I exchanged a couple of cordial and informative emails with Kip Manley, proprietor of Long Story, Short Pier, regarding his citation of the Russian pseudo-lesbian pop duo Tatu, which I mentioned the other day. He made some interesting comments, which he generously gave permission to quote.
[O]bjectification is a fact of life, and for me, it's more important how readers read the whatever-it-is than what the leering svengali might have intended, wink-wink. We will always have junk in pop culture, and it will always be used for good ends as well as bad. ...It's funny: I'm read as pro-Tatu by people who find them appalling, and anti- by people who don't. I guess I succeeded in communicating my ambiguity...
With Tatu--it's a weirdly impressive example of eating your cake and having it, too. Being so open about sexuality as a pose, a stunt, a role you put on and take off, is breathtakingly daring and guaranteed to piss off people left and right; between the objectification and exploitation (on the one hand), and the celebration of the raw (if faked) emotion and the marginalized (if commodified) rebellion on the other, they've got a powerful combination to catch a whole lot of different attentions and hold them. When I first heard about them back last summer, and started to do a little digging, I figured they were going to hit it huge. It looks like they are in the process of doing just that. Which is as good as it is bad.
I downloaded some of Tatu's music from their official site, and I agree with Kip's assessment in his blog post: "Chirpy Europop."