On The Dial | Jessica Hopper
I recently returned home from going on tour with my band. One of my favorite things about traveling with them is checking out what books everyone brings for the "mini-van library." Jordan (bass) brought a book of essays by Jessica Hopper that really grabbed me—The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic published by FeatherProof (2015).
Hopper is an American writer, feminist-punk extraordinaire advocating for gender equality and diversification of voice in music journalism. She was a senior editor of Pitchfork and the editor in chief of The Pitchfork Review from October 2014-November 2015. Most recently, Hopper was appointed editorial director of music for MTV News in 2016.
The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic covers anything and everything in American music from the past 20 years. One essay in particular struck a chord with me—Where The Girls Aren't. It is a critique on "emo" music published in 2003, expressing the concern for young girls discovering "underground" music for the first time via this male dominated genre.
Personally, I was a sucker for everything emo in 2003. I was a young teenager during the time. Emo music hyperbolized all the crazy feelings I was having. I was obsessed. Discovering new band after new band, burning mix CDs, falling asleep with my headphones on every night. I was a young male listening to other young(ish) males sing about their woes.
Hopper critiques the hell out of the genre saying, "As it stands in 2003, I simply cannot substantiate the effort it takes to give a flying fuck about the genre/plague that we know as emo songs that don’t consider the world beyond boy bodies, their broken hearts or their vans." She highlights the need for women to be "encouraged—given reasons to stay, to want to belong" as opposed to being the "them" of the scene. Her perspective is something so obvious in hindsight, but easily ignored during the time.
Hopper's voice is uncompromising and necessary. I highly recommend checking this book out if you're a music fan. If you don't listen to music, I will never understand you.