A friend of mine is officially old. I imagine that may mean I am too, since we went to high school together.
She's a nice lady who does cool things for a living, but, yeah, she's old. She recently posted the lyrics to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines with some ‘what about the children’ outrage
“Hustle Gang Homie
One thing I ask of you
Lemme be the one you back that ass up to
From Malibu to Paris boo
Had a bitch, but she ain't bad as you
So, hit me up when you pass through
I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on 'em even when you dress casual
I mean, it's almost unbearable
In a hundred years not dare would I
Pull a Pharcyde, let you pass me by
Nothin' like your last guy, he too square for you
He don't smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I'm just watching and waitin'
For you to salute the true big pimpin'
Not many women can refuse this pimping
I'm a nice guy, but don't get confused, this pimpin'”
First off, while a popular song, and one that got your attention because of leering no-talent Twerkmeistress Miley Cyrus backed her ass up on an awards show, and Thicke though to have an video of the song with topless models, this is as much what ‘kids’ (for some value of kids) listen to as their Facebook accounts are where they actually hang out. This is a sop for the parents, to divert them from the real goings on in any number of other songs, or on Instagram and ask.fm, as it were.
Yeah, ok, wooo! Outrageous. Yawn. I’m more concerned about kids listening to banal pop-music. What about the punk rockers?!? God, do punk rockers even exist anymore or do they do that just to be ironic? So confused! So old.
At one point, I caught a reference posted by my 14 year-old niece to a song by some random rapper – the touching tale of a man who wanted to cum on a girl’s tits after she gave him oral sex, then turn her around and do her anally. That’s more like it! Completely outrageous, sexist, violent, everything we expect from rock music for kids. I was completely outraged. As I should be.
After all, do we really expect kids to be talking about an upcoming cotillion? Planning to hold hands at the next church social?
By the time I was 15, in the mid-70s I’d listened to songs by a omni-sexual glam god (Bowie) and tunes about heroin, Bondage & Domination, and transgendered prostitution by Lou Reed.
“I don't know just where I'm going
But I'm gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
'Cause it makes me feel like I'm a man
When I put a spike into my vein
And I'll tell ya, things aren't quite the same
When I'm rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus' son
And I guess that I just don't know”
“Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.
Candy came from out on the island,
In the backroom she was everybody's darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, hey baby, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls go …"
I had heard the Rolling Stones sing the virtues of a slave-master fucking his property:
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
Sold in a market down in new orleans.
Scarred old slaver know he's doin alright.
Hear him whip the women just around midnight.
Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
(a-ha) brown sugar, just like a young girl should
So … did listening to any of this turn me gay, or into a heroin addict, or a slaver? As best as I can tell, no. While kids are impressionable, the real value of music is to make parents and other old people have conniptions and become outraged. Mission accomplished, Robin Thicke, Mission Accomplished Miley Cyrus. (Just for the record, both of these people are pap, contrived outrageousness. They are products of the music industry, they are not originators, nor original, nor even slightly interesting. They are product.)
By the time I was 18 I had discovered The Clash, and heard about socially conscious, intelligent issues.
Kids are people, and will fall into, or reject the same prejudices we all did. Is telling teen girls they are sex objects healthy? Of course not! But neither is extolling the virtues of heroin, or prostitution, or slavery. All we can do is hope kids choose healthier alternatives, and no, that doesn’t mean yet another ineffectual web campaign. It means just sit back and cross your fingers that they figure it out for themselves, just as we all did. Or, in some cases, due to a terminal case of arrested development, didn’t.