This past week my parents gifted my son with a karaoke machine for his birthday. Before my Mom bought this one, she bought another one that was, well, kind of effeminate. The machine had lots of pink and even though the logo included a skull, it was donning a pink bow. Mom agreed with us that the machine was a tad too girly, so she returned the machine for something more gender-neutral. And Hudson is totally rocking out to his new toy. Sweet.
But Mom’s first purchase made me think. Hudson is so cool, could he have pulled off the girly karaoke machine? I mean, wouldn’t that have been so rock star of him to be like, “Yeah, I’ll rock out to a machine with a skull and a pink bow. ‘Cause that’s edgy.”? Or, does a pink bow overstep the boundary of edginess and move the rocker into the uncool or humiliating category? It’s hard to know. Whether growing long silky hair, dressing up like a girl, or using flowers in your band’s logo, rockers have historically found ways of making “non-dude” things cool and edgy. Which made me think, what things can not even rock stars make edgy?
Kittens- Wildcats and even adult cats are permissible, but the kitten is rightfully verboten. You can call yourself Def Leopard and conjure images of a predatory feline who’s pissed off that he can’t hear. You can put “Cougar” in the middle of your name like John Mellancamp and shockingly get away with it. But you probably can’t put a big-eyed, purring kitten pawing at a ball of yarn on your album cover. Or even call your band Kitty Thrasher, which is just tasteless.
Poodles- Three Dog Night and Temple of the Dog produced solid canine imagery, but this dog is so stereotyped as froufrou that nothing but ridicule could come from its use. The only way maybe it could pass as rocking is if the poodle was attacking its equally froufrou owner. Even then, the most savage beast in the world can’t be taken seriously with little pink bows in its hair.
Mermen- The reason you’ve never seen mermen associated with rock is because they can’t disassociate themselves from mermaids. Now mermaids would actually work, because they can be sexy. But really mermen are generally seen as non-sexy mermaids. They are like really girly man fish. And girly man fish most certainly do not rock.
Tutus- Lionel Richie penned “Ballerina Girl” but I’ve never seen a rock act cover it.
Crochet- “HELLO CLEVELAND! ARE YOU READY TO HAVE YOUR EYES GOUGED OUT WITH NEEDLES AS WE THREAD YOU INTO A CHECKERED QUILT OF DESPAIR?!?!?” Not. Very. Rocky.
Truly though, you’ve reached the rock pinnacle if you can take something perceived as girly or kiddish and make it edgy. So congrats to Guns and Roses, Queen, and K.I.S.S. We salute you.
Can you think something not even a rock star could make edgy, or a rock star who has totally gotten away with something?