Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sexism in Classic Rock magazine

This is a letter I wrote to Scott Rowley – the Editor in Chief of Classic Rock magazine. Hopefully I will get a reply, but we will see.

Dear Classic Rock,

I wanted to get in touch to convey my disappointment that Classic Rock is still pandering to lazy visuals of half naked women to sell your product. I’ve been a subscriber of Classic Rock magazine for several years, and find the journalism for the most part to be of a very high quality and very interesting, apart from the need to describe Nico as being ‘ball-achingly beautiful’, as I came across a few issues back. What difference does it make how much she makes a man’s balls ache? Have you ever had a female journalist describing a male rock star as being so hot he makes her ovaries ache? I don’t think so. Just imagine reading that and thinking how pathetic and juvenile that sounds, and that is exactly how I felt about that sentence.

As surprising as this may sound, women such as myself do read this magazine as well as men. However, I open the latest issue to find that even though a lot of effort has clearly been put into compiling the new CD Shoot To Thrill, the cover of a model thrusting her tits out and with little more than a studded belt to cover her groin is frankly quite pathetic. Why is this needed? Yes I want to hear about new bands, yes, being a magazine editor myself I understand that you want to inject some excitement into it, but this sort of ‘let’s get a woman in her underwear on the front’ choice surely is just getting embarrassing. Why is the classic rock award the statue of a naked woman? Seriously – please tell me why. Do you think only 15 year old boys read this magazine? All I can imagine is that you were all sat round a table and somebody said: ‘Well, rock fans like breasts, so let’s just get some breasts involved.’ I’ve got a pair of breasts, they’re really not that exciting.

I know fully well that you are aware that women like metal and rock as well – yes we are a minority compared to men in these genres, but why does this mean that we have to be subjected to this? I know there is still this misogynistic streak that unfortunately still prevails amongst a minority of men who are in the metal world, and I have heard some truly horrible comments about women from men at metal gigs, but I also know that this view is held by a few pathetic, childish men who can’t handle the fact that women are as perfectly entitled to enjoy heavy music as much as they are. This is why it disappoints me so much that a mainstream rock magazine like Classic Rock can’t seem to move on from women being there to get her cleavage out.

I feel we are under-represented in this magazine, and not just under-represented, but patronised and reduced to a mere caricature of tits and lips. On page 13 you have a Lucy Hellings as a highlighted contributor, and then I look at the new supplement and again it’s just more models getting their perfect bodies out. Come on!! Give me real women in metal – there are some fantastic bands out with women in like Royal Thunder, Alunah and In This Moment just to mention a few. I want to know what they think, not just to see how hot they look in a leather corset.

If you think I’m over reacting, just look at the Metal Hammer awards earlier this year. What was the need for the women on stage whose sole purpose was to walk the winner from the curtain on the edge of the stage to the middle of the stage? Really – that was necessary was it? Did you think Corey Taylor was going to get lost halfway across the stage and wander into the drum riser?

I would like to see more women in your magazine, and that doesn’t mean women with their backsides out covered in tattoos or women with their cleavage out selling whatever the fuck it is, I want women to be treated in the same way men are, in order to try and rebalance this adolescent slant. I will interview these women myself if I have to, and at no point will I describe my ovaries exploding at the sight of Slipknot.

Byzantium

byzantiumI didn’t see this when it came out at the cinema earlier in the year but remember middling reviews for it – it’s currently at 61% on Rotten Tomatoes – with reviewers highlighting the lack of scariness, but also commending it for not being a usual vampire film. However, not knowing much about it I thought I’d give it a go and I was strangely taken in.

Gemma Arterton, who I last saw marching about in leather and firing stakes like bullets in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, is still marching about in leather but this time she’s a 200 year old vampire called Clara on the run with her vampire daughter Eleanor, played by Saoirse Ronan. Tom Hollander, who was in the fantastic Hanna with Ronan also turns up in this as a college teacher, and Johnny Lee Miller staggers in and out as a whoring, thieving officer in the British army in Clara’s youth.

Clara and Eleanor are constantly on the move, and this time get washed up on the shinglebyzantium 3 beach of a dying English coastal town – full of retirement homes, drug addict prostitutes and desolate concrete boulevards. Byzantium is the old hotel they end up in, which Clara quickly turns into a brothel to make money, but Eleanor – forever protected by Clara and eternally 16 years old – lives a half life. Unable to settle down and unable to tell anybody her real story, she struggles to define herself and resorts to writing her story down on paper and throwing it into the wind for somebody, somewhere to read.

These vampires do not sink their fangs into their victims – instead they have this strange extendable thumbnail, which they stab into their victims’ necks to feed. Clara feeds on the powerful men who have done others wrong, whilst Eleanor is a merciful angel of death, bringing peace to those in pain. Everything comes to a head however, when their past catches up with them.

Byzantium 2I say that I was strangely taken in, and I think that’s because there are three separate strands to the film, each with a different feel. We have Eleanor’s aimless drifting and scribbling, telling us her story in voice over, and her budding relationship with a young waiter she meets, then we have the harder world of Clara who uses her body to get by and slaughters those who get in her way, and then we have the flashbacks to 200 years previously where we find out how they both became vampires. For me the flashback bits didn’t really work as well as they did in Interview With The Vampire, which Neil Jordan also directed, and the iffy CGI of spiralling birds and blood red waterfalls on the mysterious island which can only be found with a certain map didn’t quite match up with the more dreamy quality of Eleanor’s limbo.

I liked the contrast of Clara and Eleanor – one hard and vengeful and the other kinder andbyzantium 4 yearning for something more, but a deeper focus on how human they felt they were and what purpose they felt they had would have been more interesting for me. There is blood sucking in it, and lots of other blood, but I like that it went off on its own route a little where the vampirism wasn’t just what they were – they don’t seem particularly hampered by it in any way though you would think that after 200 years they would have learned how to get rid of a body rather than just leaving it on a beach. You only get a flash of hunger for blood occasionally, and for me this was more a symbol of Eleanor longing for intimacy with somebody else and sharing her story with them, whereas Clara uses it as a punishment.

Yes, it wasn’t perfect by a long way, but I thought it was interesting and in some parts touching, but the heavy-handed chasing of the two women by the Brotherhood who consider them to be abominations and Clara’s murdering of men left, right and centre thins out the more sensitive aspects. I was intrigued by the method of how one becomes a vampire – they enter a circular stone shrine on the mysterious island and are seemingly killed by themselves. An allegory of having to master yourself if you are to achieve what you want to achieve perhaps?