Polimicks

Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Media consumption was a lot easier before I started paying attention.

Ever since becoming more aware and mindful of things like racism, sexism, size-ism, age-ism, and a lot of other bullshit, consuming media has become a little fraught. I mean, in the past, I heard a song, and if it had a catchy beat, I liked it. I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about lyrics unless I really, really liked a song. Mostly, I’d just hum along with the melody without really paying attention to the lyrics.

Then someone pointed me to the words for the Rolling Stones song “Brown Sugar.” http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rolling+stones/brown+sugar_20117857.html

No, really, go read them. I can almost guarantee that you’ll have the same expression on your face I did when I read them.

I believe :O is a pretty good likeness.

After that little realization I started actually paying attention to the lyrics of songs I found myself humming, and oh… There are days when I feel like I’ll have to give up classic rock altogether.

One song, while not necessarily classic rock, that made me raise my eyebrows was Nick Gilder’s one hit wonder, “Hot Child in the City” http://www.lyricsondemand.com/onehitwonders/hotchildinthecitylyrics.html which he says was his effort to draw attention to the plight of runaways. Um, yeah, look at the last verse, and tell me that’s what’s going on there.

And I’m getting a lot fussier about other media. Comedians who use fat people as the butt of all their jokes or make rape jokes, television or movies that stick with the “schlubby dorky dude gets super hot chick” formula (i.e. every sitcom ever anymore, it seems like). Where’s the schlubby dorky girl gets smoking hot guy shows? Huh, assholes? I mean, with a few exceptions like Pearlsong Press (http://www.pearlsong.com/), even the majority of our (women’s) written escapism involves very thin, pretty women getting handsome dudes to fall for them. Until very recently you NEVER saw a plus-size heroine, anywhere. One of the major romance publishers has started an imprint of plus-size romance, but I can’t remember who and I wasn’t that impressed to begin with, because all their heroines fussed constantly about their weight and were Bridget Jones levels of neurotic about it.

I mean, shit. When John Waters’ original “Hairspray” came out, the fact that he had an actual fat girl playing the lead love interest was fucking earth shaking. Ricki Lake was amazing in that role. And almost immediately started dieting down so she could get more roles because Hollywood sucks ass. Don’t think so? Look at Salma Hayek in “From Dusk Til Dawn,” not even remotely fat, now look at her. She’s way too fucking thin now. WHEN SHE WAS NOT FAT TO BEGIN WITH!!! See also Uma Thurman and Cameron Diaz. I mean if THOSE women were “too fat” what the hell chance does anyone else have?

And let’s not forget that when Camryn Manheim had a love interest on “The Practice,” she had to fight for them to actually show her kissing the guy. The fuck? And I don’t watch a lot of tv really, but can anyone point me to ANY mainstream representations of fat girls getting to mack on anyone? Fat, thin, whatever? Fat guys get to.

Wow, that was a bit of a digression. Can you say “rage button?” I knew you could.

What I’m trying to say is that as I’ve become more aware, I’m finding myself having more and more “No, John Ringo! No!” moments with some of my formerly favorite authors, musicians and comedians. Billy Connolly is off the list for likening fat people having sex to gorillas. That’s great. Just fucking great. And after the “Brown Sugar” incident, I’ve listened a lot harder to more Rolling Stones songs, and um, no. With the exception of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” which I only listen to so I can mock Ogre, “Gimme nummy nummy!” I mean, “Emotional Rescue” is one of the creepiest fucking songs ever. As is “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. STALK-ER!!!!

Because I’m paying attention now, sitcoms that used to just annoy me, drive me over the wall (not just up it). It’s just like… You know in that wonderfully awful Rowdy Roddy Piper movie, “They Live!” where he puts on the sunglasses and the aliens are everywhere? That’s what it’s like. It’s like I’ve put on asshole-detecting sunglasses, only I can’t take the damn things off. From things like the Rolling Stones catalog, to “The King of Queens” to the weirdly racist redneck emails my dad sends me from time to time.

Sometimes it’s too much, and I think that maybe ignorance is bliss. Like maybe I could somehow forget, and enjoy media again… But then I remember that knowledge is power (thank you, School House Rock!), and you can’t fight what you can’t see. I’m glad I can see it now, even though it makes that vein in my forehead throb like nobody’s business.

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12 comments on “Media consumption was a lot easier before I started paying attention.

  1. cupcake_goth
    March 19, 2010

    I consume a lot of problematic media. (Hello, I still listen to Motley Crue. And a lot of the songs by HIM should go straight onto the stalker/serial killer compilation.) So I occasionally turn a blind eye or deaf ear to issues. I know I shouldn’t, but like you said: there are times when I miss when my relation to media was less complicated.
    tl;dr: I agree with you. You can’t fight what you can’t see, even if it makes us feel like our heads are going to explode.

    Like

    • polimicks
      March 19, 2010

      Yeah, I have my issues with Motley Crue and HIM and some others, and still listen. But then I come here and make myself a target in penance. It balances out.

      Like

  2. palereverie
    March 19, 2010

    Until very recently you NEVER saw a plus-size heroine, anywhere
    Still haven’t, actually. I’m not a tv/movie-holic but still, you shouldn’t have to search that hard to find one. As for books, I’m really racking my brains here but all I can come up with is this truly awful book “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb that really cannot be considered to have a “heroine” would’ve burned it but the book was a gift >_>
    and some YA book i can’t remember the title of (the heroine lost weight, surprise surprise.

    Like

    • polimicks
      March 19, 2010

      I’ve read “She’s Come Undone” and I liked it as a study of someone falling apart, but yeah… the automatic linking of fat with crazy and incapable… not so good.

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  3. xythen
    March 19, 2010

    There’s only one book- a romance, that came out in the late 80s, that I can think of with a plus sized woman. Shallow pool of choices.
    Wishes by Jude Deveraux.
    There is some very apt criticism of it, in that the heroine isn’t very big and some of the amounts of food she consumes when depressed is pretty unlikely. Definitely written by a person who has never been fat, trying to imagine what it would be like.
    However, The hero in the book genuinely loves larger women. After she loses weight (I’ll get to that in a minute) he says he’d love her at any size, but if she wanted to put some weight back on, he wouldn’t complain.
    What I found interesting was it has a fairy godmother frame story- where this character has a FG that was a real “skinny bitch”. When given this heavy woman as her charge, she magically causes her to lose weight. (This was what the FG thought would be good for the heroine, not what the heroine asked for herself). But losing weight didn’t magically fix all the issues in the heroine’s life. She still had all the problems; she just was thin. The FG was completely baffled by this.
    This bit of insight was what I found most interesting about the book; although I actually thought it was a sweet fairy tale/love story, too.

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    • polimicks
      March 19, 2010

      Hmm, I might have to check that out. I do like quite a bit of Jude Deveraux’s other stuff.
      Yeah, I always worry when fat girls (especially) are convinced that skinny will solve everything. Because inevitably, if they manage to lose the weight, they find they’re still socially awkward, depressed, bipolar, etc… whatever it was they were convinced the weight loss would solve.

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      • talheres
        March 20, 2010

        Because inevitably, if they manage to lose the weight, they find they’re still socially awkward, depressed, bipolar, etc… whatever it was they were convinced the weight loss would solve.
        I know at least one woman like that, and I have a feeling nothing will magically change for her should she ever lose weight. Her outlook and views on relationships are are also rather messed up.

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    • xythen
      March 20, 2010

      I know this isn’t the main point of your commentary, but I remembered another series of books with a plus sized heroine! I smack myself in the head for not remembering. The #1 Ladies Detective agency by Alexander McCall Smith.
      The heroine is a “Traditionally built” woman who lives in Botswana and opens a detective agency. She meets and eventually marries a man who is completely nuts about her. She’s also strong, smart, and kind.
      I’ve just been watching the HBO TV series made based on the books. They actually cast a large woman as the lead- a gorgeous, large woman. I am pleased.

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  4. jeliza
    March 20, 2010

    In general, hell yes. But I kind of thought the point of Every Breath You Take was that it was intentionally an icky stalker/at least codependent song, and the fact that people thought it was sweet was a sign of the cluelessness of society.
    Also, Lori Foster has had a number of heroines who were explicitly not-skinny, and occasionally definitely plus-size, and she writes for several of the major lines. I know there are other examples, I’ll just rack my brains to remember the authors…. (trashy romances are my comfort food)

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    • talheres
      March 20, 2010

      But I kind of thought the point of Every Breath You Take was that it was intentionally an icky stalker/at least codependent song, and the fact that people thought it was sweet was a sign of the cluelessness of society.
      I don’t have the links on hand, but I recall Sting saying something to that equivalent, and was in fact surprised to hear that song is played at weddings.

      Like

      • poptart1017
        March 20, 2010

        People play that song at weddings?!? I can remember being a kid and that song giving me creepy vibes, and as a kid I definitely wasn’t “in the know” on topics like sexism and all the other “isms”. But I knew when something seemed creepy, and that song is creepy.

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  5. javagoth
    March 20, 2010

    I don’t know about Hot Child in the city. I ready the last 2 lyrics of the song a couple times and it could be argued that he was saying he’ll only talk about love with a child/baby but will make love with a woman. It’s a stretch, I know, but that’s my devil’s advocate on that one. That said – it’s still a creepy tune when you really stop to think about it. I don’t buy it’s “bringing attention to the plight of runaways” since he didn’t really say anything particularly meaningful or moving about it. At the same time I still remember my teenage friends looking for older men to date.
    I got nothing but :O on the Brown Sugar song.
    Every Breath You Take was supposed to be a creepy stalker tune – that was pretty clear in the video when it first came out. A number of his songs from that era examined creepy subjects: Murder By Numbers and Don’t Stand So Close are another two I can think of off the top of my head…

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This entry was posted on March 19, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

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