‘Stick it to the Pimp’: Peaches’ Penetration of Postmodern America’s Mainstream

  • Angus Whitehead
Chapter
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)

Abstract

In this chapter, Whitehead takes on the originally Torontonian, now Berlin-based performer Peaches, who uses her infiltration of the American mainstream to challenge prejudices and restrictions on gender and sex. Whitehead observes that Peaches’ pop culture references are almost entirely American, but while she celebrates the energy, freedom and populism that America’s culture and history can stand for, she skewers its puritanism, and its betrayals of its own revolutionary heritage. In particular, her musical and social activism against George W. Bush during the Iraq War illustrates the way she insists, wittily, on the interrelation of sex and politics, as in the album title that plays on her name and the president’s: Impeach My Bush. Whitehead also discusses Peaches’ relation to American culture in the shape of music and film, analyzing her parodic reimaginings ranging from Jan and Dean’s ‘Surf City’ to The Wizard of Oz. After examining her persona as an inversion of the male rock god, he traces Peaches’ indebtedness to American icons Chrissie Hynde, Pat Benatar and Joan Jett, and Canadian Carole Pope; like these earlier figures and unlike contemporary stars such as Miley Cyrus, Peaches is not a sex object, but rather strongly androgynous. Her outrageous costumes tend to cover more than they reveal, and she exploits insecurities about female bodies such as body hair and wrinkles. Further, she undermines the very idea of a sex object in the role reversals in her songs, encouraging women to try out the active position and men the passive. Perhaps surprisingly amid her iconoclasm, the former music teacher has pedagogical purposes. ‘The Teaches of Peaches’ (as in the title of her first album under that pseudonym) are of sexual liberation and exploration, and advocate embracing diversity – not only in others but also in oneself, discovering desires and identities previously unrealized.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angus Whitehead
    • 1
  1. 1.Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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