because the subject matter of each of these graphic novels is dichotomous; March dealing with a literal black vs. white conflict, and Persepolis dealing with the issue of weather or not to veil (among other things). Fun Home, however, was visually told with black, white, and a prominent undertone of blue. This, too, is a telling stylistic decision, because Fun Home is a tale of blurred lines. Nobody is truly blameless, and the overall feeling it evokes is melancholic–blue is an appropriate color to utilize for such a story.