Friday, 14 November 2014

"Literally I can't" has me figuratively fuming

It took a lot of editing and a lot of deep breathing to make this blog into something other than a sweary rant fest. A lot of repetitive news articles and petitions will jump up and down and tell you this song is misogynistic and offensive. But they don't tell you why.

For starters, the song is ear bleedingly bad. There has actually been research done into the complexity of music, and how catchy it is. There is also some very unscientific and damning research into SAT scores and music preferences. Your brain actually gets a kick out of decoding music, picking out the rhythm and finding the patterns. I listened to this song once and I can't get the damn thing out of my head. It's terrible. It's repetitive. It's a cheap thrill to the brain because it takes minimum effort to find the pattern.

Maybe that's why I'm angry enough about this crap to write this blog. Music should have depth and complexity. I should have to listen to it more than once. I should be able to listen to it twenty times, zero in on the guitar and the drums. Hear the elements separately and enjoy how they compliment each other. "Literally I Can't" makes me feel like a cheese grater is doing a tango with my eardrums.
Bunny Suicides seem like a better choice than subjecting myself to more Play-N-Skillz
The lyrics are pitiful. They could easily have been written by a high school boy who has just discovered boobs. To be honest I have heard better music written by high schoolers. But let's analyse these lyrics shall we?

Booze!! Because you can't enjoy life without booze. What kind of person are you that you don't want to get blind drunk, throw up in a gutter and lose your ability to make reasoned choices? Shame on you! There are ten references in the lyrics, which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't matched by the film clip. Everyone has a drink in their hand, all the time, and for some reason, this guy is break dancing with a funnel.
Because sculling drinks through a funnel is totes cool guys!
Although I have to say, he's actually a pretty good dancer.

Penis Jokes!! Let's count how many we can make. 4, hmm, that's not so bad, except wait, it takes up 7 lines. Which makes it 20% of the verses.

Objectification! It's cheap lazy rap, so we must objectify the women! 13 lines. 37%

Directly telling the girls to stop talking. I have to quote a line because it makes me want to punch Redfoo so very much "I'm tryna see what you got, not tryna hear what you think". For starters, not even real words. Secondly, if anyone says this to you it's time to run the f*ck away. But maths! 1 line in the intro. Twice in each of the three choruses. Bonus dick points for the dramatic silence in the music before blasting my ear drums with "Shut the f*ck up". Such class. Much talent. 4 direct lines that say stop talking, plus the context around them, plus this joy "I don't wanna hear no". 15% of the intro, 8% of the chorus, 11% of the verses.

Did we learn nothing from this debacle?
And finally, the ongoing threats/implications/invitations to share this drunk woman's body on instagram, twitter, Facebook, and according to the film clip - RedTube. No worries, because once you get a woman so drunk that she can't make rational choices, that classiest thing in the world is to take pictures and brag to your friends. Extra points if you tag her in them

Every inch of these lyrics is pathetically painful. It screams misogyny. It screams women as objects and conquests. It bluntly encourages using chemicals to lower a woman's inhibitions to get her in bed with you. When people think of drink spiking and date rape, they assume ketamine, rohypnol and other big scary names. The number one date rape drug is alcohol. Simply pouring stronger drinks, or pressuring a woman into drinking more so you can make her do things she normally wouldn't. And this song is 4minutes and 15seconds of glorifying social coercion all sped along by our favourite social lubricant, alcohol.

I had someone question why this song is worse than how woman portray themselves? Because in the social sciences, agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.

If women choose to portray themselves as skanky, uptight, slutty, prudish, sporty, lazy, etc. that is their choice (Let's not get into social pressures regarding appropriate 'feminine' presentation). If men choose to portray women who say No as boring prudes, what message is that sending? Hell if woman choose to portray other women who say no in a bad light, that is equally bad.

The best way to respect people around us is to let them chose. You want to grow a rat-tail? Wear your pants lower than your ass? Spend hundreds of dollars on designer clothes? Eat junk 'food'? I respect your right to make that choice. Even if I personally think your choice is stupid. The fact is that it's your choice and your life. If you want to do a thing, unless it directly affects me I have no right to demand you change.

However I do have the right to try and change your mind. I respect your right to chose to do a stupid thing. You have to respect my right to chose to try and change your mind. How I try to change your mind is where I can be respectful or disrespectful. I am allowed to present reasons why you are wrong. If I start trying to shout you down, I'm being disrespectful.

Let's see, four men surrounding a fleeing girl and screaming "Shut the f*ck up" when she says no. That's ticking the disrespectful box.

Now, if you were to say "I hate board games, I don't want to play with you." I would be flabbergasted. I'd want to tell you to sit down, shut up and play the game. Trust me, once your committed and can't walk away you'll love it. Just do this thing I tell you to and it will all be fine. Wait, hang on, that's not right.

The right way to change someone's mind is with reason and respect. "Oh, why don't you like board games" "Well I played snakes and ladders, it was crap" "Ah, well snakes and ladders is all chance! You don't get to choose your actions, it's dependent on the dice-roll. Now this game is dependent on strategy and skill..."
You know, unless Anne Wheaton hits the table
See what I did there? I addressed your concerns about a particular activity and explained that it is different to your expectations, would you like to give it a try? This is how you respectfully disagree with someone. And if you listen to my reasons and you're still not convinced, then I should respectfully move on. If you feel yourself getting pressured into someone by someone constantly spouting the same 'reasons' at you without responding to your concerns, run the f*ck away!

Wrapping up this Play-N-Skillz debacle, you know who I adore in this film clip? The blonde girl.
This unsympathetic cliché'
See what isn't emphasised in the song (obviously) or any of the angry ranty reviews or petitions, is the absolutely amazing willpower of this woman. She is surrounded by people putting her down, telling her to stop talking and belittling her choices. All her friends have succumbed to peer pressure, and this woman has the strength of character to walk out. Despite the constant harassment she sticks to her conviction and that is glorious to see.

Humans are social creatures. Our desire to stick with our friends, to stay in their good graces, to not makes waves, is so engrained it allowed the holocaust to happen. There is a brilliant essay entitled "The Banality of Evil" that argues the holocaust was so effective because people were unwilling to make waves in their own tiny pond. Because the majority of the officers and soldiers committing horrendous acts were just going along with the crowd, disconnected from the consequences of their actions. The Milgram Experiment shows people will deliver what they believe to be a lethal shock to an unknown victim, simply because an authority figure tells them to. Human beings will commit murder rather than fight against the status quo.

So this terrible excuse for a song has one girl who refused to bow to social pressure. Her existence in this video clip is its one redeeming factor. Having the courage to stand up for your convictions is hard, and often thankless. But doing it is necessary. Ultimately the ability to speak up or walk away from a negative situation is what drives social change.

I have gotten all ranty about misogyny and feminism. In all my gendered phrasing I have painted men as the predators and women as the victims. I am 100% aware this is not always the case, however it applies directly to my rant about Play-N-Skillz song. I promise if I ever rant about gender inequality again I will do so with recognition of all victims.

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