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Final (I promise) thoughts on the Triple J Hottest 100

Having read lots of the debate online and the listened to the comments on Hack on Monday, I thought I might go back to a couple of original thoughts.

I don’t think that the result (ie only 2 female vocal tracks and only 9 tracks by black artists) makes Triple J or its listeners sexist, misogynist or racist. nor are those who didn’t include a woman in their own Top 10 misogynist – hey, I, all without realising, am guilty of that charge. What I think the result actually reveals is systemic sexism – within the music industry itself and more broadly within society. As noted by blogger Orlando:

Whenever words like “greatest”, “most important”, “best”, “most influential” and so on, are used in any context we are taught to think of men (I think this is exactly what happened when JJJ put their history pages together). We just aren’t given models in our formative years of women having places beside men in “history”, just occasionally in that disreputable annex “women in history” or “women in rock”.

It is easy to throw around terms like “misogynist” without undertaking much analysis. It is much harder to tackle this notion of systemic discrimination. The Hottest 100 did what all democratic processes do (and thus reveals the limits of democracy) – it reproduced the prevailing ideas/ideology of those who participated in the voting. Democracy is not progressive as a system; it requires progressive activism to prompt change and usually follows social movements rather than leads them (the Green movement and Green political party is a case in point).

The other interesting little side-alley that this debate has gone down appeared in The Punch yesterday when Chris deal brought a whole new dimension to the debate by introducing class. He argued:

Triple J have confirmed the rumour that the only thing that stands between them and mainstream rock stations like Triple M is the absence of an ad break. Their previous tenants have moved out, and the lease has been signed by the nouveau-bogan elite. They’re got a bit of coin. They’ve discovered ecstasy. They’ve infiltrated the Big Day Out. They adorn their torsos with Australian flags and sing along to the Kings Of Leon like their founding bogan fathers did with Cold Chisel. And Triple J is now the shining star in the night sky with which these un-wise men follow towards their Rock Jesus.

Now this is quite interesting. The article appears to imply a link between misogyny and class – well, class in the sense of bogans. Now I understand that bogan is not necessarily a class based term in the strictly Marxist sense of the word, but it does tend to generally apply to the lesser educated, more traditional working (or non-working) classes. And I do recognise that there has been an infiltration of the alternative music scene and particularly the festivals by those who Sartre-debating types would turn their noses at. And yes, traditionally working class culture is less progressive in respect to its position on women. But, and this is a big but, I think it is a major cop out to try and imply that sexism and misogyny are the province of bogans alone. It is present across all class spectrums as is obvious in any cultural analysis. So we need to be careful about reducing the debate to simple stereotyping.

Also, I must admit that there is some beautiful irony in the idea that Triple J’s progressiveness is being brought down by bogans whose culture was so ruthlessly appropriated by the university elites of the early nineties as grunge took to the stripped back guitar based tradition which had been oft the province of the bogan during the synthesised 1980s, and students everywhere emulated their Westie fellows in flannies, tattered jeans and battered boots. Ah, how the circle turns.

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5 responses to “Final (I promise) thoughts on the Triple J Hottest 100

  1. Yeah I have my doubts about the bogan theory. I think a different audience to Triple J’s usual audience voted though. I think the result indicates that our culture is increasingly glorifying male aggression in music. I thought maybe it was a post 9-11/Bali/War on Terror thing but there was a trend towards less women in the hottest 100 between 91 and 98 also. Maybe it’s just that men playing music has shifted from being a nerdy activity to a macho activity.

  2. Lisa ⋅

    Yeah bogans can be pretty sexist.

    But trust me, so can the middle class High Fidelity loving music snob, with his Velvet Underground vinyl and ingrained belief that women can’t play lead guitar.

    I don’t think you can blame this one on class. After all, lets not forget Khe San didn’t make the cut – so it couldn’t have been ALL bogans voting now could it? ; )

  3. Hi there Ms/Mr Letterboxes, like the blog. I just want to say it’s nice to read reactions to my article on that aren’t “go bak to unaversity your an idiot!”.

    I would like to clear up some confusion though with your position that I have linked “boganism” with “sexism” in my piece on The Punch. If you read the piece I don’t actually connect those two concepts at all.

    Not to say I’m not bringing class into it, because i’m clearly saying “I believe the new bogan element is responsible for the lack of good music on JJJ”, and not the lack of female vocalists in the Hottest 100.

    Rock on,

    Chris Deal

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      Thanks for the comment Chris – I guess it felt like the link was implied due to the close juxtaposition of the two ideas. But fair enough. And I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to link the two – I have had friends who have experienced some fairly horrendous sexual harrassment from the bogan element at music festivals – I would just say it isn’t the only cause.

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      Oh, and its Dr Letterboxes, just for reference 😉

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