The first year at my current school was 2011. In 2011 the big song of the year at school was Party Rock. It’s a great song, and so is Sexy and I Know It. I know that Redfoo has been on Australian TV recently, but I haven’t heard much about him otherwise since 2011 until tonight. While I was sitting in front of the TV trying to read a book and blot The Block NZ from my consciousness I noticed Redfoo – of all people – was on the show having to endure the pitiful spontaneous raps of the contestants. Now there’s one thing we can be certain of: if The Block NZ has anyone or anything on their show it is a product placement. In this case the presenter of the show told New Zealand that Redfoo was in town for X-Factor.
While I was in mid eye roll about cynical product placement Cathy asked me if I had heard about one of Redfoo’s recent song.
“No?” I said innocently.
Redfoo is one of a few collaborators on a song called Literally I Can’t by Play-N-Skillz, but before we embark on the song in question, let’s take a moment to see how Redfoo is defending himself from the critics:
The victimized artist in this case of this song sings:
You got a big ol’ butt
I can tell by the way you’re walkin’
But you annoying me… ’cause you’re talkin’ (STFU!)
Bounce on the pogo
Jump on the jack hammer
Get low, low, low
While I Instagram ya
Shhh, don’t talk about it, be about it
Work it and twerk it, and maybe I’ll tweet about it
They’ll read about it
And you could be winnin’
I said jump on the pole
I didn’t need your opinion
Gurrrrl I’m sippin’ on this drink
I’m tryna see what you got
Not tryna hear what you think
After the further ruminations of other artists the song ends with a rousing chorus of STFU which the four men scream at the departing woman in a non-threatening way.
From these two clips you might be able to tell that the video is set at the STFU Fraternity House where a big party is going on. The other focus of the song – aside from misogyny – is binge drinking. The second featured artist in this song – Enertia McFly – blends both things together lovingly:
Look… I’m tryna get your fine ass on the dance flo
Girl I wanna see you get low
Go ahead and bring it up slow
You’re booty in my hand is my new motto
Got the face of a model
Put your lips on my bottle
Let me see you take it to the head
Girl I know that you can
I don’t wanna hear no
Girl have you heard of my new super friends?
Play-N-Skillz, Redfoo and Lil Jon they comin’ in
And turn the party to a crazy mad house
Going all night until I just black out
After I do all that we can make out
Girl you know what Enertia all about
Redfoo’s main defense of the song is that it is satirical and some people don’t get it. People don’t get it because it’s not satire. If it was intended as satire – which I don’t believe for a second – then these guys are terrible satirists. The only possible people in this video who might be being satirised are the “uptight” sorority girls who don’t want to get drunk and do girl on girl. In which case the satire works on the level of criticising young women who go to parties and don’t want to get wasted and titillate men.
The men in the video are cool. They are not satirical, they are mucho, posturing, and in the tradition of sexist videos like this one they are fully clothed and allowed to have almost all the lines while silent, half-naked women gyrate about them (not the figure of fun of course, the horrible undesirable woman who leaves the party, she gets to keep her clothes on and squeak out one single negative line).
This song nails so many categories of terrible. Its misogyny is forthright. Women are objectified, and silenced in the most aggressive way possible. It celebrates drinking until you black out, and mixes that up with “I don’t wanna hear no”, and sex. It even manages to make social media like Twitter and Instagram weapons in the war. The man tweets, the man takes pictures, the man watches, the man speaks while the woman is read about, seen, watched, silenced.
I could dress up what I’m saying in a few ways, but let’s just go with the basic equality of all people. Literally I Can’t is just another example in a long, long line of things that treat women as passive sexual objects to be acted upon by the dominant male. Choose your other recent examples. Roastbusters? Or how about the video of the woman walking through New York. I should say the controversial video given how many “I’m not excusing the behaviour but…” columns there have been on line,
Some have humorously pointed out online that perhaps the legal question this video brings up is, “Should Black And Hispanic Men Be Banned From Chatting Up White Feminist Women?”
Yeah, that’s real funny. It’s like pretending that maybe all of this stuff isn’t mixed up together somehow in America, that the culture of some rap and hip hop, and the alcohol, and the media images, and all of that don’t reinforce certain things that play out differently along racial lines. White men in America might not do the catcall thing but I suspect they figure heavily in those awful statistics in American universities around sexual assault and rape.
Looks like a good new season coming up at TV3 actually.
Which is really just an extended mix of any given scene in a pop video in which packs of scantily glad women cluster hungrily around a man:
If it is TV3’s idea that Redfoo should be a judge on the X-Factor New Zealand or promote it then I feel like I should tell them that I think their idea stinks. What about you?