Sunday, November 14, 2010

This one's a serious one.

WARNING: This post contains some disturbing material involving children.

Last week I read about an extremely tragic event in Connecticut. This happened three years ago. I think most people would agree that this is an absolutely horrific thing to happen, and so very sad for the father left behind.

Following is a segment from the article that was particularly poignant.

Petit said he cried at the verdict, "thinking of the tremendous loss."
"Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals."

Some of you might be wondering why exactly I am writing about this.

You might know a song called "Love the way you lie" by Eminem and Rihanna. The lyrics can be found here Here is part of it. "If she's ever tries to f---ing leave again I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire".

This does not promote respect for women, or equality between the sexes. It depicts men as having power in relationships, and using violence against women to keep it. Women have the very important role of being punching bags.

Rihanna herself was famously beaten up by her former boyfriend Chris Brown. This was quite a big deal. Photos of her bruised face circulated and the particular attack was described as being quite vicious, including Rihanna being bitten. I have tried to fathom how a young woman who has actually been the victim of violence could then participate in a song eroticising the very same thing. The most obvious point I considered was that maybe it was not supposed to be glamourising domestic violence, but just creating awareness of an important issue. HOWEVER- that theory doesn't actually hold up.

Things I learned from this song.
- Domestic violence makes for a more passionate, intense relationship.
- If a man loves a woman very much, he will want to kill her for leaving.
- Women enjoy being abused (see lyrics like "...stand here and watch me burn, it's alright because I like the way it hurts", or even the title of the song)

Even if it this song really was about creating awareness of domestic violence, the message would still most likely go right over the heads of the performers' young fans. Here are some comments from the youtube music video page (with over 200 million hits).

surething6996: awesome kick ass song love the way eminem is so passionate in this song
1990ravetoxic: wow very nice,,,I love the story,,,,and the song of course..the singers...very nice... perfect...
la8dyc: megins right hook......i have done that....then had the best sex ever...
MrFROHOE: i never thought people burning a live could look so sexy, but...DAMN!

Violence against women is still a very real problem in the world, even in (especially in?) western cultures. As I read about the Petit family in the paper, I felt sick at the thought that many young people love and celebrate this music, but it is not unheard of for men to tie girls to their beds and burn their houses down.

I am disgusted by the evidence I see around me of men who hate women. But what I really don't understand is when women participate in their own exploitation.


  1. A friend of mine (who usually is pretty cool!) posted the clip for Love the Way You Lie on Facebook. Which is the only reason I even know what you are talking about. I avoid all news programs, all commercial radio, any music video style tv show and the majority of popular television in order to shut myself off from this kind of stuff! (It's amazing how much more reading I am getting done since giving up most of my tv watching!) Yet I digress.

    This clip made me sick. For the same reasons you mentioned Caitlin. I agree with everything you said!

    Question... would you sell your tv in order to stop your kids viewing this kind of thing? I just read about a woman who did exactly that. Carol who we went to high school with grew up without a tv and she is one of the most level-headed people I know. I know I would DEFINITELY struggle, but the idea appeals to me on so many levels. I was interested in your thoughts. :)

  2. That actually sounds like a really cool way to live. I've thought about moving to a large property in the country, becoming self- sufficient, and just generally escaping a fast paced consumer driven lifestyle. Our tv has really bad reception, so we don't actually watch tv on it, we use it to watch dvds though. In that way, I feel I have more control over what we watch, but I do watch some tv shows online, so I can't say that I don't watch tv. (The office is just too awesome....sigh.) But I think it is a great idea what Carol's parents did, I'm sure it would be beneficial for many reasons. Something to consider I guess!

    As for the music videos, I hadn't really watched anything like that since being married (the tv issue again) but early last year I joined a gym and was pretty shocked by the extremely sexual nature of the music videos compared to about 6 or 7 years back. I am just surprised that so many people don't stop to question songs like "Love the way you lie"...and why talented artists don't make better choices.

    I read an article about Kanye West and his new music video for "Monsters" which basically disgusted me, but from the comments section it appears I am in the minority. The article is found here...

    and a clip of the music video here.

    Tell me your thoughts!

  3. I actually read that article on Kanye West when it first came out. I'm going to be really honest here and say I am a MASSIVE horror movie fan. Especially the Saw series and the kind involving zombies.

    HOWEVER - that clip disturbed me. I see that there is a difference between what I watch, and something like that. I know that sounds really hypocritical of me, but I dont watch horror because I like seeing people get tortured. I like the Schopenhauer-esque philosohpical element to the Saw movies, I like the intellect behind it, I like the twists and turns in the plot, I like the psychological thrill of the constant mystery. I like how it is clever.

    What I also like is this: my movies are rated, and it is near impossible for an under-18 to see them unless some over-18 is dumb enough to show them (cinemas are pretty strict on ID checks - I get asked every time!) I like that there is clearly a moral code - in every Saw movie the main focus is the police trying to catch the bad guys because clearly violence is not what we should be doing. Actions have consequences, in that the bad guys get locked up or die. The world makes sense.

    And nobody eats raw meat. Thats just gross.

    Kanye is just showing graphic deplorable torture porn, with no ratings and no logical conclusion to his little fantasy (which would usually involve him being sodomised on a regular basis by fellow inmates on death row.) It's shock tactics, and its all for show. I for one am not a fan of how utterly cheap it is, not to mention poor taste.

    The gym... well. Some of the clips are also in poor taste too. A lot of the Ministry of Sound ones I dont mind as much, they are little more fun and dont demean women per se. Just a lot of frolicking on beaches in bikinis, etc. (Besides, those are aimed at over 18s and dont feature on video hits programs aimed at kids.) But some of them are pretty gross.

    Im torn on one that shows George Bush in an orgy with people wearing animal masks. I think that is mostly just demeaning to George. :)

    Interstingly enough, Saw is hailed as a pro-feminine movie because although the majority of the killers are male, most of the survivors are women! Ignoring the intense violent nature of them, they definitely dont show women as being subordinate in any way. They are fighters and quite frequently outlive and outfight the men.

  4. Ok I just managed to find an full version of the video clip. I actually think they have put the worst bits in the short - in the extended clip the girls are all vampires/ zombies/ werewolves and so are some of the men. There are a few dudes that get killed by women in the clip too (stabbed in the heart with a stiletto in one case!) So its not QUITE so bad but I can see how it could be disturbing. Definitely NOT for under 18s I dont think, needs a strong horror themes warning.

  5. Hey, in case you are interested, here is a link to an interview with the woman who started a petition to stop the release of Kanye's full clip.


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