The non-existent feminism of Selena Gomez

selena-gomez-revival-album-2015-billboard-650x650

I can’t get behind this cover for Selena Gomez’s new album “Revival”

In her new autobiography, “I’ll Never Write My Memoirs,” Grace Jones puts modern pop stars on blast for failing to be shocking by trying to be shocking:

 “They dress up as though they are challenging the status quo but by now, wearing those clothes, pulling those faces, revealing those tattoos and breasts – that is the status quo.”

Ms. Jones is so right. It’s not shocking AT ALL anymore when modern pop stars do something “shocking.” You know what would be shocking? Madonna making an age appropriate album instead of making us pretend for the millionth year in a row that she’s 21.madonna steve buscemi

That’s why when I saw the cover for Selena Gomez’s upcoming album “Revival,” I was nothing but disappointed at it’s sad attempt to be shocking, because I was unaware that patriarchal nudity was still considered shocking.

For real: Is she challenging the patriarchy by showing us her naked body on this album? Is she challenging rape culture? Exploring her own sexuality? Promoting feminism? A woman’s right to do what she wants with her own body?

Based on the lyrical content of her latest single “Good For You,” I don’t think so:

Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight
Do my hair up real, real nice
And syncopate my skin to your heart beating

‘Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh
I just wanna look good for you, good for you, uh-huh
Let me show you how proud I am to be yours
Leave this dress a mess on the floor
And still look good for you, good for you, uh-huh

First of all: honey, it’s 2015. NO.

Second: These lyrics are all sorts of NOPE.

The song was written, unsurprisingly, by three men and one woman.

Let that sink in like a long, wet fart from a stranger 5 minutes into your hour long bus commute. A 23-year-old female pop singer is singing a song written by dudes, about wanting to please dudes and look good for dudes. In 2015. It’s not as if songs like these haven’t been hitting our mom’s Dodge Caravan radios for decades/millennia, but the tides have turned. Rihanna is known for not writing her music, but at least she has the intelligence and will to curate empowering music like “Bitch Better Have My Money” that tears the shit out of the patriarchy.

More and more people learn about what rape culture is everyday. Feminism is discussed daily in the media. And “Good For You” is nothing if not another tired attempt at perpetuating harmful patriarchal ideas, like women only wanting to look good for the male gaze, or that anybody not going to their senior prom is wearing an updo. Which begs the question:

WHY IS A FEMALE POP STAR SINGING ABOUT LIVING FOR THE MALE GAZE IN THE MIDDLE OF A MAINSTREAM FEMINIST MOVEMENT?

Was Selena so hungry for a hit song that she didn’t care about the contents? Did her label make her do this? Is her career managed by 40+ year old men who have total boners for the patriarchy? All signs point to probably. This is hardly the first time she’s sang a song that is decidedly anti-feminist (no wonder Rihanna passed on “Come and Get It“).

It would be one thing if feminism wasn’t being talked about EVERYWHERE. Or if Taylor Swift, arguably the queen of the entire music industry right now, hadn’t ignited conversation about the importance of being a feminist for the past year. Or if Britney wasn’t tell all men to “suck my fucking toe.” Or, you know, if THE Beyonce hadn’t performed in front of a GIANT SIGN that literally said FEMINIST on MTV.

 

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SLAY BEY BEY

It’s very true that pop music has not always politically correct or woman-friendly (Blurred Lines, anyone?). But we live in a really special time in mainstream music right now where women are writing and producing their own music more than ever before in a typically male-dominated industry. Taylor Swift, Grimes, Katy Perry, SIA and Lady Gaga, to name a few, all have a heavy hand in writing, composing and producing their own music. It’s amazing! It’s inspiring! And it’s about goddamn time to have actual female perspectives via the written word in mainstream music.

It’s one thing if you’re writing your own music about loving the male gaze, or wanting to look good for that Canadian human mop Justin Bieber. But it is quite another to not even be involved in writing the gross songs that support the patriarchy. Good thing you’re teaching all your young, impressionable, coming-of-age fans that it’s cool to do everything you can to please men sexually. How progressive of u.

Lorde famously called Selena out in the press for singing anti-feminist songs. And she’s right. There’s no place for this in mainstream music anymore. Popular culture is changing, women in music are more empowered than ever and ain’t nobody got time for that male gaze shit. I get dressed for ME, I wear lipstick for ME and so should YOU, Selena. You, your fans and top 40 radio deserve better than this. It’s 2015©.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. 

 

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Pop culture: Is the lyric video the new music video?

Lady Gaga’s lyric video for “Applause”

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Katy Perry and Lady Gaga both released singles this week ahead of schedule due to leaks (duh, welcome to the internet and 2008). Along with their single releases, they both have released lyric videos to go along with their singles. You know, to give the drooling pop obsessed masses (yo what up thats me 2) something to look at while the real video gets made, and so the artist/record label can make official money off the ads from youtube. Holla fo that dolla. But really, have we entered a new era of the music video?

TRL! my heart strings are a-pullin'. miss u 4ever.
TRL! my heart strings are a-pullin’. miss u 4ever.

The first music video to ever grace MTV was The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star.” LOL. 4shadowing FTW. MTV gave music videos a great place to live until they decided ain’t nobody got time fo that shit. They cut down the regularly scheduled music video programming to an hour and a half after school on Total Request Live, or belovedly, TRL. In case you were living on Mars, Russia or a home where your parents banned television (my condolences), TRL was awesome. It was a place where kids got to call in (USING LANDLINE PHONES!!!!!) to request their favorite music videos and hopefully get their Britney or NSYNC vid to the number 1 spot. It was such a big fucking deal. I actually miss it.

Since TRL’s cancellation in 2008 (R.I.P. 4ever and PLEASE bring this show back on the internet. seriously. SRSLY), the music video has had a pretty much exclusive internet platform, because let’s be real: MTV2 couldn’t even keep to its word that it would be the real music video channel, and VH1 LOL. Throw in internet file sharing and the money-losing scramble of the music industry over the past decade, our poor little Music Video has suffered quite a lot in quality, budget and creativity.

first lyric video However, out of a seemingly doomed medium of sonic visual expression came a little thing called the Lyric Video. It’s a modest, bastardly child of the once great Music Video. The first lyric videos started off with horrible fonts and and a gross blue screen. You’ve seen them. They’ve come a long way since Windows 2000 though. Now they’ve got pretty colors and exciting fonts. The joy!

a still of Ke$ha's lyric video for "Die Young"
a still of Ke$ha’s lyric video for “Die Young”

Somewhere along the line, a music exec/artist/manager not completely fucked up on blow realized how many views theses videos get, how CHEAP it is to make them, and how useful it would be to slap ads on an official lyric video and make some extra dollaz.

Good job, music industry. It only took you about 8 years to figure that shit out.

Anyways, it seems more and more with big time releases to put out a lyric video while the actual video gets made, if one even gets made. The lyric video has sort of become a toe in the water to see if a real music video would be a lucrative venture or a compete waste of time and money. But is this creating a greater creative divide between video formats for songs? If the lyric video is the cheap, low-key video version of the song, then will real music videos in turn become something more cinematic? Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see.

Taylor Swift released both a lyric video and an official video for her single “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” Swift’s lyric video has over 27 million views, and the official video has nearly 175 million views. That’s over 200 million views combined. That’s a lot of fucking views.

T swift and her font-y lyric video
T swift and her font-y lyric video

Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ke$ha have all released lyric videos this year for songs. If it hasn’t become a huge norm to release a lyric video, it’s going to be. Especially since both Katy Perry and Gaga released lyric videos quickly after their songs leaked. It’s a great way to make a little quick, extra money ahead of a budgeted music video, give the fans something official to watch and deliver a cheaply made but (hopefully) creative video to accompany a new single.

After all, throwing money at something like art doesn’t always make it good. Put restrictions in place, like money, time and scrolling lyrics, and see how creative artists can get within those boundaries. Who knows. We may have our next piece of musical cinematic brilliance in a 2 Chainz lyric video. Maybe not. All I know is, we are entering a new era of videos made for visually enjoying and interacting with modern music. Thank god a new creative platform has come to the music industry, cuz it’s about goddamn time.

On the fence: Justin Bieber

Whoa. Image via fanpop.com
Whoa. Image via fanpop.com

Justin Bieber.

Yes, growing up in the spotlight is difficult. He was supposed to be the modern-day Canadian equivalent to the humble, funny and talented Justin Timberlake. However, in recent months, Bieber has shown us just how fussy and annying a super-famous-mega-star baby of 18 years old can really be. Let’s examine what’s going on in the Bieberverse. (Is that a thing? I hate myself for writing that)

The Evidence

He accepted an award for Favorite Pop/Male Artist at the 2012 American Music Awards and dedicated it to”all the haters” which is SO LAME. Come on dude. No. -2

His music is fun. Don’t lie to yourself! Beauty and a Beat is a hella jam (Max Martin produced, so obvi!) Plus, he directed the video which is a really fun and well directed video. +5

ugh, teens. Image via idolator.com
ugh, teens. Image via idolator.com

He met the Canadian Prime Minister in an outfit best described as farm-douche chic. It’s not like their should be some fascist regime when it comes to style and meeting any head of state. It’s just super annoying. Eye roll! -2

He got mad at James Franco (who gets mad at James Franco? WTF?) for making a parody video of his song “Boyfriend”. The parody vid wasn’t even rude or anything, it was hilarious. Not having a sense of humor about your boy-toy status in the pop music industry? Self-awareness goes a long in H-wood Biebs. Get some. -3

Usher likes him. That’s cool, I guess? 0

Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift probably talk SO much shit about him. It would be scary to have those two against you, especially T-Swift. +2

His back story is amazing. I never finished his documentary, but watching him drum as a little kid proves that he was born with a natural talent for music. And his mom got it on tape! +5

His instagram is ridiculous. Body shots, selfies and now buttcrack. He’s like your friend’s gross little brother who farts in his hand and then throws it at you. Why are you showing your fanbase, KIDS AND TEENS AND QUESTIONABLE ADULTS, your buttcrack? Mooning is so 1983. Over! -1

He took his Grammy snubs alright, saying that “It’ll happen one day”. His manager was pissed though, saying on Twitter that “I just plain DISAGREE. The kid deserved it. Grammy board u blew it on this one.” Just be happy you have a job, you jags!!! -1

The Score

3

This is all I know about Justin Bieber. I think his music is fun, but his personality could use some growing up. Granted, he is still a teen and there is much needed time and room to grow. If we all had cameras following us and listening to our stupid teen opinions, we’d look like shitheads too. But come on! someone get him a decent PR adviser! It’s BEYOND time for that.

Image via daydreamstars.blogspot.com
Image via daydreamstars.blogspot.com

Celebrité: Selena Gomez goes to the Congo

Selena Gomez in Valparaíso, Chile. Photo via unicef.org
Selena Gomez in Valparaíso, Chile. Photo via unicef.org

Can we get a Disney special out of this please?!

Selena Gomez will be going to the Democratic Republic of Congo as UNICEF ambassador sometime in April. Her previous work as a UNICEF ambassador sent her to Ghana and Valparaíso, Chile to promote early childhood development and awareness. Yay for her!

I really wanna see Selena Gomez make volunteering and social awareness something cool to do with the crazy kids and tweens of the day. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Her, maybe Justin Beiber, and a concert/documentary event on the Congo. Show that to a bunch of annoying teens who thought they were going to scream their lungs out to “Baby” instead being mortified at how not-first world some people live. Maybe they (and some young adults) would stop being upset about not having $500 iPads.

You know, Twilight was based on a true story in... Africa... Photo via wisc.edu
Tweens and some hopefully embarrassed adults at the Twilight premiere. Photo via wisc.edu

Kudos to Selena for doing something positive with her celebrité!! Now if she can only get an MTV or Disney TV specials to inspire her legions of followers to do good. There’s GOTTA be a way to market volunteering and humanitarian awareness to screaming, hormone-crazed teens. Wouldn’t it be great if kids and teens were throwing tantrums over their parents not donating enough to poverty and famine in Africa?! Probably in a billion years. But Never Say Never.