Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How homophobia works

This afternoon the local ABC radio drive shift host was interviewing a 'rock historian' -- never heard of him myself -- about AC/DC. The bloke was responding in monosyllables and poor old Grant Cameron was audibly hanging onto his good humour, of which he has almost too much as a rule, when the conversation (such as it was) turned to AC/DC's name. Yairs. They got it off the back of a vacuum cleaner. Or possibly a sewing-machine.

(With hindsight, this was the most interesting bit of the conversation. What were the feral AC/DC boys doing in the vicinity of such very girlie home-making appliances?)

Cameron enquired delicately whether the band's name might not also have possibly been some indirect allusion to the possible bisexuality of one or two of the band members?

The interviewee audibly woke up. 'Naaaaoooouwwwhhhh,' he said, his voice freighted with scorn. 'Look. Every one of those boys was hard-working, and straightforward, and they all knew what they wanted and went after it. So nooaahhh, nothing like that.'

So there you have it. Bisexuality equates (presumably) with laziness, evasiveness and lack of focus. God knows what he would have said about somebody who was actually full-on one-way gay or lesbian. Dyslexic? Bad cooks? Kitten murderers?

Next time I'm whining about the bad press that straight independent middle-aged women with no children get, I'll think back to this moment and shut mah mouth.


tigtog said...

He should meet a girl I used to work with. There was nothing wishy-washy about her, but in her passage through mid-20s serial monogamy she pretty much alternated between male partners and female partners.

As far as she was concerned, if you were hot, you were hot, and the whole inny/outy distribution was very secondary to that.

Why are homophobic people so hyperfocussed on the "nitty-gritty"* of sex instead of on larger tropes of attraction and reciprocity in relationships?

I bet if you asked him straight out if he was only attracted to his wife because of her vagina he'd be offended.

*if sex is nitty-gritty, one is doing it wrong.

Shaun said...

Margaret, the sister of Angus and Malcolm, suggested it after seeing it on a vacuum cleaner. No-one was aware that it was slang for being bisexual.

AC/DC did support Lou Reed in their early days and that gig along with their name saw them booked to do gay gigs for a while.

Now any other AC/DC historical matters I can help with?

Oh, and tig's comment:

"if sex is nitty-gritty, one is doing it wrong"

I've heard this is a problem if a beach is the venue.

Bernice said...

I thought the name came from the chord sequence of their first hit A-C-D-C. Or as one R-H out it, James Brown blues played very fast and very loud.
And bear in mind the astonishment among some when Elton John came out - oh plleeaaazzzzeeee.

Mindy said...

I always thought Margaret got if off the back of the sewing machine that she made the school boy outfit on. But maybe that's getting the two things mixed up.

FXH said...

I have seen Bon perfoming in a dress often in the early days. There was no doubt in the early days that the AC/DC tag was about sexuality.

FXH said...

er.. thats me (not in dress) seeing Bon performing (in dress)NOT me (in dress) seeing Bon perform... not that it matters in these anything goes days I guess.

Maybe it was a skirt not dress - hard to remember. Or a frock - what the hell is a frock anyway? a light summer dress? Can skirt be a frock?

Shaun said...

Not quite Bernice.

Their first single was "Can I Sit Next To You Girl" (Pre-Bon) and first succesful single was "Baby, Please Don't Go." The song 'High Voltage' which was on their 2nd album 'T.N.T' was fashioned to have a chord progression that was A-C-D-C.

Yes Mindy, the sewing machine story is also mentioned as being the source of the name and is cited in their Wiki entry.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Far out. Nobody mentioned a sister. It sounds like that story of Virginia Woolf's about Shakespeare's equally gifted sister, the one nobody ever heard of. But, see, I just knew it wouldn't be either a vacuum cleaner or a sewing-machine that any of the boys were using themselves.

FXH, that's certainly what I thought, although the dress was a wild joke rather than any serious attempt at drag, wasn't it, like rugby player with a fairy dress on? My main memory of AC/DC is seeing them on Countdown with Skyhooks, where the bisexual projection was OTT and obvious even to the most naive, even if it was all for show.

I would have thought with 'nitty gritty' that you had two problems, the first a lot more serious and icky than the second.

FXH said...

wtf? is everyone sitting at the computer now?
get the video cams and skype out -

Shaun said...

If you go to YouTube there is a Countdown vid of Bon in a dress (Song is 'Baby Please Don't Go'). Still my favourite music vid.

The dress wouldn't be shocking today (Kurt Cobain occasionally wore a dress) but imagine if you did a live TV performance smoking a cigarette today.

fxh, I'm supposed to be working. Shh.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Moi, I work at home, under a workplace agreement I negotiated with myself that includes being allowed to blog whenever I want. It's one of the upsides of being a freelance writer on a developmentally challenged income.

And anyway, it's work. The psychology of comments-thread direction is one of my research topics.

Amanda said...

Who was the rock historian? Anyone know?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Engelhardt? Everhart? Something trisyllabic and German-sounding beginning with an E.

Sorry if he's a mate or anything. But it really was a bit of a shocker.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ahem. Google reveals that he's obviously famous in NSW, at least. But I am very far from being an expert in these matters. And I really was quite shocked by the way he spoke -- you'd expect a rock historian to be extremely cool about these things. I would, anyway.

Zoe said...

Amanda may just be trying to see if it's Bruce Elder, the rock writer we love to hate. One of them.

Laura said...

I heard him being interviewed on RN this morning, and while I'f forgotten his name, it wasn't Bruce Elder or that man who wears the funny little hats.

Whoever he was, he mentioned the sewing machine / vacuum cleaner thing again, and I wondered why Fran Kelly didn't ask him about the sexuality connotation and also why he didn't mention it of his own accord. Whether the band orginally intended it or not doesn't much matter since that meaning became something everyone thought of.

I guess his reaction to the question on the interview you heard, Pav, explains why he didn't bring it up himself.

Laura said...

Als, I'f invented a new and exquisite form of the personal pronoun. Contribution to knowledge done for the day.

Bernice said...

There must be some anniversary thing ahappeni' then - listening to the Deep End on RN lastweek(?), some chappie fellow RH (not the Elder person PIA)reckoned it was the chord progressions & yes i was standing there thinkin' "but whhattabout". But after glam rock...

Shaun said...

PC, Murray Englehart has just released a book on AC/DC. So that explains him doing the rounds.

I'll have a listen to the show tonight.

Bruce Elder, Bernard Zuel. Is there a music journo at the SMH that we don't love to hate?

Zoe said...

No, they are all crap.

Amanda said...

Vaguely heard of him. Just curious is all. I was just wondering if it was a known dickhead, as Zoe perceptively noted. Having to bag rock journos for stupidity is an occupation hazard of being human.

Zuely is alright but Elder must die.

Alan Mascarehas who writes for the Guide praised rugby union and dissed the Carter Family in the one paragraph once, so he is in the bad books too.

Bernice said...

No Zuely and Elder must die - slowly - trapped in a lift listening to "Golden Hits of Mark Holden"

Shaun said...

Zuely has no idea about rock'n'roll. Was revealed back in 2001 with his snobbish review of an AC/DC concernt and subsequent snobbery re the Tatts and The Angels. When it comes for putting people into a burning wicker man reserved for music critics I'll be throwing him in front of Elder.

As for Alan Mascarehas, I gotta admit that would be an interesting paragraph.

Shaun said...

Fran kelly, your researchers have lead you down the garden path! I play guitar and the chords to TNT are E (oi) G (oi) and A (oi) not A, C and D.

I've come across Engleheart before. I don't mind some of his rock writing as he likes many of the bands I do.

The bisexual connotations in the name was not mentioned in this interview.

Amanda said...

Shaun, Elder deserves to go in before bin Laden, Paris Hilton, Cheney, whoever killed Phar Lap, all Channel Nine programmers and Lleyton Hewitt comfriggingbined.

I believe my Dwight Yoakam review tomorrow might well include some actionable personal abuse on this very topic.

Anonymous said...