Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Sunday, May 08, 2011

It is going to be blog as notebook today. Here's something cool: The Willis Test. A few years back I was corresponding with someone about rock'n'roll as literature and I said that if the form has to be considered that way (I think it is a square peg myself) than we really need to talk about rock criticism. The late 60's through the 70's were a golden age for writing about rock, and Ellen Willis was one of its great practitioners. I was unaware of her test for misogyny in rock lyrics-- the equivalent of the Bechtel Test for movies-- but I like it:

"A crude but often revealing method of assessing male bias in lyrics is to take a song written by a man about a woman and reverse the sexes. By this test, a diatribe like [the Rolling Stones'] "Under My Thumb" is not nearly so sexist in its implications as, for example, Cat Stevens' gentle, sympathetic "Wild World"; Jagger's fantasy of sweet revenge could easily be female—in fact, it has a female counterpart, Nancy Sinatra's "Boots" — but it's hard to imagine a woman sadly warning her ex-lover that he's too innocent for the big bad world out there."

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