Living the B(r)and
Utter the words Iron Maiden or Mötley Crüe and the imagery that first springs to mind may well be of leather-jacketed and hairy all-male heavy metal bands. It makes sense, as that is what they are. But utter these words in the same sentence as Demi Lovato or Lindsay Lohan, and things start to get a little interesting. What I’m talking about is the relatively new phenomenon that is pop princesses and other such glitzy girls (and boys) who have never so much as seen the front cover of an Iron Maiden album being seen out in public wearing t-shirts that would suggest that they are somehow a hardened fan. It’s happening across the board- from Kristen Stewart wearing a The Clash t-shirt and David Beckham in Iron Maiden, to American-faux-royal-wannabe-hasty-divorcee Kim Kardashian channelling her inner (non-existent) ‘rock chick’ in a Van Halen t-shirt. The list is endless of celebrities who are doing this, with some surprising (Britney Spears wearing AC/DC anyone?) to some which you might expect (gossip-girl-gone-goth Taylor Momsen from The Pretty Reckless in a Rage Against The Machine t-shirt) but the point is the same- how many of these celebrities have ever even listened to these bands who’s t-shirts they are wearing, let alone been to one of their gigs? Asking Miley Cyrus what her favourite Iron Maiden song is would probably yield a similar response to if you asked your grandma to discuss the relative benefits of Apple versus Android. It just doesn’t make sense.
And this strange genre mismatch isn’t confined just to celebrities wearing unlikely band t-shirts; the idea of people wearing or embracing a kind of celebrity culture that they actually have no idea about can be seen everywhere. Teenage girls worldwide have posters of Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn proudly strewn across their bedroom walls, yet I’m willing to bet none of them could name a film in which Marilyn starred, or even what she was famous for, and people wearing skate shoes who have no intention of going anywhere near a skateboard. In today’s postmodern society, it’s all about the brand. People can pick and choose which aspects of media and celebrity culture they want to embrace, as and when it suits the image they want to portray. Of course Kim Kardashian has never had any intention of listening to Van Halen, she just wants to look cool; teenage girls have no idea who Marilyn Monroe really was, they just like the idea of what she represents.
It seems like nothing is sacred in the world of celebrity, and hardcore fans may feel that everything that a band stands for has been watered down to be accessed by the masses. After all, it always comes down to style over substance.