Pop Oppression

Fortune's children want us to feel their pain. What a pain.

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Lindsay Lohan: Poor little pop princess.
Lindsay Lohan: Poor little pop princess.
Lindsay Lohan wants you to back up off her. For reals. She's tired of being hounded by photographers, tired of getting the attention of a Snickers smuggled into fat camp.

Lindsay lets us know all this in her new video for "Rumors," the first single off her debut album, in which she sweats a lot, runs her fingers through her hair as if searching for varmints, and does more posing than your kid sister's Barbie collection. As we learn from the song, Lohan has grown damn weary of being a pop star -- even though she really isn't one yet.

But give the gal some credit. She's smart enough to realize that in order to be a top-selling young female singer these days, you have to master a crucial conceit: the pop-star persecution complex. "Everybody talking all this stuff about me/Why don't they just let me live?" Britney Spears asks on her latest single, a cover of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative." "I won't let you break me," Christina Aguilera tells her unseen oppressors on her last LP. "Don't spit on me and shame yourself/Because you wish you were someone else," Hilary Duff chastised all those who want to keep her down on last year's Metamorphosis.

And they're not alone. Virtually every millionaire pop princess has a song or 10 about how stifling it is to be a millionaire pop princess. Largely without problems, they're creating them in an attempt to semirelate to their listeners.

And now Lohan is on the game. She says she just wants to be herself, dammit. But just who is trying to stop her? Here's something we're pretty sure The Man has never said: "Forget about sowing discord among the races and preserving the status quo -- that top-heavy, tone-deaf trollop from Freaky Friday must be stopped!"

For starters, the main knock on today's young female pop stars is that they're as fake as their boobs. Their hits are written by someone else. Onstage, a DAT player sings for them (but only when they have gas, right, Ashlee?). Hell, even their undies are picked out for them by an image consultant. Today's popsters are so manufactured, even their defiance is calculated, their outrage preassembled. It would be a relief if a cookie-cutter diva like Lohan would indeed be herself.

But where does this false victimhood come from? As with everything else about these gals, the pop-star persecution complex is not unique to them. Ironically, it all began with heavy-metal forerunners like Kiss and Twisted Sister, who share with today's popsters a love of eyeliner and an inexplicable paranoia. From Twisted Sister's "You Can't Stop Rock and Roll" to Kiss's "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You," these groups have penned song after song about how they're going to continue rockin', no matter who tried to stop them.

But no one ever really gave a rat's ass if a bunch of dudes wanted to assert their masculinity in go-go boots. No one ever tried to deny Ace Frehley the opportunity to rip out a hot-ass guitar solo.

And yet, decades later, this same self-pitying self-absorption persists among today's chick crooners. And it's mainly attributable to just how easy these gals have it. When Madonna and Janet Jackson were making a name for themselves as empowered, sexually liberated female performers in the Reagan era, there was much more resistance to the notion of young women singing about being in control (especially in the bedroom). Those women blazed the path to platinum success that Britney and company have followed. And Madonna and Ms. Jackson actually wrote much of their own material and didn't have ProTools to manufacture their music.

These days, an aspiring pop star has everything done for her. Performers like Lohan, Duff, and J. Lo score deals not because they're particularly talented musicians, but because they're already name brands with instant recognition who can act the part of a singer without actually being one.

This wouldn't be so bothersome if these gals didn't then have the audacity to gripe about how oppressive their privileged status is. It's like getting a free meal, then bitching that it's not escargot. Enough already. It's time you've gotten over yourselves, ladies. Everyone else sure has.

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