*** DISCLAIMER *** Rachel Garrett wrote a way more in depth article on this same topic under Music Reviews a day before I posted this. This was unintentional. Oops.
If you're reading this then you have access to the internet, and if you have access to the internet there's a good chance you've heard about British pop-star Lily Allen's newest music video, Hard Out Here (and more specifically the controversy that has come along with it). Hard Out Here hit over 2 million views on YouTube in 2 days and since it is Lily's first single since 2009, her devoted fans were elated to hear about its release. Adversely, many critics certainly took it with a grain (or seven) of salt.
The video begins with Allen on an operating table undergoing liposuction while her agent and surgeons discuss how many women "let themselves go" after having children. The lyrics comment on body image; "You're not a size six, and you're not good looking/Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking/You should probably lose some weight/'Cause we can't see your bones" and also how society glorifies men who have many sexual partners, but shuns women with the exact same levels of promiscuity. The lyrics and video even mirror those of the notoriously degrading song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. While the video is supposed to be a satirical look at the music industry from a feminist perspective, it instead provoked a plethora of accusations saying that the video was undeniably racist and (ironically) sexist. The background dancers in the video can be seen 'twerking' in scantily-clad attire, dousing their bodies with bottles of champagne, and draping themselves over fancy cars. While this was intended to be a remark on the objectification of women in music videos and in the entertainment industry as a whole, it conversely was interpreted as racist as a majority of the dancers were of African-American descent and the dancers and choreography would not look completely out of place in a stereotypical rap music video. While this interpretation is not far-fetched, Lily was not afraid to respond bluntly and honestly to the criticism, tweeting: "If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they're wrong... If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of their skin colour, they're wrong... The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification women within modern pop-culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all." The lyrics even read; "If you can't detect the sarcasm, you've misunderstood."
No matter what your take on it is, one thing Lily Allen undoubtedly succeeded in was provoking thought and conversation. I challenge you to try and find something that has done the same thing that hasn't come with a steaming side of controversy.
Although this is a school newspaper and I can't condone the profane language, I encourage you to check out the video. Love it or hate it, at least it gets those feminist wheels turning.