So after reviewing Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' song & video combo a while back, I couldn't not review Lily Allen's 'Hard Out Here,' which includes many a satirical reference pointing out the problems with his song. But she's not just going after Thicke, the song (& video) for 'Hard Out Here' points out issues with the music industry and society's treatment of women in general. There's also been a good few people comparing 'Hard Out Here' to P!nk's 'Stupid Girls,' so if you're not bored of my feminist critiques yet, watch out for my analysis of that problematic comparison in the next few days!
Lily's comeback into the music industry after having two children definitely makes a whole lot of valid points, and the song's actual lyrics have very few problems. From the perspective of the male consumer Lily sings:
"If you’re not a size 6, then you’re not good looking
In fact the only real problem I found with the lyrics was right at the beginning with "Don’t need to shake my arse for you ‘cuz I got a brain." This line gives off the impression that the women who do choose to shake their asses don't 'have a brain,' having less value than her? Not a fan. But considering Allen goes on to try out 'shaking her arse' with a group of her backup dancers and a statement older white male for effect at 1:49 in the video, maybe we can put this one down to she doesn't need to dance like this for anyone but she can if she wants to? Not sure about this one - what do you think?
The main potentially problematic elements show up in the video itself with many people critiquing her use of black women as backup dancers - wearing significantly less clothing than her and spending the majority of the video surrounding Lily and twerking. Valid points have been made about how this can be seen as objectifying and demeaning/dehumanizing black female bodies while simultaneously glorifying her white female body. You can also quite clearly take the fact that she's wearing a lot more clothing than them as an assertion of her dominance, and combined with the fact that she goes on to slap their gyrating rear ends later in the video it's definitely hard to overlook this as a problematic element with a big possibility to offend. Saying that, I do think this was put into the video with the intention of being 'from the perspective of the male gaze' and Lily has stated that she simply hired the best dancers out of those who auditioned, race was not a factor. In fact the video's dancers also include a Caucasian woman and an Asian woman as well - BUT these two women were wearing jackets at the beginning vs. the black women in only leotards and bikinis. Hmm. Opinions from both sides here make really interesting points, head to Google for more info if you're as interested as I was! Allen defends her video in this tweet with quotes you can read below.
"If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too... me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day."
All in all, there are definitely some problems with the video itself that I'd love to see Lily address more, and that we can't and shouldn't ignore, but I think this catchy song does serve a purpose in bringing awareness to a lot of important issues and that shouldn't be overlooked either. Aaaand I can't say I didn't love the well-deserved pokes at Robin Thicke at 3:08 with a few certain silver balloons and the lyrics at 2:09 questioning some of T.I.'s lyrics in Blurred Lines.
Watch the video (with parental advisory...) and form your own opinion! I don't think I can post it here though- wouldn't want to endorse booty shakin at SDSS.