Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lily Allen Is Mocking the Dominant Culture. You'd Be Pissed Too, If You Were In the Scene

      My neck is sore from all the back and forth over Lily Allen's new video,  and its satirical mocking of pop music conventions that rely on objectification of women.

      The music business has long been known for sexism, but in the last decade its taken on horrific proportions. Three months ago, Huffington Post wrote an article about how Lorde's song "Royals" was the first song by a female artist to top the Alternative charts in 17 years. That's shameful, considering it's coming from the genre that got its start with bands like the B-52s, X, Eurythmics, SinĂ©ad O'Connor, and thrived with Belly, Throwing Muses, Concrete Blonde ... shall I keep going?

      Anyway, here's a link to the article. Make sure you read the comments and see how many people immediately started taking shots. The hatred pouring out on the page is astounding.

     So it's interesting to see what the negatives are about "Hard Out Here." From the men in the scene she's satirizing, the typical response boils down to, "shut up, cunt." But the women ... oh my. Sad to see so many supposed feminists jumping all over Lily for the use of black dancers in twerking. In butt-jiggling. Champagne pouring over body parts.

     At first, it's easy to get caught up in their rationalizations. "Lily only cares about White Feminism," etc. In the Washington Post,  Soraya Nadia McDonald writes,
Black women are not here to be used as collateral damage in the fight against patriarchy. We’re smart, resourceful, capable allies, but that stunt Allen pulled is not ok, and hiding behind the explanation of “satire” is weaksauce, because this happens over and over and over.
       At a certain point it dawns on you: these women are actually here to defend the abusive patriarchy whose balls Allen is kicking in. That's one of the top symptoms of a dysfunctional society, in the first place. And it was there that I was reminded of the infamous reaction Aerosmith's Steven Tyler had to the movie, This Is Spinal Tap.

     Rob Reiner's famous "mockumentary" took a playful hand to the excesses of a once-famous, now on the skids, hard rock band in the 1980s. It came out in 1984, when Aerosmith was trying to come back from drug and personnel problems. The following quote comes from excerpts of music industry Joe Smith's taped interviews, now in the Library of Congress (the emphasis is mine):

"...When we got into the thick of stardom in the Seventies, I found the most outrageous things I asked for, would've thought of asking for, had already taken place the week before with some other group. It was harder to do something that hadn't happened . . . I can remember the height of my oblivion, I was into doing things just because I could. I would think nothing of tipping a whole long spread, and I'd be so livid – explicit – no turkey roll! Give us a turkey – no gravy, no stuffing, just real meat. No hockey pucks, no mystery meat, just a turkey. And I would come in after coming offstage, and I'd have 12 ounces of Jack in me, and half a gram, sweating profusely, and I would see that tray, and I would go "Yeeow!" and just turn the thing right over. And that would feel good to me. That felt real good . . . That movie [This Is Spinal Tap!] bummed me out, because I thought, 'How dare they? That's all real, and they're mocking it.'"

 And here's what Brad Whitford told SPIN magazine:

"I'd swear those Spinal Tap guys were at half our meetings," says Whitford. "The funniest thing is, the first time Steven saw it he didn't see any humor in it. That's how close to home it was. He was pissed! He was like, 'That's not funny!'" -- Spin - May 1997
     I also have a recollection of reading an article on INXS in one of the big three (Rolling Stone, Musician, SPIN) that recounts Michael Hutchence's negative reaction to the film. I can't find it online, unfortunately, but it was along the lines that he found it depressing because it hit so close to home.

      Bottom line: These supposedly intellectual viewpoints, claiming the ground of "Black Feminism" are acting as nothing more than shields for the excesses that we've been through before, and (rightly) derided before.

    Mock on, Lily. Mock on.

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