Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Female producers, where you at?

While producers like George Martin, Phil Spector, the Dust Brothers and Timbaland are well-known names, few women have broken through that barrier. Increasingly women are at the top of the charts, but behind the scenes, they are relatively absent, but not entirely unseen.

DJ Bless of London has been working in the music for nearly a decade and is beginning production on her first album. As a woman in the industry it is still very much a struggle.

“If I meet a new contact the kind of won’t take me serious since I am a woman,” Bless admits. “You have to be careful, I’ve met some chauvinists who will be like ‘If I do that for you, what will you do for me.”

But Bless thinks there is more acceptance than in the past, a sentiment echoed by DJ Caro Snatch of Newcastle.

“Of course we cannot deny the set roles still expected of women by some,” says Caro who is working on an album. “There are more and more rare dogs just doing their thing that means things are changing as ever.”

Caro believes that for a lot of woman it may be a lack of confidence, capital and timing that prevents more female producers from emerging. It becomes a less accessible option when children, a partner, a day job or no job are in the mix.

“The more women we see and hear doing it the more we realise its possible,” says Caro. “Now that we have so many more contemporaries and technical possibilities, more and more lasses are biting the bullet and going for it.”

Websites like SheJay, a network of international female DJs, producers, vocalists, promoters and performers, are dedicated to forwarding the recognition of women in the music industry.

For Caro, which she respects the intent, she sees sites like SheJay as more useful as forum for finding other women doing interesting things than anything else. If anything it does reveal that there are rumblings below the glass ceiling.

What came first the chick or the flick

Your mate rolls his eyes. Your girl friend grimaces. The latest chick flick has been released and you want to see it.

A certain disapproving tone accompanies the term. If you enjoy chick flicks it is like being put on the stand for a cross examination by a tough prosecutor. You’d better have a good defence prepared.

For a phrase so freely used by both genders, does anyone know how to define a chick flick? The elusive definition seems to change with each person: from romantic comedy to weepy, melodrama. For others it is "Thelma and Louise."

Chick flicks were once women’s films. Classics like "All About Eve," "His Girl Friday" and "The Women" fell under this term. Somewhere along the line the phrase morphed into the more derogatory chick flick.

O magazine released a list of the 50 greatest chick flicks that included such varied titles as "Notorious," "Aliens," "Pretty Woman" and "The English Patient." It seems the only defining factor of a chick flick is that it centres on one or more women. Does that mean every movie focusing on a male protagonist is a guy movie?

As a genre it isn’t easily definable. Western or horror films have recognisable elements, but the chick flick is too broad to put into a box. It can have tears, laughs or scares and fit into numerous genres. If anything all the term does is continue to perpetuate the stereotypes of gender roles and keep things in happy complacany.

Romantic comedies are the films most often slapped with the chick flick label. Even the best romantic comedy, truly great films like "When Harry Met Sally" will be condescendingly referred to as "not that bad for a chick flick."

As a male I'm quite fond of romantic comedies, so what does that mean? Does this mean I'm less of a man? Perhaps if we just pull off the silly label men can get over their machismo and admit they enjoy a so-called chick flick without fear of ridicule.

Then again maybe this is too lofty a dream. Best to get together and just watch some flicks.

Marriage ain't what it use to be in the UK

Katherine Hepburn once said, “If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.” “Hepburn, a woman ahead of her time could’ve been addressing the present day state of marriage.

Marriage isn’t what it use to be. 50 years ago not being married was social pariah. Today, according to The Observer over 40 per cent of births are outside marriage and marriage rates in the UK are at their lowest in 160 years ago.

The UK government has eroded, If inadvertently, at the foundation of marriage by removing privileges and re-dispersing them. Previous benefits system, granted higher allowance to two parent families, but the latest model denies the need for a second adult in a child’s life.

Policy makers could switch back to awarding couples, but it appears awarding one means taking away from the other.