The Washington Post has published a very confusing review of Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry’s new memoir Face It that seems to be operating under the assumption that readers need to be persuaded to enjoy Harry and her pretty much universally enjoyed music.
“Even if Debbie Harry, of the band Blondie, isn’t to your taste — her voice too thin, her sexiness too blatant, her music too smooth — you can’t dismiss certain truths about her,” the first sentence of the review reads.
It gets even more bizarre from there, describing the sections of the book covering Harry’s early life as a punk-inspired tough girl on the streets of NYC’s Bowery neighborhood in the 60s and 70s as “compelling” while mostly only excerpting parts of the memoir in which Harry focuses on her physical appearance.
Though quotes published in the review indicate the book does explore Harry’s performance of femininity and the role of that performance in Blondie’s success, it is the reviewer, not Harry, who comes off as believing the band never could have been what it was without Debbie Harry’s face: “That Harry succeeded is a tribute to her ambition, perseverance, talent and good looks,” the piece says. The memoir itself seems to anticipate this reception. In one excerpted section, Harry writes, “I’m not blind and I’m not stupid: I take advantage of my looks and I use them.”
The review concludes that the memoir is well-written and appealing, even if it is “self-interested” (as memoirs pretty much, by definition, are) and will prove once and for all that Debbie Harry is “more than just a pretty blonde in a pair of tight pants.” But Harry’s four-decade career has already more than proven that Debbie Harry is incredibly talented in addition to being very physically attractive. Anyone who needed convincing is probably not going to be persuaded by a write-up in the Post.