Let us now fix our gaze upon the torrid world of cutting-edge Top-40 teen pop music.
I am not precisely a music critic, but several of my acquaintances are, and I once got a piece published in which I expostulated that bombastic classical music should never be played in restaurants where raw oysters are served because it alarms the oysters, causing them to die agitated deaths, which agitation ruins the post-mortem taste.
I have also danced about architecture. So rest assured that I am thoroughly credentialed in this quarter. Not that I’m actually going to do any music criticking.
I refer your attention to the following stanza of clumsy, bonerized drivel excerpted from a hit R&B song in which the narrator enlarges on one of the tiredest and misogynist-est themes in popular music (“you’re beautiful when you’re angry”).
baby don’t think i don’t take you seriously
but i just can’t help the fact
your attitude excites me (so exciting)
and you know ain’t nothing better
than when we get mad together and have angry sex
oh, i blow you out then we forget what we was mad about, oh
These compelling lines gush forth from the stunningly derivative, popular, semi-literate dreamboat singer Ne-Yo. I have not seen young Ne-Yo perform, but if he isn’t one of those vapid man-boys who repetitively taps his hairless chest with his fingertips to indicate that his heart is bursting with passion for all his special laydees, I’ll eat a Homophobe Meat Fetish Pie at TGI Friday’s and afterward attend a special Terri Schiavo service at a Baptist megachurch. Which would be quite a hardship for me, because they station a guy at the door of those things to ensure that all female supplicants are encrusted, as Jesus ordered, in at least a half an inch of Maybelline products, and then they X-ray your uterus to check its serial number against their database of fallen women (supplied to them by the NSA).
They do this at the megachurches, too.
Before addressing the patriarchal domination fetish inherent in the aforementioned sexy-anger theme, I propose to present all the proof required by any spinster aesthete that (a) grammar is what separates us from the invertebrates and (b) banality in media, e.g. Ne-Yo, is the gateway drug to imbecility, e.g. the anonymous half-wit who writes the following bio:
At the tender age of twenty-two, the lyrical and musical talent that Ne-Yo posses [sic] are far beyond his years. […] Ne-Yo is taking the music industry by storm, as he graces and challenges popular music with his writing & vocal talents. Much more than today’s male singer, Ne-Yo is a rare artist; expressing creativity thru drawings, paintings, martial arts and song. He is distinguished by youthful energy with in-depth lyrics that touch the soul.
All band bios are physically painful to read, but this writer has packed into the boilerplate such hackneyed, meaningless crap, such gruesomely butchered syntax, and such agonizing unintelligibility with so comprehensive a Stepfordish torpor that I cannot help but wish upon him—if not a disagreeable death—then at least a crummy summer.
But back to the you-so-sexy-when-you-mad-I-just-gotta-fuck-you leitmotiv. Ne-Yo, whose “tenderness” I am inclined to dispute, is parroting a pervy narrative convention which, since the dawn of pervy narrative conventions, has sought to invalidate legitimate female outrage by ridiculing it, minimizing it, and recasting it as a sex behavior.
Ne-Yo’s narrator tells his irate receptacle that he takes her seriously, but we know this is a horndog lie, because does he say, “What’s bothering you, honey? Let me get you a glass of sherry and rub your feet while you tell me all about it.”? No. Instead, he swiftly and dismissively informs her that she’s “the cutest thing” and “so damn sexy” when she’s mad, and that her “attitude” is wholly responsible for the inevitable blue-veined swaybacked throbber with which he has no choice but to “blow [her] out” during the “angry sex.” He also admits to a preference for this scenario. What modern girl could resist the winning combination of infantilization, appeals to her vanity, and rape? He just fucks her pain away, I guess.
Look, I get that these are pop lyrics, and as such cannot be held to any kind of standard whatsoever, but nevertheless the cold clammy hand of patriarchy tries to high-five me whenever I think about little girls internalizing the you-are-nothing-but-pussy dogma promulgated by crap like this Ne-Yo tune.
Likewise, I always want to puke when this scene shows up in the movie I’m watching, which it almost always does, which is why I keep a bucket and some Lysol next to the lime green recliner. With slight variations, the tableau is a staple of romantic comedy and melodrama alike: Dude commits some assholic irresponsible act. Woman gets pissed off. Dude trivializes woman’s legitimate anger by telling her she’s hot when she’s pissed. He grabs her by the wrists. Woman struggles a bit, whines, “let me go, you’re hurting me” (this line appears verbatim in every such script ever written), and immediately submits to forcible advances of dude, whose inclination to rape her she suddenly finds irresistible. If it’s a comedy, they get married. If it’s a drama, dude ditches the dirty ho. But one thing never happens. The woman never maces the asshole, walks out, and moves to Alaska to start her own lesbian whale-watching business.
The entriplified bogus message of the you’re-beautiful-when-you’re-angry theme:
â€¢ All female behavior is seductive behavior.
â€¢ Fucking is always more important than any piddling intellectual or philosophical point an otherwise properly sexed-up female might raise.
â€¢ Females are always turned on by physical force, especially if you tell them they’re pretty.