Saturday, July 27, 2013

Body Aware, Part 1: Mommy, Daddy, Don't Look!

I was two....ish.

And I was old enough to walk, albeit with a wobble*, and could piece verbs together with objects. But, I also had a problem with understanding tone and that there was a time and a place for raising the stakes on a situation. I just hadn't quite mastered the art of reacting appropriately to varying degrees of distress.


But, I had to pee, like REALLY bad.

Coincidentally, my bedroom shared a wall with the bathroom. But, with those wobbly toddler-old legs, I couldn't be trusted to get there in time. And I had... a history... of being slow on the potty-training-train, so I was sensitive to disappointing my parents (again) in this particular area.

Luckily, both of my parents were fully distracted in conversation.


Ipso-facto, I could get away with peeing and they wouldn't know right away...if I was sneaky about it.


However, I was SO proud that I had learned the Always Use the Toilet rule (finally), and I wanted to share this moment with them.


But, I also didn't want them to know that, even after remembering this rule, I was still choosing to not follow it.


So. I came up with a brilliant idea.


And you can guess what they then did.


They failed at following my brilliant idea.

...So, Yelling at People, "Don't Look at Me!" Gets You the Opposite Result


When you don't want people to look at you, it's generally understood you DON'T call attention to yourself by yelling at the very people you want to hide from. This concept was new to me at the time of twoish.

And sadly, I have to report, I still haven't quite learned that lesson. And Facebook just enables this.

I posted this slightly-crazed plea the other day, thinking it was totally normal to use a social media networking sight to state my gender-queer issues and sensitive sense of self-identity.


To be fair, it was in part because I had received lots of messages/random prods from lots of random people about photos that had started to pop up on multiple peoples' Facebook accounts of a show I'm doing. In that sense, I was then targeting the same forum that had begun the unwanted attention.

Even so, right after posting this, I realized my fateful, familiar flaw:  that there would be a slew of questions/curious and confused comments on what exactly I was talking about in the first place.

Luckily, I know a lot of rad people who just took the high road of not asking what it was I was wearing in the first place.  And hey friends: thanks for taking the high road! Because I failed at doing so.


 But, then the comments kept coming.


 And coming.

 And coming...

And in the classic American-guilt sense, I was suddenly aware of the fact that by the very act of asking the masses something, I got a massive response. Even if the request was, "Don't talk to me about this."

Apparently, I still need to work on my methods of communication. Or, just buildinganeffingbridgeandgettingoverit.

However, the discussion on projected gender identity, as it is obviously very important to me, whether or not I want to admit it, I will discuss in an alternate post, soon to come up, that will tie in both a historical queer figure AND come full circle with my own weird issues on clothing.

But, in the meantime, just remember:



Sometimes you get exactly what you ask for.

-Beryl


*What's the adverb of "wobble" ? Wobblingly. That's right. Now you know why I didn't use it.




Monday, July 1, 2013

Sir Mix A Lot v. Robin Thicke

I've been having an issue.

It's with the latest song "Blurred Lines," Robin Thicke's catchy summer hit.


You've heard it.

If you haven't, then you've decided that the internet does not exist. Or you don't listen to the radio outside of NPR because the classical music station moved to South Bay and the radio reception is terrible. In which case you're my mom. Hi mom.

In order to explain my issue with this song, and basically with Robin Thicke's latest image in general, I'd like to use Sir Mix A Lot to illustrate my point.

Do you remember Sir Mix A Lot?


Now you do.

And yes, that's him standing on a cartoon butt.

I LOVE Sir Mix A Lot.  Love.  Him. I love "Baby Got Back." I love this song so much I actually cannot handle talking about it without listening to it while typing. And while it has a measly 6 million views on Youtube in comparison to the 75 million views Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" supposedly has, if you asked the average 20/30/40-year-old-American, they'd be able to quote the first 50 words of "Baby Got Back" word. for. accurate. freaking. word. And I'm not even talking about the spoken monologue in the beginning. Now THAT'S a marketing impression. And a pop/rap music legacy to respect.

Meanwhile most of Robin Thicke's 75 million listeners would just know a four-word line in particular that is repeated over fifteen times. I'll come back to that later.

Score 1 - Mix A Lot.



I Know I Want To Look Like It.


So, Robin Thicke is an attractive guy.



He's got the smoldering eye look down. He's got the bad-boy thing going. He's got the hair that isn't thinning anytime soon. He's attractive. I completely agree. Being a dyke doesn't mean I'm handicapped when it comes to male sexiness. If anything, as a baby butch I'm probably more painfully aware of male fashion trends than you will ever be.

So, I agree:  he's hot.

But, his song is disturbing.

Look at His Lyrics


I'm not the first person who is cringing slightly whenever this song comes up. (See this tumblr.)

I think the average pop music aficionado would say the two songs "Blurred Lines" and "Baby Got Back" are pretty equal when it comes to objectifying women. I think most would argue that the music videos aren't much different, either, when it comes to women scantily dressed dancing and gyrating in the background of fully clothed dudes spitting lyrics.

But, I disagree.

Let's just go for a lyrical comparison:

MIX: I like big butts and I can not lie / You other brothers can't deny / That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist / And a round thing in your face you get sprung 

THICKE: If you can't hear what I'm trying to say/ If you can't read from the same page / Maybe I'm going deaf, maybe I'm going blind / Maybe I'm out of my mind. 


So far? Approximately a similar conversational tone, demonstrating the male gaze. But by the middle of each song, they take a dramatic shift away from each other. 



MIX:  I ain't talkin' bout Playboy 'Cause silicone parts are made for toys .... I want 'em real...I'm lookin' at rock videos...Knock-kneeded bimbos walkin' like ho's...you can have them bimbos I'll keep my women like Flo Jo 

THICKE: Okay now, he was close, Tried to domesticate you, but you're an animal, baby it's in your nature...You're a good girl...I know you want it, I know you want it, I know you want it 


Mix A Lot goes on to not only states he's against female cosmetic surgery but also manages to criticize the music industry's portrayal of women AND fits in a reference to African American Olympic medalist and fastest recorded woman of all time, Florence Griffith Joyner.

Robin manages to make it clear that he knows she's a good girl. But, she's an animal. Therefore, she wants it.

Score 2 for Mix A Lot.

...and 4 Olympic Medals for Flo Jo.

DEM NAILS

"If You Tell A Lie Big Enough And Keep Repeating It, People Will Eventually Come to Believe It" -Said Someone You Really Don't Want to Be Compared To


Robin Thicke says "I know you want it" about 18 times in the song. So, he's gotta be right, right?
She must want it if he says it enough. Or at least, it makes anyone of sane mind hearing it over and over again for four minutes and thirty-two seconds to think of all the scenarios in which a girl would somehow hint to a guy that it's okay he grinds up on her--and woah, woah, wait a minute, I'm justifying the number one classic rape line. 

And I'm a feminist...?

Oh, he's good.

Btw, the above quote comes directly from Joseph Goebbels.

The Nazi propagandist.

And yes, in bringing him into this argument I broke Godwin's law again. It's just so easy, you guys.

So, to review:


Yes.


Awkward.

For the people who are currently nodding their heads to the above image of that sexy, sexy Robin going, "But... I do want him," or "But, I do like it when my partner/fuck buddy is confident like this..."

Let me be clear: I agree he is FINE. Confidence is hot. 

But, just ask yourself:  what if a strange, ugly-ass dude came up to you and said this in your ear? 

I guess Robin Thicke really does get a Get Out of Creepy Card for being attractive. Which is superficial. But, more importantly, it's also about intent--Robin Thicke is (obviously) not really going to come after you and whisper in your ear that he knows you want it. He's just an R&B singer who does love songs and was handed a hit.

But, as life and art imitate each other on a routine basis, the problem is there is a group of individuals spread all over this country that really don't have innocent intent--that really aren't about being goofy and harmless, that really just want to get themselves off, regardless of who they're running over to achieve that goal.

I'll admit:  since I don't personally feel an attraction for him, I guess I don't quite understand the complicated nature of the appeal. I just have a visceral response to this particular performance of "confidence":  it screams self-absorption, it screams selfish. It screams I get off before (and regardless) if you do.

Women Do It, Too.


Ugh.

I hate admitting this.

I've definitely come across a slew of women who creep. me. the. fuck. out.

There was the girl who liked to crow that she could "convert" straight women and that everyone was secretly gay. There was another who bet a friend of mine money she could get a drunk straight girl to make out with her. And she actually asked for the money the next day.

Creep. Y.

So, I'm not just picking on Mr. Thicke:  REGARDLESS of who's doing it or why or where, if another WOMAN was being this forward/creepy I would be just as offended. 

Close friends of mine have been literally shoved around/grabbed/kissed by some idiot who has convinced him/herself my friend wanted it. And I mean said friend was just sitting down, watching tv, or leaning against a bar or just HAVING A FREAKING CRÊPE and from that, the take-away was THEY WANT IT NOW ?

Seriously?

So, Mix A Lot, you win. 


You didn't assume what the object of your desire wanted--you just were up and honest about what YOU wanted.

And you made some funny pop-culture references while doing it.

Kudos.



You Know You Still Want It:  It's Okay. I Do, Too.

For all the people who are creeped out by this song BUT STILL LOVE IT, I'd like to make something very important clear:  I don't think it's Robin Thicke's words you're loving.


No, I think you're loving the foremost melody and beats maker of our generation, Mr. Pharrell Williams. 


This man is actually a musical genius. 

He built this Billboard hit song.

And this one.


This one just came out 2 months ago.

And he's been working on hits for at least two decades, for example, he helped write on this 1992 hit.

Pharrell is really what made this song actually continue to get airtime on a massive scale. Male R&B singers are a dime a dozen (see: American Idol, seasons 1-12). But, producers who can create THE most seminal melodies and beats of our generation's youth? And have the financial backing to market the frack out of it? 

That's why you can't stop listening to this song. It was served up to you in the most accessible, enjoyable way possible. So, you want it.

And I don't mean this:


I mean this:



Which makes him hot.

But, not as hot as this:




-Beryl



p.s. Next week an analysis on how Mystikal's "Bouncin' Back" is one of the best recovery/self-empowerment raps since Thich Nhat Hanh's "Peace is in Every Step."