A while ago, I created a Medium collection called “Super Short Fiction.” Since then people have actually started posting in it! The stories are as odd (and short) as you could expect from a random bunch of internet trawlers. I was especially entertained by “My new puppy.” When stories show up in foreign languages, I pop them into Google Translate and see what happens.
Close your eyes and listen to Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” and it doesn’t sound so bad. It’s hard to be a woman, basically. Lily Allen would know, too! She’s been shat upon by the media for having a normal-sized ass, not to mention popping out children when she should be trying to be a pop star. Sexism in pop music reflects sexism in real life, just on a gigantic and extra-glossy scale.
Open your eyes and watch the "Hard Out Here" video and things get messy. Without balloons to literally spell out the satire, none of the imagery makes any kind of clear statement. Allen dances with a group of black women in an apparent imitation of Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” video antics, but there’s no wink, no sign that Allen is mocking Miley’s appropriation/exploitation. On sight, the two scenes are virtually identical. At least Miley seems like she genuinely adores hip hop culture. Allen seems like she’s making fun of it.
And really, it’s hard to read the video as a skewering of record label bullshit capitalism—white dudes in conference rooms making unilateral money-grubbing decisions for young women—when Allen includes an e-cigarette product placement halfway through the song. “There’s a glass ceiling to break, there’s money to make,” she sings. And sure, people need to make money. Isn’t it a little weird, though, that Allen is making money from the underwear-clad women puffing on E-Lites?
I’m pretty tired of white women taking the hip hop “video girl” thing and incorporating it into their own image. Clearly at this point, can’t we see that no matter how much the white chicks try to make the case that it’s a parody or satire or ironic or statement-making, the message just doesn’t go through? Can’t we just say that being a video girl is a complicated thing and we shouldn’t use women as bodies just to make a point? Did #solidarityisforwhitewomen happen in a Twitter vacuum?? At the end of the day, this stuff reminds me of Jewel’s “Intuition” video, which had the same kind of lofty, “empowering” intentions paired with demeaning video girl mockery.
That song came out ten years ago. Are we still doing this?