I Hope Robin Thicke Catches Fire

You may have heard Robin Thicke’s hit of the moment, Blurred Lines. If not, here’s your chance. Take a look (it’s a bit NSFW):

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s generated a lot of controversy, and not because Pharrell hasn’t aged a day since Drop It Like It’s Hot. It’s catchy as hell (I confess, I often find myself humming it), but you’ve got to admit it’s a bit off. It’s kind of the equivalent of that dude that follows you around the bar, telling you your hair looks nice while staring at your tits and waiting for you to leave your drink unattended so he can slip you something. I mean, the hook of the song is “I know you want it.” Fun, right? Cute, catchy and vaguely sexually threatening! Everything you want out of a summer hit!

Obviously, racy videos/ lyrical content are nothing new. Tragically, neither are videos/ lyrical content that makes you wonder if it’s safe to be a lone female attempting to go anywhere or do anything. But the thing that really gets me grinding my teeth is the way he’s handled the controversy and the numerous public statements he’s made about the song.

Most artists whether waves of controversy in one of three ways. The first is complete silence. This either makes your intentions seem mysterious and interesting or makes you look like a massive dickhead. It can go either way. The second route is to issue a half-arsed public apology, thrown together in a flurry of panic by a stressed-out PR team. They follow a pretty standard script: “I’m very sorry if I offended ‘X Group of People’. It wasn’t my intention. Some of my best friends are ‘X Group of People’ and I have had lengthy discussions with them about my behaviour etc. etc. Won’t happen again.” In extreme enough cases, offers are made to donate large sums of money to a charity affecting ‘X Group of People’, effectively buying back public affection. This method also makes the offending party look like a dickhead, but it’s probably more effective than radio silence. The third is a well considered and genuine statement in which remorse is expressed, there is no buck-passing and promises to correct behaviours are followed through with. This one is rare, but good. Keep these in your heart and remember them in times of hardship.

Robin Thicke has, of course, done none of these things. In fact, he’s been so cavalier about the whole thing in a recent interview with GQ Magazine he said the following.

We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.” People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.” After the video got banned on YouTube, my wife tweeted, “Violence is ugly. Nudity is beautiful. And the ‘Blurred Lines’ video makes me wanna…” You know. And that’s the truth. Right now, with terrorism and poverty and Wall Street and Social Security having problems, nudity should not be the issue.

No. Really. Those are words that came out of Robin Thicke’s mouth and were published without irony or comment in GQ Magazine . WHAT A PLEASURE IT IS TO DEGRADE A WOMAN!? Like he’s eating a fucking sandwich or taking a nice stroll in the park!? “What did you do today, sir?” “Well, Jeeves, I took a nice turn about the grounds. Ate a sandwich. Degraded some women. Should’ve seen the look on their faces! HA! Such a pleasure.” I don’t know why he’s suddenly become a British aristocat with a butler named Jeeves, but you get the point, right?

Thicke seems to be under the impression that the reason that people are upset about the video is the nudity. He’s wrong. The nudity is just the reason the video was banned. Nudity in and of itself is not offensive. However, three fully clothed dudes standing around and doing a bunch of degrading things to women while a jaunty little tune that heavily implies that there’s no need for consent because they “know you want it” is really offensive. And there’s no getting round it now because Thicke has pretty much copped to it and spoken about how enjoyable it was to participate in such an endeavour. But it’s alright guys! He’s totally not a misogynist! He respects women! All he’s doing is balancing at that massive gender gap – you know… that gap where women routinely trample over and objectify men and have such behaviour endorsed by institutions, the media and popular culture? What a delight to turn such a system on its head! He has a wife and kids. He’s definitely not a misogynist.

If you weren’t picking up on the sarcasm in that last paragraph, you probably don’t belong on this blog. In simple, sarcasm-free words: three guys who have ‘always respected women’ suddenly deciding to ‘turn that on its head’ and ‘comment’ on that respect by showing the complete opposite, isn’t a witty comment. It just shows off something gross that’s been bubbling away under the surface that whole time. The artists’ true colours, if you will. Having a wife, doesn’t make you miraculously misogyny-free, any more than having a black friend makes you suddenly not racist. Newsflash: you can hang out with women and still do and say shitty things to them… have any of you ever been to a bar? That’s pretty much the whole deal.

On top of that, on the Today Show, Thicke also said the following:

Yeah, but I think that’s what great art does. It’s supposed to stir conversation, it’s supposed to make us talk about what’s important and what the relationship between men and women is, but if you listen to the lyrics it says ‘That man is not your maker’ — it’s actually a feminist movement within itself.

Ah yes. New-New-New Wave Feminism. In which degrading acts performed in thongs to catchy little sexual harrassment anthems are the ultimate form of liberation. Forgive me. I’ve obviously not done enough reading. I don’t know if Judith Butler mentioned that one. Sorry. More sarcasm (and a Judith Butler reference). I’ll try to stop. First of all, the line “that man is not your maker” is followed up by the line “just let me liberate you.” I’m assuming based on the video/lyrics, that Mr. Thicke would like to liberate me by putting his dick in me and that I don’t have much of a say in the matter. Secondly, you don’t get to speak for me! Say it with me: Robin! Thicke! Does! Not! Get! To! Speak! For! Me! The idea that Robin Thicke thinks he can tell that some poor girl has some unresolved naughty side that’s just waiting to be brought out by a good screw is a) revolting and b) ABSOLUTELY NOT HIS DECISION TO MAKE. He doesn’t get to pick and choose how women use or don’t use their sexuality. That’s their job!

i need to stop before I bust a blood vessel. Robin Thicke is revolting. I hope he catches fire, or at the very least stops talking.

Gaga Needs to Sit Down

I’m gonna preface this blog by saying that Lady Gaga is not really my cup of tea. She cuts and pastes elements from people that have been more innovative and creative than her to make a boring pastiche of average. And that’s just the most superficial of her problems. Anyway, here’s her new video. It’s pretty dull.

So, whilst attempting some sort of Grace Jones/Madonna crossover Gaga actually utters the words “Pop culture was in art, now art is pop culture in me” which is one of the more self-indulgent things I’ve heard recently. But this is just me taking pot shots. My real problem is with her leaked song, which is either titled Burqa or Aura, depending on who you ask. Here is what that sounds like:

Ignoring her attempts to make herself more interesting by trying to sound like a blend of David Bowie, Nico, Grace Jones and that weird hard house you find at raves that you’re not sure how you ended up at because you’ve been blacked out for the past 4 hours, my main problem with this is the phenomenal shitshow that passes for lyrical content. I’m not just talking about the chant of “Dance, Sex, Art, Pop” either, although I too can chant words through autotune as though they have great meaning. At the moment I’m leaning towards “Cry, Eat, Sleep, Repeat” for my next single. The choice lines that have irritated me are:

I’m not a wandering slave, I am a woman of choice
My veil is protection for the gorgeousness of my face
You watch, you fancy me cause there’s always one man to love
But in the bedroom the size of them’s more than enough

Do you wanna see me naked, lover?
Do you wanna peek underneath the cover?

and

Enigma popstar is fun, she wear burqa for fashion
It’s not a statement as much as just a move of passion
I may not walk on your street or shoot a gun on your soil
I hear you screaming, is it because of pleasure or toil?

It’s not the first time Gaga has dabbled with appropriating the burqa. In late, 2012 she wore not one but two incarnations of the burqa to a Philip Treacy show at London Fashion week, the worst of which was probably this hot pink sheer monstrosity (which has, conincidentally, been the image linked to the leaked track on many a music blog):

….No.

And with these new lyrics, she’s taken it to a fun new level. [Dudebro voice: But Alex, like…what’s problem or whatever?] I’ll tell you what the problem is, friend. Take a seat and I’ll tell you in great detail…or maybe like a little bit of detail before I get bored and link you to an article written by someone more articulate than I. Anyway…

You may have noticed that in recent years (or not-so-recent, I guess, depending on your perspective) there has been a wave of anti-Islamic sentiment in the Western world. A culture of fear has been perpetuated, to the point that just kind of vaguely looking a bit brown is enough reason to be shot multliple times – see: the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician who was shot 8 times by British anti-terror forces, ostensibly because he wasn’t white and happened to be near the site of a terrorist attack, and that’s just one example I can name off the top of my head. In a political climate where that kind of thing can happen and you will still get a significant chunk of the population going “Ah yes, but he looked like a threat and he was near the site of the bombing so I can see where the police are coming from”, perfectly normal, happy people exercising their religious freedom become walking targets.

In the case of Muslim women, the wearing of the burqa has come to be associated with total oppression. Which is obviously bullshit. I don’t feel like I should have to go into why that’s bullshit, so I’m just going to link you to this blog: Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things. It’s obviously not all about Muslim women, but you get the gist. Muslim women are not tragic, oppressed figures in dire need of assistance from an all-knowing white, Western saviour. They get shit done.

However, Lady Gaga (ever the innovator) has taken the other really gross path that people sometimes go down. The lyrics are disgusting fetishising, sexualised bullshit. She’s turned the burqa into a fashion object – she literally says it’s a fun, enigmatic fashion object – and then made it some sort of alluring, mysterious role-play with a lover who eventually gets to see what’s underneath. Projecting sexual imagery onto someone else’s religious attire is offensive and disrespectful. In a climate where religious dress and the wearing of the burqa is demonised, it becomes even more important to listen to Muslim women’s voices, hear their opinions and respect their agency. Instead Gaga has steam rolled over intersting, valid and insightful commentary from Muslim women in favour of making some flippant sexual remarks about peeking underneath covers.

Speaking of interesting and insightful commentary from Muslim women… I am not a Muslim woman. So, now comes the time when I suggest some further reading for you:

If I wear a burqa, nijab.. or hell even a fucking hijab, I’m a stupid, brown savage who has no capacity to think for herself. But when Gaga wears it, its revolutionary and fashionable. People love to scream equality and colorblindedness when such an event arises, but such a world is completely theoretical until we fix these the caricatured perceptions about Islam. The power dynamics here cannot be ignored. – From this post from Tumblr user maarnayeri

Or perhaps this article, which has a slightly different point of view. There’s a plethora of voices out there. It’s getting late. I’m getting lazy. I have expended all my energy being mad. Google it, folks. I’m going to bed.

I Am Sick

I find myself rather unwell today, which is tragically impeding my ability to post a blog because my head feels like it’s been stuffed full of cotton wool and I can’t open my eyes. I lieu of blog I offer you a dubstep remix of Lemograb’s “unacceptable!”

I am sorry.

Bad Behaviour

Hugh Jackman seems like a nice guy. He an all-singing, all-dancing, Wolverine-playing extravaganza of a human being – a proper cutie. So I guess  could understand the compulsion to bite his ass. Wait… no I couldn’t because that’s a weird thing to want to do to someone you’ve never met. But that is something that poor Hugh Jackman has had to deal with from his fan base. According to the article, while Jackman was playing Peter Allen in the Broadway production The Boy from Oz, he heard a voice from the back saying “Peter, I want to bite your bum.” After a little joking around the fan followed through with her desire and gave his pert backside an almighty chomp.

Mmmmhmmmm

Mmmmhmmmm

That’s a great butt – a really great butt – but there are some impulses you should keep to yourself. The desire to bite an attractive celebrity’s ass is one of them. There is a line between being a big fan of someone and being a big, creepy fan of someone. In light of this I have compiled a list of impulses that I have definitely had things that you should probably avoid doing (to anyone, ever…but especially not to famous people you’ve never met.)

  1. Kneeling down behind your favourite celebrity, gently placing your cheek on their ass and whispering “thank you for exisiting” whilst lovingly patting each pert globe.
  2. Sliding your hands around their waist and muttering, “Your jawline is so deep and well-structured. I just want to build a nest in it and hibernate for the winter. Would you let me do that? Please let me do that” in their ear.
  3. Getting several tattoos of varying quality depicting their face and the names of their movies or albums. Showing those tattoos to your favourie celebrity. Showing those tattoos to the media. Showing those tattoos to people, generally.

    Not weird at all. (Google "man with Miley Cyrus tattoos" for further info.)

    Not weird at all. (Google “man with Miley Cyrus tattoos” for further info.)

  4. On being introduced to your favourite celebrity, referring to them only by the name of your favourite character portrayed by them.
  5. Maintaining intense eye contact while graphically describing every single sexual fantasy you’ve ever had about them. Bonus creepy points if you only refer to them by their character’s name.
  6. Flinging yourself at their feet as they walk past…licking their shoes while you’re down there. Occasionally yelling “I’m not worthy!” before returning to licking their shoes.
  7. Screaming. Following them everywhere, screaming.  Just non-stop, incoherent screaming.
  8. Subtly cutting a lock of their gair every time you see them. (Increasing the chances of seeing them by following them everywhere.)
  9. Writing letters of devotion in blood. If female, writing letters of devotion in menstrual blood. (Actually, any bodily fluid is pretty bad.)

    This is a letter to a member of a Korean boy band called 2PM, written in menstrual blood and scattered with pubic hair for added intensity. Click through for more weirdness (and a translation).

     

  10. BITING YOUR FAVOURITE CELEBRITY ON THE ASS.

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating with a lot of these, but I’ve provided you with some hard and fast examples of some genuinely weird shit people have done, so what’s to say that next time someone is confronted with the embodiment of fame/general hottness they won’t bend over and gentle whisper sweet nothings at their ass. Stranger things have happened.

I suppose to balance this post out I should probably provide a list of good behavioUr to display around someone you’re a big fan of. Here we go:

  1. REMEMBER THAT YOUR FAVOURITE CELEBRITY IS A HUMAN BEING AND IF YOU WOULDN’T FEEL COMFORTABLE DOING SOMETHING TO SOMEONE ON THE STREET, THEN YOU SHOULD PROBABLY NOT DO IT TO THE ATTRACTIVE FAMOUS PERSON.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Sick to Death of Macklemore

Can we just talk about how bored I am of Macklemore? (It is my blog. We can definitely talk about it.) Alternative titles to this blog were “Please Mackle less”, “Keep your Mackling to a minimum” and “If anything, try to Mackle as little as possible.” Don’t get  me wrong… there was like 15 seconds there where I was excited about Thrift Shop. And then I moved on. He’s been getting a lot of attention lately because he wrote a song called Same Love, which is about pretty much what is sounds like. People have been talking about him like he’s here to ‘save’ hip hop, because he talked about homophobia and being nice to people. And I mean… points for trying I guess, but there’s just something icky about it, like that feeling I get when men tell me how to be a better feminist. So, I thought rather than add my two cents to the whole “can Macklemore say thing, who can say thing, everyone stop saying thing” debate, I would just provide a list of queer rappers who I think are cooler than Macklemore and who make really interesting, varied and exciting music.

  1. Le1f – Far and away one of my faves, he also does a lot of producing for some of the other people on this list. His music is a bit of a genre mash a lot of the time and is just generally heaps of fun. Oh, and did I mention that he is a) a total babe and b} an amazing dancer. Check his track Wut.

    Brilliant, right? Other tracks to watch for are Soda, which has a glitchy house vibe and is pretty much as far-removed from Wut as you could possibly get. For further coolness, here is a wonderful interview in which he talks about music and his identity.
  2. Amplify Dot – So Amplify Dot, or A. Dot, has been chugging away doing her own (really cool) thing for a while now with some other cuties. They’ve done some really awesome stuff with Ms. Dynamite and pretty much stole my heart. Recently she got signed for an album deal with Virgin. This song is called Semantics and is pre-album deal. It’s cheeky and pretty fun.

    As for her new stuff, Get Down is my fave. For further watching, she absolutely kills it on this track with the UK Female Allstars.
  3. Mykki Blanco – When this came out my housemate approached me, laptop in hand, and said “I think I have found something you will enjoy.” He was absolutely right. Mykki started out as a poet and performance artist. This track, Wavvy, is great. Keep an ear out for my fave line: “What the fuck I gotta prove to a room full of dudes who ain’t listenin’ to my words cos they starin’ at my shoes?”

    Some of my other fave tracks include  Haze Boogie Life and Kingpinning.
  4. Roxxxan – You may recognise Roxxan from the UK Female Allstars mentioned earlier (if you don’t, I’m assuming it’s because you didn’t watch it, in which case, backtrack and watch it). This lady has the looks of a catwalk model, but transforms as soon as the music starts. Check out her track Too Fuckin’ Facety.

    I think the reason I love this so much is because it really emphasises the fact that she is from Birmingham and really proud of it. The language is so area specific it makes it really fun to listen to. Check Power and this very cool live performance for added badassery. I’m in love.

  5. Cakes da Killa – Be still my beating heart. Cakes da Killa is a major cutie with an excellent sense of style and some filthy lyrical content. His song Goodie Goodies is ridiculously fun. Check it out.

    Great earrings, great makeup, great song. Love all round.  I’m also a big fan of Whistle, but you should really just check out his album The Eulogy.

So yeah. Next time you feel overcome by a need to listen to Macklemore’s Same Love, have a listen to one of these songs instead. They’re much better and are made by living breathing queer people who are all talented and excellent.

On another note, my friend Wes got tired of posting his rants to my blog, and his attractive and talented girlfriend DeeDee got sick of seeing Wes’ rants on my site. (Not really… I just couldn’t think of a way to structure the next sentence. It’s late. Shuttup.) So they lanched a website called What Sound, which features music news and reviews from across the country. It’s awesome and you should go and check it out because they’ve worked really hard and it looksgreat. CLICK HERE. GO. NOW. COME ON. You can also keep up with them on Facebook.

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