I will never watch a Woody Allen film

Nor will I watch a Roman Polanski film. Hell, I can’t even look at Whoopi Goldberg the same way again since I learned of her vile “rape rape” comment.

I stopped listening to The Beatles since I learned about John Lennon’s history of spousal abuse. Yes, it’s an unpopular action to take. Yes, I have just subtracted several albums of beautiful music from my life. I’m fine with that.

I also will not listen to R. Kelly. Ever since I moved, The Rolling Stone has been sending me issues for free, and one of them had an article about R. Kelly. I promptly threw the magazine away in disgust.

I won’t even use this space to entertain debate about whether you can separate the art from the artist. I won’t do that because just thinking about these men and their crimes fills me with rage and heartache.

They don’t deserve a positive legacy.

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Things I learned by not watching the VMAs

I didn’t watch the VMAs this year, for two reasons:

  • I mainly listen to 70s symphonic prog and Swedish metal, neither of which promised a strong showing at the VMAs
  • I thought that time would be better spent crying at old Doctor Who episodes

Judging by my Facebook, though, I have a lot of friends who inexplicably feel compelled to watch content that they know, going in, won’t appeal to them. If you’re watching the VMAs expecting the second coming of late 60s blues rock/ 70s soft rock/ 80s indie-pop/ 90s grunge/ whatever music was when “music was REAL!” in your mind, you’re gonna have a bad time.

If you’re watching the VMAs expecting ANTICS! and ENTERTAINMENT! you’re probably going to enjoy yourself. Also, you might like the VMAs if you like contemporary pop. Believe it or not, some people like this music — lots of them, actually — and the world isn’t going to end because of it.

But the real reason a lot of people seem to watch the VMAs is to do some old-fashioned hating. They come prepared to hate, and they walk away hating.

I have learned that for whatever reason, lots of people have nothing better to do than to slut-shame Miley Cyrus.

I’m not here to say that Miley Cyrus is above criticism. In fact, we all should be having a robust conversation about Miley Cyrus, cultural appropriation, and white supremacy in pop music. Maybe we should also have a conversation about her willingness to perform alongside Robin Thicke, who exploits rape culture for profit. These would be excellent conversations to have because the world is hostile to women and people of color.

But because these conversations would challenge the status quo and the kyriarchy, and because men and white people tend to get edgy when made aware of their privilege, people decide to slut shame Miley Cyrus instead.

I mean, we came to hate, and why not hate in a way that also puts women down? Instead of using our rage and our intellect to critique unchecked white privilege and the perpetuation — celebration, really — of rape culture, we shame a grown woman, and sling gendered insults at her, for showing her body and dancing provocatively.

Not that it’s a surprise, but the main thing I learned from not watching the VMAs? Misogyny is alive and well in 2013.

Marvin Gaye is as awesome as Robin Thicke is terrible

I am really tired of hearing people rave about Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”

Here’s the thing: I haven’t seen the “controversial” video, and I don’t need to. The lyrics are bad enough. In fact, you don’t have to pay attention to the lyrics. Just the title is bad enough. There are no blurred lines when it comes to consent.

Ever.

Robin, let me solve your terrible dilemma: If somebody seems like they might want to have sex with you, but is not making it clear, don’t “talk about getting blasted” or convince the person by repeating, “I know you want it.” Ask them if they want to bang, and if they don’t say yes, walk the fuck away.

This isn’t fucking brain science. And he knows it isn’t. This song is dangerous. It’s adding another tool to the anti-consent lexicon. Now that “Blurred Lines” is embedded in pop culture, it’s not hard to imagine a predator at a party, trying to guilt or coerce somebody into sex by saying, “I hate these blurred lines.” Or deny responsibility for a sexual assault by saying, “I didn’t know. The lines were blurred.”

Not that people aren’t already saying this to absolve themselves of responsibility for sexual assault. But now there’s a fucking catchy song about it. Just fucking great. “I’m not being creepy! Even Robin Thicke talks about blurred lines, and everyone loves Robin Thicke, amirite?” Cue supportive wink from Robin. Thumbs up, bro.

“But it has such a catchy beat!” people say. Well guess what? You can still enjoy the beat while not promoting rape culture. I’m here to free you forever. Listen to the following Marvin Gaye tune, which Robin Thicke ripped off sampled* to make “Blurred Lines.”

This song is better in every way. First of all, while Robin Thicke is certainly a talented singer, Marvin Gaye is one of the ultimates. One of the all-time greatest. You just can’t argue with a voice like Marvin’s.

And the best part? Marvin Gaye wrote a lot of sexy music, and from what I’ve heard, most of it embraces enthusiastic consent. It’s sex-positive in the best way. Even in “Got to Give It Up,” he explicitly mentions being “chosen”:

But my body yearned to be free
I got up on the floor and thought
Somebody could choose me
No more standin’ there beside the walls
I done got myself together baby
And now I’m havin’ a ball
As long as you’re groovin’
There’s always a chance
Somebody watches
Might wanna make romance

So he wants to get laid. But he wants somebody to “choose” him. He wants someone to “wanna make romance.” In one verse, he talks about a potential lover’s choice and want. Will he definitely get what he wants? No. There is a “chance.” And that’s good enough for him, because he does not feel entitled to sex, even at somebody else’s expense.

Boycott Robin. Choose Marvin.

*Note: While sampling is an art in itself, I think this particular example is actually very uncreative, and just sounds like a bad port of Marvin’s original song. You may disagree.