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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

145

Hard Out Here for a White Feminist

British singer Lily Allen has released "Hard Out Here," her first single since 2009, and the accompanying video is quite the piece of work, in an extreme "WTF, DOG" way.

It starts out promising enough: Lily's lying on an operating table being liposuctioned by rough doctors with American and British accents. They prod her and marvel at the amount of fat she must have removed. Her manager stands bedside, reporting to her which late-night hosts have rejected her services. "How can somebody let themselves get like this, you know?" he complains. She responds sweetly, "Well I've had two babies!" The manager shakes his head. It's all good, winking commentary on the entertainment industry's rigid, unsympathetic body standards. We can get down with that, no? We're all familiar with the disapproving tabloid headlines about how pregnant celebrities have "ballooned," and then the praise heaped upon them when they whip their "post-baby bodies" into shape in record times. It's unrealistic. Let Lily Allen have babies like a normal, my dudes!

Things go south right around the time the vocals drop in: "I suppose I should tell you, what this bitch is thinking." Go on… "You'll find me in the studio and not in the kitchen." Preach! And? "I won't be braggin' bout my cars, or talkin' bout my chains, don't need to shake my ass for you cause I've got a brain."

OHHHH!!!!!! FOUL, LILY. And therein begin the false equivalencies—that bragging about material goods is exclusively stupid (and not, say, aspirational or representational), and that women who dance or shake their asses are stupid. The latter is made especially ironic by the fact that Allen has chosen to populate her video with women, mostly of color, who twerk in slow motion and pour champagne down their breasts like errant ejaculate. These are all things that we have seen in rap videos, of course, but it doesn't make it any better if it's executed under the guise of satire: this is the exact kind of shit that got Nelly banned from Spelman and BET Uncut cancelled

Of course, we see similar representations in pop culture every day, and they're often demeaning to black women, but Lily Allen (and director Chris Sweeney) presenting the exact same images ironically and as critique is the ultimate in white feminist privilege, and another side of the demonic die that is "hipster racism." She is critiquing a brand of misogyny that, until this year's Miley Cyrus outbreak, has not been especially appropriated outside of hip hop, and certainly not within the somewhat off-kilter pop sphere in which Allen typically operates. It is the precise generalization that had some lobbing searing feminist critique at Lorde's "Royals," but manifested in an adult who has ostensibly spent time engaging in both American cultural dynamics, and more specifically with rap culture, since her first album Alright, Still was specifically influenced by hip-hop.

Of course, hip hop is touchy with outsiders critiquing the culture, precisely because it is often so racially charged. This is not to discount Allen's cameo on the 2007 Common track "Drivin' Me Wild," in which he actually says the line, "They say it's hard for a pimp, but it's extra hard for these hoes," and tells a story that critiques a certain lifestyle in a more complicated fashion than the with-us-or-against-us approach of "Hard Out Here." Both Allen's and Common's "hard out here"s refer to "Hard Out Here for a Pimp," Three 6 Mafia's Oscar-winning track for Hustle & Flow, and is exactly as dark as you might expect. But it came out all the way back in 2005, a belated reference that underscores how Allen is essentially dropping in on a world she's not a part of, using women of color to rip it to pieces. She is using racism to skewer sexism, and it is unfortunately a familiar tack.

Watching the video, for the first and fifth and sixth times, I couldn't help but think that also in its crosshairs—beyond the obviously Miley/Thicke one-two-punch—was Azealia Banks, the rapper with whom Allen tweet-beefed earlier this year. I still don't even know what started it, and I am well aware that Banks is well known for her vulgar, off-the-cuff, and ill-advised Twitter beefs (disclosure: Banks tweeted earlier this year that she thinks I am the only person who should be writing about hip-hop, ha). They exchanged some ugly words, but the fact that the beef culminated in Allen posting a racist image of a brown penis dressed up in, well, blackface, if a penis can be wearing blackface (NSFW), is something I keep returning to. All beefs between women in music, whether on Twitter or IRL, both depress and (ashamedly) fascinate me—particularly for how they reflect the way the patriarchal industry tends to pit women against one another in order to squeeze out a multiplicity of women's voices. But the fact that Allen's response was ultimately to resort to blatant racism was telling.

Allen's dick tweet, as with the "Hard Out Here" video, reads like the the ultimate in "white feminism," an example of the insular and anti-intersectional types of occurrences that led writer Mikki Kendall to coin the phrase "#solidarityisforwhitewomen," or leads other women of color who embrace feminist tenets to find new words to describe themselves, like "womanist" or "xicanista." It's a feminism whose white privilege is so acute and steel-hardy that it does not acknowledge—or, more ominously, even realize—that the issues women of color face are complex and multifarious. Allen has issued a statement directed towards those accusing her of racism; in it she writes that her "being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day." She is seemingly unaware that by choosing to "cover up" but having her dancers wear pum-pum shorts and slap each others' asses and pour champagne down each others' butt cracks, she was exerting a very specific supremacy indeed.

You could counter with, "whatever, it's her video," or say that it is "pure rap-game parody." One of the dancers in the video, Seliza Sebastian, has tweeted that she enjoyed herself and found a friend in Allen. I'm not here to discount Sebastian's experience at all, or the possibility that there's value in her being "in on the joke," but to point out that the images in pop culture go beyond your one-day video shoot, and that they're gonna have implications beyond where you think your headspace is at. The point is, even by sexualizing women to make an ostensibly parodic commentary on how hip-hop sexualizes women, you are still sexualizing women. And even if your dancers are well-treated and knew what their job was beforehand, you're still mocking those who dance for real in rap videos for potentially a myriad of reasons, and/ or assuming that they don't know what they're doing, or that they are victims. That is racially problematic at best. And when you're the fully-clothed white woman at the center, and your video director is still working with the same slow-mo ass shots as the ones you seem to want to satire (his direct inspiration: "what was the most hip-hop thing you could ever do?")—well, that shit is definitely racially problematic, and particularly so in a banner year for twerking and white women treating black women as props.

It's such a shame, because beyond the "ironic objectification" and pretty dunderheaded generalizations about hip-hop, the song could have been good—a real-talk "critique of sexism in the industry," as Pitchfork enthused. This video says to me that Allen's feminism applies only to Allen and her ilk. It's white feminism to the max.

 
Previously: Case of the Fake People: On TLC's CrazySexyCool Biopic

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is a writer and editor in Brooklyn who learned feminism from '90s rap and R&B.



145 Comments / Post A Comment

commanderbanana

I did find Allen's video pretty...well, pretty darn racist. I'm going to guess that Allen being more covered up had more to do with her not having a dancer's body (which is fiiiiiiiine, ya'll, but if she'd worn the outfits the dancers were wearing the Intertubez would be filled with cow jokes), and in general she doesn't tend to wear revealing stuff anyway, at the least in the pics/videos that I've seen of her.
As for Lorde? I read that article and find it kind of baffling. I thought the "criticizing consumption in hip-hop = racist" conclusion really a stretch - and I don't think Lorde is even so much criticizing it as pointing out that here is a genre of music she and her friends love to listen to, but don't share any of those experiences (welllp, I guess now she does?), so she's musing about why they love it? Why do they feel connected to it?

Sea Ermine

@commanderbanana Yeah I thought the Lorde thing was interesting because in interviews I've read with her she mostly criticizes top 40 pop music and mostly singles out white artists (so far mainly miley cyrus). I understand what the author was getting at, but I think when connected to the rest of her interviews and tweets (which are the opposite of the Lily Allen tweet mentioned above) it's much more likely that she is a 16 year old singing about how the lifestyle promoted by wealthy pop stars (of any race) isn't attainable for a regular 16 year old in New Zealand and the conflict of appreciating that music despite not being able to (or not wanting to) emulate it. It seems like more of a class based criticism than a race one, and while class is heavily racialized in the US I'm not sure if that's the case in New Zealand (and if it is, I'd bet it would be mostly connected to aboriginal groups, who might not occupy the same space in New Zealand's pop culture as black people do in the US).

I understand why the author of that piece would have felt the way she did, especially given the way a lot of white pop stars treat rap music but I don't think that's what was going on, and that's not the impression I got from watching Lorde's video.

1967336072@twitter

@commanderbanana
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commanderbanana

@Lena Otterman@facebook Uh...okay.

commanderbanana

@Sea Ermine I think if she's critiquing anything, it's her peers reaction to a genre highlighting things they'll never experience and can't aspire to? I guess?

All I know if I like Lorde, I think she's hella talented and have had Pure Heroine on repeat for a while.

Evelyn Lohse@facebook

@Sea Ermine What on earth do Aboriginies have to do with New Zealand?

tuntastica

@Evelyn Lohse@facebook the Maori are an aboriginal people. Educate yourself. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/aborigine

commanderbanana

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hallelujah

I hit the exact same point in the song, like all right, OK, "don't need to shake my ass for you" NOPE SHUT IT DOWN. Fuck this shit, man. Just fuck it.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@hallelujah Right, I get that feeling. But if we're looking at it like this, and defending a woman's right to shake her ass, when, then, is it not racist nor sexist? Because I feel like I'm watching this conversation happen over and over, and any time there's ass-shaking, first it is declared either sexist or racist or both, and then we say things like "shut it down" when she says "don't need to shake my ass for you" and then I don't even know what kind of -ist we're talking about anymore.

Ugh, sorry, this is like a thought-cycle ouroboros for me.

kp23

@hallelujah Am I the only one who read "don't need to shake my ass for you" as shaking ass for the benefit of a man, as opposed to shaking ass for the joy of ass-shaking?

concrete dreams

@hallelujah exactly. i also don't like hearing the word "bitch" so much. it makes me feel icky. i'm glad for this article and i'm glad to see others like it. this one makes pretty good points as well: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/lily-allen-hard-out-here-racism

Jaya

@kp23 Yes! I mean, the video made me uncomfortable. But I like the song, because I think the message of "I don't need to be conventionally sexy to be valuable" is still important. Not everyone is as enlightened as we are in our internet feminist circles, knowing that you can be sexy/smart/both/neither and still be valuable. Some girls still need to hear that you are not your leg hair.

Doesn't excuse the imagery though.

klemay

@concrete dreams seconding your feelings on the word "bitch." I don't think it's empowering or whatever for us to use the word at ourselves or others. It makes me so uncomfortable.

Jaya

@concrete dreams I'm not huge on the word bitch, but I also don't deny that it can be empowering for some people. I don't particularly feel the need to "take back" the word slut either, but I realize people are doing it and it's important to them.

hallelujah

@kp23 And that parts fine! That it's followed up by "because I've got a brain" that makes me wanna chuck the whole thing in a river. Especially when she's surrounded by Black dancers shaking their asses! Incredibly insulting/tone-deaf/etc. in my reading.

concrete dreams

@Jaya yeah, that's fine! i still am just uncomfortable with it, especially when a big star uses it so much. like what's the difference between her saying it and a male singer using the word? that's something i struggle with. and i subscribe to bitch magazine, so idk. i'm still learning how i feel about it.

klemay

@Jaya I'm not entirely comfortable with individuals doing things because those things make them feel good, when those things are harmful to a greater portion of the population. This is something you might find interesting re: reclaiming "slut" and how it advantages white women but not women of color. I feel that the concepts here can be applied similarly to the word bitch, and other words commonly used as slurs against women.

klemay

@concrete dreams you hit the nail on the head there. It's like that quote from Mean Girls: "You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores."

(Yes, I just brought this back to Mean Girls)

Jaya

@klemay I mean, arguments like that are why I'm against the whole "reclaiming" thing, because it's rarely successful and often perpetuates the same shit. However, sometimes it can be. I think the taking over of "queer" has been pretty successful, right? Not saying "bitch" or "slut" need to be successfully taken over, but just, I don't know. I guess I'm just not surprised when a pop star doesn't put a ton of thought into a song.

klemay

@Jaya I actually have some friends in the LGBT+ community who have Serious Problems with queer as an umbrella term, so YMMV. But you're right - I think we can be angry when pop stars do thoughtless stuff like this, but maybe not surprised. It's unfortunate, isn't it?

Jaya

@klemay Absolutely. I mean, I'm glad it allows everyone to have these conversations so any future pop stars lurking in the comments will know about this.

supernintendochalmers

@hallelujah To me the key word is "need." She's implying that anyone who shakes her ass in a music video NEEDS to do it for the publicity, and couldn't possibly have other motivations like expressing her sexuality. I think this all could've been avoided if she had male dancers shaking their butts. Pref. ones of different races.

discombobulated

@Jaya I'm with you: I like the song, and if it weren't for the video, the "don't need to shake my ass for you 'cause I've got a brain" wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me. But.

That video is a mess. I know she thinks it's an over-the-top parody, ridiculous send-up, just a joke, just having fun, etc. But she created a video where black women are STILL treated as sexy decorations, but she, Lily Allen, who is whiter and richer and more famous than the women around her, is not. They wear bikinis and get slo-mo close-ups of their butts; Allen gets to wear whatever makes her feel "completely comfortable", as she said in that Pitchfork article; and her close-ups are of her face. If she wants an entertainment business that is less shallow, open to women who don't have to look perfect and shake their butts, then why the fuck didn't she start with her own music video?

RNL
RNL

@discombobulated Right? It's so fucking ridiculous. This video absolutely trades on those women's bodies - she benefits from the slo-mo shots of butts shaking, but still gets to distance herself from them.

There's so much that's great about this video ("Lily Allen Has a Baggy Pussy" balloons!), but at its heart it is gross and so so so racist.

mochi

@supernintendochalmers ahhh that would've been so good.

harebell

@supernintendochalmers

well, I guess she did have the older white guy in a business school tweaking -- even if he wasn't very good at it -- so she did somewhat do this?

(am not defending her… just thinking out loud with you)

Jaya

@harebell Right. It just doesn't go far enough to read as satire. It's like a racist Borowitz Report.

nothingcutesy

Thank you for this! When I watched the clip yesterday it made me uncomfortable, and I had a discussion with my fiancé last night about it and couldn't quite articulate why it unsettled me. He, for the record, was on Lily's side, and while I understand what she was trying to do, I think the execution was off.

I miss 90s music vids where it was just about dancing and not about "sexy" dancing. Give me the Spice Girls' 'Stop' video any day...

93113817@twitter

I do agree with a lot of this, comments about how people dress and brains mattering more were odd and the clothing differences made me feel uncomfortable at first.

What I will argue though is that there's a theme in the video- The manager telling her and the back up dancers what he wants. Mute the video and it's exactly what seems to be selling right now, which is what managers try to get their clients to do. Make music videos that sell. He's showing her how to eat the banana sexually, telling them to twerk better, how to wash the car part, any time he shows up it's him telling them what to do. I took it as saying that this is whats being pushed and selling right now and it's getting impossible to avoid. Turn the sound back on and she even does some auto-tune in a way that's been in a lot of popular songs (such as the last bitch at the end). Some of the lyrics weren't the best... but the message behind the video of this older white guy telling them what sells does stand out to me more than anything else.

Ultimately, the message may be good and it does bring awareness to some uncomfortable things in our media and music videos that is selling... but does it really excuse it?

ariel

"I won't be braggin' bout my cars, or talkin' bout my chains, don't need to shake my ass for you cause I've got a brain."is literally the only thing in the song that could be considered a reference 'hip hop culture' and if you've turned on the radio once in the past year you'll have noticed that those themes no longer exclusively apply to hip hop and have actually infiltrated almost every aspect of pop culture. are you saying that it is off limits for white people to critique them because of their origin? despite the fact that we are also confronted with these images regularly within mainstream culture (see justin bieber, miley cyrus)? also, trying to use something from lily's personal life to support your opinions about the video is really weak. If i gave any consideration to azalea banks' personal reputation (QUEEN of the catfights) i would not be able to stomach her music, but because i am able to separate the art from the artists, I really love her music. if you have an issue with lily allen as a person, then you should have written an article about that, not about the video. as for the 'ironic objectification thing,' sorry but satire is real and frequently employed as a method of critique because it's affective. there's enough ACTUAL objectification of women in every single video being made these days that lily could hardly be considered a major contributor to that issue. everybody is so sick of the whole 'bad feminism/good feminism' thing. quit telling people how to be feminists! it's such an exciting and groundbreaking thing that she is fearlessly and intelligently talking about feminist issues in a pop song!

cee
cee

@ariel there are a lot of things in your paragraph that i would take issue with but for now here's one thing: there is nothing "groundbreaking" about someone talking about feminist issues in a pop song in 2013 and we do not have to be grateful to lily allen for doing it.

ariel

@cee please, do tell me who else has confronted these issues so directly? i would love to hear about more instances of recent pop songs like this. i'm not one for idol worship and i wouldn't suggest it to anyone, so no im not saying we should 'be grateful' and just forgo critical thinking. in fact, complacency is addressed pretty directly in the lyrics of the song
'We've never had it so good, aha, we're out of the woods
And if you can't detect the sarcasm, you're misunderstood"
i've never been a huge fan of lily allen. guess i should have made it more clear that i found the song exciting, not her in particular. and please, if you have things you take issue with i would love to read about them. i'm quite willing to be wrong about any number of the points i've made.

pajamaralls

@ariel I guess I never got the idea that you can't critique feminism. That always seems like a stance reserved mostly for white feminist. Feminism isn't perfect - so if there's something problematic or harmful, then why in the actual fuck can I not call it out? If Lily Allen is saying that "she don't need to shake her ass for you because she has a brain" can I not object to that? Seems like this mystical 100% pure untouchable feminism should have some shit to say about that.

And the fact that people keep asking if we can stop policing the ways in which people do feminism - ESPECIALLY with regards to women of color and intersectionality (like the Bell Hooks response to Sheryl Sandberg) just keeps affirming what a lot of feminist of color already know.

klemay

@ariel did you miss the part where literally the entire song is a reference to "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" by Three 6 Mafia? That's a rap song, in case you didn't know.

cee
cee

@ariel well, here's a start: Dummy Magazine's 10 videos that pushed feminism forward in 2013.

Like Julianne Escobedo Shepherd's bio suggests, there's a rich vein of feminist content in 90s R'n'B and rap - not just dealing with the question of how the industry punishes and silences female artists for not being hot or skinny or young enough, but with other issues of sexual and gender politics, sex, finance, work and how power affects women. If you want straight-down-the-line pop, Pink's "Don't let me get me" covered the similar territory to this song (and has some of the concomitant problems). There has been feminist content in popular music sung by women since at least the 60s: no new ground is being broken here.

Blushingflwr

@ariel I'm sorry, but if your feminism isn't intersectional, then you deserve to be called out on it. It is not okay for white women to use the bodies of women of color as stepping stones on the path to equality.

kasa

@ariel I mean, I'm totally out of the loop with pop music, but dude, JANELLE MONAE. Look, I get that Lily probably had her heart in the right place with this song and video, and I have a feeling she is probably working through her privilege (sllooooowllllly) in a way that works for her. But fuck, if you are going to claim to make a consciously feminist hip hop video in 2013 you need to fucking step it up, and you need to be prepared to be critiqued. I found this video and song to be super boring and dull, and even the aesthetic reminded me of he late 90s (and not in a good way). The Baggy Pussy bit is, admittedly FUCKING MOTHERFUCKING AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME, and I will love her a bit forever for it, but this video is a wasted opportunity, and fuck yes I am going to criticize her for that. She has the money, privilege, and education to do better.

This video is lazy, pure and simple.

kasa

@kasa (I retract my statement above about Lily working through privilege/heart in right place.)

Duncan Kinney@facebook

How exactly would one pronounce "xicanista"?

fallopian princess

@Duncan Kinney@facebook Chicanista

lbf
lbf

@Duncan Kinney@facebook I'm partial to "paranoid Berkeley shiksa feminista", myself.

fallopian princess

“It's a feminism whose white privilege is so acute and steel-hardy that it does not acknowledge—or, more ominously, even realize—that the issues women of color face are complex and multifarious.”

YES. This is so good.

pajamaralls

Did it seem to anyone else that Lily Allen was trying to approach her video like The Roots did with the video for What They Do?

Except she failed.

jaynow

Right. Is it just me? Or would everyone be criticising her no matter what she did? Coz it seems like unless you're black you're not allowed to shake your ass or twerk because you're appropriating another's culture or reinforcing the sexualizing of women. If you're a white singer using white dancers you're gonna be criticized, white singer using black dancers you're criticised. White singer saying she's not into shaking her arse and that's not her schtick? She's both racist and sexist. White girl criticises aspects of what is currently the most popular and influential genre in music for listeners and artists of all races, countries and cultures? She's racist. But I'll bet that if Rihanna or Beyonce came out with this exact song and using mostly black dancers you'd all be hailing them as the second coming, the hip new feminist theme song

pajamaralls

I disagree with pretty much everything you said, but mostly I object to the assumption that I'm not already hailing Beyoncé as the second coming.

She is the way, the truth, and the life.

kasa

@jaynow I'd grant you had a point if there was more than one white dancer on screen for about five seconds on this video. Blink and you miss her. I mean, the thing about the dancers is, there is nothing different or interesting or satirical about their use, I'm guessing because Lily isn't smart / witty enough to come up with that.

kasa

@kasa Also Rihanna and Bey are black so yeah, FUNDAMENTALLY A DIFFERENT THING.

2150050736@twitter

I don't think the video is all the things the writer makes it sound. The video is a mess, no use defending it, but I think at some point we are going to have to accept that we no longer can call hip hop culture black culture, mostly because it is entirely too mainstream at this point. Now I have a bias in that I refuse to claim aspects of hip hop culture because they simply are not an everyday aspect of my existence but we must accept, for better or worse, that hip hop culture has become mainstream. The caveat is black people have not been made mainstream in turn which seems to be the crux of the problem; they are taking the culture without recognizing the people in a real way. Now if they addressed that issue I could jump on the bandwagon; the fact that she adorns her herself with black bodies dancing suggestively to show what it means to be a part of the culture is problematic, even if she is doing it to mock other artists who have done it recently. I'm with you there but I'm not sure the take away is that she uses racism to attack sexism is correct either; couldn't the argument be made that she is simultaneously attacking the usage of black bodies to "ratchet" up a video as well as the fact that women need to shake their ass to get a hit. I see nothing wrong with ass shaking but her point is a valid one, the ratio of ass shakers to nonshakers, at least in American mainstream environment, leans heavily in the shakers side. Her point is nothing new, India Arie was saying similar stuff in her song "Video", ain't nothing new under the sun. I think everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. Complain about the ass-shakers because they are "appropriating culture" (it is in quotations because of my comment about the mainstreaming of hip hop culture) but then disparage those who attack the usage of the culture.

klemay

@2150050736@twitter "we are going to have to accept that we no longer can call hip hop culture black culture" ...because WHITE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATING IT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. Just like we did for rock n roll, blues, r&b... this type of cultural imperialism is normal for white people but that doesn't make it acceptable.

2150050736@twitter

@klemay Do you not want it to be mainstream? Mainstream makes it accessible to many peoples, not just white people, do you get nearly as upset when people of Latin origin, or South Asian or Asian descent "appropriate" hip hop culture? I ask not to sound condescending but I am just trying figure out something here, at what point does it get to be American culture in addition to "black culture" or do you think that can never been done? Must they always be mutually exclusive? Also comparing it to rock and roll is a false dichotomy; Rock n Roll was literally stolen from the black counterparts who created, their songs were forced off the air and white counterparts re-recorded them as their own. That is not the case here. There are black artist alongside non-black artists putting out similar music, one voice in the hip hop community is not being shut down and isolated, at least not by white counterparts. As for the other other genres there is way more unpacking to do, especially with R&B which is said to have been killed by Hip-hop long before it was supposedly appropriated.

fakefighter

@klemay This is such a US-centric argument. People worldwide, of all races, listen to hip hop, r&b, and rap, written by black, American artists who make a shit-ton of money off it. Would it have the appeal it does were it not from the US? Intersectionality doesn't end at race. What annoys me the most about these discussions is how Americans completely ignore the worldwide influence they have, but are happy to reap its benefits.

klemay

@2150050736@twitter @fakefighter I don't personally feel qualified to take this discussion further but highly suggest that you read Can't Stop Won't Stop by Jeff Kang (for starters, anyway)

commanderbanana

@klemay Yeahhhhhhhhhhh this really bothers me because, like Miley Cyrus twerking, it's using something to appear authentic and cool WITH NONE OF THE ATTENDANT BAGGAGE! Greg Tate talks about in a much more coherent way than I ever could in his book, Everything but the Burden, about white appropriation of black culture. This was published in 2003 so a lot of it seems archaic, but he has an excellent overall point. Miley twerking is controversial, but I'd like to see everyone leaping to Lil' Kim's defense they way they did Miley's.

klemay

@commanderbanana Oh, thanks for the rec re: Everything But the Burden. Adding it to my "to read" list now!

commanderbanana

@klemay It's pretty good, and it's very interesting to read it now, with everything that's happened in our country since 2003. I take exception to some of the things he says, but think his thesis is absolutely sound - white people take things from black culture to make themselves look authentic and cool, but they're able to choose what to take and not take the burden with them. It seemed to me that the consensus of Miley's performance was that it was distasteful, but everyone seemed to kind of agree that she was play-acting and being deliberately provocative - almost an eye-rolling, she'll grow out of it response. I firmly believe that if a black artist had performed the exact same dance in the same outfit, the OUTRAGE!

kasa

@2150050736@twitter I don't feel like I can really respond to your comment better than the others here, but agree on the US centric ness. Has anybody read any reactions to this video from across the pond? I just realized that I bet a lot of her cluelessness might come from being part of a British scene?

cee
cee

@kasa it not as if people in the UK don't know what racism is! we have an awful lot of previous with it.

Ian Young@facebook

Author totally fails to understand British piss-taking and takes it far too literally and reads far more into it than there actually is. Lily Allens entire body of work is a giant send-up to point out how ridiculous a given theme is - this is a not a divergence from her modus operandi at all. It's SUPPOSED to be ridiculous and over-the-top to point out how ridiculous and over-the-top people are who exploit that sexual imagery/glorification of materialism, etc.

klemay

@Ian Young@facebook white dude fails to understand critical analysis and takes it far too superficially and doesn't get any of what the author is saying.

Susanna

@Ian Young I'm British. I understand piss-taking. But I don't understand how you critique the fact that many videos use scantily clad black dancers covered in jizz substitutes as a backdrop to a white star by making a video featuring, er, backgrounded, scantily clad black dancers covered in jizz substitutes.

169703883@twitter

@klemay Is it productive to reduce him to "white dude," even if you disagree with what he said?

klemay

@169703883@twitter yes, you're right - white dudes are always being reduced to their whiteness and dudeness which robs them of the platform they deserve to speak their mi--

oh wait.

169703883@twitter

@klemay That isn't my point. I'm obviously reading the comments and commenting myself because I appreciate this sort of discussion. I just don't think it contributes to the discussion at large to reduce anyone to their gender and their color. I think that's actually the point of the article we're all talking about.

commanderbanana

@klemay By platform, I'm assuming you mean the world, amirite?

klemay

@169703883@twitter I suppose I actually do have to spell this one out. I mentioned that he was a white dude because it's so easy for white men to dismiss racism and sexism and say we all need a better sense of humor. And it's easy for white men to do this because racism and sexism don't negatively affect them - in fact, they benefit from a system that is heavily racist and sexist. So yes, his gender and color ARE relevant here, because they are indicative of privileges that are getting in the way of him understanding what the author is saying. And then he comes to the comments and makes some asinine remark about how the author just doesn't understand humor.

169703883@twitter

@klemay You didn't need to spell it out. And both his Facebook name and photo made it clear he was white and male, so I'm not sure that needed to be spelled out, originally, either. We disagree on how to hold productive conversations on stuff like racism and sexism with people of different races and gender. No biggie.

klemay

I think the song itself is also racist. Like, she takes this rap song (by black artists) and turns it into this cutesy pop ditty. It's like all those white girls & guys with acoustic guitars making pop covers of rap songs on Youtube, except she took it a step further.

klemay

@klemay Also hot damn, I never knew so many racists read the hairpin but I'm sure finding out tonight.

tulliola

@klemay Yeah, me either, but it is becoming increasingly apparent and making me not want to read the comments here anymore. Every article which involves intersectional perspectives on feminism has at least several comments whose contribution is along the lines of "gosh can't we all get along, this racist thing white feminists are doing doesn't seem racist to me, so maybe you should shut up and just stop making me think about non-white women's existence, thanks." Ugh.

meowmischen

@klemay They seem to be attracted to only certain articles. Very few recognizable names here compared to open thread, for example. Maybe we could bring up issues again in FOT if we want to have reasonable discussions about them?

celeec4@twitter

@tulliola Yeah uh, what is going on? Wasn't it just earlier in the year that there were interesting discussions in comments? What happened? :\

Jinxie

@celeec4@twitter I don't know if all these newbs are just trolling us or are, in fact, totally in earnest but either way it's hella depressing. I have NO desire to wade into a sea of shit comments and I'm afraid a lot of Olde Timey 'Pinners feel the same. :(

Jinxie

@Jinxie Also there is way the hell too much spam. Are there no moderators around to delete that shit? Do y'all need mods? 'Cause I'll volunteer.

celeec4@twitter

@Jinxie *shuffles sheepishly* I'm a relatively new-ish commentator? I think I've been poking around the comments section of the Hairpin for about a year and a half, and in that time both the number and quality of comments have taken a swan dive off of a cliff, and it makes me so very sad.

...where is everyone going...? :(

Jinxie

@celeec4@twitter Aw, I didn't mean to turn this into an Olds v. Youngs thing! You seem delightful, and I am glad you're commenting :)
I wish I had an answer as to the why the decline in comment quality, but my guess is: the site changed hands and the content changed somewhat, so people read less and commented less, and as "regulars" participated less new voices came in and then the old voices REALLY didn't want to participate...PLUS there's so so much spam now (when we used to have hardly any) and it rarely gets deleted which makes me think there's no one watching the comments, no one moderating (nor is there any way to easily report spam or inappropriate/horrible comments), which in turn makes me think the people running this site just don't care that much about the commenters so...why bother participating?
Oh, but I can tell you that many of us can now be found over at The Toast which, if you haven't checked it out, I would HIGHLY recommend. It's run by some former 'Pinners and is the most delightful place on the internet.

klemay

@Jinxie I'm not quite welcome at The Toast (I think I may have been banned from commenting there?) so I was hoping to still find some community here.

@meowmischen I love the idea of discussing these issues in FOT, but sometimes it's nice to be able to talk about things in the moment, when they're happening. But I still think some awesome stuff could happen in FOT if we can ignore the trolls here.

celeec4@twitter

@Jinxie Oh no, I didn't think that you were trying to turn it into Originals vs Newbs thing, was just trying to point out that, oh man, in the 1.5 years I have been hanging around, shit has changed FAST.

And yeah, I'm not sure anyone's reading the comments some days. Pondering how to get attention of/a hold of someone to correct a small technical thing in an article from earlier in the week.

And thanks, I'm gonna go check out the Toast. Some articles look interesting.

SexySadie

@klemay You really think the whole song is racist? I'm kind of hoping you're being sarcastic because, setting aside the problematic video, I just can't see how it is racist to build on one song to make a statement about your own experience in the music industry. Is it racist every time a white artist uses/builds on/is inspired by material originally created by a black artist?

And what's more, I think the original song to be sexist and absolutely ABHOR the use of the word "pimp" in popular culture. My mom, a physician who frequently works with high-risk women (extreme poverty, homelessness, drug use, sex work, etc.), flipped her shit at me one time for calling someone a "pimp". In real life, pimps are people who rape, beat, steal from, and exploit women. That is the DEFINITION of a pimp and it really grinds my gears to see the word used with so little concern for what it actually means. As far as I'm concerned, feminists should strike it from their vocabulary.

You know, I'm a long-time feminist and am still learning more about intersectionality. But when a self-identified feminist calls a song by a female artist "racist" for referencing a song that glorifies the exploitation of women, something seems very, VERY wrong to me.

FWIW, I'm a life-long feminist, long-time Hairpin reader, and relatively new/infrequent commenter. :)

Ellie

This continued rhetoric about new people with different points of view depreciating the Hairpin quality is really loathsome. It's the internet and the idea that you would only talk about certain subjects in threads where all the participants are likely to share your opinion (FOTs) is ridiculously juvenile. If you don't like what someone's opinion is, just write a response instead of writing that you wish the person would get out of your personal sandbox reserved for only people who think the same way you do.

concrete dreams

@celeec4@twitter unrelated to the article but a thing i learned at a blogging conference this year: comments on blogs (this sort of counts as a blog?) are way down. we're all lazy and prefer to "like" or "share" things instead. which bums me out as a blogger and a reader of blogs. plus i love the hairpin and i love reading/participating in the conversations! this really is a community and i think it's great. i would totally join a hairpin message board and just chat with y'all on the regular.

klemay

@Ellie I think it's reasonable to not want to interact with racist people. It's not just about wanting everyone to agree with me, it's wanting to interact with people who have a basic level of compassion and human decency.

Jinxie

@klemay Word. I am a-ok with telling racists/sexists/assholes/etc. to get the hell out of my sandbox. I'm plenty tolerant of diverse and differing opinions but I don't have it in me to play nice with jerks.

klemay

@SexySadie I think the song is an example of hipster racism,. I don't think the act of riffing off of someone else's song is racist in and of itself - in fact, I thought her wink (really, more of a middle finger) at Robin Thicke with the "tear your ass in two" line was brilliant. But when a white lady takes a song by a black artist and turns it into a cutesy pop ditty, it does feel racist! And no, I don't think it's racist any time a woman points out misogyny in music, but maybe it IS racist if she's only pointing out misogyny in a music genre predominantly made up of black artists when ALL MUSIC GENRES have misogyny running rampant, you know?

kasa

@SexySadie I agree, I think the song isn't racist at all, there is only one possibly insensitive line. Also, the video, while racially insensitive for sure, I don't see as *racist*. And I admit that I am a white girl and don't have to deal with possibly triggering, etc, but I try really, really hard to be examine my privilege and call out racism (a looooot) but I'd like us to be able to have a variety of ways to respond to racial insensitivity beyond just calling RACIST and dismissing an artist, human, and (ok, dull and crappy) song. It makes for a deeper conversation, no?

kasa

@klemay I don't think you can call this "ripping off" that song, when this is clearly closer to parody (and it clearly references the song in the title). I'm not saying it's done well, but when you say white artists can parody black artists ever, that opens up a line of reasoning I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.

kasa

@kasa Man I wish I could delete my above comment. I disagree with myself completely there. (The song is totes racist)

commanderbanana

@Jinxie Seconded, I would really love to see some modding here.

klemay

@kasa riffing off, not ripping off. And I'm not saying white artists can never parody black artists, but they need to be really freaking careful when they do, and be ready for criticism if they don't get it right. My point was that Allen DIDN'T get this right.

sognodisonno

@klemay Totally late to this thread and not an especially common commenter - but I would very much like to vote for some way to red flag spam! It's been driving me crazy on the site and I get if editors don't want to review every single comment to try to catch it, but I'm happy to make it easier on you if you give me a button to do so.

I still tend to like most of the comment discussions on the site, for the record. Even when voices I don't so much agree with pop up, the responses are often thoughtful.

1967336072@twitter

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beetnemesis

hahaha "your husband looks like a thumb."

BS
BS

I saw this as not piss take-y enough, so the vid actually came across as perpetuating what is tried to tear down, and quite racist as a result. I don't like all this gear with black ladies shaking their booty in slo mo - with a fully clothed white woman as their crowning glory in the middle, either.

If Allen, or anyone like her in that industry wanted to crate a real critique, they'd come at it as any normal woman in her living room would. No makeup, bad hair, no fancy lighting, no waxing or tanning, fat flying, and just jumping around in her trackies.

I just don't see why a fully dolled-up woman prancing around backup dancers is 'revolutionary' or 'feminist'. If she really was as smart as she says, she would have created something wholly original, fun and new.

And I normally quite like Lily Allen, but I think she is way off the mark here - taste-wise, race-wise, and feminism-wise.

franceschances

@Lena Otterman@facebook Thank you for adding to the conversation.

commanderbanana

@franceschances I know, right? Lena Otterman, proving that brevity is the soul of wit.

kasa

@BS YUP YUP YUP

my thoughts exactly. Also her comments about being fully clothed in the Pitchfork article, so she's "comfortable"? Fuck girl, show some solidarity with the black women you are paying to dance naked with you to make you rich. This is why white feminists (rightly) have a bad fucking rap.

commanderbanana

@kasa I thought that was really jarring, too - she's wearing 70% more clothes than her dancers - which reminds me of the whole "clothed man surrounded by nekkid ladies" theme in soooo many other videos.

catsoncatsoncats

@Lena Otterman@facebook you are just going through the thread saying "no"and"nope"to people. Thanks for your contribution!

Cornflake Grrrl

It's clear that nothing even remotely satirical can be presented within a feminist context without its being torn apart by the movement itself to expose and decry every underlying sexist/racist/ageist/ableist insinuation, intentional or non. It's as if everyone is so hardwired to take offense at everything that we've set an impossible standard of correctness, one which serves only to perpetuate controversy within the movement and pit varying factions against one another. Yes, sometimes, in order to combat sexism, you have to present it as is — and just as talking about racial inequality doesn't equate to racism, neither does presenting objectifying imagery in an attempt to critique objectification equate to further objectification. I understand what you're saying, that Lily should have been more sensitive to the racial dynamic between herself and the dancers (especially considering her shaky track record), but unfortunately, that's the kind of imagery that exists within the videos this was meant to lampoon, and to zero in on that one element at the detriment of the others is to ignore the overall point she's making. We need to rein in our knee-jerk reactions, because what ultimately results from such a punitive environment is that people who enjoy any sort of privilege, even that to which they own up and confront, are barred from the conversation, ceding the playing field to only those who fit the self-righteous ideal.

gulleyjimson

@Cornflake Grrrl You can be a winner in the purity sweepstakes by removing anything that could be considered offensive to someone, but you can't create worthwhile art that way.

commanderbanana

@Cornflake Grrrl Just so. Ultimately I'm glad this video is out there and that a star with as much visibility as Allen made it. Amanda Palmer's spoofed pop music for a while, but does anyone talk about it? Not really, she's just not on the radar the same way Allen is, and doesn't have the budget or record backing.
I'm going to call this video 'problematic,' but ultimately it's starting a conversation that I think is important.

mochi

@Cornflake Grrrl I completely agree with you but at the same time find this video... yucky. Satire is really hard. It often ends up promoting the thing it attempts to criticize.
I probably shouldn't bring this up because I can't cite specific examples, but I also feel like there's some internalized misogyny with Lilly Allen and I tend to avoid her music for that reason.

Interim

@Cornflake Grrrl I just do not agree, at all. Your comment sounds like a long-winded defense of feminism that benefits white women and not much else. If we're talking merely about the song removed from the video, the conversation might be different, but the video unfortunately reflect Allen's complete and utter ignorance when it comes to racialized misogyny and the objectification of black women. What's so problematic to me is that she didn't even set out to critique this. According to her and her director, the casting call was color blind; they wanted dancers who could twerk. They insist that race/ethnicity did not factor in to the discussion at all as a defense of the video, but good lord, that just makes it worse. She basically participates in the very same thing we should be decrying, without even any "ironic" satire to back it up. It's not that everyone is hardwired to take offense. It's that select people take offense at something that is so wholly offensive and worth examining because it involves a significant portion of women, in that many turn a blind eye to anything that doesn't prop up the "overall point" and those who do attempt to critique an issue that affects them and the people they know are eventually called out for having knee-jerk reactions (or perhaps, carefully thought out opinions) or self-righteous ideals, when really they're trying to examine an issue from an atypical feminist context that doesn't jive for many of the feminists out there. And the punitive environment I see now and in the future is one where people with privilege intentionally or unintentionally shut down conversations that don't flow in the "right" direction (what you seem to be doing here). And how are people of privilege barred from the conversation anyway? For every critical comment, there's at least double that in support. This was extremely long winded. I'm just tired of everyone telling me to think of a big picture that's not inclusive of who I am and who my friends are.

steponitvelma

@Interim Thank you so much for this comment. I've been attempting to put something like this to words all day, but you've done it much better than I could. This whole idea that racial critiques of "feminist" artists or writers are just hurting the "movement" by "pitting factions against each other" looks to me like an attempt to silence non-mainstream voices. As someone alluded to above, if your idea of feminism cannot withstand intersectional critique, maybe you're doing it wrong.

SexySadie

@Interim Oh wow, really? The director said that they were 'blind' to the race of the dancers during casting? Because seriously I had been thinking that the racial element was PART of the satire, and that it was executed poorly because it wasn't obviously satirical enough. (I guess I was giving too much credit here....)

I actually would have really liked the video if it seemed that the back-up dancers were 'in on the joke' of how misogynistic and racist these types of videos are. Like, some more eye-rolling at the white dude showing them how to twerk, or a fun little 'outtake' at the end of Lily and the dancers laughing on stage or something. Also could have done with fewer close-ups of asses/crotches - the first few close-ups would have proved the point, in my book.

But yeah, if nobody actually thought about the racial implications of the video, then it's just a total fail. Yikes.

Cornflake Grrrl

@SexySadie I agree that it's a cop-out to say that they didn't consider the racial aspect at all, because I think that's the whole point: to present the stereotypical depiction of women in hip-hop videos in a different context so as to heighten how ridiculously offensive they look. But if she truly didn't consider it, then that does defeat the whole purpose, and calls her real agenda into question.

@Interim I do appreciate your response. My point was not to shut down marginalized voices, but to suggest that by insinuating that "X can't comment on Y because of Z," all we're doing is poisoning the well, which in turn implies that some perspectives are more valid than others, which is antithetical to the nature of an open dialogue. Your point regarding the racial dynamic of the video is valid, but to condemn the whole thing because of that one element strikes me as a bit myopic. We can't get hung up on criticizing each other; too much internal strife will only delay the movement and distract from our common goals.

klemay

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, I challenge your last statement. This comments section is white feminism to the max. It's shameful, really.

commanderbanana

@klemay I really love being called shameful. Makes me go all warm and gooey inside.

klemay

@commanderbanana I sincerely hope you're not making light of all the racist/sexist/just plain insensitive things that have been said in this thread. :/

commanderbanana

@klemay I'm not, but I genuinely believe that most of the regular contributors to the comments section in The Hairpin are not racist/sexist/insensitive people. I've seen people get called out on something and respond in a thoughtful, introspective way, which is about as rare as a two-headed unicorn in the world of the Internet. One of the reasons that I read the comments on this site is that they don't devolve into into a vitriolic stew like they do on, say, XOJane, or pretty much anywhere else. Being able to have a more-or-less civil and unshrieky conversation about these tough topics is very difficult, and I'm consistently impressed with how much self-moderation seems to go on on this website.
I'm not disagreeing that the demographics of the readership mean that, yes, this is a pretty white, hetero, relatively privileged space, with all the blindness that that implies.
That's why I read writers who aren't just like me - they see things I miss! And point out things I wouldn't otherwise notice! And make me confront things that I take for granted or assume everyone else has access to!
The Hairpin readership isn't perfect, but I, for one, am delighted that it exists - if only that I (don't often) have to see STFU, slutz!! responses in one tiny corner of the web.

pajamaralls

@klemay I want to hug you and buy you a drink.

klemay

@pajamaralls LET'S BE FRIENDS, PLEASE. I like hugs and drinks.

pajamaralls

@klemay Yes!!! Was this Lily Allen's intention all along? God, I hope so.

kasa

@commanderbanana Thank you, and I'm really sad that klemay and pajama didn't actually respond to your thoughtful and kind comment. I found maybe two comments on this thread (and I'd have to go back and doublecheck) that were remotely offensive. Mostly it was just honest, kind, let's talk about this and grow stuff.

kasa

@kasa Clueless, maybe, but not trolly / offensive (clarification)

commanderbanana

@kasa Aww, thanks! I don't think klemay and I are actually in disagreement, but I'm not writing off the entire Pin commentariat.

klemay

@commanderbanana Yeah, I don't think we disagree either. It seems like maybe you interpreted my comment as referring to all comment threads on the hairpin ever, when I was really just talking about this one in particular.

I'm seeing a lot of whining about how white girls can't do anything without getting criticized, people blatantly refusing to look at the video critically, and other frustrating junk that is not indicative of respectful, introspective commenters. And while your comment ended up being thoughtful and kind, I did kind of take offense to your glib response to my frustration about racism in these comments (which is why I initially did not respond, @kasa). I can tell you're not a monster, though, and that your intention wasn't to make fun of me for being upset by racism. Or at least I hope that wasn't your intention.

commanderbanana

@klemay Of course not (and, also, just to point out, you can't see what color I am through the Internet). Overall I thought a lot of posters did engage critically with the video - which I do think is darn racist. The posters here are entitled to have opinions - even dumb, misinformed, or glib ones. Hopefully your comments got a few of them to think about what they were saying (she said optimistically).

klemay

@commanderbanana I could only assume from your username that you were banana-colored. If it's okay, I'd like to continue living under that assumption. :P

commanderbanana

@klemay *weeps* It's true!

Lord of Misrule

@Cornflake Grrrl This is a fantastic paragraph, and it puts me in the difficult position of agreeing both with it, and with the well-written (and in many ways persuasive and well-written) essay it's written against.

Lord of Misrule

@Lord of Misrule PS, well-cited critical essays like this one (mixed in with the offbeat humor/life observations ones, obv.) are one of my favorite parts of the Hairpin.

franceschances

....what is happening in these comments? This video is terrible, and saying feminists don't have a sense of humor doesn't change that. Sometimes we don't find something funny because it, you know, isn't funny.

supernintendochalmers

@franceschances Exactly. "It's a joke" is not a get-out-of-criticism-free card.

celeec4@twitter

@supernintendochalmers I think that's the most succinct summary of how I feel about all this mess, it's a joke is not a get-out-of-criticism-free card.

Jinxie

@franceschances I don't know what's going on, friend, but I know I don't like it. I've skimmed over the comments on this post and now I'm pulling a Nopetopus on this thread because I just cannot even

RachelTheC

@franceschances i think maybe the comments from fb and twitter are bringing all this down. i didnt know so many people that read and comment on the 'pin didnt have 'intersection' as part of their feminism, and i'm kinda disappointed. ass shaking should be for the glory of your spirit a-la big freedia, not as a prop or accessory.

pajamaralls

@RachelTheC "ass shaking should be for the glory of your spirit a-la big freedia, not as a prop or accesory."

Perfect.

kasa

@RachelTheC Intersection is kind of a college-y feminism work, ya'll. It takes a looooot of time and a longstanding interest and effort to get there. Meet people where they are coming from! This is feminism 101 for some folks.

RachelTheC

@kasa i just have a tumblr. it's all about intersection. and porn, and supernatural, but a lot about privilege and intersection.

franceschances

@kasa Yeah but "don't be racist" is pretty basic.

tulliola

Just a little factoid, apropos of nothing, but "satire" comes originally from Roman satire, which is basically the most explicitly racist, sexist, homophobic genre of ancient literature, lampooning "Roman excess" through vitriolic discourse about various minorities and setting apart the poet at the virtuous, above-it-all observer. Satire, much like the "it's a joke" defense, not only doesn't excuse "collateral" racism, it has a long, long, long history of perpetuating it. Satire /= harmless parody and never has.

evil_echidna

Defending Lorde: She's a self-identified feminist who doesn't buy into catfights AT ALL.

When the media tried to get Lorde to trash and slut-shame Miley ("Do you see yourself as the antithesis of Miley Cyrus? Because you're a talented young lady and she's just a little twerking tramp?"), Lorde fired back with something like, "Nope, I don't see why taking your clothes off means you're not talented. That's an old person's view. I don't currently have a desire to take my clothes off in my videos, but if I did, it'd be my choice and I would be empowered by it. I think Miley is very talented." She totally refused to buy into it, and (aside from the smidge of ageism) I was stoked about that.

As for Lily, seriously? Is this the same Lily Allen who praised Rihanna’s “Pour It Up” video? I think Allen just likes to court controversy. It’s what I like about her, but sometimes she just seems interested in controversy for controversy’s sake; her criticism is rarely nuanced or consistent!

In terms of this video, I saw it as both a slam against misogynist nerd-boy internet culture (the whole “get back into the kitchen, bitch” thing) and against the racist and sexist stereotypes and capitalist excesses of the mainstream music industry. And it would’ve been such a righteous one, had Allen not unwittingly reinforced some of the ugly stereotypes she sought to undermine (implying that brains and sexuality are mutually exclusive for the fail).

I think using women-of-colour dancers was a deliberate attempt to poke fun at their hyper-sexualisation by the music industry. I think such satire is very hard to get right, though; because how do you communicate with any nuance (particularly in a video, though even typing these ideas out can be difficult!) that you don’t think women who dance in rap and hip-hop videos/get cosmetic surgery/work in the sex industry are brainless victims, and that you fully support their choices to do these things, but you *still* want to critique the structures that mean there are women out there who might be compelled to do these things not for enjoyment but out of necessity, and you think that’s kinda shit, especially when the same kinds of pressures don’t seem to apply to white men (or at least, apply a great deal less? After all, the dynamic where an old male actor with a heavily lined face is partnered up with a hot young actress who’s had a ton of botox and often surgery is still very much a thing in Hollywood. And there aren’t many guys of either colour twerking in music videos...there was a reason the feminist parody of Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, with the fully clothed women and the men in thongs and ridiculously high heels, was considered subversive. But does that necessarily mean these parodies are implying that the women in the original were unthinking victims who were degrading themselves for the almighty dollar? Or is it just saying the dynamic portrayed here and in like-minded videos is heteronormative and uninspired, the lyrics sexist and lame, and seeking to reveal this truth by reversing it for a change to show how laughable our gendered expectations actually are?)

But of course, this latter critique is sometimes hard to make, and you always lend yourself to accusations of paternalism; what makes YOUR choices so great? And look, I think that while Allen’s video missed the mark, in general, I’m grateful feminist parodies exist, and I honestly don’t think critiquing the structures means you’re necessarily critiquing the people who work in them (either judging them or feeling sorry for them). Sometimes, people are just lamenting the lack of fairness (“it’s never RICH people/WHITE people/MEN who have to do...” fill in the blank.) In other words, it’s not the raunch or the money-worship we hate (both raunch and money are frequently awesome!), it’s the double standards.

kasa

Ya'll this is great: and from Vice, no less (weird). It also made me rethink some of my earlier thoughts on the song, which is exciting!

http://noisey.vice.com/blog/lily-allen-hard-out-here-ayesha-a-siddiqi

kasa

@kasa "“Hard Out Here” is the opposite of Mileywave. Instead of using black women as props to further her career, Allen blames them for its stagnation. In full-sleeved dresses Allen mocks her inability to twerk amidst women of color in body suits who launch into exaggerated dance moves, licking their hands and then rubbing their crotch. Her older white male manager tries to get to her to mimic them. Meanwhile she sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain.” Cut to black women shaking their ass, so much for sisterly solidarity."

OK GOOD POINT. RACIST.

thatgirlyoumiss

So, way to ignore that the dancing group is multiracial. And way to focus on color instead of treating people as people. I know who the racist is here and it is not Allen.

hoo:ha

THIS is how you do white feminist twerking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPGEsPgbHOI

Adam Gilchrist@facebook

Hard Out here is mine all time Favorited ..I love to read about this..
Thanks for Sharing!!
Online income

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