No CrossRef data available.
“The Dress-Clad, Out Loud Singer of Queer Punks”: Bradford Cox and the Performance of Disability
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 August 2020
Bradford Cox's physical appearance has mystified audiences, critics, and fans since the inception of his American indie rock band Deerhunter in the early 2000s. As the band's frontman, Cox is 6’4” with an exceptionally thin, angular frame, physical effects associated with Marfan syndrome. Yet many critics and fans do not recognize that he has a disability per se, instead speculating about possible anorexia, drug abuse, mental illness, and even his gender and sexual orientation. Through analysis of Cox's reception and creative output, I argue that the simultaneous fetishization and normalization of his body is due to its resonance with two overlapping countercultural discourses: the current idealization of thinness in indie rock as it both extends and departs from an earlier tradition of freakery and androgyny in punk. I show that Cox resists what he views as the masculine heteronormativity and performative apathy of indie rock through “freakish” sartorial reference to his androgynous punk idols PJ Harvey, Joey Ramone, and Patti Smith, an aesthetic that for Cox is vitally queer. Cox uses his solo musical output to further convey his alienation as a queer-disabled male artist: through his lyrics, album art, and specific vocal affectations and production techniques, he establishes a continuity across the visual and sonic registers of his identity to ultimately achieve a sense of belonging.
- Research Article
- Journal of the Society for American Music , Volume 14 , Issue 3 , August 2020 , pp. 250 - 279
- Copyright © The Society for American Music 2020