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Home » Culture and Criticism

Take Five…Please: Why So Many Hate The Spice Girls So Much

Submitted by on March 11, 1996 – 8:59 PMNo Comment

A few years ago, the sister of a friend of mine came up with an interesting theory about Hootie and the Blowfish.I don't know remember how she devised this hypothesis — the mind of a Yale undergraduate works in strange ways — but Little E asserted that the United States government had proposed and funded Hootie and the Blowfish as an all-American set piece of propaganda.As her evidence, she pointed to their bland and family value-laden lyrics; the politically-correct racial mix of the band members; the fact that nobody she knew had either bought their album or knew anyone else who had bought their album; and the quality of their music, which in its persistent mediocrity bore a suspicious resemblance to the United States government itself.

The recent rise to fame of the Spice Girls has elicited the same type of reaction, the same attempt by those who believe in the triumph of good over evil to explain the towering success of something that sucks like a Hoover.But while Hootie and the Blowfish inspire a mild lite-FM contempt at worst, the Spice Girls cause spasms of virulent indignation and loathing in even the most mild-mannered music fan.

I think this poisonous hatred of the Spice Girls runs deeper than the solitary fact that their music bites.A lot of so-called popular music bites, but nobody has built a "Slap Celine Dion" site or compared Gwen Stefani to Satan, because nobody cares enough to bother.But for some reason, where No Doubt merely annoys, the Spice Girls mortally offend.How did this happen?How did a British girl group generate more venom and bad press than the Klan?

For starters, people take the Spice Girls far too seriously.The Spice Girls have better numbers than the Beatles, a blasphemy that gives many people the general impression that the decline and fall of civilization has begun.I can't deny that I felt a bit queasy myself when I learned of that development, and I too find it ironic that the Spice Girls have supplanted a band that once compared its own fame to that of Jesus.I don't remember hearing a peep out of these purists, though, when Wal-Mart's unrestricted music censorship policies hit the front pages, and it seems to me that if Wal-Mart appoints itself the arbiter of cultural morality in this country, THEN we can start muttering about the apocalypse.But the Spicephobes have a curious lack of perspective; they equate five hussies in vinyl with the sack of Rome.They take the Spice Girls personally.

Women take the Spice Girls personally too, but for different reasons.Women look at the Spice Girls — curvy, sassy, and fairly percolating with the thrill of making another million each time Mel B's tongue pierce catches the light — and feel disgusted and threatened.The pre-fabricated vapidity and the youthful cleavage, existing alongside the astonishing scantiness of talent, send women the message that brains and hard work don't matter.Even singing doesn't matter.Breasts matter.Thighs matter.Your personality and your talent mean nothing if you don't have a cute nickname.This message, probably unintended but as relentless as the airplay of "Wannabe," engenders intense Spicephobic hatred in women.It also engenders envy, to which most women will never admit, but which they feel every time their boyfriends stop at MTV during a Spice Girls video and say that the song sucks but watch anyway because Baby Spice speaks directly to their fantasies of deflowering a schoolgirl.The envy in turn excites even more disgust, this time with themselves, for even caring.

Even worse, say some, the Spice Girls don't apologize for themselves.They act as though they have a right to all the money and attention; they refuse to confess to the world that they don't deserve any of their ill-gotten gains.The unabashed joy that the Spice Girls take in their existence, far from seeming refreshing, comes off as hopelessly arrogant to Spicephobes.Spicephobes want justice — nothing short of a public flogging will do — and the failure of the Spice Girls to behave modestly whets the public's appetite for their humiliation.The Spice Girls know that they can't sing, or act, very well, but they don't really care.This blithe posture infuriates people naïve enough to believe that you can still get somewhere in life on the strength of your merits.

I think that this basic premise — that life is not fair — underlies every reason that people have for hating the Spice Girls.People get up and go to jobs that they don't like but tolerate so that they can pay the rent, they get jostled on the subway, they sit at their desks for eight hours and work on projects that they don't get proper credit for, they take crap from their bosses, they go home, they exercise but they don't see any difference, they wait for their crush to call but the phone doesn't ring, and they go to bed, but before setting the alarm they watch a little MTV, and when they see the Spice Girls frolicking and mugging and basically having the most fun they can have with their clothes on, people clutch the remote until their knuckles turn white and send waves of hatred towards the TV, because the Spice Girls have no talent, the Spice Girls do not work hard, the Spice Girls have as much money as Bill Gates, the Spice Girls have the cheek to enjoy themselves, and Spicephobes just don't think it's fair.

I too despise the Spice Girls, because I have to worry about money and wearing clothes that don't make me look fat, and they don't have to worry about those things, and I basically think that sucks.But my mother told me a thousand times if she told me once that life isn't fair, and blaming the Spice Girls for the unfairness of life gives them a lot more credit than they deserve, methinks.

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