This was the first article that caused my online editor to advertise “Dilettante” on our Bay Guardian website and in the physical paper too. He had a dark sense of humor so he loved this one disproportionately. I could never please him the same way again.
The Spice Girls were likable enough, and some of their songs were catchy, but the satire just poured forth from my cold heart nevertheless.
Juggernaut boy-bands and girl-bands are the cornerstone of the American recording industry, and it’s impressive to watch a fabricated musical phenomenon build and take off. And whew, also quite cute and deafening in real life concert with thousands of excited little girls and their vicariously joyous parents.
Victoria Beckham was named UK’s top entrepreneur in 2014, worth £210m (I had no idea she had a brand and a chain of fashion shops). The one-woman British Kardashian is called “living proof that celebrity may be the most marketable commodity of all.”
Director Bob Spiers recruited several British luminaries to cameo, with Roger Moore, Bob Hoskins, Elvis Costello, Jennifer Saunders, and Elton John among those who appeared in the film. The Spice Girls were so popular that Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry, attended the Spice World premiere.
The movie, budgeted at $25 million, grossed a robust $100 million worldwide, despite Roger Ebert giving it a half-star rating and writing that the Girls were “so detached they can’t even successfully lip-synch their own songs.”
Twenty years later, snark was ruined by fascists, but the Spice Girls remain the Sex Pistols of the pop machine. More girl power to them.
This is the 21st entry in my “twenty years ago this week” project from when I was a nightlife columnist at the Bay Guardian, once the country’s largest family-owned weekly newspaper. These “Dilettante” clips, compiled on my portfolio page, create a serial portrait of San Francisco culture at the turn of the century (1997-2001).
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