The Way of Danger Days

 

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A very comic book like poster for Danger Days Era My Chemical Romance – a more colorful representation then their earlier ideology 

 

A spider with a lighting bolt down it’s back, ripping it in half. When the lights roll over the stage, a bunch of adults and colored-haired teenage girls go equally as crazy. Fog covers the floor as five men run out on stage. One is currently pink-haired and smiling. 

Gerard Way. Singer and frontman of legendary band My Chemical Romance. They performed from 2001 to 2013 with albums infamously angsty; the beloved emo ballad I Brought You Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love in 2002, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge in 2004, the notoriously recognizable The Black Parade in 2006 (I don’t think there’s a 90s baby that doesn’t sing along to at least one track on that album), and the beautiful, more colorful, end of Danger Days in 2010 (as well as Greatest Hits albums and released singles).    

From emo to arguable pop-punk, Gerard Way has been all over the board. From a emo-gothic, ‘rawr’ing 20 something to an educated pink haired hero (and now onto bigger, better, salt-n-pepper dad-like things). Scrolling through his instagram – ok, stalking or creeping I guess – it’s littered with his avid collection and

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The earlier, Gothic era – Gerard Way on the far right 

consumption of comic books and other superhero related media. It is easy to see the transition from the melancholy melodramatics of the Gothic Days to the neon, energetic dramatics of Danger Days. Looking forward to his passion for comics, it’s more surprising how the last concept album was not more influenced by that creative world. After My Chemical Romance broke up, Way released a solo album, Hesitant Alien,  in 2014 as well as a mini series The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (a continuation of his Danger Days concept) and an award-winning comic book The Umbrella Academy.

 

Like a lot of other artists, Way struggled with drinking and prescription addiction in the past. He is currently sober – light, recreational drinking only.  In 2007, he married Lyn-Z, a fellow performer and musician, the bassist of Mindless Self Indulgence. Their daughter, Bandit Lee Way (fitting the whimsical comic-book theme) was born in 2009.

 

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The transition of The Black Parade – maturing from the emo Three Cheers to the conceptual and detailed Danger Days 

In a more personal shift, Way’s description of gender and gender identity is more fluid. “I have always been extremely sensitive to those that have gender identity issues as I feel like I have gone through it as well…I have always identified a fair amount with the female gender, and began at a certain point in MCR to express this through my look and performance style….Masculinity to me has always made me feel like it wasn’t right for me,” (Fuse). The gender-identity fits into the creative ideology of his Gothic past – the Romantic era of men wearing makeup and frilly blouses – as well as the line-bending fantasy control created through the comic world.

 

Gerard Way is a beautiful example of an artist. A creator. He is not My Chemical Romance; rather he wears MCR like a pin on his breast pocket next to being a writer, a solo artist – art for the sake of creating. Creating for money, sure, but creating because at the end of the day that’s what needs to be done, an outlet and a lifestyle. Thorough literature or music and sounds, with others or his own accord. He is an example of how music and art are a product, a tool, of the bigger picture of the force of creativity.

Works Cited:

http://www.fuse.tv/2014/10/my-chemical-romance-gerard-way-gender-identity

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A Space in the Mosh Pit

 “‘You suck!’ and I’m like, “Yeah. And I swallow.” – Peaches

    Music has a history of being political. Art in general does, but through actual singing people can more easily express their voice.  Punk music was brought to life in the 70s and in the first two decades, it embodied its intended motto of acceptance of the strange, unusual and unwanted. Up until the late 80s, women were readily included and accepted in the alternative music scenes.  “The shift of punk during the 80s forced women out of the scene. Punk moved to ‘hardcore’; something that was both ‘violent and testosterone-fueled’.  Because of this, women were excluded,” (Turner, “The Riot Grrrl Movement”).  A product of the idea that women were somehow more delicate, unable to stand their ground and that it was unsafe because of groping and sexual assault, women got shoved to the side, even pushed to the back of the venue and unable to be a part of or even see the show they came to enjoy.

p_graham757“Riot Grrrl is a grass-roots movement that began in the summer of 1991 around Olympia…. The term Riot Grrrl was coined by a small group of female musicians in an attempt to define a more confidence, less passive attitude about being a young woman” (Ann Japenga, “Riot Acts”). Kathleen Hanna, lead vocalist of the band Bikini Kill, best explains the Riot Grrrl movement in an interview on the show, Totally Biased. “Riot Grrrl was a movement of feminist punk rock girls in the 90s who challenged all boys club punk had become. We helped each other start bands, ‘zines, promote shows, and there was even conscious raising meetings.”

Riot Grrrl was a backlash in response to the abuse and harassment of women in the scene. In an article by Dylan Sielger in Ms, Magazine: “[A]t a Rock for Choice benefit show that Bikini Kill played, some female fans were assaulted in the audience – one in particular by a guy who was rubbing his penis on her…. And so a bunch of girls grabbed him and dragged him outside. They didn’t beat him up or anything, but they were stopped by security and told that if they didn’t want these things to happen to they should just stay home and rent videos.”

The man at the show was sexually assaulting this woman by rubbing his genitals on her, but then the security guard goes further by not reprimanding the perpetrator, which gave the message to these women that they deserved this type of treatment, they should expect it and let it happen without question or a fight, and if they do have an issue with it then they should stay home, where it’s safer because they are not worthy of having a influential voice in how they are treated. When these girls do band together and decide to do something about it, they themselves are punished and objectified for it.

bk2The extent of the sexual assault did not stop there; “[Courtney] Love watched from the wings as [Nirvana] played “Rape Me,” and noticed a female fan up front who had been engulfed by a group of men, who were ‘staring straight ahead…as they ripped her shirt, bra, panties…as they started mangling her breasts…hands on either side – her face was all screwed up in a scream – and the men were all glazed – and staring straight ahead… [T]he girl was bloody and hysterical – her breasts and stomach looked as though they had been clawed by jackals’” (Cinderella’s Big Score, 157).

The formation of Riot Grrrl was a response to these assaults and all those that mirrored them.  There were certain instance where groups girls have reclaimed mosh pits by “…joining hands and walking up to the front of the stage, where [girls] protected each other and themselves and actually got to see the show” (Spencer, “Grrrls Only”). Additionally, in order to spread awareness about the chauvinism women faced daily, people who were a part of the movement wrote negative terms on their body like ‘rape’, ‘slut’, ‘insect’, ‘cunt’,  and ‘whore’. One of the leader-heads of the movement, Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, “Often flashed the audience, sometimes pointing out her cellulite, scrawled the words “Bitch” and “Slut” on her stomach, and sang of  sexual attraction to both girls and boys, allowing women, particularly feminists, to be at once angry and sexual” (Cinderella’s Big Score, 207).

The spread of any movement is normally aided by media coverage. But in this case, the media created such a false portrayal of the Riot Grrrl movement that it had no benefit. Instead of focusing on the political stances and extreme lengths that women were willing to go to prove their points, the media chose to criticize how scandalously they were dressed and how poorly they sounded.

In a TV interview on the show Totally Biased, Kathleen Hanna commented on the media, looking back on the miscommunication between the two entities. “The media was focusing on outfits and ‘who wears what’…[that Riot Grrrls’] must have been sexually abused because they hate men and that’s what feminism is…We spent so much time being misrepresented that we couldn’t make our art. It was like; ‘Let’s just not,’ (Kathleen Hanna, Totally Biased, 5:03).  Because the media was misrepresenting the Riot Grrrl movement, many of the participants decided that they were better off without the distraction of false information and repeatedly attempting to get their message across, so they ignored the media all together.

rgz2The songs these women sang articulated situations that they encountered and endured due to sexism and strict gender roles that still imitated those from the 50s. The lyrics by Bikini Kill from the song White Boy are as follows: It’s hard to talk with your dick in my mouth/ I will try to scream in pain a little nicer next time/ White boy, don’t laugh, don’t cry, just die!/ I’m so sorry if I’m alienating some of you/Your whole fucking culture alienates me/I cannot scream from pain down here on my knees/I’m so sorry that I think!”   In Bikini Kill’s songs Hanna talks about sexism, issues, stereotypes and the sexual pressures that women faced daily in different aspects of life in addition to the troubles of the music scenes.

On alienation, women were not only excluded and objectified in society, they were now shunned from the punk scene where they had previously been able to find elation and use the music as an unexploited outlet. “In the pit, men violently collided into each other and women were groped, injured, or simply shoved to the side” (Turner, “The Riot Grrrl Movement”). Since it was assumed women were unable to handle the new type and culture of the music, they were often times both literally and physically pushed out of the scene.

To get their messages across easier, lyrics weren’t that symbolic. In the song Suck My Left One, Hanna screeches, “Daddy comes in her room at night/ He’s got more than talking on his mind/My sister pulls the covers down/She reaches over, flicks on the light/ She says to him:/ Suck my left one! Suck my left one!” In this section of the song, Hanna is talking about a father that molests his children. These sets of lyrics are straight to the point and easy to interpret at any level of intelligence as well as speak out against and about issues that concern women and girls. They, as well as other instances, illustrate the simple language and blunt, antagonistic examples that Riot Grrrls used to cast light on women’s issues and feminism.

rgzAs a replacement for flyers or traditional pamphlets, Riot Grrrl used ‘zines, which are handmade magazines created by the girls and women of the movement. These low-cost, self-published works became a natural venue for punk rock fans to express themselves creatively, politically, and personally while they critiqued and supported punk musicians.

The Riot Grrrl movement strived to amend this issue and change the disgrace of words like ‘slut’, ‘whore’, and ‘cunt’ – three words that were, and still are, frequently used as negative term when referring to women. “[Riot Grrrls] marked their bodies with blunt, five-inch letters reading RAPE or SLUT – an MTV-era way of saying, ‘That’s what you think of me; confront your own bigotry.’”(“Revolution, Girl Style.”) With this, they also tried to add fluidity to the concept of sex and gender. In their song, Sugar, Hanna sings, “I’m a self-fulfilling porno queen…yeah/ I mimic out your every fucking fantasy yeah! Yeah!” These lines articulate that by giving out and performing these abstract sexual favors, it is expected that the woman is also pleasured without a deeper stimulation. The lyrics moreover verbalizes that a woman is expected to do what she is told by her partner; fulfilling his fantasy that was inspired by some unique position he witnessed in a video, solidifying that she is only seen as a sexual object. The next few lines in Sugar, “…Oh, baby…why can’t I ever get my! sugar?/…I won’t play girl to your boy no more, sugar/ I want mine right here right now, baby sugar/ I can almost reach it now, now, now,” also express that women, contrary to popular belief, are able to enjoy sex and have their own fantasies and a libido (while this is more obvious now, the 90s was still a time where women couldn’t fully articulate this). In total, Riot Grrrl stirred up the roles that men and women were expected to play during and outside of intercourse, in hopes to offer a more fluid idea of sex and sexual activity.

peachesA more extreme example of gender fluidity and open sexuality is the musical artist Peaches. “Onstage, she’d been known to eat an entire loaf of bread, vomit fake blood, feign tampon removal and dominate a sex slave…Peaches represents much of what is left out of pop music – all things flawed, home-grown, spontaneous, raunchy” (Cinderella’s PeachessBig Score, 249). She was not only as zealous onstage either. Peaches has said, “…If we’re going to use motherfucker, why don’t we use fatherfucker? I’m just trying to be even” (Cinderella’s Big Score, 248). Quick witted and head-strong, Peaches is a female who, on the cover-art of her album Fatherfucker, messes with society’s gender roles for females by supporting a full grown beard.

Overall, the Riot Grrrl movement was one that pushed punk music and equal rights thrashing forward. After being pushed to the side, women in the scene stayed true to aggressive punk ideology and pushed their way back into the most pit.

 

Works Cited:

Turner, Chérie. Everything You Need to Know about the Riot Grrrl Movement: The Feminism of a New Generation. New York: Rosen, 2001. Print.

Japenga, Ann. "Riot Acts." New York Times 15 Nov. 1992: n. pag. Rpt. in Twelve Little Grrrls. N.p.: n.p.,n.d. N. pag. Print. http://www.cs.xu.edu/~tankgirl/twelvelittlegrrrls/articles/newyorktimes.html

Totally Biased. Interview by W. Kamau Bell. Youtube. Youtube, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WozprgZeCmo&gt

Sielger, Dylan, ed. Ms. Magazine. N.p., Aug. 2000. Web. http://www.msmagazine.com/aug00/shesays.html

Chideya, Farai, Melissa Rossi, and Hannah Dogen. "Revolution, Girl Style." Newsweek 23 Nov. 1992: n. pag. Rpt. in Twelve Little Grrrls. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print. http://www.cs.xu.edu/~tankgirl/twelvelittlegrrrls/articles/newsweek.html

Raha, Maria. Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground. Emeryville, CA: Seal, 2005. Print.

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Tuesday was the national day of love (or, if you’re life me, the day that celebrates rose-colored Capitalism). I decided to lean more on being sentimental than actual physical gifts. One of those gifts included a 19 song playlist. At first, I added songs I liked, but, after much consideration, I decided that today was not about me, but about the person close to me. Below are five of the songs on the playlist; some of the better and more highlighted ones.

  1. Portuguese Knife Fight – Cage The Elephant

cage_the_elephant_-_tell_me_im_prettyWe were at her beach house. I was watching them play Overwatch as I hooked up my phone to the speaker. Cage the Elephant, arguable one of the most underrated bands, had released their album “Tell Me I’m Pretty” and all of last year I had been listening to it nonstop. Between the constant flick and tapping of the buttons, I heard a mumbled “Hey, they’re pretty good. I like them.” And there’s nearly nothing more that I get off on than showing people new music, especially when we can listen to it together and swoon.

This song itself is about someone who is entering a relationship (serious or not) and is trying to figure out if the partner is as well. “I wanna waste my life with you, (oh yeah)/Well the look in your eyes says you’re feeling the same way too, (oh yeah)/Give me a sign, tell me what should I do/I’m just trying to catch a f-f-f-f-f-feel.” I feel like a lot of people relate to scoping people out, trying to get what you want without getting hurt and making a fool of yourself and your emotions. I put this track on, as well, because the instrumental opening is catchy, following the sweetness and fresh sound of the main beat.

  1. The Lovecats – The Cure

the-lovecatsThe Cure, yet again, is a band I love. (I guess I still made it a little about me? I want to show them songs and groups I like to have more in common? Narcissistic romance, maybe?) “The Lovecats” is a classic, not only because of it’s lyrics but also because of its instrumentation – the beat is old and clearly influenced by later funk and blues, especially with the heavy, obvious bass.

The song is about a positive, healthy relationship with metaphors to…well…cats. Smith, the lead singer, croons; “We should have each other to dinner/We should have each other with cream/ Then curl up in the fire/Get up for awhile/It’s the grooviest thing/It’s the perfect dream…/Not broken in pieces.” What more could you ask for? Talking about a nice meal (and a little desert) then a nice relaxation together. A lot of love songs are depressing and negative, but on a Valentine’s Day playlist like this, I really wanted to add an element of optimism.

  1. We’re Gonna Groove – Led Zeppelin

were-gunna-groovePage and Plant are musical geniuses. There’s a reason Led Zep sells so much and so well – why thousands of hipster girls and boys unknowingly wear their brand. I couldn’t not add them in somewhere. Especially because my partner in crime loves classic rock as well. “Coda”, in my opinion, is a fantastic album and one that is frequently overlooked.

The entire song states Plants wishes. He is telling his woman that he wants her – now and in the future. Saying he wants a family one day. He also lets her know about his intentions by singing, “Sweet as sweet as sweet can be/You do not know what you do to me/Let me say you are my one desire/You just set my soul on fire”. His love goes beyond the shallow – this women is his soul’s desire, what he craves. Not all of Zeppelin’s songs are positive, but this one surely is a sweet tune.

  1. Think About Me – 2015 Remastered – Fleetwood Mac

fleetwood_mac_-_think_about_meWhen we first met, I had completely blonde hair. We actually first interacted at a party, one I had come to late after a long night in the hospital. My busted Doc Martins on my feet and a velvet dress; an amber stone dangled from a long silver chain. My circle-rimmed glasses must have given me a prior-decade look. Maybe it was just my vibe. She actually first called me Misty Day, a beloved hippie-like character from American Horror Story. Soon, a few other drunk party-goers followed.

When we first hung out, she wore necklace with crystals and stones because she said it (and that I) reminded her of Stevie Nicks and being mystical. Every chance she gets, she’s talking about Fleetwood Mac and Nicks, so I absolutely had to add something by them in the playlist.

Turns out, Stevie Nicks doesn’t have very happy love songs. Fleetwood Mac doesn’t have very many either. If I’m being honest, I don’t like this song. It’s simple, it’s alright. It’s done well (I guess). It’s short and sweet. But, beyond myself and my opinions, I did this as a little nod for her (Stevie’s looks are wonderful and I took no offence to being related to her in any way). She mentioned her love for them, for Nicks, and I had to add them in, regardless of my feelings.

  1. Heroes – 1999 Remastered Version – David Bowie

david_bowie_-_heroesDavid Bowie is wonderful in the most whimsical way. The song “Heroes” is possibly the most frequently used song in those films that actually have a budget but are of an indie vibe and plot line. One of those songs used in every “alternative” movie in the mainstream. See – “Horns” (a great movie, by the way). The song is catchy, the beat original for the first couple listens. I actually have the original vinyl of this album (passed down – i.e. stolen – from my mother’s collection). The song is actually about members of the band – one of them being married – which illuminates the ‘doomed’ elements of the song. Bowie sings about how something doesn’t have to be long term to be serious and have extreme value. “I, I will be king/And you, you will be queen/Though nothing, will drive them away/We can beat them, just for one day/…Though nothing, will keep us together/We could steal time, just for one day/We can be heroes, forever and ever.” The love they share is real. The love they share is intense. The love they share will have to end, but that doesn’t mean it’s ending now. The love you share for another person can end. It probably will end. But that doesn’t mean the memories and experiences that you have in your time together weren’t fun or good or worth it. The present is real, the present is what should be enjoyed, the love there should be relished – because, yeah, it might end – but why fight it and have it be tarnished and doomed while there’s still good times to be had?

I choose these songs because I liked their message and I wanted to add another connections between my playlist, myself and someone else. I wanted to add elements of both our personalities and interests and expand both our music tastes. Because isn’t that what it’s about? Expanding and growing together, finding and creating common interests, and sharing what is closest to you. We both listen to this playlist on and off – when we drove to our plans for the day – I think she listened to the playlist as she worked out this morning. And, oddly enough, she made me a physical CD for Valentine’s day – so I guess smart minds do think alike.