Pop “tarts”, Marx and Other artists

Good musicians also fall into this trap of sex sells and marketing.  Pop “tarts” are performers – the whole persona is a creation – regardless of gender but perhaps more limiting for females. 

I blame the Monkeys.  It worked then and it works now, Disney has latched on the idea of taking a person and making them a star.  The Monkeys were a put together band/tv show, with most of the ‘faces’ not even capable of playing their part in the ‘band.’ Within the tv show you met them, followed their antics, and perhaps even identified with them.  Disney is making a habit of taking talented young people and turning them into virtuous mega stars, when they are too old (does any 23 year old really enjoy pretending to be a early teenager, or is no longer believable as one) they are faced with the challenge of making a career out of their no longer supported tween image.  Many have been told they need to compromise their good girl image in order to have any shot at a further career. After all, the image worked for Madonna (who auditioned for the role, I’ll add.) Some are likely rebelling against the strict supervision they have endured from their management and their fans. A little outrageous is good, a lot gets them more attention, and very quickly their value is completely linked to the ideal of sex.  The music industry and society in general created the band or artist and then created their rise and subsequent fall. Some stars break away from this often leaving the music industry behind, others stay and find a fighting balance between interesting outrageous that sells and completely self-destructive behavior, and still others grace the screens of the tabloid rags for years in their ever widening spiral of destruction and disgrace, all while selling copy.  This struggle between the managers and the artists with ever more devastating consequences for only the artist (their managers, record labels, and promoters,   will continue making money off them after their fiery deaths) is a Marxist struggle between the workers and the management.  Much like in the factory the “star” is replaceable after destruction, Brittney to Hannah, Lindsey to Miranda.

I don’t mean to say that musicians or artists don’t make incredibly poor choices on their own, Van Gogh’s ear comes to mind, but rather in the the case of those who end up being labeled POP, those who are created not discovered, these choices seems to be more dramatic and is a full blown trope within our society.  Perhaps the enculturation needed to make someone wholly into someone else, is partially to blame. Perhaps it is the willingness of fans and onlookers to both deify and then delight in the destruction of the self-created deity. Perhaps the strength of self needed to struggle and survive before discovery serve to insulate the rock star from the pressures placed on the “pop tart” …

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9 thoughts on “Pop “tarts”, Marx and Other artists

  1. What role did Madonna audition for? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.
    I like the idea of a Marxist analysis of the relationship between ‘stars’ and management/production. We could see this as, then, iconic of the kinds of relationships we all have in this working world? Is that part of the reason why so many people are fascinated by pop stars?
    If we think of pop tarts/stars as labor, what does that imply? I mean, by looking at their conditions, what could we see about the situation of ALL workers?

    1. I read, a very long time ago, an article interview with Madonna, taking about how she became the pop star Madonna. Apparently, they were looking for a blond, athletic, dancer who could sing, she tried out for the role and became Madonna.

      I can totally see this as the reason so many people are fascinated with pop stars. Each one of us has a different skill set and working environment that we do not necessarily have the control over what we do or how we do it. We are expected to behave in certain manners and failure to conform often has drastic results. Clearly, most of us are not required to dance half naked on a stage for half the world, but our dress, manner, speaking habits, social conduct and abilities, do impact the perceived performance of our jobs as much as our actual function of those jobs.

      If we do think of Pop stars as labor, by extension then all workers have a very difficult world to deal with. They are completely replaceable in a workplace that gains both by their success and failure.

      1. And with the idea of the pop stars as labor, nowadays you have shows such as American Idol and various ‘s Got Talent, which present masses of people all at once in these factory type settings. They present themselves as the goods to be exploited. Whether it’s Disney or music competitions such as Idol, you can view their effects as either a large corporation, the upper/elite class attempted to control and monopolize the business of pop stars…or also the idea that it always the lower classes, the unknowns a chance to be discovered and promote their product.

      2. A vending machine of hope, oppression, and rejection pasted off as entertainment, allowing the management to make even more money.

      3. The people behind it all know that the consumers/the public will take in the rejection as well. Most of the people I know watch the start of an Idol season for the “bad” performers (I’ll admit, I was guilty of that too). Suddenly, a “bad” product becomes “good”.

        Even with people who make it in slightly more traditional ways, they’re at risk of being picked apart for ever tiny error. They are the gods and goddesses until they make some human error. Even it were something your neighbor had committed the previous week, their status as a “pop star” can make the mistake seem less forgivable. Perhaps because it messes with the idea of them somehow fitting into the nice molds that are often created.

  2. I agree that the music industry only looks at how to make the most money out of stars. It is a very Marxist view that people use their resources (in the producers case the star) to make the most material gain (money).

    1. You can see this conflict with Justin Bieber right now. Justin was marketed as this cute little teenage boy who captured the hearts of girls throughout the country. Now Justin wants to create/ sing music that is oriented towards an older age set. His new song Boyfriend is being seen as too racy for his tween fan club. In the music video Bieber is whispering into many different girls ears and in one scene a bunch of hands are touching him. Parents are voicing their concern about this “inappropriate” behavior and are restricting their children from purchasing the song. Because Bieber is trying to become an adult in the eyes of the music world he is going to be losing a major portion of his fan base and in the eyes of his producer money. It is only a matter of time before Justin Bieber is no longer profitable for his producers and is replaced by some new tween sensation. With this new tween sensation, his producers can one again begin the cycle and make more material gain.

      Here is the part of the music video that parents are concerned with. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlEp1U7tfjI

      1. A great example. I saw an interview with Wil Wheaton on the decision to leave ST:TNG and how what he believed were sound business decisions at the time, left him feeling cut off and ostracized, despite that not being the intent of wishes of the rest of the cast.

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