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Trial and error

ZIG-A-ZIG-AH! The Spice Girls on Trial, Five, 9.00pm

The Spice Girls on TrialSwing it, shake it, move it, make it - indeed, just who do you think you are, eh? You cannot have failed to notice that the Spice Girls are back and attempting to conquer the world all over again, minor setbacks involving this year's official Children in Need single notwithstanding. Sadly, the comeback appears to be inescapable for all the wrong reasons - not because the populace is standing with open arms waiting to welcome our glorious leaders once more, but because a lot of people seem to want to be the one to shout first and loudest about what a terrible idea it is, what horrible people they are for even considering it. And that strikes us as unfair, frankly - not to mention a tad misogynistic. (We realise lowculture is not generally one's destination of choice for angry feminist polemic, but we're taking a leaf out of Jamie Oliver's book and trying something new today.)

We read an article the other day (our sense of class and decency prohibits us from saying where, but you can probably guess) which decried the Spice comeback as a failure, on the grounds that the single failed to crack the Top 10 and the tickets for UK tour dates were changing hands for a pittance on ebay. It compared the tour unfavourably to Take That's return, and suggested that Take That had gone about it the right way, while the Spice Girls had Done It Wrong, of course, being women with no grasp of anything beyond shoes and dresses. It conveniently overlooked the fact that the Spice Girls are returning with a world tour, and thus that their appeal extends beyond the usual staples of western Europe and Asia. It also didn't account for healthy sales of the Greatest Hits CD, or the way the news of the return was greeted with excitement on even the more cynical corners of the internet, or the fact that all five of the girls remained comfortably in the public eye during the band's hiatus, which suggests in turn that the appetite for Spice Girls news has never truly gone away. It felt like a particularly British kind of cynicism, where we can't be happy that one of our most successful pop exports have returned for a victory lap - we have to rain shit on it, just to make sure they don't go thinking they can get away with such things.

While the Take That reunion attracted some raised eyebrows and sarcastic comments, as did the respective returns of Five, Boyzone, All Saints, and Pepsi and Shirley (maybe not that last one), they were never asked to justify themselves in the way that the Spice Girls have had to - tonight's programme being a case in point. It claims to be revealing "what the world really thinks" about the reunion, presumably in the hope that they'll get enough people to respond "I'd rather they just all fucked off, to be honest", at which point, this poll obviously being final and legally binding, the Spice Girls will be banned from appearing together in public forever and everyone can stop being worried about the possibility of some women being successful and having a bit of money. Other questions intending to be answered include "were they the starting point for our inane obsession with celebrity culture?" (this from Five, you'll note - physician, heal thyself) and whether there was "any substance" to Girl Power.

There wasn't, to our recollection, quite such a clamour for Take That to defend their reasons for reuniting. There wasn't an entire TV show devoted to whether we really "need" them to come back - which is a ridiculous concept anyway. We didn't "need" the return of Cadbury's Wispa, but that didn't mean it wasn't exciting and pleasant. We don't "need" another X Factor winner, but we're getting one. And we certainly don't "need" an hour of primetime television amounting to a glorified show of hands that will ultimately prove to be of no purpose, but -- oh, look at that! Here it is all the same. And in much the same way that we can choose not to watch this show tonight, people can choose not to endorse or support the Spice Girls return in any way. That doesn't mean it's necessary to seek to find any possible excuse to suggest the wheels are about to fall off.

We don't pretend to be music critics, nor do we pretend to be qualified spokespeople on the subject of pop culture - we've not once been asked to be a talking head on I Love The Greatest Worst Years of the Most Hilariously Annoying 1990s, much to our chagrin - but we like to at least consider ourselves some kind of bastion of decency, and supporters of equal rights for everyone. Either reunion tours are acceptable, or they're not: let's have none of this hair-splitting on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether we think the act in question needs taking down a peg or two. Perhaps this programme thinks it's being clever or irreverent or zeitgeisty, but ultimately it's unlikely it will achieve anything when all's said and done. Which is, curiously enough, one accusation you definitely cannot level at the Spice Girls. Fancy that.

Rant over. Let's resume normal service and go back to staring at Gethin Jones groping Matt di Angelo, shall we?

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4 Comments:

Crikey. That's some sticking up for the girls. Were you/are you secretly one of them? Or perhaps you're in a tribute act?! x

By Anonymous TJ, at 9:28 am  

Well said, Lowculture!

It's not that the Spice Girls coming back is empirically a good idea or a bad idea, it's that the British media can't find anything to say about it other than "who let these idiots back in? No-one likes them, do we everybody? Eh? Eh?". Which is just toadying up to sceptics. It's icky.

Course, I'm only butting in cos I predicted that this would happen on my blog...so ner!

By Anonymous ChartBlog, at 10:36 am  

Word.

More Spice Girls-feminist polemic -

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2007/12/the_spice_girls

By Blogger Carrie, at 10:12 pm  

I don't really like the Spice Girls that much as artists but do find them interesting as cultural icons. I think that this Lowculture post is SPOT ON and one of the best blog posts I have ever read. And I actually mean that; it's not like when Simon Cowell tells Hope 'that was the best performance of the competition so far'.

By Blogger Lost Boy, at 11:36 am  

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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