Monday, March 18, 2013

Of Queen and Masculinity

      This week's readings bothered me.

      While I fully understand that as a highly respected sociologist, this chapter's author is at the very least knowledgeable about issues of masculinity, I still felt that he was making countless ruthless assumptions about audience preferences in the 1970s. In truth, there is no need for me to further elaborate this point. I would just be wasting your time. All I need is a single word.


      ...They're that band with the really cool song.

      Well, they also had another equally cool song that will rock you. Among several other songs. You can't really stop them. They're true champions.

      Formed in 1970, Queen is a British rock band best known for their highly theatrical, complex, and innovative musical style. A single Queen song could incorporate several musical styles (as evidently shown in their revolutionary hit Bohemian Rhapsody, the really cool song in the video above), and therefore include several complex yet innovative transitions.

      One could go on forever about the history and the legacy of Queen, being a band that greatly revolutionized the rock genre with their daring and flamboyant style. In this blog, though, I will focus on their 1975 album: A Night at the Opera.

The tracklist for A Night at the Opera

      At the time of its release in 1975, A Night of the Opera was the most expensive album to have ever been recorded. The single Bohemian Rhapsody landed a then unprecedented success in music history, breaking a UK Singles Chart record by remaining as the top single for an entire nine weeks. A Night at the Opera's production was absolutely bizarre yet effectively innovative. For instance, can you believe that Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon was recorded out of...


      A. TIN. BUCKET.

      My mind is blown.

      Rather than outlining how the image of masculinity is so carefully controlled in the media, I personally felt that this week's readings instead reinforced preconceived notions of masculinity. There was a significant disregard to exceptions to masculine portrayals typical of the 1970s. While the 1970s did indeed introduce the new notion of the "sensitive man" (albeit for only a short period of time), this renewed perception of masculinity was still not void of typical masculine traits such as physical strength and financial success.

      Queen dared to defy the then typical portrayal of masculinity through their flamboyant and theatrical musical style, styles that were typically adopted by most female singers as opposed to the typically stern yet enigmatic musical style of most male singers. Nonetheless, what most predicted as a surely controversial and highly risky musical style ended up as both a commercial success and musical legacy, as evident by the insane sales records A Night at the Opera achieved.

      Queen continued to defy such notions throughout the rest of their legendary musical career. Their most straightforward defiance of "typical" masculinity is most obviously seen on the music video for their single I Want to Break Free from their 1984 album The Works.

It's a girl! It's a mustache! It's Freddie Mercury...with a a girl.
      It gradually becomes more evident that there is a gap in this reinforced belief of "typical" masculinity proposed by Michael Messner. How could Queen, a band so defiant of these social norms of gender, succeed so incredibly? Obviously, a large portion of the 1970s audience did not really abide by these reinforced social norms if they chose to support a rather "feminine" and theatrical band such as Queen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.