Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Monday, Jul 20, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
by Charles A. Hohman
PopMatters (20 July 2009)

That is the U.S.A. of the American Dream, where meritocracy is accepted as gospel until it’s proven as myth, where all men may be created equal, but are born into grossly unequal circumstances. It is also the U.S.A. of rock and roll, which helped liberate bored teenagers like Springsteen, and even helped ignite a sexual revolution. Throughout his career, Springsteen has grappled with the shortcomings of the American Dream: that great myth that hard work will pay off with material comforts and prosperity. What is less established is that sexual satisfaction is an integral part of Springsteen’s American Dream; a basic human right every bit as essential as life and liberty.


His ouevre is teeming with vaginal metaphors (“The River”, “Candy’s Room”, “Tunnel of Love”, “Pink Cadillac”) where the female anatomy provides some sort of sanctuary from a dark, spirit-crushing world where innocent, hard-working men are denied their entitlement. Like rock and roll itself, women are a surrogate release, pillars of stability and tokens of success. In women, both Springsteen and his characters (as much as they can be objectively separated) often find the promise that has been denied them elsewhere, but they just as often get denied here as well. Sex, like the other aspects of the American Dream, offers a lot of seductive promises, but no inalienable guarantees.

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