2017 - 2018
You Make My Heart Go Giddy Up
Essay by Charlotte Gavin
The strong visual and euphoric associations of “bubblegum” have fueled a media empire that has expanded from its roots of the late mid-20th century cultural boom of palatable bubblegum pop music. The range of splendid connotations “bubblegum” carries is impossible to deny: the word oozes a cornucopia of sweet, visual pleasure that flashes glossy, gooey, pastel imagery all working to signify a greater phantasm of a light hearted, Utopian America.
The term “bubblegum pop” was originally coined by two music producers as a marketing tool for capitalizing on the 1960s/1970s youth culture via the upbeat “ooey gooey chewy” and radiant sound of songs such as Sugar Sugar by The Archies, Chewy Chewy by Ohio Express, Sunshine Day by the Brady Bunch. These exuberant tunes encapsulated the short and sweet nature of bubblegum pop that was well received among impressionable teenagers who easily succumbed to the genre’s mouth-watering hypnosis (I am watching the Brady Bunch music video for Sunshine Day as I write this and I can hardly contain my GLEE <3 ). These songs used the connotations of “bubblegum” to preach happiness, dreamy love, and colorful fantasies--an approach that has since prevailed in the consumer market, subsequently setting the stage for the postmodern internet and visual culture.
As society continues to advance technologically and warp politically, life becomes a cluster of media spectacles emerging from the culture of social media and its capitalist-driven phenomena. The users behind visual platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram have managed to develop various facets of popular imagery alluding to the alluring characteristics of bubblegum pop and the construction of an amplified, romanticized American identity. The birth of internet culture has made it easier for everyone to curate their own visual fantasies-- both for themselves and their passive viewer or “follower.” Instead of previously consuming the sweet sensation of bubblegum pop restricted to popular music and video, we are now controlled by a greater multitude of media outlets where practically everything is a manufactured spectacle working to contain an illusion of reality.
Sunshine wrapped in rainbows
Passionate scenes abound
Drifting on an island
Bubblegum forms a sound
Hold it in your hand
Pop it in your mouth
On a merry-go-round of make believe
Ariel Pink “Bubblegum Dreams”
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, 2017