The hypersexualization of female stars on the cover of Rolling Stone

A sociologist found that Rolling Stone cover images of female stars have become more sexualized over the last few decades:

Hypersexualized images of women, on the other hand, went from representing six per cent of female covers in the 1970s to 61 per cent in the 2000s…

During the 2000s, women were 3 1 /2 times more likely to be hypersexualized than nonsexualized, and nearly five times more likely to be sexualized (hyper or otherwise) than non-sexualized.

Hatton acknowledges that many people will dismiss this conclusion as old hat, citing the venerable advertising maxim that “sex sells.”

But Hatton argues that to simply shrug off the findings is to ignore evidence that popculture’s accepted image of femininity is narrowing, dangerously, by the decade.

Several thoughts come to mind:

1. Rolling Stone has certainly changed over the years. From my own vantage point, it was once more serious, particularly about music, but has now become simply another pop culture magazine with occasional over-the-top political coverage.

2. The biggest surprise here is that the hypersexualization has become much worse over the years. And this is from a “progressive” magazine?

3. I wonder if large-scale surveys have presented such images to Americans and asked for their opinion. If so, then might we see a shift in opinion similar to the shift in images on the cover of Rolling Stone? In other words, are these covers simply a proxy for larger cultural opinions?

Reviving an old debate: who is the best Beatle?

Rolling Stone has released a special issue featuring the 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Paul Grein of Yahoo! Music argues the list revives the question of who was the greatest Beatle:

Of the 100 songs, which were ranked by the editors of Rolling Stone, 40 were written by Lennon, 35 by McCartney, 17 by the two men working together and eight by George Harrison, who came into his own as a songwriter on the Beatles’ final albums.

So it’s fairly close, but Lennon was the key Beatle? Not so fast. In the high-rent district, McCartney leads. McCartney has three songs in the top 10 (“Yesterday” at #4, “Hey Jude” at #7 and “Let It Be” at #8), to just two for Lennon (“Strawberry Fields Forever” at #3 and “Come Together” at #9). Three songs in the top 10 are Lennon/McCartney collaborations: “A Day In The Life” at #1, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” at #2 and “In My Life” at #5. Harrison wrote the two remaining songs in the top 10 (“Something” at #6 and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at #10).

Grein concludes that Lennon was favored in the list:

Why do critics tend to favor Lennon? There are two main reasons. Lennon was edgier and more envelope-pushing, and rock critics tend to favor those qualities over McCartney’s more tradition-bound, pop-minded virtues. Also, Lennon died at 40, shot to death outside of his apartment.

I’ll add my own two cents: Lennon said the kinds of things, particularly politically and culturally, that people who write and read Rolling Stone like. But I’m not convinced he was so “edgy” – after reading several books about his life, particularly post-Beatles, he sounds like a man who was often lost. While he often sounded like a man who knew what he thought, his personal actions indicated something else.

As for who is the best Beatle: I can’t say I really have a favorite. What continually impresses me is the whole they made out of four different parts. The solo work of all four members is an indication that something special happened between the members to create such enduring music.