Article Review Paper on Discophobia: Antigay Prejudice and 1979 Backlash against Disco

In the article “Discophobia: Antigay Prejudice and the 1979 Backlash Against Disco,” Gillian Frank explores the history of resistance to disco music and its impacts on the history of American music. The author’s key objective is to explain how prejudice against gay people contributed to the preference of rock music over disco and how the preference was portrayed through active opposition to pro-gay activism. The thesis of the article is that disco demolition resulted in a new lens of viewing the complex national articulation of anti-gay prejudice, and transformed gender roles and concerns surrounding heterosexuality through popular culture. The context of the paper is the sexual identity struggles that are taking place in an organized political system. The article is more exploratory than it is critical of the previous writings on the subject of gay prejudice and disco. Most of the literature that is cited in the paper provides additional information on the subject of study thus develop the author’s thesis arguments.

Frank explores historical contributions of gay prejudice and disco to the development of popular culture. The author uses several historical references to support her arguments. Since it is an exploratory historical paper, most of the references are also historical and descriptive. Furthermore, Frank uses other articles to develop a theoretical basis for exploring her thesis (285 – 286). For instance, she references Gregory Bedbeck’s 1996 paper on disco then and now to explain how disco has evolved over the years and its impacts on culture (Frank 285). Notably, the author does not explicitly challenge any of the referenced articles but uses them to pose her arguments. The article also incorporated primary sources, such as narrations of the disco demolition, New York Times articles (Frank 278) and the Village Voice articles (Frank 282) to present an accurate account of the disco demolition.

One of the features of the article that stand out is its depth of historical perspective. The article is a good place to start for an audience that desires to understand the history of disco and the link between the history of sexuality and that of disco. However, the author could have made her arguments stronger by mentioning counter opinions. For instance, she presents the reaction of the antigay against disco and gayism, yet does not mention how those who supported the gay reacted to the demolition and the culture change. It would have been good to know whether they continued listening to disco music or also changed with the population. A counter-argument could help the audience to appreciate the value of the history in the development of culture.

The article explores a concept of American history that is not extensively explored by Eric Foner in Give me Liberty. It creates awareness of the essence of music in the development of popular culture. The description of disco music’s transformation from an acceptable social music form to one that is reviled by the society is sufficient to enable the audience to explain the impacts of music on culture. The combination of gay political activism and the appreciation of disco music as presented by Frank shows the importance of music in politics, fundraising, and the shaping of the cultural landscape of society (285). In this way, the author of the article  exemplifies the development of national history through cultural integrations.

 

Works Cited

Frank, Gillian. Discophobia: Antigay Prejudice and the 1979 Backlash Against Disco. Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 16, no. 2, (207): 276- 306.