Hey, Male Music Journalists: Your Subjects Are Not Dates


Over at Noisey, a writer decided to profile Natalie Imbruglia for no apparent reason other than the fact that he’s wanted to sleep with her for 17 years. The headline: “I Went on a Date With Everyone’s Crush, Natalie Imbruglia.”

This article, one in a series, feels fairly earnest; the artist and her team were clearly on board for the “date” concept, and it’s quite possible that they had a lovely time together. However, Imbruglia’s album, Male, which came out last week, is mentioned once. In fact, the writer seemed kind of bummed to be reminded that there was any musical context for the interview at all:

Natalie is on her way and is actually a little nervous about this,” she tells me, as though it’s a secret. Hooray, we already have something in common! “It’s just that she hasn’t had to promote anything in the US in years, which reminds me, here you go.” She reaches into her bag and hands me a copy of Natalie’s new CD, Male, an album of cover songs originally by male artists, her first musical release in six years. This is a pretty sobering reminder that this may not be as romantic of a meet-up as I’d hoped. She leaves to get Natalie and I go back to waiting. Like so many successful relationships have begun, I prepare by skimming a press release about my date.

When you work within the confines of an industry well-known for the strong current of sexism and objectification running through it, it seems like you should be able to recognize the very fucked up undertones of this cute, slightly gimmicky concept—namely, that a female musician was essentially trapped into getting hit on under the guise of album promotion, which the article did not even do.

Instead, we got this:

Natalie is unassuming from a distance, but that fades the closer she approaches. I quickly realize why the person who directed the “Torn” video spent the better part of four minutes pointing the camera just six inches from her face. She is stunningly beautiful up close. Like, forget-your-own-name beautiful, with piercing blue eyes, and sharp cheekbones that protrude like tiny cherries, even when she’s not smiling. Her hair has grown out some since her “Torn” days. The brown locks which once promoted L’Oreal flow onto the shoulders of her navy blue dress.
“So, you’re Natalie Imbruglia, famous person. Would you hypothetically date a non-famous person?” I ask. “Like, say, a music writer? Or would you have nothing in common with him?”
“What are you looking at?” she asks.
“Oh, I was just thinking,” I say, “this would be a nice place to have our engagement party.” She laughs out loud. “I could see that,” she says. “I hope we can fit all my friends down here.”
“Yeah,” I continue, pressing my luck, “I’m imagining, for the invitations, a bone white cardstock, maybe a subtle embossment.” She laughs louder.

Male is not a very good album. I’m assuming the writer didn’t have anything particularly positive to say about it, so he didn’t say anything. But if you are unwilling to promote a female artist’s music, yet choose to do an interview anyway entirely and admittedly on the basis of your physical attraction for said artist, then you are contributing, in some small but vital way, to an outdated culture in which female musicians feel sexualized, patronized, and diminished by the overwhelmingly male gaze of their critics.

Let’s not do that anymore, okay?

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via screengrab.

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