Lily Allen: The Hero We Need Right Now
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Lily Allen: The Hero We Need Right Now

By Genevieve Burgess | Think Pieces | November 15, 2013 | Comments ()


This week Lily Allen released her first new single in four years, called “Hard Out Here” (NSFW) and this is where I’ll sit and wait while you go watch the video and listen very closely to what she’s saying. If you can’t watch right now, then at least take a look at the lyrics to get a sense of the blistering levels of sarcasm on display. The entire production, from the auto-tune, to the video, to the lyrics, calls out the bad practices in pop music and addresses the inherent inequality in the way women and men are presented. There’s been some debate about Allen’s use of background dancers, that she might be walking the line between satire and objectification a little too close for comfort. To me, the fact that we see the male executive directing the actions of the dancers and Allen, turns the images into a story. You see what the motivation is, why they’re dancing that way, and it gives the context which is lacking from many other videos that use dancers as decoration. Other people may disagree.

Most of what’s being attacked, though, is the kind of rote version of female sexuality that has become overused in pop music. We’ve come from Madonna using her sexuality as a source of power, to a very specific version of female sexuality being used as a form of advertising. Charlotte Church recently spoke out about this, and her experience as a young woman in the music industry. She focuses on the use of female sexuality to sell product to men, but what’s more concerning to me is the way exploitative images of female sexuality are being used to sell things to girls and young women. The people advocating this may be men, as referenced in Church’s speech and Allen’s video, but the end consumer is almost always female. There’s nothing wrong with young girls listening to pop music, and I don’t find sexualized images in and of themselves a problem. What I find troubling is the SAME sexualized images being used over and over again, as a matter of course, because it stopped being a decision the performer made for herself and started being a step on the career ladder. As Church puts it, “take your clothes off, show you’re an adult.” Allen herself croons in her earlier single, “The Fear”; “I’ll take my clothes off, and it will be shameless/cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous.”

I don’t care if young women want to dance around in their underwear and grind on willing partners. I don’t care if young women want to wear turtlenecks and read books all weekend long. I don’t care if young women want to spend all their free time riding mountain bikes, or knitting, or rebuilding engines, or perfecting their liquid eyeliner application, or all of the above. More what I mind is that the images presented to them tend to show that women only acquire worth by being desirable and there is only one way to be and look desirable. Allen is working to draw attention to these images, and how flat and meaningless they are. “Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?” is a much harsher way of saying what a dozen other pop songs only hint at, and in such bald terms you can see how shallow the sentiment is. And, as Church points out in her speech, a lot of this inequality goes much deeper than just pop stars. Hopefully women like these two will continue to speak out and use their platforms to spread a message beyond the kind of passive, performative sexuality that’s become so routine it’s boring.

Still, it’s easier to be boring than to be reviled and women who speak out against these images, or who simply refuse to play by the well-established rules, often find themselves on the receiving end of some very harsh treatment. Allen has had trouble with the paparazzi that drove her from the public eye four years ago. Church talks about the treatment she’s received based on her previous public image, and other pop stars like P!nk, Grimes, Lady Gaga, and Adele have been widely insulted and denigrated for not fitting into pre-approved roles for pop-stars. Nicki Minaj has discussed it as well, particularly in regards to ambition and the perception of ambitious people depending on their gender. Even the average female musician, speaking out about personal experiences with people insulting or demeaning them because of their gender gets to hear thoughtful responses about how they’re just too sensitive or that men get insulted too sometimes. That we should just be quiet unless things are REALLY bad, and even then we probably shouldn’t say anything either because we’re making it up or to blame for the way we’re treated.

Lily Allen has been one of my favorite song-writers since her first album, and while she took her self-imposed hiatus from the industry I wondered if I’d ever hear her unique voice again. If not on her own recordings, then on songs she might write for others. When I heard she had a new single coming out I was worried that four years away might make her shy, or hesitant to draw attention to herself given how she was treated by certain gossip bloggers and paparazzi the last time she was in the spotlight. Now, I just can’t wait until she has a full album out.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ben

    So does anyone else find it weird that all the people talking about the racism in the video are coming at it from a very American point of view based on American ideals and the ways Americans perceive race. While Lilly Allen is a pom?

    Different countries have different attitudes to race, and the assumption that every country and nationality sees the exact same racial issues as the US is just fucking stupid.

  • anna_k

    I'm English. Just not white. England isn't some magically non-racist utopia; its "different attitudes to race" are not that great, and certainly don't provide an anti-racism shield behind which Allen should've been able to make this video without criticism.

    And all those American bloggers and people commenting care because the type of dancing Allen is appropriating and denigrating is of African-American origin, so the fact that she's English is irrelevant anyway.

  • Ben

    I'm not saying that her being english means she's in some magical racist free society. Of course there is racisim and horrible shit in every country. But it's different shit.

    I don't know how it is in England, but in Australia we have plenty of horrible racist steryotypes, but their entirely different racist stereotypes to the ones I see Americans commenting on. Fuel Sniffing aboriginals or Street Racing greeks etc.

    Twerking African Americans is so far away from being relevant to anything in society in most countries that to expect a pom to understand the nuances of which specific acts African Americans are allowed to portray on screen without being racist, when half the time American commentators can't even decide on what is or isn't racist is insane.

  • Lux

    As a WOC, I am reading this thread and wondering what is wrong with me that I don't seem to see how Lily Allen or her video is racist.

    I see Lily Allen confronting her critics and addressing the issues she has faced: she is a pop star so she needs to be thinner; she is a pop star so she needs to blow a banana to be sexy; she is a woman so she should be in the kitchen, etc.
    I admit that her satire is broad and not particularly nuanced, but people are obtuse and subtler critiques have been lost before...

    Then I see twerking women. Until I heard the controversy I saw just women twerking and making a point that these images are so ingrained in our pop culture psyche that we don't even think about the fact that it is objectification and it is not acceptable. Now, I guess I am supposed to see black women twerking, while the white woman prances around them in clothing. Well, I also saw a Rihanna video of black women, including herself, twerking very recently and thought it was pretty damn vulgar. I didn't hear a peep about how that was problematic for perceptions of WOC or perpetuating the stereotypes we WOC face. But then Lily Allen uses WOC in her video to point out EXACTLY those perceptions and now she is racist because she is a white girl. The point may very well be that she IS white, so people will pay attention to the background dancers for once.
    The Rihanna video (I think it was for the song "Pour it up") is for me 100000x more disturbing. But because Rihanna is black no one says a thing about it. Instead, she contributes to the cycle we are all upset with: women of color being exploited as sex objects instead of, I don't know, human fucking beings.
    Lily's video is so absurdly ridiculous that finally we are seeing the junk that keeps occurring in "acceptably" problematic and racist music videos like Rihanna's.

    Lily Allen is no Jonathan Swift. She isn't that talented. But she also knows that if you want to make a point, you have to literally tell people you have a baggy vagina and show crotch shots, because if you don't no one pays any attention. The best thing that she has done is make people about race and about women and about the standards we all have come to expect from the music industry.

  • denesteak

    woah, i just watched that video, and there's not only no artistic value, there's also no musical value. I don't get it.

  • Return of Santitas

    I agree wholeheartedly about "Pour It Up" being disturbing; I watched the video only once and it's burned into my brain. I disagree with you that there wasn't a response--the internet (feminist and otherwise) went nuts, the video was banned from youtube (or something like that), there were nasty things written about what a bad role model for young girls Rihanna is. Rihanna gets shit constantly from all sides.

    Lily Allen is catching heat because she has used this video to send a specific message, and like you said, she is no Jonathan Swift.

    I loved the baggy vagina part, myself.

  • Jezzer

    Apparently I've been Doing It Wrong as a minority, what with appreciating my straight allies and all. Well, that's over now. From now on, it's bitter and combative all the way.

    You bitches are going down.

  • anna_k

    I know that your snark is for me, but I don't have any in response for you. I think I know something of where you're coming from.

    I was the Nice Minority Girl for a really, *really* long time with the people I thought were my friends and allies, but it turned out that I had no idea who the true friends were until all these ugly issues of sexism and racism came to the forefront "in real life", as it were.

    And my life is better for it now, but it was pretty painful at many times. You have my genuine hope that it's never that way for you. Bye.

  • Jezzer


  • Paddington

    Yea, never demand your allies actually be allied with what you think you're interest are. Let them do what's comfortable and be grateful. I'm assuming that's your point. That people of color need to be grateful to white people who at least acknowledge racial inequality, even if it's a facile understanding and they often engage in behaviors you find objectionable. Because really, no one is here for that.

  • Jezzer

    My point is, "Don't be a reactionary shithead," but that works too, I guess.

  • Paddington

    Reactionary in what way? Like hard right conservative reactionary? Or as in don't have a reaction I don't like? I think intersectionality can be called a lot of things but so far right as to be reactionary isn't one of them.

  • Jezzer

    Oops, my bad. I put "reactionary" when I meant "overreacting." So, that.

  • Lollygagger9

    Another article to check out if you're interested in why Black women and women of color aren't having any of this: http://www.blackgirldangerous....

  • Jezzer

    Every single person in this thread needs to take a goddamn chill pill. Jesus Christ.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Including you, it seems.

  • Return of Santitas

    If this video had just focused on Lily Allen herself and told a story about her resistance to suggestions that she sex up her image, I think she could have gotten away with it. But this shallow-ass satire of twerking/Miley Cyrus/rap videos/Rhianna/whatever is alienating as fuck.

    I think she is relying on us "getting it"...wink wink...Lily Allen is one of the good guys, therefore we are supposed to read her slapping a black woman's ass as satire, not objectification. We are supposed to dismiss our cringes because Lily Allen is a feminist. And that's also what this Pajiba piece has asked us to do.


    Based on the comments here and on other posts like this, I don't think I'm alone in begging the Pajiba writers who want to discuss feminism to google "intersectionality", perhaps read bell hooks' "feminism is for everybody", visit the crunk feminist collective website, do something, anything, to step the game up when it comes to these discussions.

    Genevieve's post below says that she was worried about not being educated enough to critique the racist elements of this video. I certainly understand that fear. Race in America is somehow constantly discussed but also a taboo topic, and many white people (myself included) have been raised to never talk about it. But hey, look what happened when you didn't take it on! Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. I say next time go for it. It's time--past time--for white feminists to step up on intersectionality. it's not the job of WOC to do all that work.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I want you all to know that while I had a family obligation that kept me away from the internet tonight, I am reading all your comments and genuinely listening to what you all have to say. I am learning. I do think that there are race problems with this video, but I also know that I'm not culturally educated enough to speak to those problems the way some of you (or other writers) can and was worried that if I tried to address it I'd end up being more insensitive than the video already was. I offered my initial thoughts, but tried to leave the topic open to discussion and I'm glad to see that people have taken it up. I do agree with many of you that Allen could have critiqued that aspect of pop culture better. For what it's worth, she says that the dancers were picked on ability alone rather than race, and that she tried to learn how to twerk but didn't think her abilities were up to those of the other dancers. I'm not saying you have to believe her, but she has tried to respond to criticisms.

    I'm also missing a comment now where someone mentioned about Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches and her recent statements about the treatment she's received. I am kicking myself for leaving that out, because it is another good example of both the treatment female musicians receive from the public, and the brushing off they get when they speak up about it. Most of the reactions to Mayberry's statement were along the lines of "There's trolls everywhere, stop being so sensitive" which is incredibly galling given the kind of sexually explicit harassment she was experiencing.

  • Ruthie O

    Hi Genevieve, I think it's awesome that you are reading and learning from the comments. I hear what you're saying about not feeling like an expert on race issues. One future remedy to that is to seek out the voices of women of color, then link to them in your post. There have been tons of well-written blog posts about this video by black women. That way, you get to spotlight women of color writers in your blog post without taking over their voices. In fact, I don't think I ever see Pajiba link to sites like Racialicious, which does similar work on pop culture but through the lens of racial justice; simply reading and linking could be a great start! Thanks again for listening to what people had to say.

  • aroorda

    I remember when this was a movie site instead of a feminist rage site.

  • John G.

    It may be wishful thinking, but I feel that there is starting to be a real shift in perception on basic issues of gender equality and feminism thanks to the internet. Posts like this one on sites like this which are not explicitly political or feminist leaning are no longer swarmed by backward-ass misogynists and MRA's the minute anyone mentions the sexism inherent in our culture and pop culture.

    could it be we are finally making real progress?

  • emmalita

    Baby-steps anyway.

  • I'm sick of you and @Joanna Robinson only advocating fair and non-sexist portrayals for WHITE WOMEN in the visual pieces you critique. Forget what you claim to stand for, your editorials always overlook the exploitation of black women (and other women of color) in the same shows or clips you're addressing. I DO appreciate Lilly Allen's satirical commentary on sexism in music videos. But, notice it's ONLY the black women featured with extreme close-ups of their twerking butts, with huge amounts of butt-cheek popping out. Like Lilly couldn't find or pay any white women with thick booties to also "ironically" exploit (while supposedly condemning exploitation). It's pretty obvious to anyone with a slight critical eye. But, you two have the same glaring "white" hot blind spots....and they keep popping up.

  • Meg

    This forever and ever. I am a feminist, but I have seriously come to dread some of the YAY PRO-FEMINISM! pieces that get put up here because they are like bright god damn shining examples of why WOC sometimes side-eye the FUCK out of mainstream feminism.

  • John W

    Take Church's speech and replace the word "music" with "film/cinema" or "television" and the message would be the same.

  • emmalita

    I appreciate the words she is saying, and maybe she was trying to convey a message with the backup dancers, buuuuut....

  • emmalita

    I want to clarify that while I do think the video is racist, I don't think Genevieve is racist, and I don't know enough about Lilly Allen to have an opinion about her as racist. My hope is that this is an experience that prompts conversation and reflection.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Lily Allen has a habit of straying far out of her depth. I'd call stupidity* as opposed to malice.

    *I can't bring myself to watch the video in question so extrapolating from what I've been subjected to in the past.

  • emmalita

    While watching the video, my emotional journey went from an excited step into the unknown to a confused "ummmmm...." to a horrified, "Cthulhu on a crutch! That is racist!" I'm happy to share my emotional journey with you.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Thanks for sharing. I had to make an effort to make my own emotional journey as it felt unfair that others were suffering.

    Lana, this isn't entirely about race.

    My take here is that whoever made the video clearly doesn't understand what they were parodying. The messages are so mixed that they completely cancel each other out. Before I gave up on the song, the strongest emotion that struck me was confusion. There was laughter too.

    Poor taste all 'round, even if it's heart was in the right place. I'm sticking with my original assessment that this is not deliberately racist, they just should have hired a more proficient "No, Lily. That isn't a good idea" guy or girl.

    Was gonna try to steer clear of the danger zone, but feel compelled to say that the song itself is utter, utter dreck.

  • emmalita

    I agree. I don't think it was deliberately racist. I think she was trying to show the worst of objectification. And in doing so she stepped into a shit pile of racism. It shows a lack of sensitivity that no one looked at it and said, "these visuals look wrong." But, as I tell my niece, who doesn't think she should apologize if it was an accident, "just because you didn't mean to, doesn't mean it didn't hurt."

  • Sara_Tonin00

    well done.

  • Bananaranma

    Every time I see her now, I can't unsee Theon Greyjoy.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Best scenario: this situation needs no conversation, as we live in a perfectly enlightened world.
    Worst scenario: this situation elicits no conversation, as we live in a world where certain assumptions can't possibly be questioned.

    This scenario: conversation happening. Better than worst; worse than perfect. I'm glad it's happening.

  • $78742978

    Like others I'm not willing to compartmentalize and ignore the racism of using voiceless women of color of props just because she's voicing a "feminist" message which is not unproblematic. Yeah, sure, the standards women have to live up to aesthetically and behaviorally are nosebleed high, but I can't condemn a woman either for sexualizing herself for herself or to game the system. I could give a fuck about Miley's twerking, my problem is she uses women of color and midgets as props for shock value, not to blow up the standards we enforce. Feminist history is just absolutely rife with examples of making progress for white women while being racist or ignoring racism or accepting prices that women of color have to pay, to the point that I no longer call myself a feminist but a womanist. This is just another in a long line of examples. Even if I agreed with her message I wouldn't be able to hear it because it's so ignorant and polluted with unconscious racism. It's unacceptable, and it's just crazy to me that she can't recognize the message she's sending, even after the blowback.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Musically, the song sucks. Text-wise, it's okay. The video is not over-the-top enough to be recognized as satire.

    I'd say it's a failed effort. The intended message will be completely lost on the normal audience for this kind of music, or they just won't care.

  • Rick Bittle

    Her second album was terrible. I hope her new one is more like the first.

  • lowercase_see

    I really like what she's saying about sexism and double-standards and objectification of women and all that jazz—I really don't like that she's saying it at the expense of black women.

    "Don't need to shake my ass for you / Cause I've got a brain."

    While she literally stands among black women shaking their asses. I get that she was trying to say something about Miley and twerking and using black women as props, but all she ended up doing was singing with twerking and using black women as props. Doing != satirizing.

    Feminism without intersectionality isn't something I can support. This isn't a case of "perfect is the enemy of great." This is the racism in the video utterly overshadowing the good.

  • Jiggs

    Linda Hutcheon has argued that irony is an effective form of postmodern complicit critique that functions "to subvert the dominant ideology from within". David Foster Wallace has argued that as a dominant cultural mode, irony is actually "enfeebling" and "singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks". Discuss Hutcheon's and Foster Wallace's conflicting accounts of the operation and critical efficacy of postmodern irony in relation to Lily Allen's new video "Hard Out Here".

  • Sara_Tonin00

    This is the most succinct distillation of criticism on the video.

  • Yes, thank you! I get it the satire and enjoyed the song. And it's fine that she isn't as skilled as the dancers, so she didn't twerk.

    But maybe let the dancers in on the joke in the video. Let them have some comment saying they're sick of being objectified, some type of voice besides being a prop to make fun of Miley and rest of music industry appropriation of black bodies.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    I wrote a thing about Lily Allen's new video. I had feels about it. You can read it here:

  • anna_k

    Please, *please* go away and look up the long, terrible history and the still pretty terrible present day of the white treatment of black female bodies (literally treating them as grotesque objects to be displayed in museums, as just one example) before asking what I'm sure are honestly clueless and well-intentioned, but very misplaced, questions about why a white women treating WOC's bodies this way is worse than a WOC parodying a barbie girl. Please.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    So it's OK for black artists (male and female) to use them in their videos, but it's not OK for Allen? Also, I don't think the dancers in "Hard Out Here" are grotesque at all, and I don't think Allen was attempting to make them look grotesque either. I spent quite a bit of time watching rap artist's videos to compare the objectification of women in their videos, before I wrote what I wrote, and was frankly amazed at what, to use your words "grotesque objects" the WOC are in those videos. If you want to be angry, go shout at Drake, Lil Wayne, Major Lazer, et. al. and add Rihanna while you're at it.

  • puppetDoug

    There is an assumption buried in these people's rage at this video that twerking is being displayed as "disgusting" when in fact I saw Lily having a lot of fun with backup dancers in the "girl at a strip club" way, where everyone can relax because no one's got rohypnol on them and there's no casting couch. I think it's all in their head. Satire brings out the worst in people. Just laugh at the fucking joke, get the message as intended. THIS IS WHY LIBERALS FAIL. Because when someone puts out a conservative message, every conservative jumps to their defense. When someone puts out a progressive message, the ENTIRE COMMUNITY splinters and says "Not liberal enough! You didn't completely Veganize your craft service table! You didn't shoot it with all organic alternative fuels! You're still a WHITE woman, so you don't get a voice anymore! Pajiba made fun of Justin Bieber, but didn't point out the racism, which means they're racist!" FUCK. I'm switching fucking sides just so I can enjoy a goddamn joke.

  • rio

    It's not ok for a black man to objectify black women because it's not ok for a man to objectify women, but you can't possibly put on the same level the objectification of black women done by a white artist and a black artist having black backup dancers, does it play consciously with mainstream sexism? yeah, it does, but a white artist has to be aware of how racially charged her choice is and she clearly wasn't. Hers was a failed attempted for satire, she basically pull a McFarlane, where you end up trying to please the audience who gets satire and the audience you are technically trying to satire.

  • FrayedMachine

    Hold up, hold up -

    I hope you realize that the basis of your argument is - BUT I WANT TO GE TO OBJECTIFY BLACK WOMEN, TOO

    Seriously? Are you kidding me.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Well, it's also that she wishes she could be as brave as those sexy black women as well, just like Lily Allen (who suffers from "chronic cellulite" and was too embarrassed to go so skimpy in the video).

  • FrayedMachine

    I think my eyes just rolled out my head and exploded from the friction.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    Let me make this very clear, I don't want anyone to be objectified. I honestly think Lily Allen didn't want anyone to be objectified either. I'm not a woman of color and I'm only going to speak to issues as I see them relating to women. Period.

    The reality is that there are women who dance for a living. Whether that's twerking, pole-dancing or ballet. Every type of dance takes incredible skill and practice and if a woman choses to dance in a certain way, like twerking, she can only expect that her skills will be called upon and used in a certain time and place. It's for her to decide if she's OK with that. That's a certain kind of empowerment. I may not agree with it, but I wouldn't try to stop them because it's not my decision to make.

    Any woman who dances in any artist's video is complicit in the message that artist is making. I'm pretty sure, whatever they get paid for the work, they wouldn't audition if they had qualms about being objectified for their clothing or dancing style. The dancers in Hard Out Here were on stage with Allen and the "producer" character. I'll assume they understood the message of the song. They didn't dance in a black box then get edited in in a way that we might assume is out of context to their understanding of the lyrics. I don't think there was ever a point in their employment when they didn't have the agency to leave.

    The pole dancers in the new Rihanna video might not be "strippers," in the classic sense, but I'm pretty sure that they accept that every penny they make "dancing" is made through objectifying themselves. Are they talented? Absolutely. Is their talent presented in a venue that objectifies them? That's for them to decide and make a choice about.

    I'm pretty sure Lily Allen was trying to make a statement about herself, not the other women in the video. I think Miley Cyrus has tried to make a statement about herself too. Maybe they weren't successful. I'm pretty libertarian when it comes to other peoples personal choices and I'll admit I'm just fed up with people accusing me of being "clueless" because I will never understand racism and sexism against non-white women. You can't be me either, but that doesn't mean we can't step back and try to understand that because someone sees oppression inherent in the system, that everyone has to feel oppressed.

  • FrayedMachine

    >I'm not a woman of color and I'm only going to speak to issues as I see them relating to women.

    Yeah, to be perfectly clear, I feel no reason what so ever in reading past this point because what you fail to realize is that there is still a great deal of privilege that occurs among specific groups of women - specifically white women, and the fact that you fail to realize that things that may be okay to YOU because YOU have less things to worry about in relationship to certain topics does not mean that this is a uniform situation for women of all groups.

    So please remove yourself from this mentality of being a savior of any kind and get over yourself.

    The fact that you felt entitled to say that "X groups can objectify these women but Allen can't??" shows how little you're capable of understanding the strife of minorities.

    So yeah, I'm done. Have fun in your bubble.

  • frank247

    "Yeah, to be perfectly clear, I feel no reason what so ever in reading past this point"

    Maybe taking a less blinkered viewpoint would help.

    ZombieMrsSmith declared that she was addressing something from her viewpoint and experience, that does not entitle you to criticise her for not addressing your views and experience.

    By being rude about it, you have restricted your right to comment, because you are narrow minded and a bully.

  • FrayedMachine

    All I'm hearing is that you're upset for someone being called out on their problematic behavior which makes me go wompwomp.

    I'm sorry, but their statement was very clear:

    "So it's OK for black artists (male and female) to use them in their videos, but it's not OK for Allen?"

    What's being complained about is who gets to objectify black women and who's entitled to it. That's messed up. I don't care who you think you are, or how open minded you may believe yourself to be, but the answer to that question is NO ONE. NO ONE should be entitled to objectifying black women. NO ONE has the right to use black women in such a demeaning and belittling manner.

    So no, I'm not going to sit here and pity the people who get to roll around in their privilege to such an extent that they feel entitled to even trying to ARGUE another white person, male OR female's, right to objectifying black women. That's absolutely gross and you should be nothing short of ashamed of yourself.

    Also yeah, you get a star for Tone Policing. I hope this is the highlight of your night.

  • oh the hue manatee

    "NO ONE should be entitled to objectifying black women." I agree, and then I ask, Why is it not only OK to objectify white women, but somehow "disrespectful of their agency" to critique that objectification? Why is blatant sexism OK as long as it is not amplified by racism?

  • frank247

    "I'm sorry, but their statement was very clear:

    "So it's OK for black artists (male and female) to use them in their videos, but it's not OK for Allen?""

    Look at that again, can you see the question mark?
    Did you see the context, where it was in reply to someone else's point?

    Also, thanks, I AM a Special Little Snowflake, and I do feel better for defending someone on the internet.

    Maybe you should learn some empathy, so you can feel like shit for bullying and harassing someone on the internet.


  • FrayedMachine

    > Arsehole.

    Mmm.. yes. Someone who's trying to tell me that I should be kinder has decided to call me an Asshole on the internet. Good night.

  • Jezzer

    To be fair, it's a pretty apt description right now.

  • frank247

    It was arsehole.

    You really DO need to learn how to read.

  • FrayedMachine

    Right, because calling someone an "Arsehole" instead of having the tenacity to actually flat out call someone an "asshole" makes you less of a hypocrite.

  • frank247

    No, it's because I can spell the difficult words as well as the easy ones.

    Good night, and may you find it in your heart to forgive my indiscretions.

    You fucking arse.

  • FrayedMachine

    Awwwwww, it's cute that you're trying so hard.

    P.S. Arsehole is not a -real- word. It's a passive aggressive method of actively insulting someone in order to find away from exempting yourself from responsibility for your actions. But again - good on you for trying so hard.

  • frank247

    "Arsehole is not a -real- word."

    It must be a real word, because it seems to be what you are talking out of.


  • Yossarian

    How do you determine the difference between objectifying and celebrating, or merely incorporating black female dancers into a music video? Is it never ok for anyone other than a black woman to produce such a video? Is it ok for a black woman even if her label is owned by white people? Is it ok for black artists to make the video but never ok for white people to buy it?

    The problem is that you are making this statement: "NO ONE should be entitled to objectifying black women" and then enforcing it as though it were on a tablet handed to you from god. But it's not that simple. Black women pursue dancing careers that are inherently exploitative (by your definition). Aren't they not allowed to do that? Women of all colors are exploited and empowered, sometime in the same moment in the same act depending on the perspective.

    So the question is, why is your perspective the only one that matters? And what is the future of art, performance, and dance if your perspective is taken to it's logical conclusion (i.e. black women can't get paid to dance sexy until we resolve this whole racial inequality thing).

  • FrayedMachine

    If your focus of empowerment is on Allen and her use of the dancers and not black women in general then you are not looking to argue in defense of minority women and their objectification in the media. So yeah, I fail to see why anyone should take such passive racism seriously.

    >Black women pursue dancing careers that are inherently exploitative (by your definition). Aren't they not allowed to do that?

    Also, yeah, let's disregard how many women get taken advantage of in this realm, how low they're perceived, how this is often times taken as a rather desperate path as a means of both pursuing a dream, living up to an unhealthy expectation that society has presented you with, and an attempt at actually creating a career that pays you enough in order to sustain often times not just yourself but others in your life as well.

    But nah, nah. Let's forget about that .Everyone who likes shakin' their booty on the screen is totally, at the end of the day enjoying themselves and having a huge party, and forgo the general negative and problematic culture that tends to encompass these environments

  • Yossarian

    And let's not draw my argument out context and build a straw man from it. Nowhere in anything I've said her do I come close to suggesting "nah, nah. Let's forget about that" I'm encouraging exactly that discussion.

    But that discussion has to confront the complexity that you are trying to dismiss on my behalf. It is fucked up, it has always been fucked up and it well never not be fucked up. There will always be inequality and there will always be compromise where people try to make a living through art. Let's talk about it. But let's let everyone talk, and let's listen too. Let's let Lilly Allen have a legitimate point of view that is not completely dismissed by our criticism.

  • FrayedMachine

    > Let's let Lilly Allen have a legitimate point of view that is not completely dismissed by our criticism.

    If that view is at the expense of other's status within our society and culture that already belittles and disregards them then no. I do not see that as a point worth protecting.

    Too much have we seen White Women, especially, as of late use the bodies of WoC as a means of bolstering their sense of success and power in culture. That because they are not >this< body, that because they are not strapped with the burdens that these bodies are within >this< culture, that they are better.


    Just no.

    The arguments that Allen and these other individuals place forth is that of a Feminism that takes no mind to inclusivity, let alone the struggles of others outside of their realm of privilege.

    So no. When you try to argue that Allen's stance is just as valid, you willingly and actively choose to disregard the struggles of Minorities, especially Minority Women in day to day life. You choose to acknowledge, still, in flagrant hypocrisy that the voice of someone who's skin is fare is more valid than that of someone who's skin is not. You are not trying to have a conversation that addresses other's struggles, you are trying to have a conversation in which an individual who experiences a great deal of privilege in day to day life should, essentially, be exempt from extreme criticism because this criticism would essentially forcefully dismantle the privilege that not just they but likely you and many others hold onto.

    So again, no. No her point of view is not just as valid when it stands on the back of women who's values are lessened because of it and again, shame on you and others for trying to assert that it should be.

    Good night.

  • Yossarian

    I didn't argue for equivalence. I don't think I ever said "just as valid". I only said "valid".

    And I think the distinction is important. I have no problem acknowledging that some perspectives are more valid than others. That qualitative judgements are possible. (although, I have a hard time ever definitively asserting them. I do love my relativism).

    What I have a problem with is the absolutism. The idea that others have no value. The assertion that not only are you right, but that no one else gets a say. It's just a pointless power struggle. A way to exert control over the legitimacy of what other people do or say. But it has no stakes, it doesn't effect anything in the real world. Dismissing someone else's point of view because of their privilege doesn't decrease privilege, it just shuts down discourse and pushes people farther apart.

    And I think the privilege argument is really important. I'm all for questioning my assumptions and being exposed to different points of view. But that's just it, they are different points of view in a multitude of points of view. Of course some are better than others but no one gets to drawn out all the rest.

  • Yossarian

    I support the points raised in the linked piece. I think that perspective is completely valid. I think that bringing that perspective into this conversation should be welcomed.

    I have a problem with reducing the incredibly complex issues of race and gender exploitation in popular culture to simple, inflexible maxims ("NO ONE should be entitled to objectifying black women", as if a statement that devoid of context even has meaning) and then attacking anyone who creates anything imperfect or comments from a different perspective.

    No one is ENTITLED to objectify black women. But objectification is inevitable. It happens everywhere. It happens to the powerless at the expense of the powerful. It happens pretty much anytime women of any color make art. Because Mr Skin exists, and tumblr.

    And there is Exploitation and there is exploitation, and admiration can get mixed in there too, along with appreciation. The myriad responses to black dancers twerking can't be covered by one simple Do Not Exploit rule. And as their art gains popularity the opportunities for those dancers grow and the ability to be in the front of the stage instead of the back opens up.

    I'm not offering a blanket defense of the video or the response here. Art is not always pretty, it deserves to be criticized. Criticism is not always perfect. But it's also not as simple as you want it to be so criticize with care. And allow for other interpretations, such as a white woman viewing the music video as a progressive message about exploitation of women. It can't be defended beyond reproach but it also can't be dismissed out of hand.

    Mrs Smith is not your enemy. She seems like a reasonable person. There's a better way to have this discussion than with sarcasm, blanket dismissal of someone else's perspective, accusations of racism, and ending every other post with "I'm done".

  • anna_k

    "I'm not a woman of color and I'm only going to speak to issues as I see them relating to women. Period."

    Clearly none of the comments on this post have penetrated your brain as to why that might be a problematic stance to take, then.

    "I'm just fed up with people accusing me of being "clueless" because I will never understand racism and sexism against non-white women"

    That sound, that sound is my heart breaking for your poor fed up feelings, you poor fed up white woman, you. And I feel you, cos like, it must be so much harder for you to deal with the frustration of not getting uncritical praise for your blog posts and dealing with people wanting you to actually educate yourself about stuff (pah!) than it is for those silly complainy WOC to live with all this racism in the name of feminism every single damn day. Oh wait.

    Want a very current reference for a person you sound like right now? Richard Cohen telling people that it's "hurtful" to be called a racist. With that, let me dedicate this blog post by TNC to you (last 2 paras especially), and bow out of trying to politely explain anything to someone so desperate to cling myopically to their privilege:

  • Lollygagger9

    Good lord, Anna_K is doing some amazing work in this thread. But it shouldn't be up to women of color to educate white women. Read some books. Research it. Good grief.

  • anna_k

    Thank you for your work on this sub-thread, Lollygagger9 and FrayedMachine. Really helps to feel like I'm not speaking completely into the void.

    As I said in the post which attracted all the tone-policing, I'm done trying to teach here (let's all forget that I started my first reply to this woman with as many "please"s as possible and an assumption of good faith, and got nothing but a HDU response from the get-go, right?).

    I'm gonna leave by quoting exactly what I said in that particular TNC post when I resolved to make his excellent words my stock response to this sort of behaviour in the future. I think it's entirely appropriate to what just went down in the last few hours:

    'The "you, WoC, your just accusation of racism hurts my white feelings and that's what I'm going to focus on here" defence, when I get it in person, usually enrages me so much that I'm unable to respond coherently. I think this is because of the offender's continued implicit belief, which they're all but explicitly stating, that their tiny experience of white personal hurt is more important than my entire experience of a white supremacist patriarchy from day to day (which I've usually brought up to them only in the most egregious instances, when I can't stay silent, knowing that I'm going to face personal cost and generally utter dismissiveness for doing so).'

    Back to my WOC little corner of the world I go.

  • frank247

    "Leave a Comment, But Don't Be a Douche Or We Will Happily Ban You"

    Where do you get off, comparing someone you do not know, and who has made the mistake of failing to directly agree with everything you have said, with a racist?

    There is a site policy here that should be adhered to, and you should show respect to others.

  • Yossarian

    @ Anna_K

    What is your problem? What is it you are trying to accomplish? Why do you think this is an effective way to make your point? What is your endgame here?

    I'm not going to tell you that your ideas/ beliefs are wrong. I think you may have interesting ideas and something valuable to contribute. The self-righteous contempt for anyone who questions your position or tries to put forth one of their own, however, is wrong. It's not constructive. It's not helpful. You aren't that right. You have a perspective, a point of view. You don't have the One True Viewpoint that invalidates all others.

    The thing about cultural criticism is that you can look at a work from lots of different perspectives, through lots of different lenses, ask lots of different questions, and have lots of different opinions. And some are better than others and some are more progressive or regressive than others and some are more subversive or challenging than others but at the end of the day this is just criticism. There's no absolute truth here. We're expanding perspectives, not contracting them.

    So what exactly are you attempting to do? Because it sounds like you are trying to shout down anyone who isn't viewing a work in the exact same way as you. It sounds like you are bullying Mrs Smith for offering a different perspective on a work of art. It sounds like you are engaging in a power struggle over how we view art on Pajiba with the belief that there is one right way and that every other way is wrong.

    I understand that there is a shameful history of inequality that persists and permeates every aspect of our culture today. I understand that it needs to be challenged and criticized. I also understand that no matter what we do and how much we change it still won't be enough. That truly being equal is an unattainable goal.

    And you may think that gives you license to never back down, to never let up. Because you can never win so you are always justified in continuing to fight. But what, exactly, is the point of all that? Of shouting down debate and insisting that no other perspective deserves to even be considered as long as inequality persists? That no one else deserves to make art, that their art is always illegitimate and without merit because it is inherently exploitative?

    It can't work like that. Not because I'm a white male who wants to protect my right to exploit women of color and black culture for my own entertainment. It's because I'm a human being and I like art. I like criticism and discussion. I accept that it's never going to be perfect but progress happens on a progression. Art can be flawed and messy. There can be things to criticize about Lilly Allen's video (or, Mrs Smith's essay) and also things of value to find in it. I want to have those discussions. Exploitation is always going to happen. You can't stop it. But you can subvert it. You can find opportunity in it, to expand access to black performs, to gain autonomy. The system may rigged but it's not hopeless.

    But your tone is all wrong. You just want to be right. You just want to exercise control over someone else to make up for the loss of control you're retaliating against. It's not constructive. It's not helpful. It's just petty and shitty and it shuts down the positive outlets for social change, which is usually through art. Make good challenging art, make good constructive comments, don't just try to shout down art and ideas you don't 100% agree with.

    Mrs Smith would listen to you if you'd lay off the sarcasm and respect her point of view. I'd listen to you too. But think about what you're saying. Make room in your worldview for other perspectives, for creativity, for flawed incremental progress or divergent ideas. It's more important than just being right.

  • Lollygagger9

    Tone policing? Seriously? Man, I love Pajiba, and I love discourse, but perhaps check this out: http://angrywomenofcolorunited...

  • Yossarian

    Yes, some civility in the discourse is necessary.

    Never once did I use her tone to invalidate her points. In fact, I went out of my way to express interest in her points and to point out that they have value. I only said that her righteous dismissal of differing opinions was not constructive.

    Being able to link to a tone policing blog post doesn't give you blanket defense to being called out for bullying.

  • Lollygagger9

    I really don't want to get into this, but you literally said "But your tone is all wrong." You were questioning what she wanted to accomplish, and then telling her that she was doing it wrong. It's not up to white people to tell people of color that they can't get angry, even anonymously on a film criticism website.

    I don't know you (or Anna_K), I can only comment on what I see on this site, and that post was a pretty textbook example of tone policing - the kind of comments that rightfully angry people of color face all the time. And please understand that this is not the same as me calling you out because you disagree with her broader points (people disagree on race all the time; not all Black people hold the same positions). I was pointing out a category your post might fit in, in case you, as a white person, care about how you can really hear what a woman of color is saying, and why it might not match the way you'd deliver the same message (since, as you assert, you are on her side).

    I agree with you that civility in discourse is necessary, but I strongly disagree with how you've chosen to define civility.

  • Yossarian

    I was questioning what she wants to accomplish because I honestly don't understand. Is her point that Mrs Smith or Genevieve can't have an opinion on this video? Or, that they can't have an opinion that is different from her opinion? Is it that any art that violates certain standards of cultural sensitivity is never ok? Or that it can't have meaning? Or that we just can't discuss that meaning? Or is it that any criticism that diverges from the viewpoint she is advocating is illegitimate? That there is one correct interpretation of this issue and any questioning of it is always wrong? I substantively disagree with all of those ideas. I'm not on her side, I'm decided against that way of thinking.

    But I do see something of value in her comments. I don't want to see her perspective get shut down either, just because she's burying the interesting ideas in hostility and sarcasm. So I suggested that it could be a problem of tone. That maybe she's not wrong, just overzealous. That maybe we can step back and admit that the issues we are discussing (exploitation and artistic expression and cultural criticism and race and production and consumption of entertainment) are really complicated and that she might not have it all encapsulated in a handful of internet comments and the perspectives other other people might have value, even if they are white women and men with their own biases. That those biases can also be worth examining but that mutual respect and civility is especially crucial when you are speaking directly to the person you are criticizing, especially on the internet. Otherwise it just deteriorates into noise.

    I don't want to be patronizing, but what's wrong with how I've chosen to define civility?

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    I think you need to take a couple of deep breaths here anna_k. I am not your enemy and I am not being intentionally clueless about your anger and misery over this issue.

    I am a person, and I have a perspective that is different than yours. I respect your feelings, and I have not said anywhere that you are wrong to think or feel the way you do. At no point have I intimated that others could not see racism or sexism or any other -ism. If that's what you see, then it's a valid point for you to make. I'm not convinced, but that doesn't make me wrong, or you right.

    In the piece I wrote, I explained how Lily Allen's video made me feel. I never said anyone else had to see it my way. Comparing me to Richard Cohen tells me you make a lot of assumptions about me and my "privilege." I could call you racist, but that would be stupid.

    What I find so fascinating about the entire discussion is the complete lack of consideration for the perspectives of the dancers in the video. Did anyone interview them to ask if they felt the way they are portrayed in the video is racist or sexist? If someone has, I haven't seen it. I'm glad we have you to speak for them, since they would probably hate me too—for wishing that me and my fat white ass privilege could dance as well as they do.

    Thanks anna-k. I left commenting on Pajiba once before after a discussion I was participating in went particularly ugly a few years ago. It took me a long time to feel safe enough to join the discussion again. You just made me decide to leave for good.

  • Lux

    I too am sorry you no longer feel comfortable posting here. As a WOC, I want to hear your opinions on the matter.

    I strongly, STRONGLY, disagree with the stance FrayedMachine took below (that because you are not a WOC your opinion isn't valid enough to even read).

    For someone trying to explain their side of the story to people who may not come from the same background and may not have the same perspective as FrayedMachine does, her approach is precisely the thing she would decry if it happened to her. I am actually horrified by the treatment you have received in this thread. I may not agree with you on every point, but I would never tell you that just because you have come from a different background I won't read about your opinion on what you see and experience, ESPECIALLY when it comes to art.

    Please come back to us, soon.

  • I'm sorry that this discussion has run afoul like it has, @ZombieMrsSmith. I would like to think Pajiba is a place for a frank discussion without outright antagonism and shaming.

    If anyone is curious, the dancers have all backed up Lily on her twitter feed. She linked them in her twitlonger response where she said she picked the best dancers, regardless of race, which is fine in of itself. Seliza Showtime is the featured dancer who gets her ass slapped by Ms. Allen.

    However imo even if the dancers are in on the joke behind the scenes, that doesn't mean I'm 100% alright with the 'unintended' objectification of the black dancers in the final edit of the video.

    I'm out.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I still feel the same way I did yesterday - the extreme close-ups on the dancers, the jiggling in slo-mo, the excessively vulgar things they do - if it was a guy singing this song we'd be saying that he's having his cake and eating it too. I doubt that Lily Allen legitimately expects to sell more records based on the sexuality in the video, because I don't think that's how her mind works and I don't think that's her audience - she expects there to be controversy and conversation. But it's still propagating those images. And if she was willing to make herself the butt (no pun intended) of the "joke" that would be entirely different case than making the nameless dancers go through it.

    On a side note, the fact that you can mention so many incredibly successful female artists who have been criticized for not fitting pop's sexy standards tells me that the industry as a whole - what consumers want to buy and what is made available - is not a lost cause. I don't think the problem is solved. I do think record execs probably look for an easy "sure-fire" way to commodify young female performers. But it's not an automatic. It's terrible if there are borderline pop starlettes not sure of how they want to take it who get roped into overt sexuality, but there are certainly plenty of them driving themselves in that direction.

  • anna_k

    Co-sign this post, but on this: "I doubt that Lily Allen legitimately expects to sell more records based on the sexuality in the video, because I don't think that's how her mind works and I don't think that's her audience". I'm pretty sure that's exactly the expectation her record company had when they went forward with this video, though.

  • alexandrian

    I struggled with this video. I do agree that the use of the old white executive pushes the video more towards satire than objectification. However, using twerking to represent over-sexualization in all of pop feels off to me. Despite the fact that apparently white America found out about twerking after the VMAs, it's been seen in rap and hip-hop videos for years now.

    So to have Lily Allen suddenly become the critic of twerking and really of the way black women's bodies are portrayed in music videos seems wrong to me. Allen is the one who is fully dressed and despite the fact that there are other asian or white dancers, it is the black dancers who are the most sexually vulgar and it is a black girl's ass that Allen is hitting.

  • anna_k

    "There’s been some debate about Allen’s use of background dancers, that she might be walking the line between satire and objectification a little too close for comfort. To me, the fact that we see the male executive directing the actions of the dancers and Allen, turns the images into a story."

    No. This is not it, this is not the "controversy", there is no *debate* about whether this walks the line. All of this is explained excellently here: Come on Pajiba, it's not often you fall on the bad side of the race-fail line in comparison to Jezebel (

  • JustOP

    'it's racist because i'm going to take all agency away from these women who chose to appear in this video for lots of money to purposely make a point through satire (SATIRE) and hyperbolic reactions and dancing to make some valid points against a problematic industry'

    Linking to a tumblr blog and a jezebel article don't help your cause.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ok, that's just silly. The song is about the sexual choices women are pushed into in the music industry. Agency exists for the women who sign onto every other hypersexual video as well as for this one.

    Btw, your "lots of money"? Here's SAG scale:

  • JustOP

    $500 for 10 hours work? That's a pretty significant ammount of money, imo.

    I'm not sure what you're saying about the agency thing? That dancers seem to be happy doing hypersexual routines?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    My point about the money is not that it is a good hourly wage (and I'm guessing you don't have much of an understanding of performer pay based on your comment) but that the back up dancers aren't becoming wealthy off the video. They aren't set for life, they aren't set for the year; probably they can pay rent & insurance for the month.

    My point about agency was that you seemed to be saying that the backup dancers had a choice to appear in this video in this way. Certainly true. But that is no less true of all videos being satirized by this one as well. It's not a justification.

  • anna_k

    Oh gosh, if only I had all my reputable academic sources gathered to counter the totally solid and venerable source of...a film blog? Can we not play that game?

    It's not a denial of agency to point out the context in which such videos get made: where white people make the videos, and black people get all the wonderful choice of appearing in Lily Allen's racist objectification of their bodies, or Miley Cyrus's racist objectification of their bodies. So many options!!!

    And problematic videos don't get a free pass from criticism just because they're responding to a problematic industry. This is pretty basic stuff.

  • JustOP

    I'm not asking for reputable academic sources - I'm just saying that tumblr blogs and jezebel hurt your argument more than they support it.

    That's a pretty weak simplification of the scenario. The objectification isn't done mindlessly - it's done to make the point that objectification is bad.

    A great example of this is Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons stating in an episode; 'I'm aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it'.

    Lily Allen is purposefully, hyperbolically, outrageously objectifying these women to the point where you cannot take it seriously - to the point where you think, 'this is sort of stupid, why does this happen all the time?' She's making a pretty valid, totally self aware point about the industry by hyperbolically imitating it. Satire - it's pretty basic stuff.

    But I guess because she's white she isn't allowed to do that. Maybe someone should invent a time machine and send a memo to Harper Lee, or something.

  • anna_k

    Haha. In lieu of you making any serious arguments, shall I just respond as you clearly imagine we WOC arguing against this video think?

    *gasp* JustOP, you have clearly uncovered my previously VERY SECRET reverse-racism against the dreaded white oppressor!

    Indeed, in last week's covert meeting of the Bring Death To White Supremacy Through Occasionally Critical And Largely Ignored Internet Comments Cabal, I did actually table a motion entitled "Ways to Undermine the Continued Popularity of Favourite Gregory Peck Film Adaptations And Their Underlying Source Material, Damn His Classically-Handsome Visage".

    Alas, I shall have to report your brilliant uncovering of our plot in the next meeting of the Cabal. I hope bell hooks and spirit-Audre Lorde don't revoke my membership over this. I can but pray for them to be merciful.

  • JustOP

    Hahaha oh god, I did laugh at that. I thought I made a pretty clear argument about satire - but maybe I'm missing some point here or didn't convey my thoughts clearly enough. Oh well, cheers for the giggle!

  • Jezzer

    "It's not satire if I decide I'm offended by it!"

  • Paddington

    Except she is positing herself as distinct from the women being objectified, not in league with them. She made herself better than them and did so while adopting the same visual imagery of people who objectify women. That's not satire.

  • puppetDoug

    She's in the Lead because she's the Pop Star and they're the backup dancers, not because she's fucking White. Stop it. STOP IT. STOP. FUUUUUCK.

  • Paddington

    So, no. There's a way to be a standout without being separated. Lily Allen didn't do that. So maybe you should stop it. STOP IT. STOP. FUUUCK. Or learn argumentation.

  • puppetDoug

    Lily Allen is a person. She wanted to do this type of statement, she's not capable of twerking, she isn't the type of person who's put in the position those girls are. They are there to mock their own position. She's put at the front, to mock her own. They weren't being liposuctioned, she was, because that's what the people in her position are subjected to. They don't have to eat the banana, she does. Beyonce can go fuck herself. She objectifies herself for money and doesn't bother saying anything while she does so except suing when someone catches a freeze frame of her that's unflattering. You came in with issues, you projected them onto the work. I know "argumentation." I also know "enjoymentation of artworkery." I enjoy debating a point as much as the next person, but I'd really like to know how many people of color are making this argument against this, how many people are from where twerking was fucking invented are talking on this thread, and how many of you have actually ever been oppressed. Objectification isn't negative intrinsically. You don't see the satire? You don't think the joke is funny? Fine. That doesn't mean it's not a joke. That doesn't mean that the shot the editor got where Lily broke the take by smacking one of the dancers ass in good fun is her using some sort of White Privelege to show her mastery of the Black Female form. You're projecting, not inferring. It isn't in the text, and I'm telling you to step back and watch that video assuming Lily Allen isn't racist and isn't American, is getting along great with those girls and that they all get it too. Watch it again calmly and with joy. Your context is wrong, and I need liberals to stop attacking one another over not sending ALL THE MESSAGES simultaneously in every work they do.

  • Paddington

    If Lily Allen can't twerk then don't have twerking in the video. Or make that part of the joke. She had choices. She chose to show these black women as objects, she did not do that to herself. When she was removed from the same imagery Miley was being criticized for she was no longer a satirist but just showing racist imagery.

  • puppetDoug

    So you're really here to defend Miley Cyrus. Got it. Because last time I checked, being judged for being fat after two pregnancies and being instructed on how to deep throat a banana on camera was negative objectification. Your assumption that twerking = negative objectification removes the agency of the dancers, assumes they don't want to dance that way, don't enjoy it, and were enslaved into doing it, just because they are black. You're not consciously processing it, but it's the same as slut shaming -- the assumption that women don't like sex, so to act sexually means there's something wrong with them or they're being forced into it or don't have enough self-respect to object to their treatment. The only criticism down here in New Orleans of Miley's dancing was that it wasn't, in fact, twerking, so I fall on the side of not doing it at all. This video is talking about objectification while showing it. Lily is standing in for the traditionally male hip-hop figure, and starting a conversation. Miley co-opted black culture as her own by popularizing with her white face, just as Eminem, The Beatles, and Elvis did before her. Throwing black people in the background at that point is insulting. It's not objectification, though, it's just racist "feeling." There's no irony apparent. That being said, Miley can do what she wants. I don't think Lily is referencing Miley, I think she's referencing hip-hop in general, and Lily would be in the standard male role of hip-hop artist. All this outrage is similar to the outrage against Lorde for criticizing the materialism of hip-hop -- the assumption that she's racist because she's part of a growing UK backlash to American hip-hop and its obsession with money and objectification.

  • Paddington

    Uh, no. Not defending Miley. Lily sure did show how her experiences were objectifying and how ridiculous these black women with their dances are, why I never. But that's the comparison. Look at what they expect me to do.. to dance like them! How that's a Miley defense I'll never know.

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