TW: racism, cultural appropriation,
misogyny, so rapey, literally every other offensive thing you can
think of, it's a goddamn train wreck is what it is
I mean, the internet is filled to the brim with feminist critiques of all sorts of entertainment, but unless it’s horrifically blatant, pop music always seems to get a free pass. Is my viewpoint coincidentally limited? I mean, that’s absolutely possible. Is there actually heated debate going on all over the internet that I am just not seeing? Because I feel like there should be.
(I’m still not over Blurred Lines, by the way. I mean, it seems inconceivable to me that the person who wrote it wasn’t aware of rape culture, because it is a 100% perfect representation of it. More than offensive and painful it’s just downright weird to me that you can get it that perfect without knowing that you’re doing it. That requires chaos theory levels of random cosmic happenstance. Like, I literally need to involve metaphysics to justify for myself the fact that I came to live in a world where the lyrics of Blurred Lines are not the solemn opening narration in a documentary on date rape. Every single day of my life I expect to wake up in a world where Blurred Lines wasn’t the summer jam of 2013, it’s a collection of scattered cue cards from a seminar on rape culture. And Pharrell’s Get Lucky might just be one of my favorite songs ever, and he’s got a #1 hit that I like, but damn… That song. It’s just not something I can ever forgive the man for.)
So, I’m going to quote some song lyrics to you later on, and for the purposes of this post I want you to imagine them being said to you, in person, by the creepiest person you can possibly imagine. Take a minute to visualize that. Or if you don’t want to take the time (understandable), we can share mine.
Christ, that is a creepy dude. The word “creepy” gets bandied around a lot, so it may have lost some of its punch, but that is so goddamn creepy. Do not look at me like that, Robin Thicke! I do not like you! Your face makes me feel unsafe! Your rapey gaze feels filthy under my skin! Ugh! Grrr!
Anyway, what’s hot right now? Talk Dirty? That’s a great one, let’s bitch about that.
Been around the world, don’t speak the language But your booty don’t need explaining All I really need to understand is When you talk dirty to me
Nice, huh? That’s the creep we imagined together, saying that to you, to your face. Gets under the skin, doesn’t it?
Attention all you interchangeable human Fleshlights some people refer to as “women”! I will come to your home nation and count myself lucky that I am not willing or able to speak your language because all that matters to me if whether you have the exact physical characteristics I find attractive! I repeat, do not even talk to me, I have no fucks to give! Get on my dick! No, that was categorically not a request. Please line up in an orderly fashion!
I say “my interpretation” like that’s up for debate or something, but it really isn’t. That’s actually what the song is about.
Our conversations ain’t long But you know what is I know what the girl them want, London to Taiwan
Yeah, you don’t understand a word she says, but you know exactly what she wants, right? In fact you know what all women want, right? It’s your dick, right? That’s not rapey at all.
This isn’t a song, this is the auditory equivalent of a random stranger on the street grabbing your boobs.
And the guest verse is amazing.
Dos Cadenas, closed the genius Sold out arenas, you can suck my penis
Can I? OH BOY!!!
In Mr. Chainz defense, he can’t possibly know this, but I’ve heard those last words before, when I was 14 I think, said by the man masturbating at me while I waited for the school bus. I’m not being cute when I say these songs sound like they’re written by sex offenders. I mean that I have heard those exact words before. From sex offenders.
Why are all these creepy love songs always addressed to me? Like, literally to me personally. Or I guess “you”, always the nebulous “you”, female fan whom I sing vague and Nice-Guy-ish things to in the hope that you will insert yourself into this song. Ugh.
Cause all of me Loves all of you Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections Give your all to me
Is John Legend seriously negging me? He loves all of me, from my good looks all the way to the part of my looks that aren’t so good? Then later in the song he calls me crazy, and a smart-mouth, which is always a solid compliment.
(I mean, it’s not like this song is blatantly rapey or anything, I’m not saying that, I just cannot get over the use of the imperative in all these songs. “Give me everything tonight”, “get on my dick”, “give your all to me”, how about you fucking ask nicely, you pushy jerks?)
Shit, there’s a song in the top ten that isn’t about fucking! It’s still about “we” and it calls me “baby” though. Leave me alone, OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder! You have been grossly misinformed! We are not in a relationship! You don’t know me!
Christ, it’s Pitbull. That always bodes well.
I have ‘em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber Face down, booty up, timber That’s the way we like to–what?–timber I’m slicker than an oil spill She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber
A few days ago I woke up with a splitting headache on a rainy day, and I realized just out of fucking nowhere that I live in a world where Chris Brown gets to be an unrepentant millionaire and Miley Cyrus gets dragged through the mud for dressing skimpy, and I just… I couldn't get up, but I couldn't go back to sleep either. I just had to lie there and sit with that. It was awful.
Anyway, face down, booty up! No that was absolutely not a request! I know you said no, but seriously, I don’t give a fuck. Imperative, bitches!
(And don’t come at me saying that Ke$ha is in this song and she’s up for it so it’s all consensual fun, nono. Ke$ha is singing to “you”. Pitbull is singing about “them”. They are not singing to or about each other. His lines are about, not addressed to, all women, everywhere, interchangeable as they are, provided Pitbull deigns their booty worthy of the majestic awesomatude that is his dick, one presumes. So no, this isn't a song about sexy young people having a good time, like someone suggested. Get Lucky is a song about sexy young people having a good time. Timber is a song about how Pitbull is going to coerce women into sex.)
Swing your partner round and round End of the night, it’s going down
See? Stone cold fact. At the end of that hoedown, that ho goes down! Ho ho! (I cannot believe, I just seriously cannot wrap my mind around the fact that the lyrical genius that is Pitbull did not use that awful pun.) Anyway, this is going to happen. This exact phrase, coincidentally, was also said to me by a guy who raped me. That’s nice. I like hearing those words on the radio while doing my groceries. I find it soothing.
Literally every third fucking song on the radio.
This is just the top 10 at the time of writing. And I could have said something about 9 of those 10 songs, but I chose to focus on the most egregious examples. There is so much problematic stuff in every single song that I just didn’t get to because I’m trying to make a point here. That point being: what is up with that? Why is this not being discussed? Am I just traipsing around the internet barely missing these discussion in wackadoodle French comedy fashion? Am I coming at this from the wrong angle? Missing something? Ignorant of a very important facet that explain why this apparently isn’t being talked about? Or have we collectively just plain old given up on pop music?
If it’s the former, please point me to where these discussions are happening.
If it’s any of those middle ones, I would be very grateful if someone could point me to some information that I have missed.
If it’s the latter though, can we please not do that? Maybe you don’t listen to pop music and you don’t care, but the fact that these songs are in the Hot 100 means that everyone else is listening to them. Infinity times more people are listening to Pitbull telling them he’s going to fuck them whether they want it or not than there are listening to whatever soulful indie stuff you’re listening to. And that’s fucking sickening. So, you know, let’s keep challenging that. Okay?