The internet has been in a frenzy in response to Phoebe Bridgers’ performance on Saturday Night Live on Feb. 6, where she ended by smashing her guitar over a stage amp.
While guitar smashing is by no means a new practice in the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll with artists like Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Pete Townshend for example, the public seems torn on whether the act was iconic or a disgrace.
Alexander McCarthy, a fourth-year St. Thomas University student, said he believes there wasn’t any intentional significance to the performance. He also said the incident sparked a conversation about gender in the music industry.
“The guitar smashing just seemed like it was something she wanted to do for fun and it didn’t really seem like it had a message behind it,” he said.
Eric Hill, manager of Backstreet Records, believes that the iconic act of guitar smashing should be genderless.
“There have been a lot of women in rock who’ve all performed these extreme acts on stage, but there’s something about the actual guitar smashing and the musical place of males who are known for it. But it feels like it shouldn’t have a gender tag,” said Hill.
A large discussion on Twitter has arisen about the incident after a Twitter user going by the name of BrooklynDad_Defiant! tweeted, “Why did this woman, Phoebe Bridgers, destroy her guitar on SNL? I mean, I didn’t care much for the song either, but that seemed extra.”
Many people defended Bridgers online and agreed with McCarthy. They claim that guitar smashing is a Rock ‘n’ Roll tradition and that the main issue people are having with the incident is the fact that it was a woman smashing a guitar rather than the venerated male performers the public is used to seeing committing the act.
“It’s maybe got a sexist sort of angle to it because if Harry Styles or someone else was smashing their guitar, no one would really care,” said McCarthy.
One Twitter user, by the username Danny Hanson, reacted by referencing his own experiences: “… Only time I smashed my guitar was when … I tripped and fell on it. But I’m a guy so it’s OK.”
Hill said he understands the seriousness of the conversation about gender the incident started, though he said most of the “controversy” around Bridgers’ guitar smash has been “manufactured by people wanting to get their name mentioned in social media.”
Hill said Bridgers’ guitar smashing case might not be as cynical as he thinks, but finds that people often speak up when a large cultural event occurs, similar to a natural disaster.
“People whose opinion shouldn’t matter any more than anyone else’s can come out of the woodwork and then express something that gets passed around until someone with equal advantage or better advantage has an opinion,” said Hill.