Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feminist jealousy at work

Lorde is the stage name for a talented 16-year-old New Zealand singer whose sparse and catchy indie pop has gained her significant notoriety over the last couple of months.

Lorde’s chart-topping single “Royals” has primarily driven her rise to popularity. However, in a recent Feministing article, Veronica Bayetti Flores described the song as “deeply racist,” ascribing a hateful intent to the song’s lyrics that, to any reasonable person, simply poke fun at rap’s culture of excess. These are the “offensive” lyrics:

    But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom

    Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,

    We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.

    But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.

    Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.

    We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.

As usual, privileged American feminists are doing the eminently meaningful work of being offended on behalf of a group they aren’t even a part of. Veronica Bayetti Flores, a white and/or hispanic woman, writes for a major website but apparently does not even know the definition of racism:

Racism: noun: :  A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

In the least charitable interpretation of Lorde’s lyrics, she is blasting the hip hop culture for embracing materialism and insisting that her own group (Females? New Zealanders? Indie pop artists?) are not trapped by such vices. It would be an incredible jump in logic to make even the flimsiest of arguments that she is citing her race’s superiority over another’s rather than simply criticizing the behavior of a particular group.

The author’s incoherent diatribe also ignores other parts of the lyrics that seem to reference stereotypically white excess — I can’t remember the last rap video I saw featuring “ball gowns” and “trashing hotel rooms” (a cliché for predominantly white rock-and-roll bands). Are these references racist as well? Most likely, that these are the words of a girl getting into an industry driven by appearances and citing the hypocrisy and ostentation therein.

Even if one ignores the dig at white stereotypes and insists that Lorde is solely criticizing the world of rap, why is it forbidden for a person to critique a culture that is steeped in excess and ostentation while the community that dominates its fanbase remains largely low in socioeconomic status and unable to create wealth? Have we reached a point where any criticism of a subset of a racial group is met with a reactionary branding as “racist” and shamed out of existence?



Anonymous said...

Here is the difference between Conservatives and liberals:

If a Conservative does not like the song, he TURNS IT THE F OFF!

Try it sometime libs and leave the rest of us to enjoy the song in peace!

Anonymous said...

Race Neurosis or Xenophobia, either way it seems to to have taken hold here in the good old USA. People here are actively looking for any signs of racism or white privilege to the extent that they see it even when its not there.

Anonymous said...

This obsession afflicts white liberals whose goal is to draw attention to themselves, not to actually help anyone. Oh, look how caring and concerned I am!