I am SO excited about something I heard on the radio. Not the same kind of excited I get when Cadbury brings out a new Marvellous Creation, but mentally stimulated. I heard a news report about a new trend that has emerged among young women called ‘Vocal Fry’ or ‘Creaking’. Girls are actually damaging their larynxes by making that creaky noise with their voice when talking, so that their voice kind of trails off into thin dumb air. Theories abound as to why – perhaps women are trying to speak lower than their natural vocal range in an effort to sound more masculine and dominant, or perhaps it’s part of an obsession young people have with appearing laidback (just think of hipster fashions, bed-hair, etc). Or perhaps, it’s because there is something in the media/water/air that convinces some young girls, just as I’m sure it has for many generations before, that they need to do two things to be liked.
Slut up and dumb down.
As I said, I’m really excited about the Vocal Fry phenomenon, because I find it intensely interesting. I don’t know why young girls – not to mention some older women and celebrities like Katy Perry and Kim KarTrashian – think that weird creaky noise is attractive. It reminds me of being a kid and trying to annoy your sibling by seeing how long and slow you could draw out a creaky note. And of one time when I sat across from a drunk guy on a train and he held it for about twenty-five minutes, and then passed out. It’s not an attractive noise. But a bit of creaking does go nicely hand-in-hand with intelligent phrases such as ‘like, I was totally, like, oh my Gawwwwd’. And I hear these phrases come out of the mouths of some women who are probably a lot smarter than they let on – like the girls on Big Brother or The Bachelor. I get SO fascinated when I do watch reality television (though I am a TV junkie, I generally avoid reality TV because it's not so good for us actor people trying to have a career) by the women who dumb themselves down by changing their voice, vocabulary and IQ. They’ll say something to a camera, or to a boy, or to a flock of girls, like “Oh my gawwwd, I’m like, totally, whateverrrr”, and then a subtitle will say ‘Tara, 29. Speech Pathologist.’ Tara, Tara, Tara*. You must be smart. Why do you seem so dumb?
And while I’m on the rhetorical questions, Tara, why d’ya gotta act so skanky too? I’m not one for name-calling (except affectionately. You know you’re my friend when I give you a rude nickname), so I’m not saying these girls ARE skanks. But the faux-lesbian-dancing**, the bend-and-snapping, the explicit stories that make you sound like the village bicycle – whatever happened to a bit of class? Now, I am all for girls being as sexy/sexual/sexed-up as they want to be – just because I can be a bit prudish, doesn’t mean I don’t have a saucy red dress or two in my wardrobe (although, I do like to primly quote an amazing thing my boss said once about the girls at Melbourne Cup... “Jeez girls, throw your ankles a party and invite your hemline down!!!" BRILLIANT). But it worries and fascinates me that some girls – the same girls who are getting treated for frying their vocal chords – think that they have to compromise their true identity, voice, intelligence and integrity to be more accepted/respected/noticed.
Miley Cyrus. Oh, Miley. Don’t you hate it when you think you’re dancing like Beyonce, and then you see yourself on video and you actually look like a perverted Mr Bean? Well, it’s never happened to me (I definitely look like Beyonce.... but won’t ever risk watching video just in case)... but it must’ve sucked for little Miley when she came down from the high induced by whatever she smoked before she put on those chicken-ass hotpants. I bet she feels really sheepish (as sheepish as a chicken-ass can feel) now that she has seen footage of her insanely unco dancing and foam finger antics. Miley’s not a dumb girl, surely. I don’t know her personally – she never returns my calls – but up until she flirted with shaved-head-emotional-meltdown territory (of which Britters Spears shall always be Queen), she seemed to have her head screwed on pretty tight. Okay, I honestly hardly paid any attention to her, so I have no idea how tightly her head was screwed on (such a weird term when you think about it too long). Until I was corrected, I thought Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana were sisters. I actually said to my friend “Poor Miley, she’ll never be as famous as her sister”... and then had the truth explained to me through fits of pitying laughter. But Miley has seemed entirely inoffensive and smart until now. So either she has gone off the rails a bit – understandable, when you are caught up in the world of Hollywood, Disney and Famous-Mulleted-Fathers – or she is trying to create a new image for herself. A new ‘sexy’ image, that has started with her slutting herself up, dumbing herself down.... and disguising her ass as a chicken.
Sandy from Grease was a bad role model too. She went from being sweet and innocent (albeit, annoyingly so.... I always wanted to throw a bit of dirt on her), to wearing hooker high heels, a leather jacket, and pants she was actually SEWN INTO (FACT). And smoking, licking her lips and saying ‘Tell me about it... stud’, so she can win the attention of a high school boy who treated her like crap in front of his friends (by the way, I’m a HUGE fan of Grease, I’m just making a point....). Slutted herself up. Dumbed herself down. Probably started speaking in an affected voice. Probably changed into some chicken-ass hotpants later.
Fortunately, most girls in this country seem to be full of integrity, veracity and open intelligence. I feel happy that I can generalise that most girls I have met in my life (certainly all the ones I’m friends with) are made of the good stuff. There is just always a handful of girls – the same handful who are being treated for Vocal Fry, and are often lining up outside of clubs on Bourke St on Saturday night wearing dresses that show the shape of their bikini wax – who get a little bit lost, and forget that Sandy probably would have ended up with Danny even if she didn’t slut up, because he liked her for her (when he stopped being a dumb jock... the guys' version of dumb slut). A handful of girls who have forgotten that classiness can be sexy, and so can intelligence. So if you know any young girls who look to be heading in the wrong direction, following the wrong kind of role model, imitating the wrong kind of reality TV contestant – just give them a little nudge and remind them to be themselves, and wear their intelligence and dignity on the outside. Because deep down... no one likes a chicken-ass with a creaky voice.
*Tara is fictitious. If you said that to fictitious Tara, she’d probably croak “Oh my gawwwwd, what does that, like, mean?”.
**The faux-lesbian-dance has become our generation's version of The Bustop or The Nutbush. Grind up against female friends and turn all the males on with the occasional slut drop. If you don’t know what a slut drop is, YouTube it because I’ve run out of footer space.
By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on Twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She is probably trying to hold a creaky note for as long and slow as possible.