John Murph Responds to my Critique of his Article on Tia Fuller

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Somehow John Murph caught wind of my post critiquing elements of his article for JazzTimes on Tia Fuller.  So in case you don’t scour the comments of each post (I don’t even think the mother unit does that) here’s what he had to say:

Hi Chris,
Thanks for reading my piece on Tia Fuller. And yes, I did describe her physical attributes. But I think your post is a bit misleading because the article didn’t solely focus on her physique. My intro was to give the readers a good sense of Fuller the person and help visualize her. If I’m writing the feature on a male artist, I tend to do the same.

Thanks again.

Dear John,

You make a good point, in that the tone and bulk of my critique was so heavily slanted towards your physical description of Fuller that the rest of the article, which I had no problem with, got overshadowed.  I only briefly mentioned in maybe a sentence at best what I found to be the positive elements of your article.  And for that I apologize, as what I chose to focus on consisted of  maybe one percent of the total article.  If one removes the comments I focused on, references to her name, and any gendered pronouns and other references to her gender, then your article reads pretty much how a profile on a male musician would be, which is a great thing.

I guess the thrust of my critique is that it is so much easier for a woman to be objectified than it is for a man, and that the best way (in my opinion) for the risk of such objectification to be reduced is to not even focus on physical characteristics of both male and female musicians. 

Of course it is just not the responsibility of the writer to be concerned with the possibility for his or her subject to be objectified, but it falls on the artist and his or her lablel, promoters, etc. as well.  The other person who commented on the post had a point when he talked about Fuller’s album cover and her publicity photos.  She and those in charge of marketing her have objectified the public persona and image of Tia Fuller, of which writers such as yourself have no control of.

So again, Mr. Murph, I apologize for not acknowledging the positive aspects of your piece as much as I should have.  But that does not mean I don’t stand by my original interpretation that certain parts of your piece helped to objectify Ms. Fuller, which I fully believe that you did not intend to do.  I respect you as a writer, critic and journalist, and I will continue to read your writing.  As a student and jazz studies scholar who is concerned with gender and race issues, as well being a fellow journalist and critic, I just felt the need to respond to your piece with a critical eye. 

Respectfully, Chris Robinson.

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