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I know it was Flavor Aid, but Kool Aid flows better...

So my friend scored some Broadway tickets at a deep discount and I ended up seeing Chicago and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The lead of Chicago (Roxie Hart) was played by Angelica Ross, who happens to be a TIM, one I really dislike for one huge reason, but I digress. Aside from the bad storyline, I found his acting to be wooden and unconvincing. I left the theater feeling aggravated

Second came HP, a play which I ended up liking far more than Chicago, but what interested me was how the theater employees were all wearing"ally" and pronoun pins, how there was a sign by the bathroom saying "all gender expressions welcome" and that the play's showbill had pronouns next to the cast members' bios (the Chicago one didn't have this BTW). It was like they were going out of their way to say how much they disagree with JKR's politics. 🧐

Between this and seeing the TIM at the Planned Parenthood wearing a shirt saying "no TERFs" at my local pride recently, I need a time turner myself so I can leave this clown era.

I know it was Flavor Aid, but Kool Aid flows better... So my friend scored some Broadway tickets at a deep discount and I ended up seeing *Chicago* and *Harry Potter and the Cursed Child*. The lead of Chicago (Roxie Hart) was played by Angelica Ross, who happens to be a TIM, one I really dislike for one huge reason, but I digress. Aside from the bad storyline, I found his acting to be wooden and unconvincing. I left the theater feeling aggravated Second came HP, a play which I ended up liking far more than Chicago, but what interested me was how the theater employees were all wearing"ally" and pronoun pins, how there was a sign by the bathroom saying "all gender expressions welcome" and that the play's showbill had pronouns next to the cast members' bios (the Chicago one didn't have this BTW). It was like they were going out of their way to say how much they disagree with JKR's politics. 🧐 Between this and seeing the TIM at the Planned Parenthood wearing a shirt saying "no TERFs" at my local pride recently, I need a time turner myself so I can leave this clown era.

72 comments

Funnily enough, in classical music, we've been dealing with cross-casting for years. Starting in the '00s, it became almost mandatory to hire a countertenor (male who sings in quasi-female register) for women's alto or pants roles (I don't even know how to explain pants roles--these roles were written either for castrated men pre-18th century or for women playing boys, which was considered sort of titillating. For the most part, only women were cast in both types of roles for the past hundred years or so). We women singers used to make fun of countertenors all the time. They almost never sound as good as women--you can clock them by ear even more easily than you can clock TIMs visually. Men singers--ALL men singers, not just the countertenors, would get super prickly when the womenfolk mocked countertenors. I used to find that weird, but after 10 years of Trans v2, I understand it better.

[–] GenderHeretic Assigned2LegsAB 12 points Edited

I had a feeling I knew what kind of singers you meant and yep, when I looked it up I was right. Women mock them because they sound god damn ridiculous imitating a female voice with male vocal chords. I had a music teacher in high school who would sing this way, and well, you can imagine teenagers' reactions, even though we all tried to keep straight faces. He'd get really butthurt at the muffled snickering and "brag" (whine) that men's voices have far greater range than women's. While that's true, it's also true that the voice you're putting on sounds indistinguishable from men who are trying to sound comedic.

And the thing is that a lot of men have fantastic high voices. Extremely high voices, too, that make full use of their wider range. It's that just this silly mimicry of women's voices will always draw attention to how their voices don't measure up to what they're imitating.

I love extremely high adult male voices but not as mimicry, just as high male voices singing. For the really high voices in classical music I prefer the clarity of female voices.

I'm very interested in hearing examples of the sorts of voices you describe -- especially how women would mock countertenors, but also your opinion of what makes a good high male voice.

[–] GenderHeretic Assigned2LegsAB 8 points

I don't want to give examples as it's a matter of opinion and taste and I don't want to get sidetracked into why this or that example is good or bad. The best way I can explain what I mean is how fake a voice sounds, which again is a matter of opinion. Some singing styles (used by both sexes) involve putting on a voice, and sometimes the false or forced quality of it can be quite audible and it rubs me the wrong way (even when the singer is highly acclaimed). It's very noticeable when you compare various singers doing renditions of the same song with the same arrangement.

Men love to do silly, absurdly exaggerated voices when impersonating women, but then you have the male singers who use the same very fake type of voice for serious singing. It's not the high pitch itself, it's the resemblance in character to men's comedic mimicry of women. So we're supposed to laugh along with men when they use a particular voice to mock us, but we're also not supposed to find the exact same type of voice funny anymore when they want us to take it seriously and admire them for it.

If a male high singing voice doesn't sound like when men do an impersonation of a woman as part of a humorous anecdote, then it doesn't sound silly to me.

It's interesting--there's a lot of overlap for me with the gender thing. Men who sing high but don't try to ape women are the ones I enjoy listening to: Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley, Sting--most of them are not classical singers.

Here's an example of a top drawer classical countertenor. He's a stiff, terrible actor and though his voice doesn't have the harsh, edgy sound countertenors often have, there's no way he would have been considered good enough to cast opposite Sonya Yoncheva (the soprano in this video) if he was a woman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuzLj2aoys

the voice that came to mind for me was Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden. He has a fairly high voice, and it sounds genuine, not artificial in any way

Men also know (or at least used to know) falsettists can never be as good as singers using their natural voice. I forgot whether it was Jacopo Peri or Giulio Caccini who lambasted falsettists. Personally I do not understand the appeal of falsetto, which is in turn shrill and feeble, and always has an incorporeal feel, other than a desire for novelty. By now the novelty should've worn off, but like drag, it has somehow become rather mainstream. And there are apparently quite some people who can't tell the difference between a falsetto and a woman's voice (!) -- I've lost count of the number of times I've heard/read someone express surprise that a male role in some opera was played by a woman. They usually mean it as a compliment to the woman's acting abilities, but it seems to me they need to have their hearing checked.

Also, I suspect the rise of falsettists has something to do with misogyny and lesbophobia. Outside of some sacred music, the employment of falsettists should be antithetical to the historically informed performance movement. But since we no longer castrate boys to preserve their singing voice, we now have to be subject to these shrieking men, otherwise the early opera stage would be dominated by women (without falsettists, most drammi per musica would have 2 men at most out of a cast of 6 or 7, a few would have none). We also wouldn't want to offend the sensibilities of straight audiences who lack imagination (what other art form permits women to make love to each other in a public place and get away with it?), even though a lot of falsettists are terrible at playing the lover (many of them have no interest in women anyway).

Hilariously, a few years ago I saw a photo posted by a certain music festival that featured one "male soprano" in their Young Artist Training Program who looked suspiciously female. After a bit of googling, I found that said "male soprano" was indeed a TIF. I obviously do not want to see more women jump on the trans bandwagon, but I cannot pretend it's not funny when men lose out to female singers who claim to be male.

Counter tenors piss me off. There are so many more women who go into performing arts, and so many more male roles in opera, theatre and musicals.. why, WHY give the female parts to men?!

I saw Semele years ago which calls for a male alto in one role, and it was kind of painful to see how much the singer was struggling to hit those notes. The whole thing was a reminder to me of why I don't like Handel very much.

Handel's music is divine. It's hardly his fault that the English had a musical tradition of using falsettists. If anything, it was thanks to Handel and other Italian/Italianate composers who brought proper singers with them from the continent that the fortunes of falsettists dwindled.