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Acceptance for Dummies
September 5, 2013 2:25 PM   Subscribe


 
Did le1f write "Same Love"? That'd be pretty shocking news, if true.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was wondering that too. Big accusation to just quote without comment.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:32 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "Did le1f write "Same Love"? That'd be pretty shocking news, if true.
"

Out Magazine says he's referring to Thrift Shop, which has a hook that is similar to a le1f song.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


If it makes a difference, in interviews, Macklemore has mentioned that he'd originally written the song from the first person perspective of a gay teen. His mother chastised him because that wasn't "his" story. So he rewrote the song from his perspective because he realized that coming at it from the p.o.v. of a sympathetic "other" was the only story that he legitimately had a right to tell. So to a large extent, he'd probably agree with the better part of that rant.

It'd still be nice if LGBT artists putting out the same message could get as much (or more) notice though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


Le1f is talking about Macklemore ripping off his song "Wut" when he made "Thrift Shop". They do sound kinda similar.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:35 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is it in vogue lately for every activist movement to attack its supporters now? I'm not trying to snark here. We just had a very long thread about the sexism/advantage-ism of John Scalzi's feminism and now there's this. It seems like it's happening more and more and it's confusing to me.
posted by xmutex at 2:36 PM on September 5, 2013 [115 favorites]


Holy shit. Dude is so wrong it hurts.

First, you know who listens to Mackelmore? Kids. Tweens.

And having Mackelmore tell them it's okay to be gay is more valuable than all the sex positive classroom teaching/parents trying to impart a healthy attitude to them in he world. Jesus, haters gonna hate, but it's pretty remarkable from my hetronormative world that in 2013 my kids listen to a that isn't just accepting of the LGBT communities but is PURELY UNCONDITIONALLY IN FAVOUR OF EQUAL TREATMENT FOR EVERYONE.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:36 PM on September 5, 2013 [108 favorites]


There are lots of "dummies" out there. They vote, respond to opinion polls, make decisions about who to hire and fire, and make lots of other decisions that impact GLBT people. Persuading them to be in favor of equal rights is actually important.

As for all the cyncism about Mackelmore doing this to get rich, isn't it possible that he actually did want his uncles to have the freedom to get married? After all, pro-GLBT songs haven't traditionally been the way to make lots of money.
posted by Area Man at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [24 favorites]


FWIW, I don't think the composition and performance of Same Love should be separated from the context of a live and active same sex marriage debate here in Washington state last fall, back when Macklemore's primary fan base was local teens and college kids. I sincerely doubt Macklemore had eyes on aims any larger than getting his fans to turn out and vote the right way, regardless of what's happened now.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [44 favorites]


This seems like the least interesting and most culturally deadening approach to the endlessly tricky notion of "appropriation" imaginable. By this standard, no man is allowed to write a song or a poem or a novel condemning violence against women, no non-Jewish person is allowed to condemn the Holocaust, no white person allowed to condemn slavery etc. etc. etc. The argument that the work of gay rappers or other gay artists should be getting more of a hearing than it is is fine but its conceptually distinct from the question of whether or not Macklemore's song is legitimate.
posted by yoink at 2:39 PM on September 5, 2013 [36 favorites]


"Thrift Shop" came out a year before "Wut" though? Sorry people don't like your song I guess.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:40 PM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


So much I could say about this but I'll just note that it's not like he was some super-famous rich artist when he wrote this. He was a local musician who released this song in the context of a vote on Washington state marriage equality.

This sort of reminds me of the whole "white chef making sushi" argument we had earlier.
posted by lucasks at 2:41 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ok so I've now actually listened to "Wut". "Thrift Shop" is incredibly catchy and fun to sing to, with a fun goofy music video. "Wut" is monotone with a "similar" monotone hook. Tell me why this guy isn't being an idiot.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:42 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's not saying that Same Love is not helpful, he's saying that it doesn't represent LGBT people.

FTA: So I can concede that the success of “Same Love” is a positive thing, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. When there are queer artists striving to make interesting and thoughtful art that represents them and their ideals, feelings, and experiences, it’s a true shame to watch what feels like a calculated bid for cheery, yet benign, mass appeal outshine the artists whose community these more popular acts are apparently representing.
posted by troika at 2:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Thrift Shop" came out a year before "Wut" though? Sorry people don't like your song I guess.

Time traveling plagiarists are the worst kind.
posted by yoink at 2:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


I think Apropos's comment about the context is really good. Just have to add, though--seeing pictures of Mary Lambert on stage at the VMAs did more for me, personally, than anything else about that song (disclaimers: my sexual orientation is complicated, I love the song, it's always made me cry and I've never seen the video). Macklemore asked a local singer--actual lesbian whose body type would NOT be considered by most folks to be bringing bank to the venture--to write and sing that hook, and it was beautiful. He gets major cred for that in my book.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:44 PM on September 5, 2013 [31 favorites]


This makes me think about Tim Wise, a white anti-racism activist, and what he says about what he does and who he does it for.

He says he isn't battling racism for Black people. He says Black people can (and do) take care of themselves and don't need some white guy to help them. He says his work is so that his own people, white people, can some day be rid of the cancer that is racism.

I know a lot of Black people who are very suspicious of Wise, just the way Le1f is suspicious of Macklemore. But homophobia is a cancer on straight people just the way racism is a cancer on white people, and I don't think it's wrong for us to want to cure our own in the way that works for them.

Believe you me, I have been in WAY too many situations where the Black employees would complain about unequal treatment and the white managers would think they were just whining until a white employee pointed out that the Black employees were right. It is SICK but it's true that (white)(straight)(biased) people don't listen to people they identify as "other." It's hard enough to get them to listen to those that are similarly situated.

Personally, I'm really glad that there are white people working against racism and straight people working for equal rights for gay people. It makes me, as a straight white person who care about equality for all, feel a little less alone in the world.
posted by janey47 at 2:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [43 favorites]


This guy is stirring up controversy by writing about a song that he (admittedly) only listened to after he came up with the idea for the article.

This is an elaborate troll, and doesn't deserve our attention.

Also, don't fucking tell me who is allowed to speak for me.
posted by schmod at 2:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [61 favorites]


rearranged his words a little: it’s a true shame to watch what feels like a calculated bid for cheery, yet benign, mass appeal outshine the artists [who are] striving to make interesting and thoughtful art that represents them and their ideals, feelings, and experiences

said every hipster ever. LGBT identity feels like just a headline hook in this piece.
posted by jacalata at 2:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


From the "Out" article linked above:

"Thift Shop" debuted on US charts on August 28, 2013, with a brassy hook reminiscent of Le1f's single "Wut", which was officially released on July 24, 2013.

I'm pretty dang sure I heard that song a few times before last week.
posted by Curious Artificer at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


what feels like a calculated bid for cheery, yet benign, mass appeal outshine the artists

But christ man you just described the whole problem with pop culture dating back to like time immemorial.
posted by xmutex at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someday there will be a gay artist.
posted by Mister_A at 2:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yah Apropos is right, not to mention that now the song is hugely successful. Sorry that the gay community doesn't care about the song, but the straight community does (especially young people), and it's unquestionably a good thing for the gay community.

Le1f's rant is dumb.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:48 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seems to me that the idea is less "Macklemore shouldn't ever have written the song" and more "People shouldn't be going nuts over how progressive Macklemore is if they're going to consistently ignore actual queer rappers talking about the same stuff from a firsthand point of view."

I mean, imagine an alternate universe version of 90s alternative radio where the Beastie Boys still got loads of credit and praise for denouncing their old misogynistic lyrics, but where Liz Phair, Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco etc. had been unable to get record deals or airplay because women singing about feminism were "too far outside the mainstream" or whatever. That would have been fucked up, right?
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:48 PM on September 5, 2013 [33 favorites]


All I can ever, ever think of when I see the title 'Same Love' or hear the song is GOB and Tony Wonder. Same!
posted by emmtee at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2013


I don't think the similarities between the songs are anything significant at all. And as a queer person, I welcome people who aren't queer doing something to advance the movement.

le1f is just capitalizing on Macklemore+Ryan Lewis's success, which I also actually don't have a problem with too much, though I think his accusations are bs: starting a beef is a thing you can do to raise your profile in the public's eye, and what I want is more queer and queer-positive artists in the mainstream. I object to the idea that Macklemore+Ryan Lewis's song being popular means that they took a space that otherwise would have been filled by a queer performer. I prefer to believe that they're helping open up the field so that more queer people and queer topics can rise.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]




Is it in vogue lately for every activist movement to attack its supporters now? I'm not trying to snark here. We just had a very long thread about the sexism/advantage-ism of John Scalzi's feminism and now there's this. It seems like it's happening more and more and it's confusing to me.

Tribalism. Same mechanism as the Tea Party getting ever more radical in what it will accept as 'pure' conservatism.

Eventually the social justice movement will be too schismatic to be effective and the pendulum will start swinging back, but with a whole bunch of things (e.g. gay marriage, trans acceptance) relatively 'locked in'.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:50 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of Le1f's tweets: do proceeds go to any gay people? the HRC? Aids foundation? or does this straight white man keep the money?

Proceeds from "Same Love" are supporting Music for Marriage Equality.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


Now there are two. There are two _______.: "Seems to me that the idea is less "Macklemore shouldn't ever have written the song" and more "People shouldn't be going nuts over how progressive Macklemore is if they're going to consistently ignore actual queer rappers talking about the same stuff from a firsthand point of view." "

Yeah, but would the world actually be a better place if Macklemore had chosen to use his VMA slot to sing his wild hit song instead of his song about LGBT equality in an affecting way? I still don't see what my action item is here, and I certainly don't see what Macklemore's is.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm ready for an attack on Rabbi Heschel for having the gall to join the marchers in Selma.
posted by Area Man at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a straight person but Same Love sounds to me explicitly like Macklemore, a straight person, personally endorsing gay equality and gay marriage. It's possible -- hell, it's likely -- there are subtexts I don't know enough to get out of the song, but it doesn't seem to me like he's trying to speak for the gay community.

And yeah, big caveats about cultural appropriation probably apply all over the place when talking about a straight white rapper criticizing hip-hop for its homophobia, but still.
posted by gauche at 2:52 PM on September 5, 2013


Seems to me that the idea is less "Macklemore shouldn't ever have written the song" and more "People shouldn't be going nuts over how progressive Macklemore is if they're going to consistently ignore actual queer rappers talking about the same stuff from a firsthand point of view."

Seems to me the idea is "Twerking Miley outrage is on the way out, what else can I troll about to stir up page views?"
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thrift Shop came out August 28, 2012 according to Wikipedia.
posted by stenseng at 2:54 PM on September 5, 2013


Le1f's Wut came out in April of 2012, so he may have a point, at least regarding the chronology.
posted by stenseng at 2:57 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think what irritates me about this guy is that he seems to think he deserves to be successful. Maybe I'm misreading it but that's the impression that I get. It's not a zero-sum game, and Macklemore hasn't taken anything away from you. Just keep making music, and maybe you'll get that big hit. But probably not.
posted by Mister_A at 2:57 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty dang sure I heard that song a few times before last week.

Yep, you did
posted by Hoopo at 2:58 PM on September 5, 2013


no non-Jewish person is allowed to condemn the Holocaust,

Not so much that, but I would like it if non-Jewish, non-Roma people stopped using the Holocaust as a way to enobble their tawdry movies or novels.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:59 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


"People shouldn't be going nuts over how progressive Macklemore is if they're going to consistently ignore actual queer rappers talking about the same stuff from a firsthand point of view."

The thing is, Macklemore not being gay and supporting gay marriage equality? That's progressive. That's him trying to move things forward to the future he wants to see, even though it won't directly impact him.

People aren't listening to his song because they've been waiting with bated breath for a song to come out about marriage equality AND NOW THEY CAN so they're running over queer rappers on the way to the store. They're listening to his song because they like his music, with a side whammy of yay marriage equality.
posted by corb at 3:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [26 favorites]


Le1f's attempts to shame a straight guy who recorded a pro-gay marriage track with proceeds going to charity, all in service of trying to help a ballot initiative are definitely crappy.

HOWEVER, let's not get the idea that Le1f is strictly some no-talent hack trying to stir up controversy.

No, he's pretty cool, actually. He produced the magnificent/annoying masterpiece/earworm "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" for Das Racist. So as far as I'm concerned, his artistic merit is established.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:01 PM on September 5, 2013 [23 favorites]


(If you haven't heard that and you don't want to spend the rest of your goddamned day hearing "I'M AT THAT PIZZA HUT! I'M AT THAT TACO BELL! I'M AT THAT COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL!" in your head over and over, for the love of gawd, don't click that link.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [20 favorites]


Macklemore's "Same Love" Doesn’t Speak for the LGBT Community

Who actually said that it spoke for the LGBT community in the first place? Because if you listen to the song, it's clearly from a well meaning outsider's perspective, nor do I think Macklemore was making himself out to be the big I am of LGBT hiphop. It's perfectly legitamite for him to sing about these things, the way he did it.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:06 PM on September 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


I also think that the article glosses over how important pop/culture/coolness matters to what people say and do. ESPECIALLY teenagers. I think that one huge change in the last 50 years is the degree to which it is uncool and/or socially unacceptable to be openly racist, whether or not someone takes racial equality seriously.

So the Macklemore song may never win hearts and minds. But the incremental shifting of the dialog to make homophobia uncool and socially unacceptable also matters to reduce the background noise for gay children and young adults.

So even if the song isn't for Le1f, I think the cultural result may still be.
posted by mercredi at 3:07 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know about all this, but Le1f is doing some really exciting and fun stuff. I love the hell out of that Wut video. Macklemore is just ehh, kind of embarrassing.
posted by naju at 3:08 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you haven't heard that and you don't want to spend the rest of your goddamned day hearing "I'M AT THAT PIZZA HUT! I'M AT THAT TACO BELL! I'M AT THAT COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL!" in your head over and over, for the love of gawd, don't click that link.

Ehh. Much less irritating than this.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:08 PM on September 5, 2013


It seems like it's happening more and more and it's confusing to me.

Same shit happened in the Mid-90s once Clinton won. The left hates itself only slightly less than it hates the right. I just pray it doesn't have the same Bushtastic results in 2016.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:09 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"He says he isn't battling racism for Black people. He says Black people can (and do) take care of themselves and don't need some white guy to help them. He says his work is so that his own people, white people, can some day be rid of the cancer that is racism."

That's the right way to look at it.

I really think my pragma about justice and advocacy is important and helpful.

In short, when you're not a member of an oppressed group, then it's completely okay, even your responsibility, to be outspoken and active against the the injustice of that oppression. However, it's not okay, and not your place, to act as an advocate for the interests of that oppressed group, unless you've been invited to do so (which is situation-dependent, not a blanket "my friend who's X said it's okay for me to advocate for Y").

We all have a responsibility to oppose injustice. But there are very important agency and privilege issues involved in this sort of thing, and thinking about what you're doing in terms of asking whether it's advocacy, is a good way to clarify whether you're actually disempowering the oppressed group and reinforcing your privilege or you're rightly and productively opposing injustice.

In practice, of course, it can be quite ambiguous. Even so, the exercise of being mindful of this and constantly reeavaluating what you're doing in these terms can help you realize when you're going astray.

Finally, if you're not a member of an oppressed group, and you find yourself feeling defensive about articles like this linked post, you should take a step back and ask yourself why you're feeling defensive. It's about privilege — those of us who are largely privileged in many respects are not accustomed to having what we do be seen through a lens of being in a suspect group — something the oppressed live with every day. Our experience of being privileged means that pretty much other people, in relative terms, accept our good intentions and value our opinions and so when we decide that we want to go fix something that's broken, we just expect others to assent to the rightness of our choice to do so and to think well of us for doing so. Being angry and critical because we're trying to help? That's shocking. But that's an opportunity for us to think more carefully about what's going on here.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


ooh! glad to know about the proceeds going to charity! that was the one part i've seen of the le1f thing that i wondered about, because, yeah, especially after how big they blew up, that's just the right thing to do.

you see this same sort of ire directed at artists like lady gaga (who actually is queer, but biphobia keeps her from getting the cred as a queer artist) - and it just seems misdirected to me. i get that it's easier to attack a person than a system, but macklemore and gaga aren't stealing contracts and radio play- if they weren't there two less socially aware artists would be. i'm all for the marginalized getting the exposure they absolutely deserve, but save this sort of fight for artists like katy perry who support gay rights out of one side of their mouths while using gay as an insult and performing i kissed a girl out of the other side.
posted by nadawi at 3:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


some people aren't happy unless they're complaining.
posted by jpe at 3:11 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems to me that the idea is less "Macklemore shouldn't ever have written the song" and more "People shouldn't be going nuts over how progressive Macklemore is if they're going to consistently ignore actual queer rappers talking about the same stuff from a firsthand point of view."

That may be the point of view of the author of this article, but Le1f tweeted, "I'm gonna write a song about disabled people, or about the aboriginal struggle. cuz mama needs a new fur coat. oh wait, that's evil." That's a pretty shabby accusation.
posted by Area Man at 3:11 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would appreciate someone calling Same Love out for being corny as hell though. Not outrage worthy but, mad corny no matter what you believe. It's like Arrested Development level sweet corn.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:13 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I know from my Facebook feed that I have acquaintances who are on the earliest stages of understanding that gay people -- they're just like us! Last year one friend (who I've known for a decade, but only on-line) wrote a happy post about how she'd just met two men who were married to each other, and they were charming.

I believe "Same Love" is aimed more at those people than at anyone who's actually gay. It's not trying to blow anyone's mind, or radically change how minorities are accepted as they are. Taken in the important context Apropos of Something mentioned above, it's a sweet song and video.

(Additional important context: I'm straight myself. I recognize it's not 100% groovy for one straight person to be defending another straight person against a gay person's irritation re GLTB issues.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:13 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]



However, it's not okay, and not your place, to act as an advocate for the interests of that oppressed group, unless you've been invited to do so

thanks but no thanks. no one needs permission before calling out injustice.
posted by jpe at 3:13 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


some people aren't happy unless they're complaining.

Some motherfucker's always tryin' to ice skate uphill.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seems to me the idea is "Twerking Miley outrage is on the way out, what else can I troll about to stir up page views?"

Look at the date on the piece linked and on other things written on the issue. Just because you're only hearing about it now that the other VMAs stuff has died down does not mean that it wasn't there, just that you didn't see it. Which is the whole underlying point.
posted by rewil at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does one dude's twitter tantrum represent the LGBT community? Because otherwise this seems like much ado about nothing.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's so annoying when people who aren't like me try to teach tolerance of people like me.

I have no tolerance for people who aren't like me teaching tolerance of people like me.

Everybody like me knows that only people like me have the right to teach tolerance of people like me to people who aren't like me.

G'uh!!!
posted by MoxieProxy at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Macklemore seems like a pretty nice person. This guy, not so much. That's as far as my opinion goes on the subject.
posted by stenseng at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is dumb and I want my Internet dollars back.
posted by graphnerd at 3:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, setting aside the problem that twitter isn't news, it's not even good gossip reporting, I think that Coates has a good point.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:18 PM on September 5, 2013


"thanks but no thanks. no one needs permission before calling out injustice."

Yeah, that's what I wrote. Read my comment. You need permission to be an advocate.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:19 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seattle singer-songwriter & lesbian Mary Lambert deserves a post of her own. In lieu of, here Mary Lambert discusses writing the chorus to "Same Love":

Ben, Ryan, and Hollis approached me to write the chorus to ‘Same Love’ at the time I needed it most. For years, and especially at 23, I had been processing my seemingly contradictory life: The Christian and The Queer, all the while battling a history of sexual abuse and manic-depression. I wrote about being a gay christian often in my poetry, but never expressed it in music without it feeling contrived.

The second the song played through my computer speakers, I knew this was why I had never been able to kill myself through the years of my mental illness. I knew this is why I was still alive: This was the song that was so important, my God. I wanted to write a chorus that was poignant and honest; genuine. I really tried to not be gay at points in my life, but I was (and am) at a point where I refuse to apologize about my identity. I am not sorry about my gayness. I am not sorry I’m a Christian, either, though that’s far less persecuted than my gayness, which is ironically, instigated by the Christian community. “Not crying on Sundays” was a huge lyric for me to write. I cried and cried in church for a year, believing that I was going to Hell, trying to reconcile “the demons”. At some point, it became absurd.
I will not apologize for love. And my God, the God that I believe to be true, would never condemn love like this.
~ Mary Lambert performs an expanded edition of "Same Love."

~ Lambert's music video for the studio recording of the song, now titled "She Keeps Me Warm".
posted by nicebookrack at 3:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [54 favorites]


Permission from whom?
posted by Navelgazer at 3:21 PM on September 5, 2013


a few years ago during her early to mid teen years my niece was kind of casually homophobic - grew up in a certain area around a certain group - small town all the way - was drawn towards small town religion as a reaction to a shit dad and a partying sister - and with that she picked up some crappy ideas about what was ok and not ok to say and think about people different than her.

so i gotta say, it's pretty awesome to see her posting same love and the lyrics from it and using it as a jumping off point to condemn homophobia. are there better, more nuanced songs/art created by actual gay people? yes, absolutely. would she have found it on her own? probably not. i'm pretty thankful for bubble gum pop culture supporting gay rights though because it gave it to her in a language she was comfortable with.

...now if i can find a poppy song about how atheists are good people too and slut shaming is pretty icky.
posted by nadawi at 3:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


> It seems like it's happening more and more and it's confusing to me.

> Same shit happened in the Mid-90s once Clinton won.

It's been happening since the dawn of political time, and I think we might think there's more of it only because it's more immediately visible now. Twenty years ago you might have seen this piece as an article in a niche dead-tree publication and that's it.

Personally, I find the Macklemore song annoying, but I'm not a teenager and I'm not his audience. His audience does seem to like it a whole bunch and good for them.

I also don't speak for the entire LGBTQ community although god knows I wish I did sometimes.
posted by rtha at 3:23 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


However, it's not okay, and not your place, to act as an advocate for the interests of that oppressed group, unless you've been invited to do so (which is situation-dependent, not a blanket "my friend who's X said it's okay for me to advocate for Y")

I think this is really problematic. Doesn't this shift the burden onto people in your "oppressed group" to identify and request help from potential allies? It also seems like it would significantly reduce the activism of people with the social power to bring more attention to the issue.

If I'm reading your distinction between activism against injustice and advocating for oppressed groups correctly, then this would prohibit anyone but the oppressed group and their explicitly invited allies from proposing solutions. That doesn't seem like a strategy for success.

I understand the problems of outsiders sweeping in with "here is your solution" but your position seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by mercredi at 3:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


mercredi: "If I'm reading your distinction between activism against injustice and advocating for oppressed groups correctly, then this would prohibit anyone but the oppressed group and their explicitly invited allies from proposing solutions. That doesn't seem like a strategy for success."

Yeah, don't make me the guy to quote Martin Niemöller on MeFi again.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this is really problematic.

It's a complex situation that's really dependent on the specific context and people involved and a whole lot of nuance.

We just had a big argument over in a different thread, where someone was saying "Hey, [group of people whom I am an ally to], this over here is the important thing you should pay attention to," and members of the actual group of people were like "Hey, actually, this other thing we're talking about is really important" and the ally/advocate just kept doubling down. Which....not ideal.
posted by rtha at 3:28 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


rtha, I totally agree that there is an entire raft of bad outcomes when you assume you know the solution to other people's problems. And that it's really destructive when self-appointed allies drown out voices of the oppressed group.

But I still think that the blanket statement that you can't be an advocate unless specifically invited (in each situation?) isn't the correct standard.

Pay attention - yes. Be skeptical that your ideas are the right ones - yes. Defer - yes. But that standard, when applied as strictly as stated above, isolates and reduces advocate voices.
posted by mercredi at 3:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


mercredi: I understand the problems of outsiders sweeping in with "here is your solution" but your position seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I think that's one problem, another problem is with people appropriating LGBT issues for liberal credibility without giving a leg up to leadership within our communities. It's complex, but it's something we should have a conversation about, not dismiss it entirely by Godwining or Nadering the discussion.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


It probably bears repeating though, as mentioned above, the message of "Same Love" isn't at all that Macklemore is trying to speak on behalf of (or even to) LGBT people. He's speaking on behalf of himself, to people like him, making the case that they could stand to be decent.

He's not positioning himself as an advocate, just asking people in his own group to consider not being assholes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:35 PM on September 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a straight person but Same Love sounds to me explicitly like Macklemore, a straight person, personally endorsing gay equality and gay marriage. It's possible -- hell, it's likely -- there are subtexts I don't know enough to get out of the song, but it doesn't seem to me like he's trying to speak for the gay community.

The opening verse:
When I was in the 3rd grade
I thought that I was gay
Cause I could draw, my uncle was
And I kept my room straight
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She's like, "Ben, you've loved girls since before Pre-K!"
Tripping, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
A bunch of stereotypes all in my head
I remember doing the math, like
"Yeah, I'm good at little league"
A pre-conceived idea of what it all meant
For those that like the same sex had the characteristics
posted by maryr at 3:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think one of the problems here is that there's a pervasive cultural narrative made up of 1000 tiny things that basically goes "Hip-hop is a universal musical language and no one race deserves the credit! But when black people do hip-hop, it's always tacky and homophobic and about strippers and money! There's this cerebral hip-hop by non-black people with Important Messages, if only regular hip-hop could be more like that! But meanwhile, let me name-check some black artists for credibility and transgression points!" Almost no one actually comes out and says this whole narrative in one breath - because it's so obviously stupid! - but bits and pieces of it appear over and over and sort of cohere into "what is mainstream common sense about hip-hop".

And of course, it's really hard to pinpoint and destroy a large and pervasive narrative. But it gets really wearing when you encounter it everywhere. (And I feel like even I, someone who is not especially into hip-hop, hear bits and pieces of it all the time.)

So even though it isn't especially Macklemore's fault, and he isn't particularly terrible, he's an actual location where some of the terrible narrative about hip-hop gets deployed ("Macklemore is a GLBT ally! Unlike all those other people who are part of this dreadfully homophobic thing called hiphop and who are, coincidentally, not white!") And since his public persona is where this bad narrative is deployed, naturally folks are going to have some strong feelings about him, especially since he seems like his politics are not sophisticated enough to have him get up and denounce the whole bad narrative.

Honestly, though, on the one hand it's good that there are "liberal"/mainstream progressive artists out there, I guess...I certainly encountered those people long before I had access to anything sharper and more interesting since I grew up in a conservative suburb Before The Internet. But at the same time, because there are those people creating this hegemonic progressive narrative, you end up wasting a ton of time before you get to the real stuff. Like, I look back at Young Frowner and I think "If only I could have cut right to reading, like, Kathy Acker and Malcolm X and Leslie Marmon Silko and Joanna Russ and all the sharp, smart, radical people instead of having a long detour through Worthy Progressive Middle Of The Road Ideas first". Why can't people be introduced to difficult and interesting and complete analysis? Yes, it's a shock, but honestly, people raised with generic mainstream values (like I was) are probably going to sputter and struggle and fuss just as much when reading something that challenges their values just a little bit as reading something that challenges them a lot, because it's the mere fact of the values being challenged at all that provokes the sputtering.
posted by Frowner at 3:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [19 favorites]


I must admit, when I first heard Same Love, my immediate reaction was "Um... Thanks?"

But after mulling it over, I came to the conclusion that I don't mind. It's not for me -- though, come to think of it, that's actually kind of the problem: It's a song about people x that's not for people x, which I think is largely what Le1f is getting at. But, really, the alternative is preaching to the choir, and it is genuinely cool -- always -- to hear straight people acknowledge that treating queer folks like human beings will not cause the sky to fall.

In all seriousness, Macklemore et al, thanks.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


In short, when you're not a member of an oppressed group, then it's completely okay, even your responsibility, to be outspoken and active against the the injustice of that oppression. However, it's not okay, and not your place, to act as an advocate for the interests of that oppressed group, unless you've been invited to do so (which is situation-dependent, not a blanket "my friend who's X said it's okay for me to advocate for Y").

By that pair of criteria, you are apparently saying Harper Lee both should have and shouldn't have written To Kill a Mockingbird.

Like others above, I'd like a more nuanced explanation here. "Advocate" can mean a lot of different things.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:40 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ivan Fyodorovich:

However, it's not okay, and not your place, to act as an advocate for the interests of that oppressed group, unless you've been invited to do so ... if you're not a member of an oppressed group, and you find yourself feeling defensive about articles like this linked post, you should take a step back and ask yourself why you're feeling defensive. It's about privilege ...

Speaking as a gay dude, don't advocate this view on my behalf, because I disagree with it.

You (and many on the progressive left) seem to have a really deontological view of political ethics, judging the actions of allies according to how much they are checking their privilege or engaging the appropriate level of self-silencing or self-hatred or whatever.

Personally, I'm a consequentialist about these things. I think Same Love is having an enormously positive impact on US culture, with tangible consequences in terms of reducing homophobic violence. I don't like it when members of the left are willing to blithely sweep away all those important, practical outcomes because the actors concerned got a fail on the social justice moral purity exam.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:42 PM on September 5, 2013 [122 favorites]


I have friends whose kids I have known since the day they were born. I love them dearly and completely. They are getting to that age and asking about why Uncle Helmutdog does not have a girlfriend yet, and so I'll sit them down and explain that Uncle Helmutdog is tyring to find a dude to spend his life with.

Because of things like Macklemore's Same Love - which they completely fucking love - there is a cultural background that has already let them know what I want is totally cool and that I am okay, and everyone can be happy.

I am thankful for little miracles such as these.
posted by helmutdog at 3:44 PM on September 5, 2013 [40 favorites]


I think one of the problems here is that there's a pervasive cultural narrative made up of 1000 tiny things that basically goes "Hip-hop is a universal musical language and no one race deserves the credit! But when black people do hip-hop, it's always tacky and homophobic and about strippers and money! There's this cerebral hip-hop by non-black people with Important Messages, if only regular hip-hop could be more like that! But meanwhile, let me name-check some black artists for credibility and transgression points!" Almost no one actually comes out and says this whole narrative in one breath - because it's so obviously stupid! - but bits and pieces of it appear over and over and sort of cohere into "what is mainstream common sense about hip-hop".

I can only speak for myself, but the biggest names I've ever associated with being white rappers are Eminem and The Beastie Boys. Both quite talented, but hardly known for having progressive attitudes towards women. And I really do think there's a narrative that black people get most of the credit, at least for its formative years. (I have a hard time thinking it could be otherwise, the existence of a few random folks like Steinski notwithstanding.)
posted by Going To Maine at 3:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


dontjumplarry, say it again!
posted by MoxieProxy at 3:45 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm a consequentialist about these things. I think Same Love is having an enormously positive impact on US culture, with tangible consequences in terms of reducing homophobic violence. I don't like it when members of the left are willing to blithely sweep away all those important, practical outcomes because the actors concerned got a fail on the social justice moral purity exam.

Some of us (like the author of the linked article) can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can also say "that's a good thing" and ask "why are straights getting most of the best-selling media about gay rights?"
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


"why are straights getting most of the best-selling media about gay rights?"

but why would someone criticize Macklemore about this? He doesn't choose who the media covers.
posted by GuyZero at 3:50 PM on September 5, 2013


"If I'm reading your distinction between activism against injustice and advocating for oppressed groups correctly, then this would prohibit anyone but the oppressed group and their explicitly invited allies from proposing solutions."

No. I'm not using these specific words for no reason. Think about what "opposing injustice" and "advocating for the oppressed" mean. Sometimes, both things will arrive at the same solution, but how you get there matters.

I'm disabled. There's a public building I can't get into. Are you going to do something about that from the standpoint of helping me, or from the standpoint of removing a barrier to access for disabled people? You very well might end up doing the same thing either way — but, then again, you might not.

But even if you do, how you implement that solution will be affected by how you're thinking about what you're doing. How you deal with members of the oppressed group while you're doing these things will be strongly affected by how you're thinking about what you're doing.

You don't have the right to advocate for my interests unless I ask you do so. If you want to do so, then you need to ask my permission to do so. But you have every right, actually the responsibility, to oppose the injustice of discrimination against disabled people.

Navelgazer asks from whom would one get permission to advocate? As I wrote earlier, that's a narrow context, situation-dependent thing. If what you're doing really falls heavily in the "advocacy" camp, then you need actual permission from someone to act in that role.

For example, writing a song about how homophobia is hateful and wrong is not advocating. It's opposing injustice. Writing a song expressing the experience of being gay and how people should treat LGBT people better ... that's advocacy. You don't put yourself into that role, you need permission.

Many things will be more ambiguous. But I think that in practice it's often less ambiguous than people expect it to be because people don't realize they're conflating fighting injustice with advocacy until they actually think about the distinction. Before the consider it, then everything they think of doing and saying about issue X is all mixed together in the basket of stuff to say and do about issue X. But as in the previous paragraph, if you think about it, you can see how there's a distinction and you can then make decisions about your words and your actions to favor the "fighting injustice" side of thing, and trying to avoid the "being an advocate" side of things.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


but why would someone criticize Macklemore about this? He doesn't choose who the media covers.

Why don't you ask someone who is actually criticizing Macklemore about this?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:53 PM on September 5, 2013


Ivan Fyodorovich, would that basically play out as "Same Love" is okay, Elvis singing "In the Ghetto" is kinda ick?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:56 PM on September 5, 2013


Writing a song expressing the experience of being gay and how people should treat LGBT people better ... that's advocacy. You don't put yourself into that role, you need permission.

I can't read the lyrics right now, but I don't think Macklemore talks about the experience of being gay as an experience that he's had in the song. That might be why the singer for the hook "And I can't change..." is a lesbian.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:59 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can only speak for myself, but the biggest names I've ever associated with being white rappers are Eminem and The Beastie Boys. Both quite talented, but hardly known for having progressive attitudes towards women.

Quite a few well-known, but "underground" rappers are white. There is an attitude (primarily among younger fans who are still figuring out that they like this stuff), that this is "real" hip-hop, and not the stupid materialistic stuff like (lil wayne/nicki minaj/2chainz/etc). The original comment is dead on the money, and a lot of Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, El-P fans say _exactly_ that.

There is also some weird undercurrent of white racists who like hip-hop, but only white rappers. Its ... really fucking weird.
posted by lkc at 3:59 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also I just want to note that this song makes me want to cry whenever it comes on and I love it to death.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some of us (like the author of the linked article) can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can also say "that's a good thing" and ask "why are straights getting most of the best-selling media about gay rights?"

Talk to me when a gay artist uses the line 'smells like R. Kelly's sheets..... (pisssssssssss)' and a Clay Davis sample in a song.

this is luludicrous
posted by graphnerd at 4:01 PM on September 5, 2013


but why would someone criticize Macklemore about this? He doesn't choose who the media covers.

Also, please don't cherrypick one sides of a both/and statement.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:02 PM on September 5, 2013


i will also admit that while i understand why some people find it cheesy, it does get me right in the fucking feels. honestly, it reminds me of some of the awesome straight friends i had growing up who wondered if they were gay because they were my friend and then realized that they weren't and that it didn't matter anyway.
posted by nadawi at 4:02 PM on September 5, 2013


I think the popularity of "Same Love" is a good thing, but I hardly think of it as beyond critique.

From the article: "It certainly makes it more convenient when [as a straight person, you] can feel all fuzzy and warm because there’s someone like you spreading watered-down positivity rather than some Other suggesting that your passive acceptance isn’t really doing much to change a damn thing."

Numbers of straight, cis people must certainly have been inspired by the song to go do something to help end discrimination against LGBT people, and that's all to the good. But I personally have encountered people who believe that their listening to the song, their passive acceptance, is something amazing for which they deserve praise from LGBT people, even if their "support" is limited (to, say, not casting epithets at nice married gender-conforming middle-class cis couples who look like them). And I do get tired of encountering people who think mostly-not-hating people is something you're supposed to get cookies for, when to me that is. . . minimal human decency.

To me, what's troubling is the assertion that marginalized people who critique things are eating their own young or killing the left, or something.
posted by DrMew at 4:02 PM on September 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ivan, thanks for the clarification. I was just confused because I figured co-writing and co-performing the song with a member of the community in question would be enough permission. I follow you now.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:03 PM on September 5, 2013


Writing a song expressing the experience of being gay and how people should treat LGBT people better ... that's advocacy.

Yeah, it seems like we're at cross-purposes here, Ivan. Same Love doesn't express the experience of being gay, apart from a line where he notices that some gay kids are walking round with heavy hearts. I'd agree with you that it's very, very dangerous to tell stories from the point of view of oppressed people when you're not one of those people, but that's not what's going on here.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:04 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not on board with any theory that says a guy isn't allowed to say that his uncles should have the freedom to get married.

I also don't see how this song is crowding out gay artists. That's just Le1f's jealousy talking.
posted by Area Man at 4:08 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Ivan Fyodorovich, would that basically play out as 'Same Love' is okay, Elvis singing 'In the Ghetto' is kinda ick?"

I think "In the Ghetto" is a good example.

But looking at the "Same Love" lyrics, he does both things — there's some parts of the song that are pretty strongly focused on describing the experience of LGBT people, and then other parts that are focused on homophobia as inherently wrong.

This is an example of what I said about people conflating these two things because they're not thinking about it.

I didn't construct this pragma in a vacuum. It comes from my thirty years of experience being a male feminist. It's pretty clear to me that there's something entirely defensible about me opposing sexism. And it's also pretty clear to me (though it wasn't for a long time) that it's not defensible for me to appoint myself the defender of women and advocate for their interests.

That experience makes the distinction very clear to me in theory, but in practice it's the case that sometimes it's unambiguous and other times it's ambiguous. I'm not claiming that the pragma solves all problems and makes everything unambiguous. But I do think it could have helped someone like Macklemore avoid straying into that "Elvis doing 'In the Ghetto'" territory and staying firmly in the "hating LGBT folk is wrong" territory.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:11 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


To me, what's troubling is the assertion that marginalized people who critique things are eating their own young or killing the left, or something.

Eh, the progressive left "circular firing squad" problem is a valid concern. Did you see the post about Scalzi a couple days back? Or have you ever been to Tumblr? It's much easier for the left to engage in the busywork of carping about itself online than actually getting out onto the streets and changing shit. So that's what most people do.

(Also, I think your notion that every straight person in America is subtly homophobic or needs to check their privilege if they're not actively out on the streets marching for same sex marriage or whatever is ridiculous. There are other progressive causes too, far more important ones IMHO; being an LGBT activist isn't some shibboleth for moral purity.)
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:12 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


This makes me think about Tim Wise, a white anti-racism activist, and what he says about what he does and who he does it for. 

Funny you should bring up Tim Wise. The problem with Wise is that he actually speaks *over* the POC he purports to be advocating for. I still remember the time when an Asian commenter took issue with something he said, and Wise responded with the most patronizing condescending "I bet I've written more books than you on the subject so I know what I'm talking about" drivel. Yes, Wise, your fancy academic learnings sure beat out someone's actual life and experiences!

Since then, I haven't much cared for Tim Wise.

Allies are great. We need the dominant group on our side. But allies need to be careful to not conflate speaking FOR someone with speaking OVER them. You are not the most important voice in the room. And you are not above criticism just because you're trying.

I don't know if that's an issue with Macklemore, though.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 4:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


I mean, I think you can see the circular firing squad at work right now. We're all talking about Macklemore's moral shortcomings, and not (IMHO) the germane issue which is a music industry that won't promote queer/POC talent.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


But looking at the "Same Love" lyrics, he does both things — there's some parts of the song that are pretty strongly focused on describing the experience of LGBT people, and then other parts that are focused on homophobia as inherently wrong.

Well, no, not really. Unless I'm missing something.

He talks about thinking he must be gay due to his internalization of what his surrounding culture says gay people are like. That is definitely a thing that happens to straight boys and it's pretty clear he's speaking as a straight boy.

He talks about injustice in general terms, and specifically relating to his uncles.

Then there's the chorus, which was written, and performed by, a lesbian.
posted by feckless at 4:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"why are straights getting most of the best-selling media about gay rights?"

Assuming:
1. Same Love is from a straight perspective, not the LGBT perspective.
2. ~90% of the population identifies as straight.
3. People like to consume media that relates to their perspective.

I think it's easy to see why straight people talking about LGBT issues is getting more attention than LGBT people talking about the same issue.

le1f's rant is asinine, accusing Macklemore of cultural (mis-)appropriation and "watered-down positivity" while missing out on the fact that Macklemore is doing just the opposite. Same Love is hugely positive and isn't aimed at the LGBT community at all, nor does it borrow from it. It's giving to it in ways that le1f, for whatever reason, can't seem to see.
posted by Revvy at 4:20 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just thought the song lacked the joy and creativeness of Thrift Shop.

Of Montreal's version of the same idea is at least delightfully weird.
posted by miyabo at 4:21 PM on September 5, 2013


We're all talking about Macklemore's moral shortcomings, and not (IMHO) the germane issue which is a music industry that won't promote queer/POC talent.

Speak for yourself.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:24 PM on September 5, 2013


I will say, all else aside, Le1f has some fuckin' skills. Glad I got to hear about him.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:25 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found some lyrics that makes it clear which Lambert sings — there's still a few things in his verses that I think are too close to speaking to the point of view of LGBT (the when he was a child part, which is actually kind of weird, and the "if I was gay" part).

Also, the bringing up racism as he basically chastises hip-hop is pretty iffy.

That Scalzi thread was interesting, I'm glad someone mentioned it. When you're in a privileged group in contrast to those that are the target of an injustice you're speaking out against, it's really, really easy to misuse that privilege — and to have no awareness that you're doing so.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:26 PM on September 5, 2013


And you are not above criticism just because you're trying.

In fact, sometimes it seems like trying is a target for extra criticism! Some days it seems like the teacher who ignores the kids just scribbling gibberish and gives extra feedback to the kid who wrote something very nearly really good, other days like a clique that turns on the edge members saying "you're not a REAL x, look how you screwed that one up!".
posted by jacalata at 4:27 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


le1f's rant is asinine, accusing Macklemore of cultural (mis-)appropriation and "watered-down positivity" while missing out on the fact that Macklemore is doing just the opposite.

It's twitter, which is contextual, reactionary, and truncated.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:28 PM on September 5, 2013


"In fact, sometimes it seems like [an ally] trying is a target for extra criticism!"

Rightly. That's not a bug, it's a feature.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:29 PM on September 5, 2013


I was always under the impression that part of being oppressed is that no one in the dominant group really cares what you have to say unless it conforms to some preconceived notion about you; that's why it takes a straight artist singing about LBGT issues to get straight people to realize that, oh, hey, LBGT artists sing about this stuff too, whoda thunk it.

There's also this frustrating tendency to treat social movements as monolithic entities composed of perfect ideological clones and not, say, a bunch of individuals with their own opinions who just so happen to have broadly similar thoughts on specific issues pertaining to them. The result is some sort of weird hybrid between the RINO concept and identity politics whenever people within/aligned with a movement discover that they don't happen to agree on all the details about an issue.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 4:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


In fact, sometimes it seems like trying is a target for extra criticism!

Meh. A lot of the time, for me, it feels like allies are channeling Dan Radcliffe in SNL.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 4:31 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rightly. That's not a bug, it's a feature.

I disagree.
posted by jacalata at 4:33 PM on September 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


"...that's why it takes a straight artist singing about LBGT issues to get straight people to realize that, oh, hey, LBGT artists sing about this stuff too, whoda thunk it."

So your argument is that the injustice of heteronormative society can only be answered by heteronormativity? We know that straight people won't listen to gays, so only straight people can get straight people to listen to gays?

Therefore, all the oppressed groups need to form a queue and wait their turn for the straight, white males to be their advocate. This is your notion of how social justice should work?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:38 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich, can you post the actual lyrics you think is him speaking for the community instead of speaking as an ally? i agree that the hip hop line isn't the absolute best way to say that, but he seems to be pretty aware of how his skin color has the critics responding to him differently (and saying that it's bullshit) so i don't think he's blind to that critique of his work.
posted by nadawi at 4:39 PM on September 5, 2013


The song registers a net positive in the compassion department as far as I'm concerned. Good fortune, talent and a seeming good heart on the part of the artist have given it wide distribution.

It's a Good Thing. It doesn't save the world, but what does?
posted by Mooski at 4:43 PM on September 5, 2013


Ivan Fyodorovich, can you post the actual lyrics you think is him speaking for the community instead of speaking as an ally?

Not really about the song itself, but I believe Macklemore received some criticism for not giving Mary Lambert a chance to speak during the VMAs. Yes, you can argue that she wasn't the one who won the award, but still, if your song is all about advocating for gay people, then it might be a good idea to give the gay person the mic when you have the opportunity to do so.

(To be fair, there's also the possibility that she didn't WANT to speak....)
posted by imnotasquirrel at 4:43 PM on September 5, 2013


Ivan, the only way an oppressed minority ceases being oppressed is for the majority to stop oppressing them. The majority isn't going to listen to the minority about the issue without someone in the majority speaking out about it. That's the definition of oppression. In most cases, those in the majority also face great risk for speaking out.

Is this how social justice should work? No, it's not. But it is the way it works.
posted by Revvy at 4:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it in vogue lately for every activist movement to attack its supporters now?
Take "lately" out of that sentence, and yes. We're just past the 100 year anniversary of the Menshevik-Bolshevik split, and closing in on the 1000 year anniversary of the Catholic/Orthodox schism, right?

I'd be curious to know if there was ever a long-lived successful movement that didn't turn a harsh eye on its own members at times. It's hard to always perfectly moderate your levels of criticism, and the opposite error, failing to be self-critical enough, seems to be dangerous too. If your true believers always turn a blind eye to each others' failings, that just lets those failings multiply until they're grossly obvious to the rest of the world.
posted by roystgnr at 4:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


i get that critique, but it seems like if you weigh it up against all the support they've given her and how kindly she speaks of them and the experience, that it's a little unfair to loft it up as high as not letting gays speak for themselves (not that you're doing that - just drawing it back to conversation).
posted by nadawi at 4:46 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that it's definitely true that people are more likely to listen to the voices of the dominant group. But that doesn't mean that it's the ideal situation, which is why I don't think we should just throw up our hands and go, "Well, whaddaya gonna do?"

IMO allies should make an attempt to signal boost the voices of the marginalized group. A lot of them don't do that. (Once again, lookin' at you, Tim Wise.)
posted by imnotasquirrel at 4:47 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I disagree."

Basically, it's two things. One, the privileged person is like a 1,000 pound, twelve-foot tall giant in a room of normal-sized people. Two, the 1,000 pound, twelve-foot tall giant, by virtue of being huge and scary, has lived a life where all the normal-sized people always move out of his way, so he's never had to worry about them, while he's accustomed to jostling with the other giant-sized people.

Now he's in that room. And he's decided that he wants to help those normal-sized people.

He has a greater responsibility to take care in what he does, because he's more likely to cause unintentional harm than others doing the same thing he's doing. And it's especially important because he's not accustomed to taking this extra care in what he's doing.

The things he does wrong, when he's careless the same way the other people are careless, rightly receive more criticism. And it's not so much that he gets extra criticism as it is that he's now getting the appropriate level of criticism, given the degree to which he regularly throws his disproportionate weight around. He's accustomed to getting less than he ought to be.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:48 PM on September 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


i agree - but macklemore very specifically used this to signal boost a lesbian artist, so...it sorta seems to me like le1f is mad about one thing (possible rip off of his song) and then expressed his anger at another thing where he felt his positioning was stronger.
posted by nadawi at 4:49 PM on September 5, 2013


(i agree was for imnotasquirrel, thought i was gonna type that up before something got in between the comments)
posted by nadawi at 4:50 PM on September 5, 2013


I found some lyrics that makes it clear which Lambert sings — there's still a few things in his verses that I think are too close to speaking to the point of view of LGBT (the when he was a child part, which is actually kind of weird, and the "if I was gay" part).

The child part is a story from his own life. Are you claiming he needs permission to tell that story? If so, what makes you think he didn't have it? Doesn't Ms. Lambert's involvement and the connection with the campaign in Washington suggest he may have had "permission"?
posted by Area Man at 4:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


nadawi, just to clarify, my last comment wasn't directed at you, I think we just posted at the same time. I was speaking more generally about the idea that society is more apt to listen to the dominant group.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 4:52 PM on September 5, 2013


imnotasquirrel - we're all good. i saw that as a general comment, but was just saying that on the topic of the thread, i personally (as just one queer person) think that macklemore has done a pretty good job with the signal boosting and getting out of the way of a lesbian telling her part of the story.
posted by nadawi at 4:53 PM on September 5, 2013


Ahhhh, Ivan Fyodorovich, has it occurred to you some of the, "heteronormative" community don't consider themselves completely divorced from other human beings on the mere basis of their sexuality? All this, "privilege checking/self flagellation" nonsense promotes greater difference and distance - the more we attempt to identify with others...understand and empathise with their experience...the more inclusive and cohesive we'll become.
posted by Nibiru at 4:57 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


For the record, sometimes when rappers take on a topic from a perspective other than their own it works out great.
posted by Hoopo at 4:58 PM on September 5, 2013


Ahhhh, Ivan Fyodorovich, has it occurred to you some of the, "heteronormative" community don't consider themselves completely divorced from other human beings on the mere basis of their sexuality? All this, "privilege checking/self flagellation" nonsense promotes greater difference and distance - the more we attempt to identify with others...understand and empathise with their experience...the more inclusive and cohesive we'll become.

More empathy is better than less.

But by definition a tribe has difficulty feeling empathy for those outside it.

So where the 'tribe' (the social justice movement) has come together for the express purpose of promoting greater empathy in the world...

Well. It gets complicated.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's not speaking for the velociraptor community either. He's speaking as a straight man. I can tell because I listened to the lyrics.

What are we talking about now?
posted by craven_morhead at 5:05 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ivan, I appreciate that you have put a lot of thought into this, but I think you might be making the perfect into the enemy of the good.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:14 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The problem here is that most of the critiques of Macklemore's actions (as opposed to the larger cultural reaction to them) that we've plowed through don't hold up very well.

He's been criticized for writing from the perspective of a gay person. He didn't do that.

He's been criticized (by le1f) for not donating his proceeds to a worthy relevant cause. Except he is.

He's been criticized for not giving enough support to the actual lesbian singer involved (Mary Lambert). That's probably debatable (e.g. whatever happened or didn't happen at the awards show) but she's been pretty clear in her interviews that she feels she's been supported / promoted / etc. by him very well.

le1f thinks he stole some bits for Thrift Shop, which ... who knows. Not really relevant.

It's funny because doing advocacy, publicly, for another group (and let's keep in mind he had no idea it would blow up THIS big) *is* tricky, for all the reasons folks above have pointed out. But I think Macklemore has handled it about as well as it could be.

(The one thing I think he could have done better? Maybe trying to get more "and Mary Lambert" into the song credits in various places. But maybe he has tried, and failed. Don't know.)
posted by feckless at 5:15 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


No good deed, etc.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:15 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


All this, "privilege checking/self flagellation" nonsense promotes greater difference and distance - the more we attempt to identify with others...understand and empathise with their experience...the more inclusive and cohesive we'll become.

As the whole point of being aware of one's privileges is to try to understand and empathize with those who do not have them, so as to avoid riding roughshod over others, this statement makes no sense to me, sorry.
posted by DrMew at 5:15 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I prefer to call it "Tumblr social justice." Because there have been social justice movements that existed before the preeminent youth-based internet one, and there will be movements after it. Equating that movement as the same thing as all current social justice movement is flat out inaccurate.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


there's still a few things in his verses that I think are too close to speaking to the point of view of LGBT (the when he was a child part, which is actually kind of weird, and the "if I was gay" part).

I don't think this is particularly fair, as as others have noted he's expressing his own lived experience of how sexuality is unfortunately arbitrarily coded by certain behaviours or personal characteristics by popular culture which can confuse the hell out of people, particularly young people who don't fall neatly into socially defined categories.

I'd note that, again as others have already mentioned, such experiences are not uncommon, and while that doesn't mean that someone with such experiences - such as Macklemore, or myself, or several of my close friend - gets to speak as the POV of someone who is LGBT, it does give some insight, and that we actually do have a right to express our experiences without being accused of speaking for other people.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm still waiting for Ivan Fyodorovich to post the lyrics in which Macklemore speaks for the gay community instead of just for allies.

As Mooski wrote, the song is a net positive in the compassion department, and that seems like a lousy thing to complain about.
posted by waldo at 5:18 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The things he does wrong, when he's careless the same way the other people are careless, rightly receive more criticism

And eventually, he's going to decide that caring about his actions isn't worth the bother. What's in it for him, apart from constant criticism? A little glow of righteousness, one that's constantly being spit on?

You ever stop to wonder how so many hippies and flower children wound up being the same ones that voted in Gingrich and Dubbya? I used to. I think I get it now.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It'd still be nice if LGBT artists putting out the same message could get as much (or more) notice though.

To be perfectly honest, I was shocked that Boy George's "Same Thing In Reverse" didn't make a bigger splash when it was released. Great song off an outstanding album. But then, 1995 might have been a BIT early for the general public to be welcoming to such a song, even as good a one as that.
posted by hippybear at 5:24 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


As the whole point of being aware of one's privileges is to try to understand and empathize with those who do not have them, so as to avoid riding roughshod over others, this statement makes no sense to me, sorry.

We're all human beings. We have significantly more in common than not. By differentiating between myself and another human being on the mere basis of their experience differing from mine - "I don't understand what it feels like to be gay...or a lesbian...or transgendered"...constantly reminding myself of that difference and consciously and deliberately interacting with that person on that basis...promotes and facilitates greater distance between us.
posted by Nibiru at 5:29 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw crap. I'm having a "coming out" moment on Metafilter. I may have before, but I think not...

I'm bi.

I've been married for 8 years and 2 days to a wonderful woman. But if circumstances had been different, who knows. I might have hitched up with another guy at some point, and we might have wanted to marry here in Florida. Where it's illegal.

I try to use my straight privilege for good. When I speak to my elected representatives while advocating in favor of marriage equality, I'm sure to mention my wife, and how my marriage to her isn't any more sacred than her sister's marriage to her female spouse. So why shouldn't they get the same deal? I feel like when I'm doing advocacy, I might be more valuable to the cause if I'm perceived as a "straight ally". Maybe I'm wrong.

So, I've never listened to this Macklemore person's music. Or anything else recorded after 1996, with very few exceptions. But there's been some discussion of Same Love here, so I figured I should check it out and I just watched the video. Knowing it would probably not be My Kind Of Music.

I'm in tears. Here's a straight-identifying guy who Gets It. And he's donating proceeds to a marriage equality group. I don't even like the song, but it has me crying.

So I don't give a damn if he does or does not "speak for the LGBT Community", whatever the hell that is. Often the "LGBT Community" isn't very accepting of the B's and the T's anyway. But this Macklemore idiot with his terrible Thrift Store song or whatever that I've been able to ignore for awhile has written a song that speaks to me, if not for me. And I'm going to give him credit for that. Because when hip-hop artists that I love, and I know a lot of Metafilter loves, like Wu-Tang Clan, dis on "fags" and this Macklemore clown says "If I was gay I would think hip-hop hates me", I have to respect that Macklemore Gets It, and Wu Tang Clan does not.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:37 PM on September 5, 2013 [40 favorites]


Perhaps the Wu-Tang Clan are involved in some nth dimensional chess boxing?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 5:43 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I'm still waiting for Ivan Fyodorovich to post the lyrics in which Macklemore speaks for the gay community instead of just for allies."

"If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me"

It doesn't get any more speaking for the gay community than that. It's a little weird that you and several others have asserted that he doesn't speak for the LGBT community when that lyric is right there.

Also:

"Kids are walking around the hallway / Plagued by pain in their heart / A world so hateful / Some would rather die / Than be who they are"

And while his lyric about his childhood experience is his experience, the crying because he thought he was gay is all about connecting his own experience to the messages that LGBT heave heard about themselves. It's making an implicit comparison between that one incident in his life to the actual lifetime of experience of LGBT folk. This is exactly the kind of ham-handed thing that privileged people do with these sorts of things.

Anyway, I've not been that critical of this song or Macklemore. I agree that there's a lot he does right. I do think the issues raised by Coates and Le1f concerning the attention and praise have merit, but that's mostly a separate issue than what I was addressing (though it intersects because why all that attention and praise has everything to do with why advocacy is problematic).

I'm mostly concerned with the point of view in this thread — which is the majority view — that the criticism of Macklemore was self-evidently absurd and that there's not anything problematic in this sort of thing. And especially this whole white-man's-burden-esque subargument. Ultimately, oppressed groups empower themselves or they're not ever actually empowered. It's not about the empowered class condescending to help them. It's about the oppressed group empowering themselves.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think no, it's not really ideal that there's a white male getting credit for promoting the rights on this sort of thing. But I get the impression Macklemore's at least aware of this.

"And would that success have been the same if I would have been a black dude? I think the answer is no."
posted by solarion at 5:55 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "Ultimately, oppressed groups empower themselves or they're not ever actually empowered. It's not about the empowered class condescending to help them. It's about the oppressed group empowering themselves."

I don't think there's any dispute about that. The crux of the problem with the link in the OP, which I think's been expressed here, is the assumption that Macklemore intended to empower anybody. The lyrics you quoted were, in either case, calls for hip hop to stop using slurs and lamenting the fact that gay teens commit suicide - at a much higher rate, in fact, than other groups. There's also been plenty of conversation up thread about how Macklemore's interest, in the time and place, was almost certainly about getting people to vote for a specific gay marriage referendum. We can dispute, I suppose, the relative importance of those aims in the grand scheme of social justice, but it seems to a lot of folks in this thread (including a lot of gay folks) that Macklemore stayed within some fairly limited bounds.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:57 PM on September 5, 2013


"If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me"

It doesn't get any more speaking for the gay community than that.

Sure it does. Here's some sample lyrics that speak more for the gay community than that:

"I'm gay, and hip-hop hates me."
"On behalf of all gays everywhere, hip-hop hates gays"
"Heh, all us gay and gay friendly people, hip hop fucking hates us amirite?"

I could go on.
posted by effugas at 6:00 PM on September 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm mostly concerned with the point of view in this thread — which is the majority view — that the criticism of Macklemore was self-evidently absurd and that there's not anything problematic in this sort of thing. And especially this whole white-man's-burden-esque subargument. Ultimately, oppressed groups empower themselves or they're not ever actually empowered. It's not about the empowered class condescending to help them. It's about the oppressed group empowering themselves.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:49 PM on September 5 [+] [!]


While I think you're right that the oppressed group has to take control of their own advocacy, why can't they have allies outside the group? Should Abe Lincoln have kept his distance from slavery? Should Obama have stayed away from don't ask don't tell? Why don't third parties have a position to point at injustice and object?
posted by ben242 at 6:02 PM on September 5, 2013


"why can't they have allies outside the group?"

They can.

"Why don't third parties have a position to point at injustice and object?"

They do. They should.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:08 PM on September 5, 2013


Maybe "logic suggests that, were I gay, I would feel that the hip-hop community reviled me, due to their judicious use of terms representing my orientation as pejoratives" just didn't flow.

This honestly might be my lack of information speaking but after watching and listening to Same Love, I'm at a bit of a loss as to how he could have been any better an ally than he is here. He covers a lot of bases and includes a lot of folks and makes an effort to bridge to people who might not have thought about things before.

If the song consisted of him standing and reading a really carefully privilege-screened piece entitled "I am not gay and I do not want to speak out of turn here, but I have some things I want to say", it might stand up better to this kind of scrutiny, but it would almost certainly reach a narrower audience, and is that a good tradeoff?
posted by ftm at 6:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I guess haters gotta hate, even if the thing they are hating about is something talking about not hating.
posted by hippybear at 6:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


They do. They should.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:08 PM on September 5 [+] [!]


... unless they're in a position of privilege, and then they need to stop trying to be a hero?

The point of mentioning Lincoln and Obama was that both of those guys had ultimate privilege AND ultimate responsibility to advocate for groups that they are not a part of.
posted by ben242 at 6:15 PM on September 5, 2013


I'm mostly concerned with the point of view in this thread — which is the majority view — that the criticism of Macklemore was self-evidently absurd and that there's not anything problematic in this sort of thing.

I'm hearing a lot of queer people saying that the song is a good thing and they're not worried about it. I am a queer person, and I say that, and I'm a little bit irritated that you're stomping around telling me that I'm Doing It Wrong.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:16 PM on September 5, 2013 [33 favorites]


Quite a few well-known, but "underground" rappers are white. There is an attitude (primarily among younger fans who are still figuring out that they like this stuff), that this is "real" hip-hop, and not the stupid materialistic stuff like (lil wayne/nicki minaj/2chainz/etc). The original comment is dead on the money, and a lot of Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, El-P fans say _exactly_ that.

Fair, but there's no money in the underground. The money's on the surface, and the mainstream acts define the mainstream perception. Which is sort of what this is all about - Macklemore is being discussed because he's now mainstream.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:29 PM on September 5, 2013


Exactly. And while I think any acceptance fostered by the song is wholly a good thing, I also can't blame members of the queer hip hop community -- not just the artists, but the audience -- for being frustrated with the mainstream entertainment media for treating the idea of LGBT-positive hip hop as groundbreaking and new.
posted by rewil at 6:31 PM on September 5, 2013


"I am a queer person, and I say that, and I'm a little bit irritated that you're stomping around telling me that I'm Doing It Wrong."

I haven't done that in any sense whatsoever.

Seriously, I first commented in response to a more general point and for the purpose of making a more general point. I wrote something in passing about my opinion of this song, and then got pressed on what I thought was wrong with it. I don't have a strong opinion about it and have never expressed anything other than some mild concern. I've not in any way argued that those who aren't offended by the song are wrong to not be offended; the sentence you quoted was me contesting the claim that Coates and Le1f are arguing something beyond the pale, which is not the same thing as arguing that you should have been offended.

Otherwise, I think it's helpful and clarifying for people who are not members of an oppressed group to think about the distinction between "opposing injustice committed against that oppressed group" and "advocating for that oppressed group" which really has nothing to say, in this context, about how LGBT people are doing "it", for whatever value of "it" that might be.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:48 PM on September 5, 2013


This is exactly the kind of ham-handed thing that privileged people do with these sorts of things.

So what, sort of like half of the words in this thread being one straight guy explaining to everybody else why they are wrong to think that this isn't "problematic"?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:49 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Same Love is a net positive if only because it lead to the creation of Mary Lambert's She Keeps Me Warm, and the sweetest loveliest most smile-inducing lesbian music video.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:50 PM on September 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Macklemore can sing whatever he wants. And everyone is 100% free to say how what he sings bothers them.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:54 PM on September 5, 2013


And everyone else is 100% free to say that if what he sings bothers people, that bothers them. Ad infinitum.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So what, sort of like half of the words in this thread being one straight guy explaining to everybody else why they are wrong to think that this isn't 'problematic'?"

Well, first of all, 80% of what I've written haven't been about that. Somehow I got appointed the representative of Coates's and Le1f's position because I don't share the majority opinion that Coates and Le1f are nuts, even though I also don't really agree with Coates and Le1f.

That aside, yeah, you're exactly right. I have a responsibility to tread lightly. I'm quite happy to inadvertently be an example of my argument. So on that note, I'll bow out.

With just a final word that, again, I didn't intend to prosecute Coates's and Le1f's case, as I don't really agree with it — but I also don't think they're crazy. But that was never why I commented in this thread. I just wanted to say that a privileged person like me or Macklemore ought to think about the distinction between opposing injustice and advocating for the oppressed because the latter especially collides with issues of agency and empowerment and such.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2013


It's bothers all the way down.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I am a queer person, and I say that, and I'm a little bit irritated that you're stomping around telling me that I'm Doing It Wrong."

I haven't done that in any sense whatsoever.


Wow. I mean, this is classic.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


it might be helpful to comment about the topic of the thread instead of whatever side conversation you want to have, maybe especially if the conversation you want to have its about how straight guys need to be careful with how they engage in conversations on lgbt matters. from where I'm sitting you're doing the thing you're arguing against, intentionally or not.
posted by nadawi at 7:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's all listen to Homophobia by Chumbawamba.
posted by Nomyte at 7:23 PM on September 5, 2013


So I kinda feel like I should write a comment about how this reminds me of the folks-against-advocating-for-legalization-of-same-sex-marriage-because-that's-super-assimilationist-you-guys.

But I actually want to say that that website feels like Slate and Mental Floss had a baby and gave it to Buzzfeed to wet nurse. (EG: 10 of Music's Most Controversial Performances. Apparently the Dixie Chicks making some mildly political remarks is more controversial than the Hell's Angels at Altamonte.)
posted by PMdixon at 7:51 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Straight white guy jumping in to argue with straight white guy! Finally, a thread where I can identify with the assorted subjects!

Ivan, look at the lyrics to Same Love. Some commentary on the absurdity of thinking of sexuality as somehow essentially connected to gender—the notion that masculinity and homosexuality can't go hand in hand, which he points out is foolish. Some ruminations on equality and love. Points made that homophobia sucks, love rocks, gay marriage should be legal, etc. Nothing especially controversial. No insight that requires any particular degree of sexuality, in my opinion.

I don't hear him trying to talk about the myriad of ways in which gay, lesbian, bi, or trans people suffer. He isn't trying to claim their experiences for himself. He's pointing out that they do suffer, without getting into any gratuitous or exploitative detail, and certainly he's not painting himself to be any sort of authority on the matter, other than the basic common sense of LOVE IS A GOOD THING.

I reject the notion that common sense should be exclusive to any minority group. That group's experiences should be somewhat exclusive to them, sure, because it is shallow and perhaps hypocritical to claim experience which is not yours. But just as straight people have the ability to not be homophobes, so too should they have the permission to write songs about not being homophobes.

As to the complaints by what's-his-name, well, I love Das Racist and anybody who produces for them has got to be all right. But Macklemore is a pop songwriter. He writes earworms and he writes words that are clear, simple, and straightforward enough to get stuck in your head. He's quite good at this, and I am incredibly happy that the messages in his songs have been 1) stop spending too much money on shit, 2) love rules, and 3) hard work matters a lot. Even if the dude quotes Malcolm Gladwell, he's leagues ahead of most of the stuff you hear pop musicians getting into.

Hip hop of all shades can be great, and maybe this guy is good at what he does; the song he claims Macklemore allegedly ripped off does jack shit for me. Hip hop is not the same thing as pop music, even though pop deconstructs and exploits it as it does all things. I don't entirely buy the notion that Macklemore's success is somehow damaging queer artists, because it strikes me that we have quite a few astonishingly successful artists who identify as some sort of queer or another. I'm sure there are plenty of extraordinarily gifted queer musicians who don't have the clout that Macklemore does, and let's face it, they're also probably cleverer writers and more interesting composers than he is, because Macklemore is not extraordinarily experimental or unique. He's just catchy. But catchy is what sells, always and forever more. Pop is its own genre the same way funk or rock is: it embraces and dismantles everything it comes into contact with. But it's still a distinct entity unto itself.

In conclusion, I get where this guy's coming from, but disagree with his take (and with his accusations of plagiarism). And I think that Macklemore is a kind of awesome thing.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:02 PM on September 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


I wonder if these people getting mad on the blogosphere are the same people who got mad at Lil B.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:05 PM on September 5, 2013


sup bros swm here ama

Sorry. I'm kind of a professional ally, so I understand a lot of the concerns voiced in this article, but I'm also a former music writer, and I know some deadline bullshit when I see it.

That Macklemore song went viral pretty quick among folks working on marriage in the gay community and like most things that my younger coworkers like, it got the shit played out of it at the office (ask me how many times I've heard Get Lucky) and I can totally see hating it. I've also been a Le1f fan for a while (since Das Racist) but think he's kinda showing his ass on a lot of his charges. Macklemore's not making a mint on LGBT equality.

As for speaking for the LGBT community, it's weird. That can be part of my job sometimes, to write quotes or speeches for LGBT leaders. I like to think I'm pretty good at it. But another big chunk of my time is devoted to trying to facilitate LGBT people talking about their experiences, especially because one of the biggest tools we've got for persuading people is helping humanize LGBT people to straight folks.

I'm actually struggling with it a bit right now, as we're trying to come up with some sort of educational campaign around trans issues (specifically, trans students getting protection in California, since Frank Shubert's up against us in that one) and making sure that it's both authentic and still relatable is really hard. (Not least because being out as trans is different from being out as LG or B.) I mean, most people still don't even know what transgender means, but folks I hang around with, their concerns are, like, kickstarters for top surgery, not marriage.

One of the recent campaigns we've started is just called, "I Commit

I try to avoid doing the Lorax of the Gays thing as much as I can, and actively talk to LGBT folks about pretty much everything I do, because my goal is generally to come up with things that LGBT folks can relate to enough to not feel alienated.

On the other hand, maintaining our org's facebook page has amply demonstrated that plenty of people in the LGBT community are contrarian morons just like in any other community (I'm regularly shocked by the weird homophobic and transphobic things LGBT people post on our FB), and that some percentage of folks can always be counted on to bleat about anything. (Most recently, we got told by Covered California — the ACA exchange — to call the ACA, "Obamacare." People got hella pissed at us and sent in a bunch of angry notes about it, and it's like, guys, really, go dump Stoli or something.)

Sorry, this is a bit high and rambly. I like Cakes Da Killa more than Le1f.
posted by klangklangston at 9:30 PM on September 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Not so much that, but I would like it if non-Jewish, non-Roma people stopped using the Holocaust as a way to enobble their tawdry movies or novels.

I'm actually glad I live in a world where art like, say, Bent can be made, which show that the horrible injustices perpetrated during the Holocaust were broader in scope than what is usually portrayed as exclusively a Jewish phenomenon. Gays and lesbians were targets for annihilation, too. Different perspectives from cultural works like film or music teach a clearer and more powerful lesson about where the end result of systemic hate leads, and the Holocaust should be no different.

Just as I'm glad that Macklemore spoke openly about how bigotry in hip hop and elsewhere inflicts hurt on GLBT family, but he also taught to a lot of people who wouldn't have otherwise thought about it, that those injustices are largely up to straight people to fix (say, through voting on Washington's Prop. 74).

It's easier to fix or prevent injustice when that injustice is recognized from multiple perspectives. I'm relieved that there are decent people like him who will put their livelihoods at risk to speak to straight people like himself, to say something to straight people that would not have been popular only a few years ago.

He doesn't speak for GLBT and it is the height of stupidity and bad faith reasoning to argue that he does. But if he speaks for straight, white people, he's doing an awesome fucking job of it. Better than most, certainly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:40 PM on September 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live in Washington, and I remember last year when we were running up to R-74, which was our marriage equality bill. The bill had a strong but narrow lead in polling, like 51-47, but we (well, the R-74 people, I did a very little bit of phone banking for them but should not really put myself in that category) were worried about the Apathetic Youth Vote, worried that everyone in Seattle would be so convinced it would pass that they wouldn't bother filling out their ballot and mail it in.

In July, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released Same Love, which was explicitly written in support of their partnership with the Music for Marriage Equality campaign. It's a political song. And boy howdy that shit took off -- Dan Savage promoted it, the Stranger featured it prominently, it got linked all over Facebook, and I started hearing it EVERYWHERE. And people started talking about how this wasn't just an important issue, but it was important to VOTE for this issue. Between the viral energy of the song and the really substantial amount of money it raised for the R-74 GOTV campaign, it definitely made a difference.

We were seriously hoping for, like, 50.9% of the vote on R-74. We got almost 54%. King County, where Seattle is, voted for it 2-1. And honestly, from having been there and worked on that campaign, I really do think that "Same Love" is responsible for a couple of those percentage points.

Is the song problematic? Probably, fuckin' everything is problematic somehow. Is the fact that the media is lionizing this white guy for being "the first rapper to support LGBT rights" disgusting and racist (not to mention ignorant and false)? For sure, no argument there. But he got that bill passed, or anyway made it pass a lot more strongly, and that was the aim of the song. So good on him.
posted by KathrynT at 10:05 PM on September 5, 2013 [29 favorites]


Macklemore's entire career prior to The Heist has been white guy with moderate-to-above-average-talent stumbling his way through intensely earnest and honest, if at times awkward, lyrics. When this was recorded and released he was still pretty much a local guy here in Seattle adding his earnest and awkward 2 cents to an important local election issue. It's pretty irritating to see him criticized for Everything That's Happened Afterward, especially when Everything That's Happened Afterwards has been unequivocally a Good Thing.

When The Straights all accept the GLBTs without any more homophobia, you know we The Straights are all still gonna have feelings and stuff about things that might not be exactly what the GLBTs want us to have and I think that's ok.

Also, my kids adore Macklemore. The fact that this song is something they request I play in the car is probably a bigger deal than them growing up with a black president.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:17 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


But if he speaks for straight, white people, he's doing an awesome fucking job of it. Better than most, certainly.

This is what I've been trying to figure out how to say all day. Not that Macklemore comes off as a dudebro exactly, because he strikes me as plenty sharp, but for this pretty freckle-faced party anthem rapping-hipster-dude to say "I wondered if I was gay once* and my mom was like whatever but not like that was bad or anything" and "I have a gay family member who I think should get to marry his partner and that doesn't make me weird or bad or gay" and "YouTube assholes suck" and "If I was gay, I'd think hip-hop hates me" and, effectively, "I'm cool and I'm not a homophobe", without coming off like an After-School Special? I think that's a big deal. I think it's a story of "I could have been an asshole, but I'm not." Speaking for the not-assholes, so to speak.

*Which I think stands in pretty closely for "I got called gay when I was a kid," which is one of the wellsprings from which homophobia forms.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:21 PM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I find the song patronising and irritating to listen to, but I don't see it as detrimental to acceptance at all. Acceptance for dummies? Okay. That's fine. Would be great if queer singers got their due, but is Macklemore stopping that from happening? Hardly.
posted by crossoverman at 11:37 PM on September 5, 2013


le1f thinks he stole some bits for Thrift Shop, which ... who knows. Not really relevant.

Actually... The only reason Macklemore could do "Same Love" and it becoming such a huge hit is because "Thrift Shop" was. From Le1f's perspective, first he stole his song, than he did some sappy crappy song about Le1f's own community, getting all the plaudits with none of the hard work.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:57 PM on September 5, 2013


Same Love is a net positive if only because it lead to the creation of Mary Lambert's She Keeps Me Warm, and the sweetest loveliest most smile-inducing lesbian music video.

Without that chorus, much of the criticism of Same Love would make more sense, as without it is somewhat mackish and rambling, even if it was well intentioned. With She Keeps Me Warm, the song has a heart and the reason it resonates with straight people so much is not because we get the warm fuzzies about being so wonderfully accepting of the queers, but rather because what Lambert sings about is such a recognisable, universal emotion.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:43 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


KathrynT: "In July, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released Same Love"

Wow, thanks for that link, KathrynT. The "official statement" by Macklemore is much more personal and self-conscious than I expected, given the criticism I'm hearing. Some bits that really make him seem like a mensch:

Awareness that he's talking as an ally and not a member of the LGBT community
Initially, I tried writing from the perspective of a gay, bullied kid, but after getting some feedback, I felt it wasn’t my story to tell. What I do know, and where I wrote from, is my own perspective growing up in a culture where“that’s gay” was commonplace, with a huge stigma on those who identified and were perceived as gay.

Acknowledgement that people came before him, including other hip-hop artists, POC and gays
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES came out in support of gay marriage. Jay-Z, arguably the biggest rapper in the world, then followed. Finally, Frank Ocean felt comfortable enough with himself to share his sexuality in his music and came out last week. That is courage.

Making it about changing his (our) own broken culture, rather than white knighting
As somebody that believes in equal rights for all humans, you can only watch poison regurgitated for so long... My intent is not to scrutinize or single out hip hop. It happens to be the culture that has profoundly shaped me, and the one I feel most accountable to.

Could he have done better? Maybe! It'd be nice to see him respond to the criticisms of his song in a spirit of grace and learning, before all his fans decide that defensiveness is the way to go.

But this queer dude is really glad that "Same Love" is around. Corny as it may be, I still cry every time I hear it.


Ivan Fyodorovich: "Ultimately, oppressed groups empower themselves or they're not ever actually empowered."

Yes, but you know, some of us just aren't there yet. Some of us are still weak and shy and not long out of the closet. Sometimes you need a hand up before you can start walking on your own, and I won't turn that down if it's offered with sensitivity.

I know that you're coming from a good place Ivan, and I respect what you have to say. But my world would be poorer if straight authors didn't ever write queer characters. There have sometimes been folks who've done a bad job of it, sure, but your hard and fast rule that one shouldn't advocate for an unprivileged group can't be right. It neglects both content—what is an author saying within their work?—and context—how are they interacting with others about their work? Both are much more important to me than the specific techniques they use to get their message across.
posted by vasi at 12:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


When The Straights all accept the GLBTs without any more homophobia, you know we The Straights are all still gonna have feelings and stuff about things that might not be exactly what the GLBTs want us to have and I think that's ok.

That's cool; I like it. I suppose it's akin to the point I was attempting to make. I appreciate it's somewhat simplistic, but if we could just strive to relate to each other as human beings, accept the well-meaning but perhaps not perfectly articulated offer of empathy or understanding for what it is, and retreat a little from the divisive nit-picking...perhaps we'd get there...a more inclusive and cohesive society...a little faster.
posted by Nibiru at 1:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Much ado about something.
posted by panaceanot at 5:33 AM on September 6, 2013


In conclusion, I get where this guy's coming from, but disagree with his take (and with his accusations of plagiarism). And I think that Macklemore is a kind of awesome thing.

Which guy? Because there's two of them in that article, one of whom disagrees with the other and probably is closer to agreeing with much of what has been said here, assuming the metafilter rage machine could pull its head out of its ass for long enough to actually read a concluding paragraph.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:33 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm talking about Le1f. And I always RTFA before commenting, thanks for the condescending PSA.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:03 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tha comment thread is why I love The Blue.

My initial take on the Flavorwite post was "haters gotta hate" and that this guy was a troll complaining because his own song didn't do as well. I've spent the last 20 minutes reading through all the comments here and I feel like I've learned every possible POV. I've come around to see that he might not be a troll and that he's got a legitimate argument argument -- even if I do ultimately disagree with it.

Either way, the passion and eloquence in the thread has been outstanding. Metafilter FTW.
posted by zooropa at 6:08 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not for nothing, but even assuming Le1f is 100% correct that the instrumental track for "Thrift Shop" rips off "Wut," it bears mention that the music on Macklemore's tracks is by Ryan Lewis, so that would be who is to blame.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:14 AM on September 6, 2013


At this point I am betting on seeing an announcement soonest for a song by Le1f ft. Macklemore or vice versa.
posted by chavenet at 6:24 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that there's some underlying stuff happening here:

There are already-existing splits among GLBT people along lines of race and gender expression; white people and masculine-presenting people, especially white men, not only get treated a lot better but can actively perpetuate oppression by refusing to date/socialize with people of color or by fetishizing them and by creating a discourse that puts down femme-presenting and gender-non-conforming queer men (and in a different way disparages femme GLBTQ women). So I feel like a factor in all of this is the Le1f, the actual queer person in the picture, is a black guy who plays with gender and racialized norms around gender, and Macklemore is a very standard, normatively handsome straight white dude with masculine self-presentation. Even though Macklemore is straight, he's a lot more like the people in the GLBTQ community who perpetuate "no femmes" and creepy stuff about race.

There are also class divisions, which are often but not always racial as well.

And in fact, it's a lot of the folks who are more socially marginalized among GLBTQ folks who have been questioning whether marriage is really a goal that's going to help them much, since its main benefits such as access to insurance, property rights and so on are much more relevant if you have money and higher class status. And in fact, the things that marriage is designed to stabilize (who has access to what property, basically) are the same ossified, hierarchical property system that is hurting a lot of marginalized people.

I think all of that is lurking in the background. For those of us who are less marginalized (which, as a white, college-educated, employed and insured queer person, I pretty much am) it's really important that we realize that important-but-still-sort-of-abstract to us ("who can love who", matters of feelings and optional social expression generally) are material matters of survival to a lot of other people. The social cost of being GLBQ (and to a lesser extent the cost of being trans, which is pretty high across the board) is much lower for people like me, since we have our whiteness, our relative health, our class status, our work history in white collar jobs, our establishment in liberal cities to protect us than it is for someone who is more marginalized. Realistically, folks at work may not all be cool with my sexual identity and gender non-conformity, but I have a lot of leeway and a lot of recourse should people be assholes. Someone in a shittier job with fewer social resources might have neither.

What I'm trying to say is that it's not just that Macklemore's straight - it's that he has so much social standing, security and privilege. It's not just that GLBTQ stories are not his to tell - which, good on him for naming that - it is that there are a lot of people who are trying to make their own art or want to see their own experience represented in art whose social worlds are so much more deprecated and marginalized and invisibilized than his social world.
posted by Frowner at 6:25 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm talking about Le1f. And I always RTFA before commenting, thanks for the condescending PSA.

Then address the points raised by the article, and not just the unreliable and fragmentary tweets quoted by the article.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:38 AM on September 6, 2013


CBrachyrhynchos - is there a reason that you're being so aggro? it seems like a conversation is going along where people are discussing the post, and the songs/artists behind the post, and the underlying issues of privilege and being an ally, etc - and you keep interjecting about rtfa and address concluding paragraphs and rage machines - and i feel like we're reading different threads...

is there a point or points specifically that you want to bring up that you think we're ignoring?
posted by nadawi at 6:44 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude, I wrote a whole long thing about how I felt about these various issues. Did you skip all of that just to read the "in conclusion" part at the end? I know it's tempting, but I really did have more to say than I did in that one ending sentence.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:01 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


nadawi: CBrachyrhynchos - is there a reason that you're being so aggro?

First is that twitter shouldn't be used as a source in these kinds of discussions because it's reactive, contextual, and truncated. Personally, I don't think Coates should of quoted those tweets at all. Second is that about half of this discussion is glossing right past the fact that the linked article discusses two different opinions to go "lol Le1f." The second half has largely been personal bickering with Ivan, who's taking it perhaps a step too far, but is more right than wrong on this issue.

For some reason I keep flashing back to the outrage a few years ago that one of the LGBT literary awards (I forget which) announced that it was going to favor LGBT-identified authors. Didn't the gay community owe straight women for building an entire counterculutral genre for m/m fiction?

But yes, I see Coates's actual argument that "Same Love" is a good thing, but we need more promotion of LGBT artists buried under a pile of bullshit here. And I get a little bit prickly when this gets framed over an extended discussion as an either/or matter. It seems to be a chronic problem here that cultural criticism from minority perspectives gets reframed in terms of good or bad.

Rory: Dude, I wrote a whole long thing about how I felt about these various issues. Did you skip all of that just to read the "in conclusion" part at the end? I know it's tempting, but I really did have more to say than I did in that one ending sentence.

You spent three paragraphs dickering with Ivan. I couldn't figure out exactly what your second two paragraphs were about, because you deliberately erased Le1f's identity. You didn't acknowledge any of your points of agreement with Coates, the author of the piece you were quoting. So it's unclear whether you were responding to Le1f, Coates, or both. I don't think we can fairly respond to Le1f if all we know about his opinions are a handful of twitter messages.

BTW, "metafilter rage machine" wasn't you. If I had meant you, I would have written "you."
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:49 AM on September 6, 2013


Macklemore is nearly the platonic ideal of someone who tried to do it The Right Way, specifically trying to not appropriate other's experiences, donating profits to help the minority he's advocating for, being sure to be respectful of how he comes across and the limits of what he brings to the table.

In my book, you don't attack allies like that, because otherwise you're attacking everyone who does not fit your level of marginalisation. It becomes that no-one can be a friend if they aren't the same as you, and that's waaaay more limiting than that a straight white guy believes in equal rights for everybody.

I get wanting to be heard through your own voices, but it's not like there are no queer artists you can engage with, and that they're harder to find and less popular is hardly the fault of someone like Macklemore, or even Miley, or whoever is popular at the moment. Get angry at the cultural guardians, the music producers, the general populace even, but there's no point in getting angry at the other musicians, especially when they're on our side.

(And, of course, music taste is subjective - people might hear both Macklemore and le1f and honestly prefer the former.)

Aside from standard sub-editorial title ragebait (because Macklemore doesn't claim to be speaking for the gay community on 'Same Love'), this article is indicative of that Tumblrian drive to police each and every goddamned little thing about anything that fits within a network of outrage-driving buzzwords, and I'm glad Metafilter, for the most part, didn't take the bait.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Actually... The only reason Macklemore could do "Same Love" and it becoming such a huge hit is because "Thrift Shop" was.

Thrift Shop was released a month after Same Love. I had certainly never heard the song when Same Love started blowing up around here. If anything, I'd say that Same Love's popularity helped launch Thrift Shop, from someone who was watching it happen.
posted by KathrynT at 8:19 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Honestly not trying to be snarky here, but couldn't a much simpler response to Le1f's post boil down to "don't attack the messenger?" A lot of his ire seems directed at a guy genuinely trying to do the Right Thing, when it's actually the message he should be attacking?

For lack of better phrasing -- shouldn't he hate the game, but love the player?
posted by zooropa at 8:38 AM on September 6, 2013


I'm a straight person but Same Love sounds to me explicitly like Macklemore, a straight person, personally endorsing gay equality and gay marriage. It's possible -- hell, it's likely -- there are subtexts I don't know enough to get out of the song, but it doesn't seem to me like he's trying to speak for the gay community.

Right in the damn song, he acknowledges that he's straight, but also explains that that shouldn't affect his validity anyway: "I'm not the same, but that's not important - no freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it."

I mean, I can see where Le1f is coming from ("why aren't people listening to what gay rappers have had to say about this issue") and I can see a subconscious subtext as well ("Thrift Shop sounds too much like my song, why is he more popular than me grumble snarf grar"). But sometimes you don't know whose foot is gonna get through the door first. And if someone got a foothold finally, you don't pull it back out because it wasn't the right kind of foot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thrift Shop was released a month after Same Love.

yeah - i think part of the problem is that there are significantly different time lines depending on how you heard about macklemore - for some people thrift shop blew up and then they learned that he did other, non-party rap stuff, but because of thrift shop they think of him as some sort of silly party rapper, when truthfully that sort of thing only shows up occasionally in his work. for other people, they heard him first with the song about baseball, or otherside, or same love and then they watched thrift shop blow up.

those differing timelines are going to change perceptions about what sort of artist he is and where his fame came from.
posted by nadawi at 8:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess haters gotta hate, even if the thing they are hating about is something talking about not hating.

Yep, thanks for summing up my feelings in about the best way possible.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:02 AM on September 6, 2013


"And in fact, it's a lot of the folks who are more socially marginalized among GLBTQ folks who have been questioning whether marriage is really a goal that's going to help them much, since its main benefits such as access to insurance, property rights and so on are much more relevant if you have money and higher class status. And in fact, the things that marriage is designed to stabilize (who has access to what property, basically) are the same ossified, hierarchical property system that is hurting a lot of marginalized people."

Yeah, I hear that a lot, but it's not actually true. Marriage benefits a ton of people on the lower end of the socio-economic scale, mainly through insurance, but through all sorts of other things too. It's true that the middle-class white gay was the main image for marriage, but getting all queer theory on marriage in general is not a winning argument. RTHA has gone through this before, and she's super better at it than I am, so hopefully she'll come along and give more info.

What I think there's a much stronger case for, and one that I'm really super sympathetic to, is the argument that marriage, while well and good, sucked all the air out of LGBT advocacy broadly. It's something that was a total double-edge sword for us, because we had been transitioning to a post-marriage paradigm for at least about a year prior to the decision, but marriage is still our number one fundraiser. In a lot of ways, marriage was a big shiny object that distracted a lot of reactionaries from opposing all the other ways we were broadening and strengthening LGBT equality.

It's a big part of why there's been a swing from us (and some others — GLAAD's doing great stuff) to really emphasize the T in LGBT. A lot of transgender folks who could already have gotten married if they wanted to stood by us in marriage, and the T did get (sometimes literally) swept off the stage.

(We're running a campaign called "I Commit" which is all about taking folks from marriage and into all the other issues that face the LGBT community, and we're doing pretty well on it. If anyone else wants to get involved with it, shoot me a memail/email. People of color and transgender commitments are especially needed — part of the goal is to show the breadth of the community working for LGBT equality.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


the argument that marriage, while well and good, sucked all the air out of LGBT advocacy broadly

A good point. You could make a case that this is what happened over here, once equal marriage rights were won in the Netherlands well over a decade ago, that tendency to think LGBT rights were now a resolved issue, though there is still a lot of barely repressed latent homophobia in our society. (Football frex being very gay unfriendly, with the latest kerfuffle being about a couple of sophomoric pundits caught out in a bit of homophobic banter and talking about how a given football team wouldn't have any gay members, because they were all healthy boys, etc)
posted by MartinWisse at 1:49 PM on September 6, 2013


Yeah, I hear that a lot, but it's not actually true. Marriage benefits a ton of people on the lower end of the socio-economic scale, mainly through insurance, but through all sorts of other things too. It's true that the middle-class white gay was the main image for marriage, but getting all queer theory on marriage in general is not a winning argument. RTHA has gone through this before, and she's super better at it than I am, so hopefully she'll come along and give more info.

See, this is not what I hear from the poor queer folks, especially queer folks of color, that I actually know. Since I'm solidly union/skilled working class, job-wise, and since I am white, I don't really have lived experience on this front. I'm agnostic on a personal level - but since I haven't encountered poor queer folks who are excited about marriage, I can only base what I say on what I have heard and understand to be the case.

Also, in most of the poor couples that I know, no one has insurance - marriage isn't going to give them access.

Although maybe we're calibrating "poor" differently - I'm sure there's some folks on metafilter to whom I would be poor and thus, actually, marriage to me would get a partner access to my insurance.
posted by Frowner at 1:54 PM on September 6, 2013


yeah - the topic of marriage for poor minorities is one that's thorny no matter the sexual orientation or gender of the participants. it makes perfect sense to me that there are queer people, specifically queer people of color, who feel marginalized in the current fight for equality. there was an amazing couple of hashtags on twitter recently, #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen and #SolidarityisforBlackMen, as a white queer woman who grew up in poverty, i learned so much about my own unexamined blindspots.
posted by nadawi at 2:14 PM on September 6, 2013


Here's a beautiful live performance of the song with Tegan and Sara doing Lambert's part, in case there was still any question of "permission."

I think Le1f is fantastically talented and deserves more exposure than he currently has, but I think (and I could be wrong) that his issues with this song are coming from a bad place of misplaced envy. Any plain reading of this song is as a call from one ally of the LGBT community to other potential allies to step up and help out. And part of what makes it work is the bit of vulnerable bravery that comes through of Macklemore having to justify himself as a straight man.

Please, if I'm wrong-headed about any of this, let me know, but it seems to me that there's a tipping point in any minority movement where influential parts of the majority make a point to push it forward. Macklemore is part of that front, and I want to be too, and if there are any instructions on best practices, I'd like to know about them.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:30 PM on September 6, 2013


The closing quote from Macklemore's statement accompanying the release of Same Love moved me:

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson

And every copy of Same Love that I can find today credits Mary Lambert in the title.
posted by SakuraK at 11:25 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


fuckin' everything is problematic somehow

'Problematic' really just means 'I don't like it'.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:29 AM on September 7, 2013


"'Problematic' really just means 'I don't like it'."

No. Not at all. Do you seriously, genuinely believe that assertion? Or was it really just snark?

Because for me and people I know, saying something is "problematic" has the specific meaning that it's like, say, a minefield: it's not guaranteed that it will go badly, but it often does go badly, and it's not guaranteed that it will go fatally badly, but it sometimes result in a very messy death.

For me, "problematic" is closer to something that might be okay or I might "like" than it is to something that is guaranteed to go wrong, or that I definitely don't "like". Your definition is very far from how I use the word. Problematic means it involves or is conducive to problems. That doesn't necessarily equate to "noxious".

The ways that allies, such as I am with regard to LGBT, engage with a cause are problematic. But I certainly in no sense dislike allies engaging in such causes! I'm not opposed to, or dislike, my own involvement in LGBT rights! But my involvement, as was demonstrated in this thread, is problematic.

When I use the term, and when I encounter someone else's use of the term, what I understand it to mean is that maybe X should be avoided, or that maybe X is good to do but it should be done very cautiously, or that X is something that people necessarily do but that it can be difficult and have unforeseen and sometimes negative consequences, or even that X is just a big and difficult thing that's just hard to talk about productively. Which is to say, it often means that this is something that should be done or engaged with because there's the potential for doing it right. Or figuring it out. "Problematic" is more a kind of warning, like "twisty, steeply descending mountain road ahead". I like twisty mountain roads. I like getting from up there to down there. "Problematic" often means something pretty much the opposite of "I don't like it".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:11 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The ways that allies, such as I am with regard to LGBT, engage with a cause are problematic.

Not by default. At least, it shouldn't be regarded as the default, in my opinion, and the idea that allies' engagement with a cause they're supporting is inherently, or by default, problematic, is one of my bigger bugbears with this.

I'd much rather accept people who want to be on my side, but evaluate and find problems in their support if it starts causing problems, rather than just blindly assume that every ally is doing it wrong unless they meet my stringent standards of acceptable support.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:59 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that Lilla Watson quote saying essentially the same thing that Ivan Fyodorovich was arguing upthread? I'm curious about the context.

This was a really interesting conversation. I just reread Thousand Splendid Suns and have been listening to a couple interviews with Khaled Hosseini, talking about the challenges of writing from the perspective of abused Afghan women (coming, as he does, from a position of relative security and affluence). This thread's given me more to think about... thanks, all.
posted by torticat at 10:50 AM on September 7, 2013


"'Problematic' really just means 'I don't like it'."

Not at all. It means acknowledging that there are problems with unfettered enjoyment or engagement with a thing.

For example, I enjoy the Mr. Moto movies, even while acknowledging that the yellow-face performance of Peter Lorre is pretty problematic when considered from a contemporary vantage — a lot of the shit in them (or many earlier movies) is hella racist. Other people may find the movies too racist for their taste. The racism is problematic; it causes problems.
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on September 7, 2013


"I'd much rather accept people who want to be on my side, but evaluate and find problems in their support if it starts causing problems, rather than just blindly assume that every ally is doing it wrong unless they meet my stringent standards of acceptable support."

You're using a definition of problematic that is not the one I was using in the same comment from which you quoted me — a comment which was explicitly about challenging a presumed definition of problematic that is equivalent to "wrong" or "bad". That is to say, "problematic" does not mean that someone is "doing it wrong".

It means that there's an increased likelihood that they'll make mistakes, which I think is an inevitable corollary of privilege. That this is the case implies that allies have a proportionately larger responsibility to be self-aware and cautious.

With regard to what I think is your implicit argument — that allies are necessary or useful enough such that they should be given the benefit of the doubt — this is a very natural and generous inclination that I think unfortunately does more harm than good.

It's true that allies are ambassadors of a sort to privileged classes and wider society and that eventually most everyone must become an ally to reach the end point of the process of achieving social justice with respect to an historically oppressed group.

But long before that's the case, the involvement of privileged allies exists within the context of that privilege and the harm their involvement as allies can do if they are allowed to act within the context of their privilege within the oppressed minority's activist subculture. They will naturally act in accordance with their habituated privilege, taking up a larger space than is their right if they are not actively limited. Giving them the benefit of the doubt is precisely what they expect, being privileged, and they will instinctively defend against attempts to limit their tendency toward reifying their unconscious privileged status quo. The privileged in this context are camels with their nose in the tent.

There's no reason to be actively hostile — although it's completely understandable for someone to be impatient and annoyed when they've had to deal with other people's privilege pushing them around their entire lives — but rather, be very firmly assertive in establishing and enforcing boundaries. You can't do that if you're giving them the benefit of the doubt about their bumping up against and pushing past those boundaries; allowing this from the beginning sends the message that this is acceptable behavior. They won't see it that way, because it's normal behavior for them. Right from the outset, their expectations have to be adjusted such that they're in accordance with an environment where they have much less "space" than they're accustomed. They won't like this — but it's easier for them to acclimatize to what is for them an unusual environment and experience if it's done at the beginning of their involvement as opposed to later when they've made themselves comfortable, formed relationships and habits in this social space. If it's later, it will be more painful for everyone.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:55 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think one of the things that's bugging me about this entire thread is that a gay artist has been dismissed and mocked at on the flimsiest of evidence, and writer has been largely ignored in spite of explicitly acknowledging Maclklemore's contribution to the cause, in order to defend a straight guy who's quite possibly at the top of his career with platinum records and industry awards.

And that doesn't sit right with me. If we can't have a critical discussion about a work that's at the apogee of popularity, what can we discuss? And if "don't attack the messenger" doesn't apply to Le1f and Coates as well, then it's not really a rule.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:19 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ivan - I personally read 'problematic' as 'jargon for is a problem'. And I went and checked, and google define: says "a thing that constitutes a problem or difficulty." So I think you are using it wrong and should find a new word for 'difficult endeavour that frequently goes wrong'.
posted by jacalata at 11:36 AM on September 7, 2013


A "difficulty" is not necessarily a problem.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:44 AM on September 7, 2013


The entry for problematic at Merriam-Webster:
    • : posing a problem : difficult to solve or decide
    • : not definite or settled : uncertain <their future remains problematic>
    • : open to question or debate : <questionable>

  • expressing or supporting a possibility
Examples of PROBLEMATIC
  • Rules of grammar are more problematic for non-native speakers.
  • <the problematic situation of somehow having two dates for the same party>
SYNONYMS

catchy, delicate, difficult, dodgy [chiefly British]
hairy, knotty, nasty, prickly, tricky (also problematical)
sensitive, spiny, sticky, thorny
ticklish, touchy, tough, tricksy
As you can see, almost none of their definitions include the sense of error or badness, the sense of something being broken or wrong, but rather of difficulty or trickiness or uncertainty.

Their first example clearly cannot mean problem in the sense that you're insisting upon — there's nothing wrong or objectionable about the rules of grammar for non-native speakers, they're just more difficult. Non-native speakers are more likely to have trouble with them, but not certain to. Their second example is much closer to your preferred usage — two dates for the same party is well-nigh insurmountable. That's an objectionable or broken situation.

But their synonyms strongly lean collectively toward something that is difficult in the sense that it presents the likelihood of something going wrong (tricky, delicate, sensitive, touchy, ticklish), not the certainty.

If you look at their definitions for problem, you'll see that most of them are similar to problematic in being more like a "math problem" and less like a "health problem". But one of the definitions is "perplexity, distress, or vexation". And, interestingly, six of their ten examples are closer to the "health problem" sense of something being wrong or broken.

My sense of these usages is that people very often use problem to indicate wrongness and distress; if there's a problem with my car or with my computer program or with my insurance claim, that implies that something is actually broken.

But problematic, as we see with the M-W entry for the word, leans pretty heavily toward the "difficult or sensitive or tricky" side of things. It suggests the possibility of something going wrong while not asserting that it's destined to go wrong or break or is already wrong or broken.

If problematic means problem in your idiolect, it's likely that you share this as the primary usage with other people. Clearly, the previous comment in this thread demonstrates that at least a few other people understand the word as you do. However, I feel that the dominant usage is not as "jargon for problem", but rather a usage with a meaning that is very distinct from problem and most people are deliberately choosing problematic to convey that distinction. Otherwise they'd use problem.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:30 PM on September 7, 2013


I didn't say "jargon for problem", but "jargon for is a problem". Eg, as I've always interpreted it, the adjectival form of problem used by people trying to make their language more complicated.
posted by jacalata at 3:05 PM on September 7, 2013


Yes, well you might consider not assuming that someone is using a word you aren't comfortable with for the nefarious purpose of their vanity. They might just be using it because it's useful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:49 PM on September 7, 2013


I think one of the things that's bugging me about this entire thread is that a gay artist has been dismissed and mocked at on the flimsiest of evidence, and writer has been largely ignored in spite of explicitly acknowledging Maclklemore's contribution to the cause, in order to defend a straight guy who's quite possibly at the top of his career with platinum records and industry awards.

Or people read the article and came to the conclusion the gay artist was wrong, and/or tweeting from his less noble impulses. Gay people can be wrong too, after all, and just because someone claims something is negative using their minority status as an authenticator doesn't mean they're correct to do so.

Of course, a number of the people disagreeing with the article and/or the musician are gay as well. Having differing opinions on things is not just something straight people do.
posted by gadge emeritus at 3:04 AM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Okay, people who have not yet listened to "Wut" totally should. Perhaps I am just dazzled because I am no hip-hop expert and because it has sort of a jerky choppy free jazz sound and because I listened to it covertly on my computer at work while doing a spreadsheet, but I really like it.)
posted by Frowner at 6:52 AM on September 10, 2013


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