In an interview from 1974 David Bowie makes a remarkable statement: “For the West, Jagger is most certainly a mother figure… . I also find him incredibly motherly and maternal clutched into his bosom of ethnic blues.” The image is grotesque—intentionally shocking—yet oddly compelling. This article follows Bowie's lead through an assemblage of material—songs, performances, film, and images, as well as historical and theoretical texts—to demonstrate how Bowie's cultural reading of Mick Jagger as mother resonates with the concerns of recent scholarship on race and psychoanalysis, homonormativity and homonationalism, and neoliberalism's privatization and deregulation in cultural spheres. Much of this scholarship tackles post-9/11 economic, political, ideological, and psychic drivers that produce strategic aggregations and disaggregations (to use Jasbir Puar's terminology) of race and sexuality. I argue that incipient expressions of disaggregation appear in Jagger's performances at certain pivotal moments in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Jagger's sexual dissidence, once tied to blackness via music and dance, from 1968 on (corresponding to high racial tensions in Britain and the United States) becomes more explicitly tied to queerness—particularly in dance, but also in other modes of embodiment (i.e., a waifish body, cultivated androgyny, and homoeroticism). Here Bowie's analytic proves useful, for the mother haunts Jagger's own shifting figurations as a burlesque dame, a mixed-race fetish object, a drag mother, and a belated rock ’n’ roll matriarch. Mick Jagger as mother provides a cultural genealogy for present-day homonormativity, homonationalism, and neoliberal colorblindness.
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Judith A. Peraino; Mick Jagger as Mother. Social Text 1 September 2015; 33 (3 (124)): 75–113. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-3125707
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