Small Staid / Tolentino Readings

I began this assignment with research into who these authors were and where their work had been published. I started with Jia Tolentino. She has written mostly on online magazines and is currently a writer at the New Yorker. To find her work, I looked at her LinkedIn and her professional website. The piece of hers that I read was a music review called “Why I Have to Be So ‘Rude'” on This site calls itself a “general-interest site aimed at women.” This site seems to me (and I hope this is not rude) like the kind of website that you stumble upon late at night for hours of mindless entertainment, like Buzzfeed or Tumblr. While Tolentino’s article was a music review of the Magic! song “Rude,” she herself wrote that she “is not a music critic but she is gonna be a ‘Rude’ scholar on Rap Genius.” It is an entertaining article by an unqualified music critic. The language is funny and appeals to the younger generation because of its pop culture references. I find myself right in the midst of that audience, as I understood the references and laughed along with the genuine frustration of the writer, who was trying to see value in an incredibly popular song and failing to, finding herself out of the audience that¬†she was supposed to fit into.

The next author, Mairead Small Staid, is a poet who, according to her credentials, is esteemed within the literary world. She was a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program and won Hopwood Awards from U-M. She is a poet and essayist and is mostly published in literary and essay magazines/periodicals. I read one of her nonfiction essays, “Girl in a Country Song,” which was only published at The Point Magazine. This, like the Tolentino article I read, is also a music criticism, but unlike Tolentino, ¬†Small Staid includes political/feminist arguments and discusses the serious implications of what harm the country music industry can cause. The Point Magazine’s (where this article was published) founding purpose was the belief that “modern life is worth examining.” This fits perfectly into Small Staid’s article, as she critiques the stereotypes women in country music fall into while praising the few country singers (only female singers were mentioned) that break the mold. This is written for people who want to examine the female figure in popular culture, are familiar with country music, who see the importance of how women are portrayed in that culture and society, and who are interested in other tropes that country music plays into that perpetuate microaggressions and stereotypes within that aforementioned society. As a feminist and a huge believer that we need to change the way women are portrayed in popular culture, especially in mainstream rap and country (and everything, really), I would say I fit into this audience as well. The only caveat is the fact that I am not a country fan and could not recognize some names, but most of them were popular enough that I had a clue what was being discussed.

Meghan Brody

Meghan Brody. B.A. History & Writing. LSA Senior. Aspiring librarian.

One thought to “Small Staid / Tolentino Readings”

  1. Hi Meghan,
    I absolutely agree with your opinion about Small Staid’s essay “Girl in a Country Song.” When I had read the piece, I could see the many different connotations about women that are portrayed in the society and pop culture. While the audience for this piece remains limited, I feel that this article can inspire others to raise issues and concerns regarding the portrayal of women in the society.

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