Friday, April 11, 2008

Adolescent Sexuality?

Dear Paul,
I think you are very sexy and I don’t even know what it means.
Your little fan,
Shirley D.
Louisville, Kentucky
- Love Letters to the Beatles, ed. Bill Adler (1964)

I'd like to suggest that we take the sexual underpinnings of Beatlemania for granted. These girls were in many cases too young to be self-aware/reflective enough to name the nature of their fixation. Sexuality was certainly a part of the mania, but the more we tell the girls who obsess over teen idols that it is budding sexuality they are experiencing, the more the nuance and complexity of this phenomenon is forgotten. Does Shirley D. really have sexual feelings for Paul, or is she just told so?

I wonder if her feelings for Paul have more to do with identification than we think.

Dear Beatles—
I saw you when you landed at Kennedy Airport in New York. I was almost killed and I was just six feet away from you. Everybody went crazzzy. I had an ankle sprained, my dress torn, a slightly scratched face, and a black eye.
I adore you all,
Cookie E.
Queens, N.Y.
-Love Letters to the Beatles, ed. Bill Adlers (1964)

Furthermore, Beatlemania wasn't part of what cultural critics condescendingly refer to as girls' "bedroom culture". It, like many other social movements of the sixties, was a call to action. Beatlemania give young white girls an opportunity to participate in the violence of the sixties. Contrary to stereotype, violence can as seductive to girls as we let it be to boys.

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