Last Thursday David L. Garcia of the San Francisco Foghorn Student Newspaper published a review of Best Coast’s performance at The Fillmore, in which he commented on guitarist Bethany Cosentino’s “sexy” appearance, and lamented the fact that she “barely smiled.” Now that the hype has died down a bit, we wanted to share a few thoughts on the “Best Coast Sexist Review” that went viral last week.
After reading commentary regarding Cosentino’s backlash, we momentarily felt defeated and questioned if this would ever end. In just five short sentences, Garcia reduced Cosentino from an influential singer, songwriter and guitarist to a stereotype.
He went on to comment on how Cosentino “barely smiled” and ended with “I’m certainly not going to fault them for one off night. I just wish they had put on a show half as good as Cosentino’s outfit.” Similar to the Kalliope Jones incident a couple of months back, where three teenage girls were judged on their lack of sex appeal at a Battle of the Bands, the Garcia vs. Cosentino story isn’t about the writer’s opinion on Best Coast’s performance or music. It’s about the angle Garcia took accompanied by the shift in tone and language that is simply uncommonly used when reviewing male musicians. You would not read a concert review about men looking “sexier than any rock star,” which is how Garcia described Cosentino. You also don’t read about men being called out for a lousy performance but making up for it by having a nice looking bulge or tight abs—amiright?
Maybe more disheartening than Garcia’s article was the backlash Cosentino received devaluing her experience and marking her feelings invalid or “sensitive”.
Call it whatever you want—sexism, ignorance, music criticism—the fact of the matter remains that women musicians and in general are held to different standards in the media. Even more influential than Garcia’s opinion are the editors who are publishing this kind of journalistic taste that undermines women’s talent and capabilities and objectifies them instead. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it over and over again: this ignorance is not permissible because, however subconsciously rooted and unintentional it is, it confirms that it’s ok to view women as eye candy while skill and hard work become secondary. Furthermore, it encourages the younger generation of music critics to perpetuate that divide.
Also, Cosentino was performing with a Fender Jazzmaster not a Fender Jaguar (From a photo of her full guitar in a different review of the same show, you can tell by the pickup selector)—in case you were wondering, David L. Garcia.