Forums > Personal > Pop music as valid academic evidence?

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John S Stuart user not visiting Queenzone.com
John S Stuart
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Posted: 16 Mar 10, 21:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Just been listening to some 1970's music  – and despite the sanitised version of history written by the politically correct revisionist brigade - the allusions therein clearly date the birth of the UK homosexual 'GAY' reference as mid 1976.

Although homosexuality has always been with us, the 1961 released Dirk Bogart film “Victim” clearly refers to homosexual men as “poofs” and “queers”, with the word “GAY” being alien to the movie.

In early 1976, (recorded during the 1975 “Blue For You” sessions) the macho rock band Status Quo could safely release the 7” single “Wild Side of Life” with the unambiguous (for the time) chorus “...the glamour of the gay night life has lured you...” without fear of tarnishing their chauvinistic womanising image.

However, later that year, in July 1976, Rod Stewart released his “Night On The Town” album with the overtly homosexual tragedy “The Killing of Georgie (Part 1 & II).

“so called liberated days”
“Georgie boy was gay I guess nothin' more or nothin' less”
“Pa said there must be a mistake, how can my son not be straight
“cast out by the ones he loves, A victim of these gay days it seems”.

Now my question is, as these are primary cultural and social references, is it possible to use pop music not only as a historical guage, but as valid academic evidence also?


"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."
Sebastian user is on Queenzone.com
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Posted: 16 Mar 10, 22:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes, but keep in mind that some people may consider pop references (and cultural references in general) as to have low credibility, but then again there are always going to be historians and academics panning each other's work for any given reason.

In the case of using those lyrics as evidence, try (as much as possible) to back-up your conclusions with contemporary sources (e.g. press, books, mags, the already mentioned film) and comparative methods to show in which cases 'gay' could be replaced by 'joyful' and when it could be replaced by 'queer'. Of course, such things don't happen overnight.



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 03:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

John
i would say that it's a combination of various elements. Pop music is 1/4 of the whole story.
To get an accurate reference point in time, you would need to look at films, tv fiction (drama and sitcoms especially) and books of the same period of time....somewhere therein lies the complete answer


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John S Stuart user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 12:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

So the answer seems to be  yes  - on the proviso that we take it as part of a collective whole?

I agree, and that was kind of the answer I was looking for.
The point is that it has not been discarded as totally useless or worthless.

However, I do know some "academic snobs" who would not accept pop music (in any shape or form) as valid 'forensic' evidence, regardless of how valid the point made.
It is this snobbery that I am against, and I think (in context) pop music does (despite its frivolous nature) have a serious point to make.


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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 13:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I would think pop culture references would be particularly valuable for assessing tipping points in the lexicon. While 'gay' was certainly used in reference to homosexuality much earlier than 'Georgie Boy', it probably wasn't commonly used to mean 'happy' or whatever very much past that.

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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 13:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Yes, there are academc snobs, and there'll always be. So what? If you come up with a sensible interesting informative well-written article or book on the topic, and they decide not to read it because of the pop references, it's them failing your standards, not the other way around.



John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
John S Stuart user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 14:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Sebastian wrote:

Yes, there are academc snobs, and there'll always be. So what? If you come up with a sensible interesting informative well-written article or book on the topic, and they decide not to read it because of the pop references, it's them failing your standards, not the other way around.
Excellent point, and well worth remembering.







"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."
John S Stuart user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 14:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



GratefulFan wrote:

While 'gay' was certainly used in reference to homosexuality much earlier than 'Georgie Boy', it probably wasn't commonly used to mean 'happy' or whatever very much past that.
Another excellent point, to which I would have to agree with.

Ceratinly on the face of it, the word "gay" was never the same after Stewart's "A Night On The Town", but whether that was the actual tipping point for common usage is perhaps still debateable. I think there may be an element of truth in this, but again it is not something which can be measured in isolation.
However, a very interesting observation nevertheless.








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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 15:44 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I knew it! Rod Stewart invented gayness!


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Posted: 17 Mar 10, 16:02 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think we agree John.  I probably wasn't clear, but I meant that references clustered around a discrete period of time would be good indicators of cultural tipping points.  Not necessarily, as you pointed out, just that one song. Not in this instance anyway.