Admittedly, I haven't seen Love perform in the last decade, so I cannot personally attest to what she's like live now. (Hole was my first concert, but that was way back in 1995.) But I have seen Del Rey perform live lately and it wasn't the best thing I've ever seen. Still, she put on the kind of show her fans really wanted to see, and that was what was important. And what is more important here is that nothing about what I think about either of them performing is relevant. None of it matters. What matters is that they are touring together.
In a perfect world, female-identified people who make music would be seen as people who make music. But in 2014, we're quantified and qualified (or disqualified) as human beings based on biology, bound by gender stereotypes to be or not be what others deem us to be. Since Lana Del Rey walked into pop culture's field of vision in 2012 with "Video Games" she has been the target of the great female pick-apart -- her art is boiled down to what she looks like, how she acts and what she is perceived to be. The fact that Del Rey is a master at the artful performer persona is overlooked, while dudes have been playing the costumed-reality-for-the-sake-of-art card for centuries.
Love suffered the same gendered fate for decades -- chastised for her behavior (or perceived behavior,) her artistic output has been put under a microscope and disregarded because of who she is. I really don't care if she is perceived as a mental mess -- men in her position hardly ever get the same kind of treatment. Plenty of famous male musicians have been praised for living through drug use, held high for their sexual escapes and seen as god-like for their destructive, ego-driven performances both on and off stage. Modern rock's history books were written to elevate many characters who have reveled in excess hedonism. But only if those characters were dudes.
Read why we're so excited about these joint shows on the next page.So what does this have to do with Lana Del Rey and Courtney Love touring? Whether they mean it to be or not (and both are smart and calculated, so I don't think it can be chalked up to just a Twitter friendship that became a reality) this move is an important one. Two women from different generations of music culture coming together on a tour is radical in itself, because just as much as we are treated as lesser-thans for being women who make art, we are often pigeon-holed or crammed together and categorized under the same limp and pointless heading of "female musician" for being women who make art. Women choosing for themselves to perform together like this sends a powerful message.
At fourteen, I remember freaking out at the thought of seeing Hole live. I was excited for many reasons, but mostly it was because I was going to see women, on stage, playing instruments in real life. I went to that show dressed as a head-to-toe Courtney Love disciple. When I went to see Lana Del Rey this past summer at Red Rocks, there were hundreds of teenage Lanas (of all genders) in the crowd -- flower crowns were everywhere. It made me happy.
So often as female-identified people, we are told how to act, what to look like and how to be. Maybe Courtney and Lana can combine their superpowers and inspire (or re-inspire) their fan bases to give anyone who thinks they are less than amazing the middle finger. Better yet, maybe this is their chance as artists to give the world of people who think they are worthless because they are women who don't fit into preconceived notions about womanhood the middle finger. Either scenario is probably a lofty goal for a handful of tour dates, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies
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