Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Oct 18

On Consuming Media with Problematic Messages

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about things that I enjoy and how they’re problematic in some way. Typically, this means the music I listen to and messages that may be racist or sexist, but those certainly aren’t the only mediums or messages that are problematic. I probably just notice it in music more because IO am almost always listening to music.’

For example, I love the beat of the new Nick Jonas song “Jealous,” but the lyrics are fucking terrible as he sings about his right to be jealous of his beautiful girlfriend and to act “hellish” because of it. While Nick plays it like it’s normal, Meg Myers has no qualm about talking about her obsessive desires are pretty far out there. I just discover Meg and both “Monster” and “Desire” are like this. They’re fantastic songs, though!

Another song that I can’t help but dance along to is “All About the Bass.” Megan Trainor has landed on the scene in a big way, and her leading anthem about how the boys love her(and dislike thin women for their lack there of) for her curves just rubs me wrong. It’s not body positive to call a slender people “skinny bitches” no matter how she might follow it up with a quip about how they’re beautiful. It just doesn’t come off as genuine.

I checked out a few more Megan Trainor songs, and I have to say her writing skills — or at least her choice in lyrics as a whole — tend to be problematic. She focuses so single-mindedly on “finding and keeping a man who will treat her like a lady and pay for her lavish lifestyle. She’s fallen prey to a society who says she is only worth something as long as she is useful (read: owned by) a man, and it just makes me.. sad. Because she seems like she’s HGH pretty fuckin’ awesome. She doesn’t necessarily have to be a feminist fighter, but there’s so much more to life and music than what she’s chosen thus far. In fact, I think that Mary Lambert does a great job of this!

Before I wrap up this post, I’ll talk about everyone’s favorite love-to-hate singer and songwriter: Taylor Swift. Taylor recently release a fun pop anthem titled “Shake It Off.” I cannot help but get up and dance when I hear it. The beat is amazing, and it might be causing me to lose weight — kidding, though! I can’t believe it only has 1 million views.

But “Shake It Off” has been on the receiving end of a lot of flack. Perhaps most notable is the idea that the video combines one part definite cultural appropriation and perhaps another part racism, depending on how you view it, thanks to concepts that are reminiscent of ye olde minstrel shows.

I also have a bone to pick with the lyrics, which suddenly show Taylor demanding her right to have fun (and potentially sex) with whoever she wants. This in and of itself isn’t problematic. You get it, girl! But she has spent much of her career slut shaming the other girls for being to promiscuous. The sudden change could perhaps be in relation to her growing up. Taylor has even recently has explained how she has come to realize what feminism is and wishes she had understood early so she could have sooner called herself a feminist.

I think there’s two overreaching thoughts here. I still enjoy these things despite their problems. Critical thinking about music and other things we so passively enjoy is an important part of growth. Secondly, even people and creators who have been problematic are starting to see the fact and coming around to the other side, which is kind of inspiring.

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