I feel like I need to preface this with a warning: A Rant is Coming. I’m not big on rants, as a rule. Reading them OR writing them. Because I really do mostly think even this fallen world is pretty wonderful. But this started as the first of my seven takes and was so, so very long that it just took over the whole thing. Bear with me, we’ll be back to happy and constructive soon . . .
Apparently, the Bad Catholic would disagree with me, but I think last summer was a great time to be a human being with a radio. The songs of summer were catchy and mostly morally neutral. Which, really, for background music at a theme park or swim team party is good enough for me.
We had: girl gives boy her phone number, a bit forward, sure, but she leaves without him; there was a cautionary tale about shacking up; the one about a fella trying to patch things up with his old lady; and a song that wasn’t in English so nobody knew what we were singing about, but, hey, it turns out that it’s all: modest is hottest, who knew? Even the Katy Perry song wasn’t bad. (There was that whistle nonsense, which really was awful, but at least it was the only one all summer that had me diving for the radio dial.)
But good heavens above the songs this summer are just not okay with me. Let’s have a look shall we? These seem to be the contenders for “the” song of summer 2013:
Well, we saved the worst for first — because this is the song that seems to be winning. It’s ubiquitous. Critics have called it misogynistic and “rapey” but if you are in public this summer, you can’t get away from it. And apparently, the video is basically pornography. Terrific.
This is what Thicke had to say IN DEFENSE of his video to GQ (there’s some language if you click over):
We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections,
and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all
three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the
perfect guys to make fun of this.”
People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m
like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve
never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just
wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their
bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.”
It’s really difficult for me to understand how we’ve gotten to the point where not only does this music exists (risque music is nothing new after all) but it’s apparently considered all in good fun and appropriate for all ages. And if you think there aren’t YouTube videos of little kids covering this song, well, you’d be wrong.
Compared to the above, this one is downright charming, but still — it’s about a girl who is staying up all night to “have fun” while the fella is staying up all night to “get some.” There are SO many phrases in the lyrics of this song that I do not wish to explain to my children.
As far as my kids happening to hear it, I guess this one isn’t so bad (at least it’s not their other current song). But can I just really dislike it for NOT MAKING ANY SENSE? “So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us.” Huh? Since when do ceilings hold us? They are above us. Does he mean support us? . . . or confine us? And how would putting our hands up help in either case?
I don’t know, I’m tired of thinking about it.
I don’t know, I guess I don’t have a huge problem with this one. There’s some unladylike language in it and repeated crashing of one’s car into the bridge and lots of simultaneous and contradictory not caring and loving it.
I do care. And I don’t particularly love it.
I’d also like to tell Bruno Mars that if you’re doing it right, it can take you to paradise and totally NOT lock you out of heaven. There’s actually quite a lot of theology of the body going on in that song. But, it, um, lacks subtlety.
So, yeah. Slim pickin’s this summer. I guess I should take my own advice and just turn off the radio. But then I might miss this:
It’s totally my favorite catchy, silly, fun, summer song of the year. I also think it’s the ONLY catchy, silly, fun, summer song of the year. I love the story behind it too. (I haven’t seen the movie in which it appears, so I can’t vouch for that. But the video is awesome. I have every intention of teaching the kids how to do this.)
And lest you think I’m knocking pop music as a genre or pop culture in general, I AM NOT. That’s what makes this so frustrating.
I know there are plenty of Catholics who do not wish to spend one single moment on anything less than the sublime, but I am with Bonnie on this one. I like pop music. I also like classical music, and that’s what we usually listen to during the school year. But in the summertime, I enjoy being able to rock out with my kids to some catchy tunes in the car. But that’s hard to do when so many songs are flat-out not-okay like they are this year.
It’s not intentional, but we do end up a bit sequestered during the school year. We do school-work at home each morning, our afternoons are usually spent at sports practices at the park or in the car running errands. My kids really don’t have many outside influences. In the summer, we spend a lot more time out in the culture in places with piped-in music. Usually, I consider that a good thing. We’re out, having fun, experiencing the culture, interacting with the people. But it means I don’t have as much control over their exposure to music. Frankly, it’s bugging me this year. I’m feeling imposed upon. My eleven year old pays attention, so we’ve had to have some talks that probably could have waited if I’d had my druthers.
At least I can control it in my own car. We’ll just have to keep trying to remember the words to “Dynamite,” which for reasons unknown to me is the one pop song that all of my children know some of the words to.
And speaking of Bonnie . . . we drove out to Goodfield from Chicago this week to meet Bonnie and the gang IRL, including new baby Joseph, and had a super lovely time. Her kids are sweet and charming and chatty, even James who chats without talking. I think he must know he’s a miracle, he’s just so happy!
Somehow in the uploading process I managed to delete the pictures I wanted to keep and uploaded the outtakes instead. But, even those are pretty great:
Congratulations to the Engstroms on their new baby and general awesomeness and we look forward to getting together again next summer!