Review: Because the Boss Belongs to Us

Review: Because the Boss Belongs to Us

I’ve lived in New Jersey for a few years now. I’ve learned a lot about this state, namely that it is very proud of its children. Namely, New Jersey has a love for Bruce Springsteen. I’m not going to have much of an opinion of it. I’m from Buffalo and probably inherently know too much and have a slightly unjustifiable love for the Goo Goo Dolls. It happens. 

What is interesting to me, though, is the analysis of this mega-star presented in the podcast Because the Boss Belongs to Us. That is to say, the idea of Bruce Springsteen being a queer icon is one that I never had reason to consider. I’m not a fan and I haven’t really grown up with the music - but find the journey this podcast is going on to be a fascinating one. 

Hosts Jesse Lawson and Holly Casio are two queer folks on a mission to get Bruce Springsteen “Queer Icon” creds. They believe that quite possibly, he could count his name among the prestigious icons that are Madonna and Celine Dion (to name just two). However, these two hosts are “scientists” and therefore they must “collect data” and not just rely on their own perspectives for this potential. Namely, they have to talk to other queers and experts in fields such as fashion, music, and Springsteen himself. 

Episode one outlines very clearly the requirements for iconhood, and each subsequent episode is exploring the facet of Bruce Springsteen that correlates a requirement. Qualities like “Camp” and being the “Underdog” are just two of a list of five to investigate. Each episode is about 30 minutes, and as of writing this review, three are out there for listeners to dive into. The premise and adventure of it all is fun, with absolutely no speculation on Springsteen’s own sexuality and gender. It questions if this entertainer and the character presented across the artist’s decades of music meet a seemingly arbitrary standard presented by these requirements in episode one?

This podcast is not nearly as ridiculous as it first appears, but the hosts absolutely lean into levity where it is warranted. A queer lensed analysis intersecting culture across the pond in the UK, in New Jersey and beyond makes for an interesting journey of thought. 

Because The Boss Belongs to Us isn’t necessarily a podcast for me, a seemingly cis-het white woman coming up on her thirties. However, if I want to get on the “create some empathy soapbox” I know that I grew up with and grew into spaces of acceptance that many elder queers did not have. I do not, and nor does anyone else, have the authority to judge this podcast’s hosts on their own relationship with the art. Everyone, marginalized or not, finds their snippets of connection through time, class, identity and space. If someone walks away from this podcast realizing that there are more people that they can connect with in this way, then there’s a success in and of itself. It’s also something to consider that everyone connects to everything in different ways, and in this case, it is more fun and introspective than finger wagging and preachy. 

While Jesse, Holly, and their guests lean into the levity of this scenario, there’s that reality of a time and space that is known to be unkind to these queer people who found snippets of their realities reflected in the art of Springsteen. The tension that is expected comes through, and is respected. The next episode is poised to analyze it deeper. Especially when “Underdog” ends with a guest saying they would not place Bruce in this “queer icon” space. There is discomfort here, ready to be explored and analyzed in the “scientific way” Jesse and Holly bring about. 

The question under the premise has more to do with the celebrity of it all, rather than Bruce himself. The mechanism of Springstteen is the fascinating means to find out what queer celebrity is and was in a world where finding aspects of yourself in mainstream culture can feel difficult, or impossible to do. We all know a celebrity who has fallen from grace despite attempts to maintain an ideal. We all know a celebrity whose icon just doesn’t jive with our perspective. Using a painted middle-class everyman idol like Bruce Springsteen to reflect a queer culture is fascinating, telling, and in my opinion, a way to get people to explore and think a little more outside the typical empathy box than they might on a day to day basis. 

I’m fascinated by this podcast and its future. The relationship to idol, icon, celebrity, and its meaning deserves space for discussion in the world. Whether it’s someone as lovely as Dolly Parton or some less than savory characters we all read about. These are all human people with big meaning for thousands upon millions of individuals across the world. It’s complicated, and complex to think about humans meaning something - especially when they’re still around to change those ideas. These hosts are doing a great job taking the listener through these complicated ideas through a star whose impact seems to be exactly what someone would think it is.

This podcast was produced with Molten Heart.

Listen to Because the Boss Belongs to Us below!

Because the Boss Belongs to Us
Listen to Because the Boss Belongs to Us wherever you get your podcasts!

Did you like this podcast review? Share it with a friend! If you didn't - go through my reviews and find a podcast you do like.

The best thing to help me and my writing out is to subscribe - which you can do below!