Why don't most people like complex songs
As an enlightened person, may I still listen to misogynist, homophobic music in 2018?
If I look at the German charts for the past five years, there are a few questionable titles among the most played songs of a year. For example, we have Robin Thicke's anti-consensus hymn "Blurred Lines" from 2013 on offer. Would you like a small excerpt? "I know you want it / But you're a good girl / The way you touch me / You definitely want to do dirty things." Sure, Robin, just help yourself. Probably not. Or how about the good Meghan Trainor, who quickly made herself an object in 2015 in “All About That Bass”? "My mom taught me not to worry about my size / she said, 'Boys like it when they have a little more bum to hold on to at night'." The main thing is that the guys like your body? Well then everything is fine.
The thing is, whether these songs suit your musical tastes or not, it's hard to deny that they have catchy melodies and their beats put you in a good mood. Most will know the problem. The party song you listen to to get ready, the song on your work-out playlist that motivates you to perform at your best, or the break-up ballad that is as heartbreaking as it is submissive: we all love these songs and at the same time have a latently guilty conscience about hearing them because they are sometimes more, sometimes less openly misogynistic or attack marginalized groups.
It is an open secret that the majority of the most fascinating and impressive artists of our time do not necessarily write the songs that are in line with your political worldview. And a large part of contemporary pop culture also consists of provocation. Let's briefly remember the homophobic Eminem of the early 2000s, who threw the term “Fagot” in English “fagot”, only to then stand on stage with Elton John. (And the term is still used today, but more like a swear word like asshole. He has nothing against homosexuals. And is everything only meant ironically anyway, like him that Rolling Stone told. Very difficult statement, very lame attempt to explain.)
Kanye West, who as BPoC has already been confronted with racist hostility, delivers so many questionable public appearances and statements that sometimes you don't really know whether it is really okay to listen to the music of such an artist. If you really want to admit to being a fan of an artist who calls Donald Trump his brother, who posts photos of Make America Great Again caps with the signature of the US President and who raps about abuse fantasies in his song "New Slaves", how he is going to rape the wife of a wealthy business owner who lives in the Hamptons and ejaculate on her clothes and in her mouth? ("Fuck you and your Hampton house / I'll fuck your Hampton spouse / Came on her Hampton blouse / And in her Hampton mouth")? Yes, the song deals with racism in the USA in a very haunting way and is certainly for the most part an important piece of music. And that white people have enriched themselves for centuries at the expense of the black minority in America in order to be able to afford huge mansions, nobody who has ever had a history book in hand will deny. Nevertheless, in this song rape is spoken of as a gesture of power openly and as a matter of course and that not only fails to "turn the tables" purpose, but is also deeply misogynistic. Not to mention the fact that it is of course a criminal offense. And yet, like so much of what Kanye West has done over the course of his career, and quite apart from the lyrics of the song, the song is a good, daring, creative piece that brought fresh musical ideas into the pop mainstream.
But what does that mean for us as young, enlightened adults in 2018? Do we have to systematically clean up our playlists and throw out every song that does not correspond to our worldview? Great rhythm, stupid text, out with it? Good voice, crazy artist with shitty looks, unfortunately no? Or can we afford to listen away? “Sorry, I don't speak Spanish. I have no idea what the guy sings in 'Despacito', but a cool summer hit. ”Or even playing the irony card? "They don't mean that at all, that's just a joke."
Do you really always have to put every word on the gold scales? Do you have to scourge yourself in order to remain politically correct at all costs? Is it allowed to listen to music that does not correspond to one's own ideas, objectifies women and degrades all possible minorities? We live in a complex world. As is so often the case, there is no simple, universal answer to this question. So let's say: yes and no.
There are voices that claim what we (pop culture) consume does not define who we are. For example, feminist writer Sady Doyle says, “I live in a culture full of problems. I am not what I am buying. Even what I like is not me. I have to acknowledge that [offensive lyrics] exist whether I listen to them or not. It's up to myself to develop a critical awareness to see if a song is awful ... works communicate with us, and not always rationally. ”She also has an opinion about Kanye West. She finds it interesting, despite its long history of misogynist texts. “I've had a very complicated relationship with the public figure Kanye West for years. Kanye and women, Kanye and Trump, Kanye floating across the stage on a magic carpet. I am more than aware of any criticism that can be made of him. On the other hand, I feel drawn to his character because it brings a male vulnerability to the public. The connection that Kanye West has and reveals to his feelings contradicts the traditional understanding of roles. "
Songs are no more one-dimensional than the people who write them. And many also find that the task of artists is precisely to challenge their audience by provoking and questioning values and ideas. As already said, we live in a complex reality, which is made up of a tangle of historical conflicts and personal preferences and which is more layered than politics can map.
For critics, it may seem easy to portray hip-hop in particular as the most misogynistic genre. But here, too, you have to distinguish: Firstly, not every male rapper is misogynous, secondly, some songs are also explicitly about sex. Female examples include “Sock It 2 Me” by Missy Elliott or “Rock The Boat” by Aaliyah. Nevertheless, anyone who deals with the genre should also deal with the language and the content. The Berlin DJ duo Hoe_Mies, consisting of friends Gizem Adiyaman and Lucia Luciano, has been holding hip-hop parties for over a year now, which are supposed to offer women, non-binary, queer and trans * people a place to play their favorite music carefree to celebrate. There are also open decks there where explicitly no cis men should play, as is so often the case at hip-hop parties. In an interview with Refinery29 they say that they solve the contradiction between political convictions and sometimes rough lyrics in their own way. Gizem says: "R. I don't play Kelly, and neither do Chris Brown. When people ask about it, I say, “I haven't.” But you don't always know what kind of corpses every artist has in their basement. ”For them, the line is very clear when it comes to sexual violence:“ I also have Kodak Black [...] heard. But when you find out: Kodak Black has now been charged with a rape charge and is in custody. [...] Then I think to myself: No, out with it. Such artists shouldn't be given a platform because that means that their behavior has no consequences. "Lucia is guided by the mood:" I still play [e.g. Azealia Banks] sometimes because there are always moments in who I think Track XY would just fit so perfectly now. "
Anyone who condemns the entire hip-hop genre should be aware that the objectification of women goes far beyond the boundaries of this musical genre and is deeply rooted in our society. Its offshoots may be displayed less openly in other areas of pop culture, but the phenomenon is still there.
In addition, there is a long way to go if you believe that it is only men who keep stereotypical role models alive. Some female artists also hold the housewife ideal so high that one would like to just touch one's head. This can be seen, for example, on the aforementioned Meghan Trainor, who in addition to "All About That Bass" also wrote an instruction manual for her future husband: "Dear Future Husband". Would you like a taste? "Don't forget to buy me flowers every anniversary / Because if you treat me right / I'll be the perfect wife / Do the shopping / And buy you what you need." Oh, Meghan. Or Nicki Minaj in David Guetta's “Hey Mama”: “Yes, I do the cooking / Yes, I do the cleaning / Plus, I keep the na-na real sweet for your eating / Yes, you be the boss, and yes, I be respecting / Whatever that you tell me / 'Cause it's game you be spitting'. That's right, after all, the master of the house has the floor, the woman can shut up and groom herself a bit so that the man will find her sexy for a long time. And please don't forget to cook and clean. Greetings from the fifties? “Hey Mama” was published in 2014, easily reached the top 10 of the German single charts and was awarded gold and platinum worldwide.
If you find yourself in the conflict of loving an artist's product, but not morally advocating it, the author Sady Doyle has another tip. “In my opinion, you have to admit that just because you like [a song] doesn't fill the work with a moral blank check. You should be prepared to face some ugly facts. I have to put up with the fact that I [the Woody Allen movie] Manhattan like and find that i Rosemary's baby or Chinatown [by Roman Polanski] as long as I don't pay for these films. I just want to make sure that no more money goes to Roman Polanski. "
Of course, no one can seriously believe that an entertainment industry that is largely controlled and marketed by white men will change significantly in the near future. It is all the more important to present different perspectives and let people have their say who not only reflect what society (supposedly) expects of them. Aminatou Sow is one half of the podcast duo Call your girlfriend. She says, “Typically, the people who hold positions of power in pop culture are white and male. And they target their content to people like themselves. The discussion of whether people would go to the movies to like a female superhero Wonder Woman seeing it was one of the stupidest debate we could have had. It is simply a bad business decision not to make films for women because they make up 50 percent of the audience. There is enough research that women do watch movies. When a good, funny film by and with women comes out, like for example Bridesmaids [Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig wrote the script] they are seen as a flash in the pan. That says a lot about the lack of imagination in the film industry. Perhaps the people who work in it should admit that in order to be able to tell stories that are not about themselves, they simply lack empathy and creativity. "
Formats like Hoe_Mies, artists like the transgender rapper Mykki Blanco and successful films like Ladybird by Greta Gerwig, who directed this and wrote the screenplay, show that more and more different voices are having their say in pop culture and that the spectrum of stories is becoming more diverse. Whether you continue to listen to music with lyrics that do not correspond to your personal values or consume works whose creators are convicted rapists is ultimately up to you. However, a critical examination of the content is desirable and should also be in your own interest. Self-flagellation and absolute freedom from having fun are certainly not the right way to deal with contradicting feelings. So if you feel like it and you don't bother anyone else, treat yourself to a round of "Shake Ya Ass" from Mystikal.
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