Jessica Hopper wanted me personally to read The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, and you, too. In the afterword of the 2021 edition, she notes how essential it is to create and consume media outside the culturally accepted norm. Female critics like Hopper provide a much-needed perspective on artists that would otherwise go undervalued. It is empowering to read reviews from a feminist view, and the reader uses their purchasing power to uplift the author.
Hopper puts pieces of herself in the reviews. We see her growth from fangirl to respected writer and her journey from Midwest suburbia to Chicago to Los Angeles and beyond. We see the music that shapes her worldview and the music that breaks its boundaries. Her path is both similar to her peers and uniquely her own. Hopper’s story could be yours, and that is what makes this collection powerful. She is a mentor through text.
Not every review is written with a feminist focal point. However, when her sharpened pen targets the masculine majority opinion, there is no mercy. No genre is safe: punk, country, rap, and rock. Hopper champions women forgotten and maligned. Her piece on Rolling Stone‘s editorial department highlighted those who blazed the path that Hopper would later trek. There’s enough meat for a Hidden Figures treatment of their story.
In both the afterword and throughout the collection, Hopper reaches out to women in all parts of the music industry. From fan to artist she says thank you, I hear you, keep being you. We need each other to build a better industry. If there’s no space for you in the pit, elbow your way in and stay there, and bring your squad.