The British Are Coming!

There was an invasion. We won…but the music endured. As with any Sauce list, this is not a “traditional” or “strict” ranking of British Invasion albums. About half are from the ’60s; the rest flow naturally out of that wave. There are even a few from the ’90s! So get out your brown sauce and prepare to be invaded.

(If you’d like to hear the featured tracks, you can listen to them here on Spotify.)

25) Herman’s Hermits, Their Greatest Hits (1987)
The invasive track: “I’m Into Something Good”

Am I the only one who thinks immediately of “The Naked Gun”? Leslie Nielsen was Canadian, not British, but still.

24) Psychedelic Furs, Talk Talk Talk (1981)
The invasive track: “Pretty in Pink”


The British invasion lands firmly in the ’80s.

23) The Police, Outlandos d’Amour (1978)
The invasive track: “Roxanne”


We’re getting that Jamaica connection here with The Police. Particularly when Sting launches into a Rastafarian accent…which happens more than you might think.

22) The Spencer Davis Band, Gimme Some Lovin’ (1967)
The invasive track: “Gimme Some Lovin'”


Steve Winwood’s band, Kevin Kline’s workout song, and the song playing when Ellen gets pulled over in “Mr. Destiny.” Timeless.

21) Billy Idol, Rebel Yell (1983)
The invasive track: “Catch My Fall”


Very…English rebellion. Billy Idol gets it.

20) The Yardbirds, For Your Love (1965)
The invasive track: “For Your Love”


Pre-Jimmy Page Yardbirds. This one’s got Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and of course, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty, present for “all Yardbirds releases” according to Wikipedia.

19) New Order, Substance 1987 (1987)
The invasive track: “True Faith”

Substantive!

18) The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The invasive track: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Reprise”

A bit later in the decade for these chaps. Better late than never though. And oh yeah, the Reprise is where it’s at! It kills me when they sing “we’re Sgt. Pepper’s one and only lonely hearts club band.”

17) Genesis, Invisible Touch (1986)
The invasive track: “Throwing It All Away”

Phil didn’t have to give it all away. He did that for us.

 

16) The Dave Clark Five, American Tour (1964)
The invasive track: “Because”

One of those instances where other bands did “The Beatles” better than the actual Beatles.
Blimey!

15) The Jam, Sound Affects (1980)
The invasive track: “That’s Entertainment”


Kayli hates The Jam! Especially this song. But she also hates Elvis Costello, who is basically the SPOKESPERSON for the “angry young man” movement which is decidedly UK.

14) T. Rex, Electric Warrior (1971)
The invasive track: “Life’s A Gas”


Everything’s a gas in Great Britain. T.Rex most of all.

13) Duran Duran, Rio (1982)
The invasive track: “Hold Back the Rain”


Endlessly charming Simon Le Bon “smells like he sounds.” I have to assume he is referring to the smell of England and not, like, English people.

12) The Animals, It’s My Life (7″) (1965)
The invasive track: “It’s My Life”


Oooh fuck yeah The Animals! This song is so intense. It’s been known to get something of a rally going whilst playing in the Hyundai. IT’S MY LIFE!!!!

11) Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)
The invasive track: “Don’t Look Back In Anger”


Because it wouldn’t be a British Invasion list without the Gallagher gits. One of only TWO albums from the ‘90s to make the cut!

10) The Sweet, Desolation Boulevard (1974)
The invasive track: “Fox on the Run”


“THE Sweet,” as my friends across the pond call ’em.

9) The Zombies, The Singles Collection: As & Bs 1964 – 1969 (2000)
The invasive track: “She’s Not There”


“The way she had to have the color of her hair.” Sigh, Brittania.

8) Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
The invasive track: “Shout”


You can’t call yourself a fan of the British Invasion without recognizing the importance and pure wonder of Tears for Fears. Plus you can just TELL they’re hiding some truly Commonwealth chompers behind those coy smiles.

7) Badfinger, No Dice (1970)
The invasive track: “No Matter What”

A perfect turn into the ’70s.

6) Depeche Mode, Violator (1990)
The invasive track: “Personal Jesus”

Okay, Depeche Mode. You can tell we’ve made it firmly out of the ‘80s now. Pardon me, your own personal Jesus? Talk about a royal claim.

5) The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
The invasive track: “Picture Book”

The hair, the outfits, the drunken swagger of songs like “Picture Book.” Mmm, Kinky.

4) Dusty Springfield, A Girl Called Dusty (1964)
The invasive track: “Wishin’ and Hopin'”

She’s British! I forgot! I often try to re-create this photo around the house (denim and adorable pose in tow) and Steve always knows exactly what I’m doing. Dusty is unmistakable on any continent.

3) The Who, My Generation (1965)
The invasive track: “A Legal Matter”

I guess the band hates this album? Don’t be sore, chaps. It’s a perfect little chunk of the Pommy invasion. Complete with 4 ugly mugs on the cover.


And speaking of ugly mugs…

 

2) The Rolling Stones, England’s Newest Hit Makers (1964)
The invasive track: “Little By Little”

A bold choice indeed to throw these ugly-ass hit makers front and center. My favorite Stones album nonetheless. Gems from the isle of Albion.

1) The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
The invasive track: “I Should Have Known Better”


Come on, you knew! There is not a more perfect album to capture the feel of the British Invasion. Filled front to back with charming bits of jingle-jangle, pop-packed, lovey-dovey limey devotion.

Thanks for swimming in the (British) Sauce folks! God save the Queen!!

Birdsong

There’s these birds taken up residence outside my bedroom window and literally all they do, all day long and all night long, is MATE. Like, I get it. It’s spring. It’s a free country and it’s their prerogative and everything. But do they have to do it outside my damn bedroom window? Not like Isaac Hayes is singing a love song in here. Marvin Gaye isn’t cheering them on. It’s just me, trying to study and get a good night’s sleep.

But these birds just keep fuckin’.

Chirp, chirp motherfucker.

Top 25 Canyon Albums

In the ’60s and ’70s, young artists started coming to “the Canyon”–Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, specifically. They recorded albums together, finding inspiration in each others’ introspection. It was a left turn from the psychedelia of the ’60s and even farther down the road from the bop of the ’50s. The artists of the Canyon looked inward (and, okay, in each other’s beds as well) for answers to life’s “big” questions.

Fast forward to early September 2018, Leah and I started a discussion on what exactly qualifies as fitting into the “Canyon sound.” Naturally, Steve was looped in and this led to…what else?! A Tops list. Everyone’s choices were exquisite and the lists had an interesting amount of overlap and divergence. What follows are my Top 25 favorite albums that either sprung directly from the Canyon or (in my humble opinion) seem directly influenced by the movement. In the original presentation, I had a representative song from each album. If you’d like to hear them, you can follow this link to hear the playlist on Spotify.

Enjoy the Canyon sauce!

25) Judee Sill, Judee Sill (1971)

The song is: “Crayon Angels”
We’re gonna start this off nice and easy, with a drug-addicted prostitute who literally committed robbery to score H. Judee Sill’s self-titled debut is all butterflies and unicorns…they just dance on a mighty dark rainbow. Soft and soothing, the young Sill never quite found her place in the Canyon. She succumbed to addiction, dying of a drug overdose in ‘79 when she was only 35. But her Canyon legacy lives on, poems put to music by a troubled but visionary soul.

24) David Crosby, If Only I Could Remember My Name (1971)

The song is: “Music Is Love”
At this point, I’m pretty sure David Crosby had been kicked out of more bands than he had been beds (which is truly saying something!). The rotund self-elected ruler of the Canyon, Crosby was known for being…kind of a douche. So his 1971 solo If Only I Could Remember My Name strikes a surprisingly reflective chord with its gentle, meandering, deeply melodic tunes. The song titles cannot be beat and on the right day (who am I kidding? the right month, year, LIFE!), they apply to my psyche on a most essential level.

23) Mazzy Star, She Hangs Brightly (1990)

The song is: “Halah”
Probably the most psychedelic album on this list, She Hangs Brightly is reminiscent of the beautiful voices that resounded from the Canyon 25 years earlier. Hope Sandoval’s voice is so lovely it is nearly out of this world…which makes her an alien…which means Mazzy Star actually belong in a “Space Top 25”…

But that’s a topic for another day.

22) Shawn Colvin, A Few Small Repairs (1996)

The song is: “Get Out of This House”
When Shawn Colvin says “a few small repairs,” she means “time for a mad Home Depot trip.” On her press tour, she referred to this deliciously depressing and deeply confessional record as her “divorce album.”

If Shawn Colvin doesn’t belong in Canyon, I don’t know who does.

21) Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shooting Straight in the Dark (1990)

The song is: “Middle Ground”
I admit, my favorite MCC album is Come On, Come On. But there is something that holds Shooting Straight in the Dark apart (even at arm’s length?). Something distinctly Canyon.

And can we talk for just a minute about how many lyrically affecting moments there are in this album?! “Middle Ground” is like, my life. And hello, pretty much all of my middle school poetry is a variation of “You Win Again.” Forget Chicago, MCC is the inspiration.

20) The Doors, Morrison Hotel (1970)

The song is: “Waiting for the Sun”
OK, this album barely made it. I thought The Doors were too trippy this list. My favorite of their discography is the 1967 self-titled but that shit has no place in the Canyon. That was all rolled joints in Ray Cordova’s closet and bags full of Jack in the Box fries, walking Tierrasanta Blvd. in the blazing sun.

I digress. 3 years after the self-titled, Jim Morrison is all fat and banished from the scene and trying to not be the Lizard King and I fucking DIG IT. It is urging, brash, and brooding but also manages to be somehow pleading? Peace Frog, man. DIG. IT.

19) Natalie Merchant, Tigerlily (1995)

The song is: “Carnival”
Her first post-10,000 Maniacs album, Tigerlily is melodic, thoughtful, and maybe even a little jazzy? I freaking WEEP every time I hear “Seven Years” and “Beloved Wife.” WEEP!

Had she lived on a Canyon cliff, Merchant may have been a more self-aware, less naive version of Linda Ronstadt. Talented and beautiful but wise enough not to get into a relationship with JD Souther.

18) Toad the Wet Sprocket, Dulcinea (1994)

The song is: “Nanci”
The New Christy Minstrels of the ‘90s. I don’t care what anyone says. Toad is Canyon and that’s that.

17) Tracy Chapman, Telling Stories (2000)

The song is: “Telling Stories”
More complex but equally compelling as her first album, Tracy Chapman takes it to the next level on Telling Stories. The whole album FEELS like a Canyon.

(Go with it.)

16) Sheryl Crow, Tuesday Night Music Club (1993)

The song is: “Can’t Cry Anymore”
Sheryl Crow and her jammin’ backing band (the titular “Tuesday Night Music Club”) weave together a collection of rootsy rock tunes. Managing to be somehow thoughtful and simultaneously carefree, the album has that distinctive Canyon vibe of creativity. One soul out there, searching, with quite a bit to say.

15) The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966)

The song is: “That’s Not Me”
I once heard this album described as “confessions from a therapist’s couch.”

Maybe those in the Canyon were not visiting therapists yet. What they WERE doing though was putting together 206-piece orchestras (one piece for each bone in the human body). Pet Sounds takes a sharp left from prior Beach Boys albums. Each song is about longing (and NOT belonging).

No more hanging ten bro. Daddy took the T-Bird away and it’s no laughing matter.

14) Neil Young, Harvest (1972)

The song is: “Old Man”
OK, Neil Young. “Diane Court—whoa.”

I had always thought Neil Young had a serious heroin problem. Turns out, he had a serious Stephen Still problem (who CAN’T relate). Left to his own devices, Young gifts us with Harvest, a ramshackle, miserable, devastating, and wonderful piece of the Canyon. It is at once lovely and very distressing…which I imagine life with Crosby and Stills was a lot like (I got no beef with Graham Nash).

13) Counting Crows, August and Everything After (1993)

The song is: “Perfect Blue Buildings”
Don’t give me shit. Counting Crows (and especially August and Everything After) are canyon as heckfire! Energy and a hesitant optimism comingle with something darker here, which is then poured out and marbled onto a gloomy landscape.

Adam Duritz’s dreads aside, the deep cynicism veiled by jangly tambourines hint that August could have been recorded and then buried by an unnamed Byrd, only to be discovered by a Spielberg-like youth in 1993 for us to step inside of. A Canyon time capsule, if you will.

12) The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)

The song is: “Hot Burrito #1”
The Flying Burrito Brothers were the kings of Canyon Country Rock. The founders! And they were very likely doomed from the start, having chosen the beautiful, boyish, and incredibly immature Gram Parsons to stand front and center. They also had former-Byrd Chris Hillman who—despite being an extremely talented musician—just couldn’t seem to keep his drug-abusing, alcoholic bandmates from blowing it, no matter what band he was in. Nonetheless, Gilded Palace is a delicious slice of the more country side of the Canyon.

11) Emily Lord, Beginnings (1995)

The song is: “Raining in New England”
Emily Lord produced and released Beginnings while studying at Notre Dame (where she later graduated as their top ROTC student…random?!). With just her birdsong voice and acoustic guitar, Lord creates a quiet, contemplative world to get wrapped up in. Think Mary Chapin Carpenter, Joni Mitchell, and Emmy Lou Harris, filtered through a rain storm.

*P.S. Leah provided me with my first copy of Beginnings, taped onto side A of a cassette. Chapultepec!

10) Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

The song is: “Desolation Row”
I struggled with whether to include the craggster Bob Dylan in the list. After much debate, I decided that Highway 61 Revisited not only QUALIFIES as Canyon but certain songs on the album PERSONIFY it! “Desolation Row” is the prime example. Dylan does Canyon—and it’s one of the few times you could describe his voice as sounding damn near lovely.

9) Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (1977)

The song is: “Never Going Back Again”
Canyon artists loved hopping in and out of each other’s studios. Those in Fleetwood Mac loved hopping in and out of each other’s beds, and we hear ALL ABOUT IT on Rumours. You feel like you are peeking in on something VERY personal. Should I be hearing this?? Probably not. But you keep your glass pressed to the wall anyway.

Truly mesmerizing.

8) Carole King, Tapestry (1971)

The song is: “It’s Too Late”
Everyone goes through a period in life when they are obsessed with Tapestry (don’t they?). When I throw it on, I am immediately transported to my dorm room in 2001 when I was…well, sad. This album comforted me. Emotional, confessional, and gloomy in a rainy-day way, it perfectly encapsulates the singer-songwriter Laurel Canyon scene.

7) Jim Croce, Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits (1974)

The song is: “One Less Set of Footsteps”
“But that’s not the way it feels.”

Sigh. I have no words.

6) The Mamas & the Papas, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966)

The song is: “California Dreamin'”
A little folk, a little pop, and a whole lot of Canyon. Mama Cass was dubbed the unofficial Queen of the Canyon, often “holding court” alongside the mischievous David Crosby (whose antics we have already discussed). If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears has many of their best songs.

And come on. It doesn’t get much more Canyon than “California Dreamin’.”

5) Rodriguez, Cold Fact (1970)

The song is: “Rich Folks Hoax”
Timeless, compelling, and prophetic.

Rodriguez has often been compared to Dylan. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Rodriguez is not Dylan.

He is better.

4) Warren Zevon, Warren Zevon (1976)

The song is: “Join Me In L.A.”
Zevon was so influential in the LA scene (mentoring Jackson Browne and even LIVING with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks at one time—awkward!) yet he seems to be remembered mostly for “Werewolves in London” (which I just found out Leah hates!).

Enmeshed as he was with the Canyon crowd, his self-titled album truly stands apart from, say, One of These Nights. No one got it quite like Zevon.

3) The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)

The song is: “Here Without You”
My favorite Byrds album and (in my humble opinion) easily the most Canyon of the discography. This one has got many of the great songs AND it’s got Chris Hillman.

Sold!

2) Cowboy Junkies, Lay It Down (1996)

The song is: “Come Calling (His Song)”
There are few things in life as lovely as Margo Timmins’s drowsy voice on Lay It Down. Every track on this album is smooth and affecting in a distinctly Canyon way. Not to get dark on y’all but I used to put this CD on in 9th grade and just lay on the floor and cry (we’ve noted already that I was sad). Lay It Down will bring that out of you though.

1) Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971)

The song is: “California”
Joni Mitchell is the epitome of Canyon.

Blue is a deeply confessional album, as suggested by the cover, and that’s really what the Canyon is all about. People were no longer “tuning in, turning on, and dropping out.” In this scene, they were digging in, reflecting on their own experiences, and choosing to share that with the world.

And how lucky we are that they did.

That’s it for now folks! Hope you enjoyed this special edition Canyon sauce.

Let me AXE you a question…

Deez bass lines are bad. So bad, they make me want to dust off/decontaminate the axe sitting in my garage and learn how to play just so I can be a part of them, feel the fizzy buzzing drone under my fingertips. Because let’s face it, bass guitar is wizard. Is there a knob on your amp for “vocals”? How about “tambourine”? No sir. There is always a knob that let’s you pump up dat bass tho. And bass players are always the coolest (albeit sometimes the weirdest) cats in the band, not to mention they are always in high demand. Bass is the component that holds a song together for crying out loud.

But back to those bad-ass jams. Not a conclusive list, just some stand-outs. YOU’RE WELCOME.

1) “Good for Nothing,” Dance Hall Crashers

(Did you know Steve Zahn was in DHC?)

2) “Walk on the Wild Side,” Lou Reed

3) “The Chain,” Fleetwood Mac

4) “Get Ready,” The Temptations

5) “Seven Nation Army,” The White Stripes

*Honorable mention: “Come Together,” The Beatles

Mmmm, vibrating sauce. Dig it.

Manners, in full effect

Is “No Diggity” the most polite rap song ever written? Sure, they’re singing about a prostitute. But respectfully. Adoringly. Very un-Dre like.

“She’s got class and style,
Street knowledge by the pound.
Baby never act wild, very low key on the profile.”

They respect her as a business woman as well. After all, “getting paid is her forte.” And it goes on! She has many nice cars (“pushin’ phat rides“) and seems to be a very exciting driver (“fast when it comes to the gas“). Truth be told, the original rumpshakers seem genuinely enamored of this fine lady (“I can’t get her out of my mind. I think about the girl all the time!”)

There’s a puppet too…

And they’re wearing overalls!

There are video hoes. We can’t overlook them.

But there’s also Queen Pen making a pretty overt reference to the expensive eyewear she buys for her “shorty.” Shit was progressive for rap in ’96! Queen Pen made an even MORE overt reference to her sexuality two years later in the song “Girlfriend,” a collaboration she did with Me’shell Ndegocello (“if that’s your girlfriend, she wasn’t last night!”).
 Dre can’t handle the truth!

Mmm, saucy sauce!

Captain EO: a feminist critique, 31 years later

The other day I was watching The Santa Clause 2 Captain EO and could not help feeling reaffirmed in my original assertion that this movie/music video/shameless display of self-aggrandizement is crazy sexist!
There are many things that bother me about Captain EO. Right off the bat, it’s 20 f-ing minutes long. In its original context (a “4D” experience for Disneyland goers), I guess 20 minutes is okay. For me chillin’ on the couch watching some YouTube videos? NOT okay.
Aside from its absurd length, the first thing that always stood out to me was the fact that Captain EO just ASSUMES the Supreme Leader (hereafter referred to as SL) would even be INTERESTED in having her appearance transformed into what he (and Coppola, Lucas, Disney executives, etc.) deem mainstream attractive. The other thing that bugs me, and this comes from my years of having learned to carefully analyze literature through a feminist lens, is that once she is transformed, she does not speak one single word. She is lovely and she is mute, existing solely for the male gaze. After all, her political power seems to have been dissolved. She is now just another female video casualty, existing for the audience’s aesthetic enjoyment only.

Before we get too deep down the rabbit hole though, and even though I know that you’ve seen it, here is the plot summary from Wikipedia, edited for brevity (I swear, this is edited):

The film tells the story of Captain EO and the ragtag crew of his [shitshow] spaceship on a mission [trying to find Mr. Warren G?] to deliver a gift to “The Supreme Leader” (SL), who lives on a world of rotting, twisted metal and steaming vents [rad]. Captain EO’s [totally incompetent] alien crew consists of [a bunch of puppets not worth outlining] and the clumsy elephant-like shipmate Hooter who always manages to upset the crew’s missions [yet somehow never gets fired or gets his annoying ass beat by the rest of the crew]. Dick Shawn plays Captain EO’s boss, Commander Bog.

Upon arriving on the planet [on which they likely have no business landing], the crew is captured [shocker] and brought before the SL. She sentences the crew to be turned into trash cans, and Captain EO to 100 years of torture in her deepest dungeon. Captain EO [being the cocky chauvinist that he is…we’ll get to that] tells the SL that he sees the beauty hidden within her, and that he brings her the key to unlock it: his song, “We Are Here to Change the World” [forehead slap].

[There is singing and dancing, Hooter fucks up, SL’s Hot Cops come at EO with whips, his lame-ass crew bails, something weird happens and everyone is suddenly dancing in unison.]

Captain EO then flies up to the SL and transforms her [without consent—affirmative or otherwise] into a beautiful woman, her lair into a peaceful Greek temple, and the planet into a verdant paradise. A celebration breaks out to “Another Part of Me,” as Captain EO and his crew triumphantly exit and fly off into space.

Oh my god. What in the actual fuck?

We shall start where I would start when conducting any kind of analysis. Why are there 15 male puppets and only 1 woman in this 20-minute PSA for Patriarchy? Let’s just run the old Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test asks the following: (1) Are there at least 2 named female characters? Hmmm. (2) Do they talk to each other? Uhhhh…(3) About something other than a man? Welllll…I don’t think Captain EO passes. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it is anti-feminist. It just raises certain questions as to whether the portrayal of gender in the piece perpetuates stereotypes or can be used as an accurate representation of gender roles.

Pause for a hitch–let’s talk a little about The Patriarchy. For our purposes, when I speak of The Patriarchy, I am generally referring to a culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles and perpetuating stereotypes (i.e., men are strong, protective, and decisive while women are emotional, irrational, and weak). What are the implications of such a system? In other words, who cares? Seemed to be working out OK for the Boomers, right? [insert hysterically laughing emoji face here]

The implication lies in the re-articulation of power. I can’t remember where I read it but somewhere on the internet, someone said that an institution gains its status as a mainstay only through its repeated assertion and reassertion. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Repeated exposure to these stereotypes reinforces them, especially on the scale of something like, say, a music video by the King of Pop made into a Disneyland attraction. Yes, we have made progress since 1986 and we continue to do so.

But we’re not talking about discipline tonight.

So why do I think Captain EO is sexist? I mentioned a couple of my primary beefs earlier. Just so you don’t think I’m making this shit up though, I’ll walk you through some of the usual questions I ask myself when I’m reading or viewing something and one of my feminist ears perks up, much like Remo’s when he hears a burrito being unwrapped somewhere. Hmmm, I say to myself, that sounds like something I might be interested in getting into!

Thinking about the SL as our character for analysis, we’ll start with language.

What specific language/words are used to describe her and her actions?
When we first hear about the SL, EO’s boss (Commander Bog) is reiterating to him that all he needs to do is “find the Supreme Leader and give her the gift.” “Give her the gift”—that’s all we hear.

So why does it get so out of control when Captain EO and his merry band of dickheads get to the planet? Because, apparently, they really fucked up their last mission and everyone thinks they’re a joke. EO himself explains:

“the Command considers us a bunch of losers. But we’re gonna do it right this time, ’cause we’re the best. We don’t we’ll be drummed out of the corps.”

Essentially, the heat is on. And if they screw up, they will be humiliated, lose their jobs, their livelihood, and in turn (for EO, at least), their manliness.

Back to the SL. How is her wardrobe used to define her?
She is portrayed as a spider-like creature, suspended from the ceiling and surrounded by cables and tubing. To portray the SL, Anjelica Huston endured three hours of make-up daily. Jackson made her stay in makeup every day, even when they weren’t shooting her scenes.
Methinks thou art a chauvinist.

What kinds of things have an effect on the character?
Let’s examine the following exchange between EO and the SL. This is what takes place between them after she doles out the trash-can-treatment/100 years of torture sentence.

Captain EO: (Remaining strong and unmoved) Your highness, my loyal companions and I accept these punishments…We have come here uninvited and unannounced.

Supreme Leader: So, then we both admit to your … stupidity! Why have you come?

Captain EO: To bring a gift, your highness. To someone as beautiful as you.

Supreme Leader: You think me … beautiful?

Captain EO: Very beautiful within, your highness, but without a key to unlock it. And that is my gift to you.

Supreme Leader: So, let me see this gift.

Captain EO: Not only see, your highness, but hear.

That “remaining strong and unmoved” bit tho…

Taken from the actual script of Captain EO, the parenthetical description is a classic example of the use of traditional patriarchal language. EO is “strong and unmoved.” The SL is literally suspended in the air, hanging from the ceiling. Her presence is vast. But you will see. He is about to flatter her, play to her vanity, uncover her supposed female vulnerability, and thus he will expose her as weak and movable—what a WOMANLY thing to be! Wouldn’t you much rather be manly and unmovable like EO? Barf.

Then there is this fun excerpt. Bold lines are my commentary.

Dancers: We are here to change the world

Captain EO: We’re gonna change the world, girl
[he can’t even be respectful enough to refer to the SL as her highness anymore…it’s straight up “girl”…we’re almost done at this point]

The Supreme Leader covers her ears and groans.
[…almost]

Dancers: We are here to change the world

Captain EO: My brothers! My brothers! We’re gonna change the world.
[but only my brothers]

Dancers: We are here to change the world

Captain EO: We! Deep down in my fire. Deep down in my soul, baby.
[ANNNND now we’re done.]

Okay, so nitty gritty—how much POWER does the character have? Does this change during the story?
Think about this. We don’t actually get an explanation as to what the SL has done that justifies an unwelcome invasion of her planet. All we get firsthand is Bog telling EO to “give her the gift.” What makes EO think she is so wicked, so ugly, so dangerous, that she needs to be changed so drastically? The presumption that she is “evil” is conjecture, based purely on her unconventional and “scary” appearance. There is a weird moment where all of the SL’s guards are also transformed. EO unleashes some electricity on them and a couple things happen. They no longer want to hurt him and they no longer look like themselves. In fact, they look kinda like…humans. What are we supposed to take away from this? On the surface, it appears that EO is “setting them free.” But why should we assume that him making creatures over in his own image is in fact “setting them free”?

Because that is what we have always been taught. THAT, my friends, is The Patriarchy.

To get at the true underbelly of a character portrayal, you have to look not just at what they say and do but also (and maybe more so) what they DON’T say and do. Captain EO’s only female character—who is actually a powerful political figure before EO and the shitkickers show up—undergoes a transformation over the course of the story. While we may never know what her presumed “crime” may have been, we DO know (because we see it firsthand) that EO changes her appearance, her whole flippin’ crib, and he quite literally takes away her voice. In doing so, he takes away her power and succeeds in reasserting the traditional pillars of the Patriarchy.

Then there are the scariest questions, the Parallax questions. Who created this and why? Who is materially benefiting from it? Who is the intended audience? What assumptions does the content make about their interests?

We’re not going to get into these questions today. Keep your thoughts percolating on it though because they are important fucking questions. And we’ll get to them in Part 2.

Thanks for dipping into the sauce and remember to keep your feminist ears open for those burritos being unwrapped.

Top 5 “Sorry for Being Churlish” Songs

Sometimes I am really moody and kind of mean to my husband. Truth be told, I am sort of a saucy chef and he probably deserves my added saltiness about 1% of the time…like when he pretended to put Third Eye Blind into his Top 250 list. Or when he cut my hair 3 inches above the permitted length line. But 99% of the time, he is just being his wonderful sweet self and I’m over here with Resting Bitch Face for no reason. I always feel bad after being such an atrocious woman and these are the Top 5 songs that play in my head as I try to figure out a way to apologize for my churlishness.

1) Chicago, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry

Really, if Chicago doesn’t play in your head at least twice a month outside your menstrual cycle, your relationship is broken.

2) Adam Ant, “Wonderful

I AM so tired of packaging the anger and ALWAYS…pushing you…away.

3) Dan Hill, “Sometimes When We Touch

The honesty is too much and I have to close my eyes and hide…in the bathroom…until my Ativan kicks in and I calm the fuck down and return to a semi-normal state of being. But I really do want to hold you til I die. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME.

4) Bryan Adams, “Please Forgive Me

Left over from childhood when my sisters would get in my face and sing this obnoxiously when they had done something to piss me off. It always worked.

5) Prince and the Revolution, “Purple Rain

Cue Uncle Joe’s imitation of Prince onstage at the club.

*Honorable Mention: Bob Dylan, “Just Like A Woman

This (kind of sexist?) song plays in my head not so much as a forgiveness anthem as a “get over yourself” theme. “Nobody has to guess that baby can’t be blessed til she finally sees that she’s like all the rest.” Dylan wouldn’t have put up with my nonsense. 🙁