Lily! You’ve Broken The Internet
OK, I’ll bite. In the last 48 hours, everyone and his uncle’s dog’s worm’s torn arsehole has had something to say about Lily Allen and the second instalment of her long-trailed comeback. New single Hard Out Here and (especially) its video have caused an outpouring of opinion or, to continue along alliterative lines, a barrage of bollocks, online. You see, Lily is quite good at being snarky and has taken a flawed but fairly convincing pot shot at the mainstream music industry and entertainment media and their growing reliance on the objectification of women and lowest common denominator attitudes. And that is more than enough to provoke ALL of the people of the internet with opinions. So, here’s my opinion. I like it. It’s funny and, largely due to her charisma, Lily mostly pulls it off.
Why should I even bother mentioning it when the Guardian alone will write at least 10 articles examining its impact to the nth degree, squeezing all the fun out of it as they go? Because of bloody opinions, which have rendered whole, previously fragrant, areas of the internet unusably stupid.
Initially, a lot of wild-eyed, self-important buffoons, too many to make it anything other than scary, couldn’t see past the ironic gloss, they didn’t have the critical faculties to fathom the paper-thin satire. Everyone has their gullible moments and can be taken in every now and then by a slickly crafted spoof. But what Lily Allen’s Hard Out Here is, is a massive tongue in cheek piss take with neon signs and great big whistles and bells endlessly pointing out the joke and still some people didn’t get the auto-tune, or the dancers, or, in fact, any of it.
Probably by design – it’s not really very refined or subtle – it is easy to discern the intended message and thinly veiled targets, it doesn’t require too much effort, but the slobbering mob of people with opinions, the haters, were too wrapped up in having something snarky to say about the queen of snark that they missed the point, even when it was very clearly spelled out in the lyrics.
Almost as bad were the people who, having been force fed the idea for three perky minutes until it was all too clear, pontificated about how clever it all is. Bold it may possibly be but clever it is not. It doesn’t need to be clever, especially considering how it outwitted a worrying amount of people, so why pretend it’s clever? Why? Because they’re patting themselves on the back for getting the joke. Well done everyone.
Inevitably, the whole thing proved irresistible to the trolls who moved in en masse to wind-up all those well intentioned people who get the joke. Unless she really is trying to reclaim the word bitch…?
Why stop there though? This is an opportunity for everyone (including me) to make an ill-formed opinion heard, so on it ploughed, with the intersectional feminists getting involved claiming that Allen’s use of women of colour (WOC) made her not only a bad feminist but also a racist to boot. Then just for good measure the woolly liberal white male crusaders, who are somehow the best judge of these things, stepped in agreeing wholeheartedly that it was indeed racist and all that was achieved by the video was the objectification of black women while reinforcing Allen’s white, middle class superiority.
Now, every single website in the world has at least one think piece discussing the use of WOCs, feminism, sexism, racism, every-ism… (The Guardian, disappointingly, is only up to five articles).
WAKE UP EVERYBODY. IT’S A POP VIDEO. It’s not a political manifesto, it’s not a bandwagon jumping twerk-athon, it’s hardly the Female Eunuch, and it’s not Lily being too stupid to realise that she is indulging in the things she says she is against. It may be misjudged, it might not quite hit the mark like she intended, but making a point clumsily is not akin to racism. The video pokes fun at a particular hip-hop video trope. It would probably have worked a lot better if she had been one of the twerking girls but the very thing she is talking about – the open misogyny in modern media is her intended target, lest we forget – has rendered her too scared to show her body in public. So, the video director got in girls to do the twerking, and that muddies the message but it is still simple exaggerated imitation as satire, and to see it as anything else, especially something more sinister, is disingenuous.
It’s not perfect but then, nothing is. It’s one girl signing a song and acting out an exaggerated piss take about an issue that has clearly affected her. I’m fairly certain it was never intended to change the world, to create a new unity among all people and to smash the diseased cultural hegemony that prevails, so let’s not get upset that it achieves none of those things.