Elsewhere...


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More artistDIRECT work for you, including reviews of Miranda Lambert, Elizabeth Cook and Maroon 5, plus my very first pop column in which I ruminate on American Idol, Alanis Morisette and the art of the cover song.


33 Responses to “Elsewhere...”

  1. Blogger Dave 

    Omg I just ruminated on Alanis's cover song too!!

    But I think we basically disagree here:

    reinterpreted an ode to raunch culture as the sad, desperate and conflicted reality it really represented

    WHAT? "My Humps" is hilarious! What's "sad, desperate, and conflicted" about getting love-drunk offa humps and exploiting this to get dudes to buy you expensive crap??? Anyway, sadness and desperation and what not don't need to SOUND sad and desperate, might be better off not sounding (traditionally) sad n' desperate (plenty of exceptions, "I Live for the Day" comes to mind) which is why sadsack covers of, e.g., "Baby One More Time" are so pointless. Isn't the desperation there already? Her loneliness is killing her! And IIIIIII! Way more desperate than "desperation."

  2. Blogger Dave 

    I mean, I'm agreeing with you re: sadsackness, but c'mon that Alanis cover has nothing to offer "My Humps," in fact is lazily riding (the million times better original) "My Humps" to shallow novelty status (as opposed to the original's profound, shallow novelty status).

  3. Blogger Abigail 

    What's "sad, desperate, and conflicted" about getting love-drunk offa humps and exploiting this to get dudes to buy you expensive crap???

    Oh, wow. Hate to go all third-wave on you, but yes, some of us see quite a lot that is sad, desperate and conflicted in a woman presenting that gyrating around to sexually manipulate men = fun liberation. The whole raunch culture thing is really interesting actually - check out Ariel Levy's 'Female Chauvanist Pigs' for more detailed exploration of the ideas. What I love about the Alanis cover is the visual cues she uses - contrasting the 'I don't want no drama' and 'Look but don't touch' sentiment of the original with the 'truth' of how misguided or woefully naive you've got to be to think those stand, ie, descent into violence etc.

  4. Blogger Dave 

    But Abby, there's at LEAST thirty more layers of irony here, in that (1) the BEP are very well aware this is a stupid song, hence there's nothing serious in their riff on the "manipulate men = fun liberation" equation, (2) it's really more about women AND men taking otherwise plentiful founts of misogyny etc. to the LITERALLY infantile level -- "lady lumps," "milky milky coacoa" -- and seeing what happens, and what happens is it's hilarious, (3) there's no "I don't want no drama sentiment" in the original -- the lyric is "no drama/you don't want no drama drama/ no no drama/ you don't want no drama drama." That is a patently absurd thing to say; it doesn't mean anything, nor is it supposed to! (4) I actually consider myself to be a feminist thinker (which I won't get into so as not to get schooooled in the actual theory) and I'm not just getting my kicks by watching Fergie (knowingly or not) "exploit herself" or something -- but I DO think what she's doing is in its own way empowering, not because "I can manipulate men" is the empowerment, but because she's funny and can seemingly make any random absurd statement into a pretty damn good pop song! Except in this case, the absurdity in the original, I think, is at its smartest blatant parody (of the kinds of tropes you're suggesting it's embracing earnestly), and its dumbest the most incoherent (and funny) buncha butt etc. jokes since "Baby Got Back"! I'm an optimist, so I think the BEP's actually got really smart to get stoopid, but that's speculation, and basically irrelevant.

    (And just to be clear, the excerpt you quoted was me trying to emulate the spirit of the song, not the letter -- i.e., it's very intentionally and obviously idiotic.)

  5. Blogger J-Dog 

    Hmm . . . Fergie's case is emblematic of pop music today. Her shotgun ride to fame w/ the Blackeyed Peas saw an arc of degeneration from butter-won't-melt hook-managing vocal sweetness to slutty raunch. That's enough to prove the shallowness of BEPs as some sort of hip-hop "saviors", but the Duchess' album is like the worst of X-tina's Whore of Babylon schtick, only tricked out to pay reverence to shoes, cash, & champers. Musical mediocrity and moral oblivion are more perfectly wed than in any of her peers' work. After all, she's chased fame along the exact same career trajectory as the Disney pop squad-- and seniority is certainly no excuse . . .
    Per my original thought: is the byline still paying homage to "Girlfriend"?!

  6. Blogger Abigail 

    there's nothing serious in their riff on the "manipulate men = fun liberation" equation

    But Dave, there are at least thirty layers LESS of irony than you're seeing...

    OK, I get that the song is supposed to be funny. I mean, duh. But I can't agree that BEPs are actually post-feminist parodists, but even if they were, I'm not sure it would matter. Or rather, their intentions by now are irrelevent, because the end product reads the same as if they WERE serious. I mean, it's like Pink's 'Stupid Girls' video may have been a satirical riff but it still, ultimately, involved her in a bikini writhing around - in her case she does get comic points etc, but I'm mentioning her because it's v. hard to make a statement about such things (esp visual) without unwittingly buying in to the whole deal yourself. Which is also why the Alanis cover rocks, because she manages to match the video shot-for-shot in a way that isn't sleazy and objectifying, but that's a slight tangent.

    Back to BEPs - I'm not sure what evidence you have for this 'knowingly stupid'/ very smart/thirty layers of irony reading other than being optimistic that the extreme nature of said hilariously stupid lyrics is about parody and not, you know, just plain stupidity. But interpreted as part of their canon (not exactly hot on smart lyricism however many freaking awesome hooks there are), I don't know how that assertion can stand. Hell, on it's own, I don't know how that can stand! But basically, what it comes down to is this: I'm in yoga the other day, trying not to scream with pain, etc, and my instructor (on one of his many tangents) ends up talking about 'My Humps' and how awful and objectifying etc it was. And that's the point - that no matter how smart a riff or parody YOU think it is, the vast vast majority of consumers and video watchers saw it to be yes, funny, but straight. It has been consumed as such, used as such and presented as such. And there comes a point where you have to say 'phunk intentions, what's the outcome?'

    And in this case, the outcome was just another woman grinding about, singing her ode to objectification and sex as a commodity. Which is nothing new, nothing special and nothing good at all.

  7. Blogger Dave 

    Or rather, their intentions by now are irrelevent, because the end product reads the same as if they WERE serious.

    But I'm not finding the irrelevancy of "feminism" to "My Humps" in their intentions, I'm finding it in the song, which is so completely absurd to me that I just don't understand how anyone can read "objectification" into it. (To this extent I don't think that it's "feminist" or "post-feminist," I just don't think that feminism enters into any reasonable analysis of it; it confounds feminist analysis.)

    Your yoga instructor (and heck, plenty of my own friends) can read it as "an ode to objectification and sex as a commodity," but when I first actually heard the song at a dance (I was the last person to hear it in attendance), everyone was laughing, dancing, having a great time. The people who liked and downloaded and used "My Humps" don't necessarily see the outcome of simply "another woman grinding about." They (probably) see a very funny, very catchy, very stupid novelty song.

    And I'm not trying to "ignore the issues" in this case -- I do think that all of the points you're making about sex-as-commodity etc. can stand in some instances. I also dislike "Stupid Girls" pretty intensely for what P!nk is actually saying in it, which to me comes off as a "mean girls" variant -- "damn, why do you sluts/bitches have to be so stupid/mean all the time?" which seems obviously problematic.

    it's v. hard to make a statement about such things (esp visual) without unwittingly buying in to the whole deal yourself

    But I'm not concerned with P!nk "buying into the whole deal." I'm not concerned with other people "buying into the whole deal," either, because it's presuming too much about an artist or an audience that I simply know nothing about. (So Fergie "objectifies herself," is read as "objectified" by "large audience" and...then what? They all start embracing "My Humps" as a personal anthem, and it's directly responsible for their behavior? "My Humps" leads the women who listen to it to act more like Fergie? More likely, just about everyone will laugh at it, be it Alanis, whose cover reveals nothing about the original that wasn't already revealed (i.e., it's ridiculous -- what, Fergie isn't very obviously embarrassing herself writhing around in the first place? Alanis has to do this for it to be "commentary," even though Fergie did the exact same thing to start with?)

    Part of the problem with a "whole deal" is that you can mold it to be your whole deal; there's nothing inherently "objectifying" about a woman choosing to dance in a bikini, but in a "whole deal" sense, any use of this image becomes automatically problematic, or more accurately it becomes symptomatic of a Big Issue, without its necessarily being the case. (In P!nk's case, she's using "whole deal" logic, too...me with my little dog, me in my bikini falling over a car, all of these things are supposed to add up to "stupid girl" without her taking the time to examine what the hell she even means by that. But, unlike Fergie in "My Humps," she does mean something by that. I'm not arguing with "the effect Pink might have on her audience" (who? what effect? how can you prove it?), I'm arguing with P!nk herself, arguing with the lyrics as I'm hearing them.)

    Anyway, I guess all I'm saying is that "outcome" can be just as speculative as "intention." My outcome clearly differs (pretty radically) from your outcome. And that doesn't mean both of our outcomes are "right," but that we do need to have an argument from within the song, and not (only) from the artistic intention in its creation OR the effect of (one of its types of) reception. I'm saying that when I hear "My Humps," I hear GOOD stupid, I hear great hooks and utter (intentional -- I know we're not talking "intentions," I just mean that it's so blatant that they would actually have to be complete IDIOTS to "write it seriously," and they couldn't simultaneously be idiots and write a song as good as "My Humps" so there ya go) inanity that makes me smile and laugh and dance, not at the expense of Fergie, not at the expense of other women or women in general...not at the expense of anyone but myself for not getting how great it was sooner!

  8. Blogger Dave 

    Also, post-Fergie BEP is a pretty radical divergence from pre-BEP. In the US, BEP were a "socially progressive" group before they "went pop"!

    Sample lyrics from their 1998 pre-Fergie album:

    "This is the payback from the past
    You threw me down like I was just a piece of trash/ You gave me cash every week just enough to live
    But didn't get what I deserved instead I was deceived/ Still young and didn't know about this in the street/ Of the acts, so crass and shady/ Don't crush your dreamshow and your whole entity/ Subliminally you're on the hire from a slavery/ Remember that "What goes around, comes around"/ God is watching you and evrything that you do/ Do you remember everything that you did before/ The way the bad action opens cosmic door/ I'ma leave it up to God what he got for you/ I'ma leave it up to Him what he got for me/ And he's watching you"

    Now, to me, this is WAY more problematic than the following lyric from 2005:

    "I met a girl down at the disco/ She said 'hey hey hey yeah let's go'/ I can be your baby you can be my honey/ Let's waste time not money/ Mix your milk with my cocoa puffs/ milky milky cocoa/ mix your milk with my cocoa puffs/ milky milky RIIIIIIIGHT?" <--written from memory

    Striking differences here.

  9. Blogger Mike B. 

    I guess I haven't read the Bedbugs thread yet, but it seems like you guys are going a bit at cross-purposes here by trying to be essentialist. Let's add some qualifiers and say that Alanis found a materialistically empty reading contained wholly within "My Humps" but that this was also a reading out there in the public's interpretation of it, so in a way it was Alanis operating as audience-spokeslady, translating this sentiment effectively into a pop product (song + video).

    As for ladies in bikinis, have you seen Amy Poehler trying to act sexy? That's how you can writhe around with your clothes off and still be making a satirical point. P!nk wasn't willing to make herself ugly, or wasn't able to find alternate strains of pop besides the sexy and the token-rebelliousness with which to make her critique (such as it was) so it got subsumed. Alanis by placing her critique entirely within the context of the original causes it to break out, or break off, and become its own thing. Even if I don't particularly want to listen to it.

  10. Blogger Abigail 

    Alanis found a materialistically empty reading contained wholly within "My Humps" but that this was also a reading out there in the public's interpretation of it, so in a way it was Alanis operating as audience-spokeslady, translating this sentiment effectively into a pop product (song + video).

    Thank you! So nice and succinct.

  11. Blogger Dave 

    Alanis operating as audience-spokeslady, translating this sentiment effectively into a pop product (song + video).

    This doesn't change my position whatsoever, which is that Alanis, audience-spokeslady though she may be, is not adequately engaging with the original song, and her "sentiment" is condescending and nasty and stupid (not good stupid).

    And I completely disagree with you on Amy Poehler. (1) I find her very attractive. Maybe she doesn't adhere to "stereotypically hot" archetypes which DO negatively affect how pop music can be made (i.e., only people who look like this can be pop stars). But Fergie is aware she's being "stereotypically hot," she's consciously taken this (in the video, since this only applies to the video) to an absurd extreme. So has Alanis -- and plenty of people probably think Alanis is attractive, too, but my point is that she and Fergie are DOING THE SAME THING, pointing out the same absurdity, only Alanis's "commentary" is at the expense of the original.

    Alanis by placing her critique entirely within the context of the original causes it to break out, or break off, and become its own thing. Even if I don't particularly want to listen to it.

    And the original isn't "entirely within the context of the original"? That's what Emily and I are doing on Bedbugs, trying to figure out the context of the original -- understand its terms and not project these arguments onto it, as Alanis did.

  12. Blogger Dave 

    (And final point I promise, I'm going home now I swear) Again, the argument I'm trying to make is that Alanis is erroneously finding a materialistically empty reading "contained wholly within 'My Humps.'" BEP already allowed that reading; to parody the song for its "material emptiness" would be like parodying The Producers to highlight its "anti-Semitism" or something. (and The Producers is stoopid, too!!!!)

  13. Blogger Mike B. 

    So wait, she's erroneously finding a reading that is, in fact, there? OK, then Alanis' cover brought out a reading that most people missed. How about that? (Since, again, most people didn't see BEP as being self-aware about their materialism.)

  14. Blogger Mike B. 

    And Jesus Christ, I didn't say Amy Poehler wasn't hot, I said the way she acts was a way of doing what P!nk was trying to do.

  15. Blogger Dave 

    No, her error is not in the finding (that was my mistake in wording, sorry), it's in the interpretation. Your phrase, "materialistically empty," suggests a set of social values in relation to any song, Alanis's or BEP's. I'm saying that BEP have allowed you to bring that social value into their song already; they are saying, very directly (in the song and video; I'm not just grasping at vague intentions here): "look at how empty this is," the car, the motorcycle, even Fergie herself (specific visual, lyrical, etc. tactics are discussed at great length in the Bedbugs post). BEP are not conveying the unconscious argument of "we are empty as artists."

    Whereas Alanis is interpreting this emptiness (if we can indeed call her version a BEP parody, or bringing out an implicit social argument hidden in the original): "this Black Eyed Peas song is materialistically empty; let's reveal the ways in which BEP demonstrate materialistic emptiness." But BEP already demonstrated it! If we can agree this is parody, she's wrong to suggest that what's materialistically empty in itself is BEP and "My Humps."

    OK, that was seriously the last thing though!

  16. Blogger J-Dog 

    I hate to harsh the PopText mellow, but I can't help feeling game about this topic. And so:
    I. Why give BEPs all this good faith? What exactly is their humanitarian contribution, apart from a few stagey asides about peace and love, that would render one skeptical that they could also embrace the same clubhopper/golddigger ethos written large across the rest of the culture? Where it's not being celebrated, it's being wielded as a kind of hip-hop urban legend, as Snoop D.helpfully revealed vis-a-vis the Don Imus controversy--women are after your money, whether you (The Man) is happy to part with it or not. The only potentially "liberatory" reading here, of course, is the Get Yer Slut On one, which Alanis has correctly taken arms against.

    II. Alanis can readily be understood to be doing "parody": where is the support for declaring BEP 'parodists'? Strictly speaking, parody is a distorted rendering of a previous work of art (whether in affection, or to reveal its lamentable qualities). How do you 'parody', or 'ironize' about a stereotype? You can try to call "My Humps" satire, but how do you satirize goldigging partygirls with a slice of partymusic? People correctly take Pink's "Stupid Girls" as a satiric swipe (however compromised) because they can give credence to her loathing of that type, and the lyrics, music, and even video take enough distance to give self-absorbed idiots a moment of pause. Find the pause in the narcissistic orgy of "My Humps." Fergie has given us nothing at all to validate such confidence. Try reading "Glamorous" as an uncompromising assault on shallow materialism-- the thing falls apart in your hands, and no Cultural Studies Reader in print can help one piece it together again. BEPs are slavish musical hipsters, and Fergie is more humorless still. If "My Humps" was meant with even an ounce of irony, it's as feeble a cry as Mick's imploring "Let's cool out!"s from the stage at Altamont.

  17. Blogger Nia 

    As for ladies in bikinis, have you seen Amy Poehler trying to act sexy? That's how you can writhe around with your clothes off and still be making a satirical point. P!nk wasn't willing to make herself ugly

    Yikes. This logic is more offensive and damaging to women than anything Fergie could come up with. Amy fails (implicit in your use of "try") to be sexy, thus she must be making an educated, critical comment about being sexy/pretty/objectified. P!nk is sexy, thus she cannot possibly be making an educated, critical comment about being sexy/pretty/objectified, even if she explicitly tells us that she is, because once you are sexy you can never be anything but sexy.

    If you do choose to be sexy/pretty/objectified, knowing what it means and why you choose it, well, you're really just fooling yourself into thinking you know what it means and why you choose it--because actually, you're just "unwittingly buying into the whole deal" (unwittingly! you're witless!) and all your thoughts/feelings/actions on the subject of your own goddamn sexuality are null and void because you are, in reality, just a stupid woman whose decisions are all made by men. Slut.

    And Mike, I think you've got it backwards, anyway: when P!nk tries to be sexy, she does so while singing explicitly about her understanding (and rejection of parts) of sexiness and objectification. When Amy tries to be sexy, she does so while...demonstrating that we should ridicule "unattractive" women, which does so much more than P!nk ever could to reinforce the idea that women can and should be judged on attractiveness alone. Amy is saying that objectification is only not-okay when it's not something you want to watch. P!nk is making (or at least trying to make) a better point: even if objectification is attractive, and even if you enjoy watching it, it's still stupid.

  18. Blogger Abigail 


    If you do choose to be sexy/pretty/objectified, knowing what it means and why you choose it, well, you're really just fooling yourself into thinking you know what it means and why you choose it--because actually, you're just "unwittingly buying into the whole deal" (unwittingly! you're witless!) and all your thoughts/feelings/actions on the subject of your own goddamn sexuality are null and void because you are, in reality, just a stupid woman whose decisions are all made by men. Slut.


    Umm, this wasn't what I was saying, so if it was implied, then I expressed myself very badly! I agree with your point to a certain extent, but I'm sure you'll agree that seperating 'independant choice' stuff from society/conditioning/cues/ etc is kind of hard. Not impossible, obviously! But even then, say every Fergie/Pink/Jessica Simpson video was the result of personal thought and feelings and choice by the artist concerned about their autonomous decision to be objectified, I still don't think I'd be 'OK' with that just because my next thought would be about what kind of environment and norm gets created for the people watching who maybe then don't exercise such autonomy.. But that gets us into tricky 'effect' territory, and is all just a musing, so I don't have any full formed opinions. Yet.

    Witless was probably a bad word-choice, but what I was trying to highlight was how I found 'Stupid Girls' great in sentiment, but at the same time I was disappointed because it felt like Pink was trying to make her point ('can't we do more than writhe on a car in a bikini?') in direct conflict with her own performance (writhing on a car hood, umm, in a bikini). Which for me, illustrated the difficulties in parody of this kind, especially taking into account commercial considerations and MTV-friendly shinyness.

    But great to have a new voice! Great enough to make me come out of my debate retirement. You have seen Dave's posting and comments on cureforbedbugs, right?

  19. Blogger Dave 

    You're not giving "Glamorous" enough credit for its conflict, j-dog, and you also aren't reading the reasons suggested that "My Humps" might be ironic over on my blog, which you can link to from my blogger username. We discussed at length why unreservedly calling the original a "parody" of anything is at best ambiguous and at worst very problematic.

    "Glamorous" is also confounding (upon closer reading) in its own way -- Fergie wants to be proud of being rich and the glamor this brings her, but she also wants to be true to her roots ("I still see my family on the holidays," "I used to drive a Mustang," "I still go to Taco Bell") and defend her newfound glamor both as a prerequisite to partying with her ("if you ain't got no money take your broke ass home") AND a non-issue, since she's from a (presumably) not-rich family by her own admission. That you can't really do both of these things makes the song interesting to me, and again, the conflict is right there in the song.

  20. Blogger Dave 

    I still don't think I'd be 'OK' with that just because my next thought would be about what kind of environment and norm gets created for the people watching who maybe then don't exercise such autonomy.. But that gets us into tricky 'effect' territory, and is all just a musing, so I don't have any full formed opinions. Yet.

    Taking the last part first, I'm just going to prod a little here. But: who doesn't exercise the autonomy that Nia is bringing up? You seem to make an argument re: Alanis that Alanis demonstrates an agency or autonomy in her ability to "writhe" etc. in a way that for Fergie is nonexistent and for P!nk is, if not nonexistent, at least problematic.

    This does get us back into feminism and "raunch culture," because one thing I'm reacting to, at a level outside the songs themselves, is that I don't view issues of personal identity (how one expresses his or her "autonomy," or ultimately uses stimulus from the culture, such as a pop song) as debatable on any level but the personal. Whereas, re: feminism (like issues of race and sexuality) I want to challenge systems and institutions where they can be PROVED to exist -- better laws, better policies, etc. -- so that they can be changed to bring power to people who unfairly have less than others for systematic reasons.

    Example: "because you are an unattractive woman, you cannot be a pop star" -- THIS is an issue I want resolved institutionally; it IS legitimately sexist, but then the question is how (1) you would judge attractiveness (again, I think Amy Poehler is hot!) and (2) you would enact any measures to counteract the damage (to unnattractive artists) of privileging a beauty standard. Here's one: no major media institution may release a music video starring the singer without risking a major fine. There must be a "blind" procedure to ensure that looks don't enter into the picture.

    Sounds absurd maybe, but this would actually work!!! There are measures that could be taken to confront it, but totally impractical.

    What we're getting into with "raunch culture" or "autonomy," I think, really comes down not to the culture itself (unless you want to clarify what this is -- and I do mean it honestly, because I'm confused), but to the individual decisions that people (or artists) make, and what these decisions (seem to) represent.

    P!nk is making a very explicit, if confusing, argument in "Stupid Girls," and this I can engage with with a counter-argument. But I can't "argue" against P!nk in a bikini, and I can't "argue" with "get you love drunk off my humps"; I don't believe these constitutes positions in and of themselves. MAIN POINT being (and sorry for the ramblin'): If a piece of music typifies or perpetuates a "culture," then said culture's existence must be very explicitly defined and argued for, with specific evidence. Then evidence from the video or song needs to be proved to perpetuate the culture.

    These broader social arguments don't get very far (e.g. violence and misogyny in hip-hop lyrics, cf. blowhards talkin' smack about rappers-in-general after Don Imus fiasco) because the nature of the argument is rarely based in anything concrete, in any evidence. (Abby, what I want from your one artistDirect paragraph is evidence, from the culture or from the song, and from an arguable link between the two. I mean this 100% honestly.) At least an ironic interpretation of "My Humps" can be based in examples from the video, as it was in the Bedbugs post. If you disagree with specific examples, then they need to come from the video, the song, the culture (but first you have to tell me what this culture is, who's in it, what they're doing in it, etc.).

  21. Blogger Nia 

    I know you don't actually feel that way, and maybe Mike doesn't either, but I do think that statements like this

    say every...video was the result of personal thought and feelings and choice by the artist concerned about their autonomous decision to be objectified, I still don't think I'd be 'OK' with that just because my next thought would be about what kind of environment and norm gets created for the people watching who maybe then don't exercise such autonomy.

    do open us up to statements like mine. You're still saying that the actual woman's actual thoughts may not matter, in the end, because people are going to interpret it the way they want to interpret it. And maybe it's true, but: damn. That's objectification, in itself, that idea that a woman cannot control the way she is seen and heard. You're granting everyone else the power to create this woman's identity. (And yet, she's simultaneously responsible for creating another woman's identity?) This is my least favorite kind of feminism, because it's not feminism at all.

    And wait, isn't Pink's bikini car wash a parody of Jessica Simpson's "These Boots are Made for Walking"? So how is Pink writhing atop a motor vehicle different from Alanis writhing atop a motor vehicle?

    I'm here via bedbugs, actually, and I weighed in on "My Humps" over there. (There's something in my comment that I'd like to see you take on, if you're willing to come back.)

  22. Blogger Mike B. 

    I did a follow-up comment on the Amy Poehler thing that never got posted here for some reason, but yeah nia, you're taking as implicit a bunch of stuff that I neither meant nor actually said. Maybe you could've asked me what I meant instead? Anyway, some general points:

    a) You can try to make a point but not actually make it very well, which is I think what we're saying about Pink;
    b) Making a joke about something doesn't constitute a rejection of that thing, it can just as easily constitute an observation, which is I think what Poehler does--she wouldn't be as good a comic as she is without being able to get inside a joke;
    c) There's lotsa grey area here, which I think it would be interesting to explore--I disagree with Abby about a good deal of the issues here, as I (for instance) hated what I could get through of Female Chauvinist Pigs and would agree with the sarcastically-implied meaning in the second paragraph in your first comment.

    That said, if Abby said (as I think she would) that a man in the same situation would be subject to the same forces and suchlike, would that still be anti-feminist? Or objectification?

    The weird attitudes being directed toward Amy Poehler here (on Dave's part that my statement constitued a criticism of her looks, and on nia's part that her comedy amounts to a violation of feminist principles) confuse me...

  23. Blogger Mike B. 

    I also don't like the Alanis video, but I think people are using Abby's endorsement of the Alanis video to argue that there are no feminist issues in "My Humps," which is, you know, pretty counter-intuitive.

  24. Blogger Dave 

    I think this has pretty much died down, but what the hell.

    (1) I only meant to point out that Poehler and Fergie are doing the same thing, and the only difference is "what kind of hot" they are. I'm arguing (and I think Nia is arguing, though I won't speak for her) that since they -- Pink, Alanis, Fergie, Amy -- are essentially doing the same thing (self-conscious, humorous use of "objectification" visual cues), something seems to be implied in your (and Abby's) use of these examples against P!nk and Fergie "better" -- and

    Mike, you argued this: "[P!nk] wasn't able to find alternate strains of pop besides the sexy and the token-rebelliousness with which to make her critique (such as it was) so it got subsumed." I think this is incorrect to the extent that, as Nia pointed out, everything P!nk did in the "Stupid Girls" video was a direct parody (Paris, Jessica, etc.), "entirely within the context of the original," except she was using several different (specific) sources.

    P!nk was being sarcastic but still adopting the visual cues of what she was critiquing -- and without any further context of the Poehler bit, which I haven't seen, I imagine this is exactly what Poehler (and is also exactly what Alanis, whose video I have watched) is doing, still putting on the bikini, still "writhing," but calling it satire. What differentiates Amy or Alanis from P!nk or Fergie?

    (2) Also, I wish you'd quote me (or Nia) when you say that we're arguing that "there are no feminist issues" in "My Humps." If "objectification" is a feminist issue, then we have both argued (at length) that it IS an issue. I said that feminism is irrelevant as a theoretical framework in which to engage with the song. (Would you reject Ariel Levy's theory, to use the only example of "feminism" invoked in this debate, as a context that you would actively use to debate "My Humps" -- or anything, for that matter? From what I've read of Levy, which is all of one paragraph, I still wouldn't consider her relevant to our debate, because the paragraph that I read -- which Nia was using to make the point that Fergie was in line with feminist theory -- made no sense to me whatsoever).

  25. Blogger Dave 

    Woops, accidentally deleted something in that first point. Point was, there was something implied in your use of "refuses to be ugly" (and in Abby's belief that Alanis is pointing out "sadness and desperation") that there is something related to how Fergie and P!nk look, as opposed to Alanis and Amy, that determines the extent to which they can satirize, parodize, or more simply criticize/comment on "objectification."

  26. Blogger Mike B. 

    Well, you said a) "What's "sad, desperate, and conflicted" about getting love-drunk offa humps and exploiting this to get dudes to buy you expensive crap???" which Abby felt was overlooking feminist issues, and then you said b) "But I'm not finding the irrelevancy of "feminism" to "My Humps" in their intentions, I'm finding it in the song, which is so completely absurd to me that I just don't understand how anyone can read "objectification" into it. (To this extent I don't think that it's "feminist" or "post-feminist," I just don't think that feminism enters into any reasonable analysis of it; it confounds feminist analysis.)" So...yeah.

    And I already said how Poehler's is different: she's able to work the parody while also making herself a little ugly. That's not to say any woman who makes herself look pretty is being anti-feminist (fer god's sake), just that if you're trying to make fun of something, it doesn't work if in the same breath you yourself do the thing you're making fun of. Comedy requires a certain investment, a certain giving-up-to-get, and Pink didn't seem willing to do that. You can't just say something's parody, you have to perform it.

    That's why I'm hesitant to ascribe parody to what Fergie's doing. She's certainly being silly, or cheeky, but she's giving up seriousness, not sexiness.

  27. Blogger Mike B. 

    Also, using several different sources isn't keeping it entirely within the context of the original, it's placing it in a new context.

  28. Blogger Dave 

    Well, technically, by your last point, the Scary Movie films wouldn't be parodies. I think that just about everything P!nk is doing is a direct rip off of a real song.

    Also, fair enough on the early on quotes, but we have still talked about objectification at length -- and what I should have said earlier (though I was being kind of a pushy jerk at the time) was that they're not encouraging objectification (which is how Nia put it on Bedbugs). Abby's quote from ArtistDirect made it seem as though Fergie was while Alanis was not. (And Emily and I are both pretty hesitant to call the BEP "Humps" a parody -- maybe more of a subtle commentary, and one that might not be read as such (and hasn't been) by many audience members. But I maintain that those many audience members are misreading it, and that this is significant to the extent that it negatively affects the song. (Or positively affects Alanis's ridiculously awful cover!)

  29. Blogger Dave 

    Also re: Poehler "making herself ugly," she, like Alanis, would be bringing irrelevant issues into her parody/critique -- the issue with objectification isn't that "really it's ugly," just as the issues in the BEP video are not "if you present yourself this way, guys will grope you." It's ineffective satire/commentary etc. because it's misrepresenting the original.

  30. Blogger Dave 

    (Also, Nia pretty convincingly argued for Fergie's unsexiness over on Bedbugs. I actually wasn't sure if I could be totally with her on that point entirely, since it seems possible to me still to find her silly and bizarre sexiness as "sexy," but I see what she's getting at, and do basically agree with her.)

  31. Blogger Mike B. 

    You're using parody, critique, and satire as if they're interchangable, which is maybe where our problems are coming from. Not that we're talking about something Amy Poehler has actually done, but I wasn't saying those hypothetical actions would be a parody or a satire, just that they would be comedic. You can comment on these sorts of issues without doing a wholesale rejection of them. Pink (and, not coincidentally, Alanis, at least from what you've been saying) isn't including herself in the joke--"these other people are stupid girls, so what they are, I am not"--and so when she engages in the same actions she's parodying, the point is lost. Poehler's observational, character-driven humor includes herself in the joke, so there's no such thing as "misrepresenting the original" in this scenario, the performance is the original. Or whatever, since that term makes me nervous. I think this might just come down to you having a different reading of the Pink video.

    Oh, and I don't think I ever said that something has to be wholly contained etc. etc. to be a parody, I just said there was a way to resolve yours' and Abby's readings of the Alanis, which apparently there isn't since you don't see any source for Alanis' reading in the BEP performance and you don't see public perceptions of same as being a valid source of parody, which, again, kinda confuses me, but so it goes.

    The consensus on Fergie is that she's really scary looking up-close.

  32. Blogger Dave 

    Mike, I feel like we're close to agreement on this. (Since yes, Fergie is really scary looking. I like her though!)

    Let's take Amy Poehler off the table for a sec here if this parody or critique or whatever-it-is doesn't exist.

    "You don't see any source for Alanis' reading in the BEP performance..."

    I see a misguided source -- "materialistic emptiness," to use your phrase, being embodied and even promoted by the original "My Humps." Abby is arguing for the original's promotion of this explicitly -- she's saying the original is hiding the inherent sadness and desperation of the culture it is said to represent. So I see Alanis, and Abby, missing the point of the source. It's not that I fail to see where they're coming from -- in fact, it's because I see it that I got so riled up in the first place!

    "you don't see public perceptions of same as being a valid source of parody..."

    Not necessarily, but embracing the viewpoint of "the public" in Alanis's case led to a disturbing, misrepresentative, and unfunny take on the original song. Like "Michael Moore Hates America" and "Stupid Girls" and "Team America" -- BAD FUNNY. If it's a parody, I'm saying it sucks, both on its own terms (not even CLOSE to as funny as the original) and on the song's original terms (doesn't make a valid critique of the original video; makes a dumbass argument about objectification that the video is not "implicitly" arguing itself, even if it is, in its own way, using -- and, as Nia argues, critiquing -- visual cues of objectification).

  33. Blogger Mike B. 

    I can get behind that.

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