Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sometimes, I really hate music

Probably the worst thing about being a very musically-inclined person is that most music sucks. Not only that, the people who are into music, maybe even the same music as you, are probably assholes.

There is some law of the universe that the intellectualism or popularity of an activity increases the assholes attracted to doing that activity. Music is both something that is very popular and something that requires a bit of technical knowledge and practice to perform (or interpret, if you're a dancer). Thus, the amount of assholes interested in music, performing music, and dancing to music is truly astronomical. I reference radio DJs and the Body Police dancers for all the evidence I need.

Regardless, I just used to skip from station to station when the commercials were over and the DJs started talking to avoid hearing the stupid racist, classist, homophobic, sexist shit they'd inevitably spew.

Now I have to switch stations because of the actual music lyrics, and I don't even listen to rap or hip-hop. These are the song that I encountered just in my commute this week:

Girls are gold-diggers:

The girls with the bodies like boys with Ferrari's
Girls don't like boys,
Girls like cars and money

-Good Charlotte, "Boys & Girls"

Women with their deviant sexuality are dangerous:

'High-maintenance' means
You're a gluttonous queen: narcissistic and mean.
Kill me romantically, fill my soul with vomit
Then ask me for a piece of gum.
Bitter and dumb, you're my sugarplum.
You're awful, I love you!

-Ludo's "Love Me Dead"

Women are exchangeable blobs of flesh with a mouth to stick your penis in, which you like, which is their fault, because you like it enough to be "addicted":

I'm so addicted to all the things you do
when you're going down on me, in between the sheets.
All the sounds you make, with every breath you take.
It's unlike anything, when you're loving me.
Oooh, girl, let's take it slow.
So as for you - well, you know where to go.
I want to take my love and hate you 'til the end.

-Saving Abel's "Addicted"

In the pursuit of happiness, women are commodities too:

Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives.
I'll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck with the stars.

-MGMT's "Time to Pretend"

Shut up while I sexually assault you in the club:

I'm so bored, oh please, don't talk anymore,
Shut your mouth and get down on the floor,
So cynical, poor baby,
I can dish it, cos I know how to take it.

-Cobra Starship's "Guilty Pleasure"

I'm a good woman, and you're a whore:

Second chances they don't ever matter, people never change.
Once a whore you're nothing more, I'm sorry, that'll never change.
And about forgiveness, we're both supposed to have exchanged.
I'm sorry honey, but I'm passing up, now look this way.
Well there's a million other girls who do it just like you.
Looking as innocent as possible to get to who

-Paramore's "Misery Business"

Thanks for making my dick feel good. P.S - I don't give a shit about you as a person:

I wake up with blood-shot eyes
Struggled to memorize, the way it felt between your thighs
Pleasure that made you cry: feels so good to be bad
Not worth the aftermath, after that
Try to get you back
I still don't have the reason and you don't have the time
And it really makes me wonder, if I ever gave a fuck about you

-Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder"

Oh, and vintage hip 80s sexualizing violence:

You let me violate you
You let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you...
It's your sex I can smell
Help me, you make me perfect
Help me think of somebody else
I want to fuck you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside

-NIN's "Closer"

And don't forget, we also get a boner from dominating and killing you:

I want to hold you close, skin pressed against me tight
Lie still, and close your eyes girl. So lovely, it feels so right
I want to hold you close; soft breath, beating heart
As I whisper in your ear, I want to fucking tear you apart

-She Wants Revenge's "Tear You Apart"

These are our idols. These are the people that are paid millions of dollars so that us common people can have the priviledge of watching them perform.


I didn't even bother to include the two thousand or so songs that portrayed women as sex objects. When it just comes down to singing about love or the opposite sex, it seems that rock stars fail astronomically. These are the people we are trusting to form our cultural identity.

Well, that explains a lot.

I wonder why I even bother to hope, anymore, that anything good comes out of popular culture. Hell, I wonder why I even listen to music at all, considering that I can't even tune into a female singer without a "whore" quip (see Paramore).

Sounds like the above all took music lessons from this guy:

Cross-posted from XXBlaze


The Great American said...

At the risk of sounding cheesy I have to say. I came across a radio station that plays alot of music from the 40's and 50's old standards type music. And I've been listening to it for the past few days and I've gotta say, I actually enjoy hearing songs that talk about love as it should be an adoring type of love, love songs that don't reference any kind of sex or anything like that. Our culture is headed quickly down the crapper and it's because of alot the crap pumped through the headphones of today's teens. They get the message that sex is wrong and women are merely expendable objects good for only giving bj's and smacking around and then kicking to the curb. It's too bad that the music of people like Sinatra, who tended to be somewhat of a skirt-chaser, but his songs were about loving everything about women and not simply using them.

Amelia said...

I often feel exactly the same way when it comes to music. Like a lot of what is popular doesn't line up with any of my values or even my common sense of right vs. wrong.

I was crushed when I heard "Misery Business" for the first time for the reason you mentioned. I love them, and was excited to find them because of their lead singer, but when I heard those lyrics, it killed me a little. There aren't that many women taking the lead in bands like that, so I had once hoped that she'd be more responsible. Oh well...

I don't yet understand why our society buys into this kind of crap. Maybe we've grown collectively lazy and don't really listen to lyrics anymore, let alone analyze them for their probably harmful components. And maybe it's in muscicians best interest ($$) to write lyrics that will appeal to people, or maybe it's just become so easy to objectify women, talk about sex in a non-responsible manner, and turn it into music and sell it that most artists don't bother trying to write lyrics that are anything more.

Hope that makes sense.

That's why most of the music I listen to on a regular basis is political. Those artists have something in particular to complain about, and the are contributing to the listeners awareness. It's good.

Jenn said...

Exactly, Amelia. I was crushed when I figured out that Paramore was just as misogynist and insubstantial as the rest of the music on the radio. Is it totally sick that I'm thrilled when I hear an actual love song without objectification or enfantilization?

TGA - Too bad I don't like the oldies. Musically, I just like rock and rock-like genres more than anything else. It's a shame, really, that the lyrics are often so terrible.

Ben Varkentine said...

Or as Prefab Sprout said,

Look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt much more than cars and girls.

Kate said...

Just to let you know, that NIN song is called "Closer." And technically, I don't think he ever refers to the gender of the person in the song (although I'm not examining the lyrics right now.) Just sayin'.

Michael said...

Kate is indeed correct. Nowhere in the song does it mention the gender or name of whoever it is that Trent is addressing. The video does contain some shots of a nude woman, though. At least as I understand it, the song isn't really about sex or abuse, it's about trying to use sex to quell feelings of worthlessness, which (god knows) people of any orientation/gender/whatever can surely relate to.

Renee said...

Shit like this is exactly why I have given up the radio. I am an mp3 girl because I am sick of racism, sexism and homophobia passing for entertainment. I am so outdated that by the time I hear about a new song it's months old, but sensibilities get offended much less often now.

Jenn said...

Michael - uh, by the words that Trent Reznor uses, I can infer that "fucking like an animal" isn't exactly a feminist or neutral act. "Violating" someone doesn't sound either.

Michael said...

Can you say that "fucking like an animal" is necessarily an anti-feminist act? I know I've heard a gay friend of mine use that phrase before, as well as female friends talking about their boyfriends. (TMI? sorry <.<) Like I said in my previous post, even though Reznor is a man, NIN's music is pretty genderless, and if you take the lyrics in question in the context of a piece of music about using sex to quell feelings of personal worthlessness, I can't see them as offensive. Of course, if you're offended by art that's not just "offensive for the sake of being offensive," than I think that our disagreement on this issue is unresolvable.

Amelia said...

To throw in my $0.02, I think the term "fucking like an animal" makes it an anti-feminist act if merely because it is dehumanizing. It doesn't matter if you know girls and gay people who use the term, Michael, - it is still degrading because it strips the participants of their humanity.

I have not heard that song for a long time (I choose not to listen to it for reasons Jenn states in her post), but I definitely got the feeling that it was Reznor talking about a woman. Even if that is not true, the fact that I (and many other people) believe it is, is not good for trying to bring equality to the genders.

Michael said...

You just said it yourself, though: it strips SOMEONE of their humanity. Not necessarily a woman. Why is stripping an unidentified individual of unspecified gender an anti-FEMINIST act? It might be an anti-HUMANist act, if you want to call it that.

Besides, I don't think Reznor is necessarily saying that dehumanizing others is good, or that using sex to make yourself feel not worthless is good. He's writing his song from the perspective of someone who does these things, though, which is a technique very often used by artists of all media.

Of course, if you want to get into a debate about whether artists have the responsibility to depict realistic or whether it is their duty to only promote those images which depict some ideal state in hopes that it might convince those who are behaving in ways not conducive to the betterment of society (which is really a whole separate argument in itself), I'm up for it.

Amelia said...

I also said I have not heard that song for a long time (I choose not to listen to it for reasons Jenn states in her post), but I definitely got the feeling that it was Reznor talking about a woman. Even if that is not true, the fact that I (and many other people) believe it is, is not good for trying to bring equality to the genders.

And I think there is a problem when it comes to music like this and its promotion of certain sexist ideas, even unintentionally. Because a lot of the messages that people become programmed with are not ones that they are actively listening to. It's the ones that they are passively hearing over and over and over and over (like messages about animalized/objectified women) that sometimes stick the most.

So I think it is a problem. And a feminist problem at that, whether the artist intended for that to be true or not.

Anonymous said...

"I have to say. I came across a radio station that plays alot of music from the 40's and 50's old standards type music."

The place I volunteer at has a lot of older volunteers, and we used to have a radio set to their favorite station. A lot of those oldies are no better, they just approach sexism from a different angle. Women in these songs are property at worst, and at best are a different species from men and must be 100% perfect, innocent and sweet to deserve affection. Being misogynist in a different way isn't an improvement, and they only sound wholesome because they thought they were being wholesome. I remember one song in particular that basically praised the white dude's right to street harass. This station would play it OVER AND OVER AND OVER. Literally 3 times an hour every day for several months. Then "someone" messed with the radio so it didn't work anymore. (It actually wasn't me, but I wish I know who it was so I could thank 'em.)

At least in the case of new music, you could pretend that the musicians are just doing it for shock value. But the older misogynists definitely believed what they were saying, and everyone else believed them too, and everyone else STILL believes them enough to air their stupid crap on the radio. :(