Competitive air guitarists have long understood that their art form provides an ideal means for contesting the overwhelming whiteness of rock and the electric guitar, sometimes extending their critique to include gender as well.
Asian and Asian American competitors in particular have used their performances to comment ironically on the emasculation of Asian males and the infantilization of Asian females through the construct of Asian fury, helping audiences to reimagine the linkages between race and rock.
This according to “Asian fury: A tale of race, rock, and air guitar” by Sydney Hutchinson (Ethnomusicology LX/3 [fall 2016] pp. 411–33).
Above and below, David “C-Diddy” Jung, winner of the first U.S. national air guitar championship and perhaps the originator of the term Asian fury as it applies to air guitar; the video shows his award-winning performance in 2003.
Like real rock guitar playing, air guitar—miming electric guitar playing without an instrument—is heavily informed by gendered practices in rock, where the electric guitar functions as a signifier of masculine power and implied sexual prowess, and performing on it involves symbolic aggression and dominance.
Women air guitarists appropriate and disrupt rock culture’s consensus, undermining and subverting its gendered performance. This gender bending emphasizes women’s critique of rock culture’s masculinist attitude while asserting female power through the nonthreatening manipulation of an imaginary phallic symbol.
This according to “The girl is a boy is a girl: Gender representations in the Gizzy Guitar 2005 Air Guitar Competition” by Hélène Laurin (Journal of popular music studies XXI/3 (September 2009) pp. 284–303. Above and below, the multi-award-winning Nanami “Seven Seas” Nagura.
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