Faculty Research Forum presents Diane Pecknold
Faculty Research Forum presents Diane Pecknold, "The Jonas Brothers Are Dorky and Miley Cyrus is a Slut: Gender, Power, and Money in the Disney Music Ghetto"
Mar 25, 2011
from 03:30 pm to 05:00 pm
|Where||Bingham Humanities Room 300|
|Contact Name||Jennifer Stephens|
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Disney Music Group Chairman Bob Cavallo once described the difference between his strategy and that of the larger music business this way: "The great record executives I've known through the years . . . they're looking for the next Bruce Springsteen, or Fall Out Boy, or some new alternative band that's ironic. . . . I've got these little kids singing female empowerment songs." Disney has been strikingly successful at selling this message of female empowerment to its audience of tween girls. Moreover, its Music Group has been a clear anomaly in a world of plummeting pre-recorded music sales; while its market share remains tiny compared to that of the major labels, Disney’s music division has expanded dramatically and turned higher profits even as other label conglomerates struggle to replace lost revenue on recordings.
But Disney’s tween power strategy obscures a more problematic relationship between the economic and cultural politics of artists like the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus. The success of Disney music is both a reflection of and further training for powerlessness, transforming the material disadvantages of the tween audience into an emotional and cultural subject position predicated on permanent marginalization. Disney has been able to leverage the tween girl audience into a significant footprint in the music industry precisely because structural shifts in the music business have liberated other audience segments from the industry’s traditional marketing strategies, leaving tweens in a mass-mediated, but gender-appropriately protected, ghetto. When fans fret that the Jonas Brothers might be seen as dorky in comparison to Justin Beiber, or when they ratify the inviolable difference between Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus, they measure the distance between their own culture and an imagined adult world, testing out and inhabiting their own inability to access the power of the “real” mainstream.
Faculty Research Forums
Faculty Research Forum is a forum for talks by our faculty and the occasional guest on humanities and social science topics of interest to interdisciplinary audiences. These forums are sponsored by the Commonwealth Center with assistance from the College of Arts and Sciences.