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November 12, 2013 10:27 AM   Subscribe

After several years out of the mainstream music scene Lily Allen returned last week covering Keane's "Somewhere only we know" in this year's John Lewis Christmas TV ad. However, today Lily released her latest video which is ... somewhat different in tone and nature.

Some notes from the Consequence of Sound, Billboard and the Guardian.
posted by Wordshore (103 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Incidentally, would be interesting to hear how much this video is censored, or maybe not shown at all, on US TV.)
posted by Wordshore at 10:32 AM on November 12, 2013


Prolly could use a NSFW tag.

Good to see her come back to stir shit up; she's fantastic. I only got to catch some of the video before realizing that it's not safe for my windowed office, but I'll watch it tonight with the missus, another Lily Allen-Rose-Cooper fan.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:36 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will take this as a comment on Run The World (Girls). And a lot else, really.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:39 AM on November 12, 2013


Oh man, Reddit is going to have a field day with this one.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:45 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I quite liked this.

I don't know how any female singer/songwriter, once she reached a certain point of fame, wouldn't be performing/writing their version of this song over and over again. Like I don't know how she could concentrate on writing about anything else.

(The answer is that women who get to that point have to develop filters that I can't even imagine, I suppose.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:47 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I found the song catchy, the message bluntly and powerfully delivered, but I'm never quite sure how to react to the concept where the very thing a piece of work rails against is blatantly evident in the presentation (but, I guess ok because it is done ironically?)
posted by The Gooch at 10:48 AM on November 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I guess ok because it is done ironically

I think it's done as illustration.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2013


I think the point was, "You wouldn't bat an eye if a man was in my place in this video."
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a little sweet on Lily Allen so I can't offer an objective opinion. Good to see her back in the mix, though.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:55 AM on November 12, 2013


Oh man, Reddit is going to have a field day with this one.

Twitter appeared to be in meltdown over this, and yeah, the New Statesman made the point "Lily Allen mocks every stupid sexist pop video you've seen in the last five years". I lost it and spluttered tea everywhere at the balloon retort to Robin Thicke. First time I've ever applauded a ... pop video? ... since Thriller.
posted by Wordshore at 10:56 AM on November 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't know how any female singer/songwriter, once she reached a certain point of fame, wouldn't be performing/writing their version of this song over and over again.

Because the themes, expressed both lyrically and musically, that expand the universe of pop music virtually always boil down to either 'desire' or 'loss'. You need new ways to make listeners feel desire or loss in order to be a memorable pop artist (by pop I mean everyone from Adele to Elton John to The Beatles).

I quite like Lily Allen (and she is one of the few females in pop with genuine sex appeal) but this kind of gesture song is why she will never be remembered as a pop star.
posted by colie at 11:01 AM on November 12, 2013


OK, I am naming my non-existant band Balloon Retort.

Also, this song is awesome and Lily Allen is awesome and always has been awesome. Why did Twitter (I assume in the US) go batshit? The lyrics are comparatively tame.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:03 AM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Musically, it owes an awful lot to Nicki Minaj's "Starships."
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like everything about this, except...Please tell me that the auto-tuning in the song is intended as ironically as so many of the visuals. It sort of spoils the refrain for me, just purely in terms of Allen's usually impeccable pop aesthetic, so I hope there's not an album full of it on the horizon.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:14 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


All the dumb youtube comments seem to be shitting all over her for using autotune too, therefore, I like it.

We don't discuss autotune enough when talking about pop music, I'm glad this song could bring the topic of autotune to light.
posted by windbox at 11:17 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Lilly Allen. I love that she can make catchy pop music that has a message ala Fuck You.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:20 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I await the hastily-reworked "Lorde is racist" thinkpieces.
posted by maledictory at 11:22 AM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nice! Good for her.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on November 12, 2013


This one becomes 100x as awesome when you realize it is about Theon Greyjoy.
posted by Justinian at 11:38 AM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Despite disagreeing with her about issues around music piracy, I've always liked and respected her.

Glad to see that's not changing any time soon.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2013


This reminds me of Reggie Watts amazing Fuck Shit Stack.
posted by larkery at 11:46 AM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Allen also sang with Pink on the song "True Love" last year.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:50 AM on November 12, 2013


Most importantly: Is that Cousin Larry playing the agent?
posted by The Gooch at 11:57 AM on November 12, 2013


I love Lily Allen - so glad she's back!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:57 AM on November 12, 2013


Thank you for introducing me to this artist. I LOVE her voice.
posted by _paegan_ at 12:02 PM on November 12, 2013


OMG weeping like a baby at that John Lewis ad. Use a "could grow your heart two sizes that day" tag jeez.
posted by rue72 at 12:05 PM on November 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Made it all the way to the end of this thread (having not watched the video) before realizing my confusion was due to me thinking all this was about Lily Tomlin.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:06 PM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh man. Three 6 Mafia really out there now.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:08 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Took me a while but I found my favorite Lily Allen song remixed, which addresses another perennial Meta favorite subject: Knock Em Out
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:09 PM on November 12, 2013


The (satire of) extreme product placement unfortunately worked on me, reminding me that I had meant to buy one of the products shilled. Damn you Allen!!
posted by thedaniel at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2013


I don't know what John Lewis sells but if it's anything like being unexpectedly woken up in the middle of the night by a "gift" that someone else left on your doorstep I don't think I want one.
posted by XMLicious at 12:49 PM on November 12, 2013


OMG weeping like a baby at that John Lewis ad.

Oh God {buries head in hands} this is the tightrope one walks when doing a MetaFilter FPP. It's bad enough trying to remove all personal opinion I HATE TV ADVERTS from them.

The original version of the song in that ad by Keane is IMHO so much better. Lily Allen sleepwalks her way through it, hence was fuming at her lack of artistic ... anything ... this time last week.

And then she comes out with her new and dramatically different video today...
posted by Wordshore at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2013


I await the hastily-reworked "Lorde is racist" thinkpieces.

Allen's song seems like it would be far more problematic on those terms to someone who found Lorde problematic. It's much more precisely targeted so I don't see how Allen's wouldn't be a much more direct offense.

I liked them both though I think Allen's clearly has the weight of experience behind it while Lorde is, well, a 16 year old. Which is fine; we were all 16 once. And I can't wait to see what she does as she matures.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 PM on November 12, 2013


but this kind of gesture song is why she will never be remembered as a pop star.

This is an adequate indictment of what "pop" music has become.

What she's done here is essentially folk music for a different generation. Just, a little more uptempo.
posted by Blue_Villain at 1:13 PM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's like a French And Saunders skit.
posted by Caskeum at 1:16 PM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


The (satire of) extreme product placement

Is it satire, though? Her cheeky thumbs-up doesn't take away from the fact that those are actual products. Seems like more of a coy admission, really.

Plus, you know, that third link kinda negates the message of that supposed satire, in much the same way the satire of the video for "Intuition" by Jewel (hey, remember Jewel?) -- essentially identical message, btw -- was negated by the song's use in a series of lady-razor ads.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:17 PM on November 12, 2013


Lily Allen - Nan You're a Window Shopper

50 Cent - Window Shopper
posted by Ad hominem at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh man, doctorneccister I had the exact same response to the autotuning. Nails.on.a.fucking.chalkboard.

Also, Caskeum, dead spot on.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2013


The original version of the song in that ad by Keane yt is IMHO so much better. Lily Allen sleepwalks her way through it, hence was fuming at her lack of artistic ... anything ... this time last week.

OK, I thought it was the bunny in the John Lewis ad that got me, but...apparently it was the song.

You're right, the Keane version is amazing. My heart feels like it just got stepped on a million times, and I will never be able to listen to this in public.
posted by rue72 at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2013


I thought this was a Windowlicker cover.
posted by afx114 at 1:30 PM on November 12, 2013


Obviously these ladies aren't as well known but they're making a similar statement too. Good for them. Good for all of us, really. (And it doesn't hurt that they address "box gap".)
posted by brokeaspoke at 1:32 PM on November 12, 2013


It's like a French And Saunders skit

I was getting a 'Two Ronnies' vibe. Profoundly bad.
posted by colie at 1:34 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I'll link academy award winning Thee 6 Mafia - Hard Out Here for a Pimp just in case there is someone who hasn't heard it. IMO the "hard out here for a bitch" hook in Lily Allen's song is an homage.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:36 PM on November 12, 2013


I don't mind Lily Allen and I'll always have a special place in my heart for Not Fair. But (and its not just her) the whole "it's empowering when we call ourselves bitches" thing... Just... Please stop. Take the piss out of Robin Thicke if you must (and we all must) but don't actually be him, ironically or not. I feel old. I am old.
posted by billiebee at 2:17 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


But (and its not just her) the whole "it's empowering when we call ourselves bitches" thing... Just... Please stop.

It's way to late and yeah maybe it is generational but people greet their groups of girlfriends with "Alright, bitches?" I agree it's a little jarring but when you are of the generation that literally saturates you with that appellation in pop music, on clothing, in films and on TV, I think there's a lot of merit in adopting it for one's own purposes.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:45 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


people greet their groups of girlfriends with "Alright, bitches?"

I know! *weeps snottily* It's Hard Out Here for a Women's Studies graduate...
posted by billiebee at 2:51 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, that Christmas ad is actually stop-motion.
posted by smackfu at 2:54 PM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


love lily allen, love this song, thought the product placement and auto tune were hilarious and spot on, don't care that she was in an ad (and enjoyed her cover), and love the grararar of the youtube commenters accusing her of reverse sexism because of the video for "smile."

i am so excited for her new album.
posted by nadawi at 3:20 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I eagerly anticipate the far-off day when "bitch" is so thoroughly rehabilitated that it becomes a term of formal address, sort of the opposite of how "dame" went from the way you speak of a member of the nobility to a cheesy-sounding term used in noir films. Because I'm a time traveler and it's a hilarious place to visit.
posted by XMLicious at 3:20 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, that Christmas ad is actually stop-motion.

Thanks for the pointer, smackfu; lovely making-of, and not wanting to derail here, but (just in case someone readily knows): why? Why not just animate it?

posted by progosk at 3:35 PM on November 12, 2013


I usually shy away from .. folk-inspired music, I guess, because I like loud beats and anger. But I love Lily Allen because her stuff has a punk rock attitude hidden behind a sugary retro-sounding voice and composition. Really enjoying this track!
posted by jess at 3:46 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love it.
posted by Decani at 3:49 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because the themes, expressed both lyrically and musically, that expand the universe of pop music virtually always boil down to either 'desire' or 'loss'.

You forgot, "I'm (we're) so awesome."
posted by straight at 3:57 PM on November 12, 2013


At first glance I thought it was Lillian Allen, and the Xmas card scene seemed kinda odd in that context. Um, got it now, thanks.
posted by ovvl at 4:03 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked it a lot more than I expected to. I guess I have a soft spot for music that pretends to be dumb but is actually really smart and complicated.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:43 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm glad I wasn't the only one totally messed up by that Christmas ad. I've got this ... thing where I have a much stronger emotional reaction to animated characters in distress than real live humans, and ... oh man.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 5:32 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Lily Allen mocks every stupid sexist pop video you've seen in the last five years".

I liked it very much (and have always had a soft spot for Allen), but she's not the only one doing that these days.
posted by psoas at 5:59 PM on November 12, 2013


Is this the sister of the guy who plays Theon Greyjoy?
posted by juiceCake at 6:38 PM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I spent a very memorable few hours with Lily and her half-sister a few years ago, before she was famous. She was about sixteen or seventeen and one of the most precocious and terrifying people I've ever met. Whip-smart and a huge troublemaker. You couldn't not like her... it was obviously she already knew *exactly* who she was and probably had done for a long while.
posted by sweet mister at 7:34 PM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am just so glad to see a pop culture presence rail against the same things I rail against most days. More power to you Madame Comrade!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 1:06 AM on November 13, 2013


Is this the sister of the guy who plays Theon Greyjoy?

she even wrote a song about her brother! alfie
posted by nadawi at 6:03 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's also "Alfie Greyjoy."
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:36 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lily Allen’s Racist New Music Video, “Hard Out Here”

You can say please all you want, but at the end of the day most white people honestly just don’t care. Despite widespread criticism of Miley Cyrus for her racist cultural appropriation and use of black women as props in her videos, despite criticism of the likes of Lorde for their flippant degradation of the consumer choices and desires of poor black people, Lily Allen arrives in grand racist fashion with her debut track from her upcoming third album.


Not sure if this was linked to yet.
posted by josher71 at 8:21 AM on November 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Lily Allen’s Racist New Music Video, “Hard Out Here”

maledictory called it.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:24 AM on November 13, 2013


But...isn't she making a point about the use of women of colour in such music videos? Isn't it all part of the same message? And why is linking to the video and showing stills and moving images and close-ups of the women you're supposedly defending any different? Couldn't he have just used his words and let us imagine the scene without including the images and then describing them in caption form?

Image description: A torso of one of the black female dancers in a leotard with her hand over her vagina
Just as an aside, could people please for the love of God learn the difference between vagina and vulva? Ta.
posted by billiebee at 8:39 AM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


well i suppose technically if your hand is over or on your vulva it is also over your vagina, or at least some part of it, depending on how you bend.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 AM on November 13, 2013


another one where her and her white manager are attempting to learn how to “twerk” from the black dancers. I just don’t have it in me.

maybe i'm wrong, but i thought the absurdity of that scene was that the white, out of touch, old manager was trying to mansplain twerking to a bunch of professional dancers (and lily).
posted by nadawi at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record, I was unsettled by all of the black women twerking close-ups, too. I know it is all satire, but ... :( Why have the black women be the props with the milk spillage and whatnot? I respect Lily's point she is trying to make otherwise.

(Also, note the black woman twerking in the Jewel satire video linked above, too.)

I think I would have enjoyed Lily's video more had it been men twerking, humping cars and rubbing milk over each other. Next time?
posted by jillithd at 9:43 AM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


lily allen responds
posted by nadawi at 9:49 AM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of pukey about the fact that we're pearl clutching over "vagina vs. vulva" and the word "bitch," but think black women used as props by famous white women is just making a clever point~

I mean, maybe if you're not black there's no sting in it.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like Lily Allen but c'mon. I take her point but maybe we could subvert expectations in a way that doesn't run roughshod over people in its tone-deafness.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:02 PM on November 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, if you're astute enough to notice something is racist but then need to snottily pop in first to say "WELL JUST WAIT UNTIL PEOPLE COME ALONG AND CALL THIS RACIST, WHAT'S NEXT, MORE ACCUSATIONS OF RACISM IN POP MUSIC??" (because it's sooo unlikely, and how dare they be mean to the next hot white girl "with true sex appeal") maybe you should reevaluate your life and choices for awhile.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:04 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between noting that something will be accused of racism and that something is actually racist.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:07 PM on November 13, 2013


The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.



.... c'mon. I respect her reasons for staying covered up, but being like "I was just casting whoever was the best dancer!" Almost all the close-ups &c. are of black women. Especially the close-ups of ass and ~vulva~.


I will reiterate that I like Lily Allen, and I love this:

You should probably fix your face, or you’ll end up on your own
Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?
Have you thought about your butt, who’s gonna tear it in two?


Another "Blurred Lines" thing, right? Pharell says something in "Blurred Lines" about tearing a woman's ass in two doesn't he? Also just bluntly saying "don't you want someone who objectifies you?" feels so right.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2013


There's a difference between noting that something will be accused of racism and that something is actually racist.

But how do you predict that something will be wrongfully accused of racism? There are plenty of things about race that get posted on the Blue and nobody pops in to make disparaging comments about people who might be offended by it. How do you tell? There must be an inkling that something's off, eh? Like if something's kiiiiiiind of a little racist but it's also fun or empowering for white people, then it's stupid to call it racist, right?
posted by stoneandstar at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2013


I think all dancers in all music videos are "props" so maybe there's a bigger argument to be had than just the one over this video. Also Lily Allen said no one was hired for their skin colour. But you're right, stoneandstar, we all get stung by different things. I'm not sure who gets to decide which stings are valid or not, but certainly some are much bigger than others.
posted by billiebee at 12:13 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


She says that, but I'm watching the video and nearly all of the ass/vulva/spanking is about black women. There are a few not black women dancing, but they're not objectified as much. I don't know how to reconcile that with the idea that there was no racial element to the casting/&c.

And women in music videos don't have to be props, not even ironically. They can do some great dancing and not be props imo. In this case they are ironic props for a "good cause," but I can understand being tired of my body and the objectification thereof being used by others ironically.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:15 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


But how do you predict that something will be wrongfully accused of racism?

I'd say that you predict that something will be accused of racism -not wrongfully or correctly, but just accused- if it includes things that have drawn fire before. oOr instance, I'm reasonably certain that any music video in which a white person mentions rap tropes in an aspirational way, twerks, or includes footage of twerking, will draw some accusations of racism on the blue. That makes it pretty easy to make a glib crack, especially if you believe that you've evaluated the content and found it to not be racist.

There are plenty of things about race that get posted on the Blue and nobody pops in to make disparaging comments about people who might be offended by it.

There are also plenty that do. The recent Kanye West threads have had a mix of comments and opinions about whether he's been a victim of racism, whether it's ridiculous to think so, etc.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:21 PM on November 13, 2013


stoneandstar: "There are plenty of things about race that get posted on the Blue and nobody pops in to make disparaging comments about people who might be offended by it. "

I agree with the points you have been making but yes, people absolutely do this. They do it in threads related to various incidents in the news and say potentially offensive things regarding race, religion and gender often enough that it's hard to miss. There have been a number of metatalk threads spawned from comments people have made that were either dismissive or offensive and at least one that I'm thinking of got someone banned for being a racist asshole.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course there are dismissive comments like that in other threads, but I mean that threads vary in tone and not all draw the same type of "oh just wait until THIS gets accused of racism." It really depends on the framing, doesn't it? There are things posted on the Blue about race that get almost no comments, because they're "boring" in the sense that you can't have a stupid fight about them.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:25 PM on November 13, 2013


I'm reasonably certain that any music video in which a white person mentions rap tropes in an aspirational way, twerks, or includes footage of twerking, will draw some accusations of racism on the blue. That makes it pretty easy to make a glib crack, especially if you believe that you've evaluated the content and found it to not be racist.

So white people like to be dicks when they think something is possibly borderline racist but decided that it doesn't feel racist to them, only to oversensitive people?

/newsflash
posted by stoneandstar at 12:26 PM on November 13, 2013


stoneandstar: "Of course there are dismissive comments like that in other threads, but I mean that threads vary in tone and not all draw the same type of "oh just wait until THIS gets accused of racism." It really depends on the framing, doesn't it? There are things posted on the Blue about race that get almost no comments, because they're "boring" in the sense that you can't have a stupid fight about them."

Definitely. I think it also depends on who happens to be reading and participating.

Going To Maine: " maledictory called it."

I'm really not sure what either of your points is. There are definite problems with the video. If you disagree, that's fine. But that doesn't make the people who point out what they see hypocrites.
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on November 13, 2013


they don't indicate that they agree or disagree - one said "this thing will happen" and the other said "look, there it is" - no one called anyone a hypocrite, you seem to be putting intent in two pretty bare statements.
posted by nadawi at 12:51 PM on November 13, 2013


nadawi: "no one called anyone a hypocrite"

maledictory: "I await the hastily-reworked "Lorde is racist" thinkpieces."

Yes, I see criticism of hypocrisy in maledictory's statement.
posted by zarq at 1:06 PM on November 13, 2013


Unless I'm completely misreading it.
posted by zarq at 1:07 PM on November 13, 2013


I definitely see 'criticism' there, if you can call "LOL LIBRULS CARE BOUT STUFF" criticism, but hypocrisy? What hypocrisy?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:18 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


yeah, i just don't see a charge of hypocrisy - of lazy blogging, maybe...
posted by nadawi at 1:20 PM on November 13, 2013


Yeah, I read this as "I got this Lorde piece ready to go and...oh, this is a way bigger thing. Let me change some things...".
posted by josher71 at 1:30 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK. Perhaps I'm misreading it then. Sorry, GtM and Maledictory.
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on November 13, 2013


I thought the video was racist when I first saw it. I was especially irked because before we get to the racist parts, there is a line about how Lily doesn't have to take off her clothes or shake her butt because she's intelligent. Then come the scenes with the largely unclothed black women doing exactly what Lily says intelligent women don't have to do. I spent half the video confused by that and waiting for there to come some point where those women did anything else. I waited for the change to show this was all ironic. It didn't come.

I've never seen Blurred Lines so I figured she was satirizing Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. But the racist aspects of what Miley did are not the target. The elements of the scene Lily is targeting are the sexist elements of Miley taking off her clothes and twerking poorly. The mostly black dancers are just not significant to the point Lily is making. Which bothered me greatly because anti-sexism without anti-racism doesn't work for me as a black woman. It made me disregard Lily's entire message as more feminism for white women only. Maybe if I'd heard the song separate from the video I could be down with all the comments about what a great point it makes. I'm pretty tired of people either doing racist things or overlooking racist things because they're in a rush to make some super-good quirky point about some other bigotry that they take more personally.

So I read comments here and elsewhere and a lot of people were saying she was satirizing the whole concept of using black women this way. Although actually, now looking back over this thread, other than a snarky comment about the people who had a problem with Lorde's song it looks like most of the comments here weren't addressing the racial aspects at all. Pretty color blind praise for what the song is saying. It was probably on Youtube were I saw people at least trying to defend the video as satirizing racism. Anyway, I almost let myself be swayed that it was satire and I missed it.

Then her statement comes out: The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.

Oh. Colorblind indeed. And the defenses were wrong; she didn't think that deep.
posted by Danila at 4:40 PM on November 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


it looks like most of the comments here weren't addressing the racial aspects at all. Pretty color blind praise for what the song is saying.

I'm not sure that's an accurate read of the thread.
posted by billiebee at 5:07 PM on November 13, 2013


idk, it seems like a pretty accurate read to me. Like I was kind of shocked by how noncritical the thread was of the racial aspect (beyond the yeah weird "oh great who will criticize THIS of racism" thing). I am going back through the thread but I just don't see much serious conversation about it.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:23 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was actually thinking of your contributions! Sorry, should have namechecked you.
posted by billiebee at 5:25 PM on November 13, 2013


Oh dude, sorry. It's cool, I just assumed you meant elsewhere.

It's just really frustrating because if she had given the other women in her video any semblance of agency (in the sly way she does with herself, e.g. "I had two babies... "), it would have been so good. Just think of the women who were the dancers had really come alive in the video and made you think "wow fuck me for seeing those women as just window dressing in music videos all this time and being complacent about it." Like, inspiring, right?
posted by stoneandstar at 5:33 PM on November 13, 2013


I know what you're saying and I don't disagree.

It's interesting, the issue of agency. I've been thinking lately of the actual dancers and models themselves, not just the videos/ads they're sexualised in. There are links in this thread to ads that made me actually want to throw up. I wondered what would happen if all the models decided "No, fuck you, we're not taking jobs where we have to lie with our legs wide open just so you can write 'Now Open' on your ad". (Stay classy, American Apparel) Obviously there will always be someone willing or needing to do it for the job, or the money, or because she's fine with it, or whatever. But it also reminded me of an interview with Angela Bassett from about ten years ago. She turned down the role in Monsters Ball (which won Halle Berry a ground-breaking Oscar) because she didn't want to perpetuate stereotypes around race and sexuality. I found that very powerful at the time and it stuck with me.

Lily Allen and others can only give dancers in their videos agency up to a point. It was still directed by a man and so subject to the male gaze, and produced and released within an industry run mostly by white men. As long as that fact remains all women in them will be forced to conform to certain stereotypes. (Although it was her choice, I personally was sad to see Allen saying she was fully dressed because no one wanted to see her cellulite. I do! I've got loads! Me and probably tons of women and girls would be happy to see a woman with an avowed feminist message not giving a shit that her thighs didnt live up to some "ideal" of beauty. It would have been a hell of a lot more subversive than most of the content.) So I'd love it if women of colour - all women actually - were able to give themselves permission to effectively strike, to say No. We will not act out these roles. We as individuals will not allow you to use us to perpetuate these stereotypes. But I know that's not going to happen anytime soon.
posted by billiebee at 6:20 PM on November 13, 2013


First of all, I'm sorry to overlook stoneandstar's contributions. I did read them. I just...usually take whatever stoneandstar says in these "social justice" conversations as obvious truths and the thoughts of my own head that I'm just adding to but I appreciate the reminder because this is a conversation.

Also, billiebee, your points about agency are strong. It is very tempting to say "why don't these women just...not do that? not allow someone to throw dollars at them and dance like that?" It's been pointed out but the black women in the video are the least clothed and the most front and center. There seems to be an unconscious distinction even between the dancers, not just between Lily and the dancers. I personally wondered after seeing the Miley VMA performance and seeing her stick her face in some black dancer's buttcrack how that woman felt about that. Because that was just extremely disrespectful. Maybe she was thinking "gettin' paid, don't curr" or "Yay dancing live in front of millions this is a dream come true" or "one more time...one more freaking time Miley, you do it one.more.time and I won't be so professional," no idea.

But as you pointed out, there are people who have more power. I can't see placing the blame on the male director completely. I mean, Lily could come out and say she didn't like it. She instead says basically she didn't think about it and it's not her fault and she still doesn't have a problem with it. Anyway, the video is very much themed around her song and in many ways well represents the song. She just didn't see it. It's this being completely overlooked thing, that's what bothers me the most.
posted by Danila at 7:23 PM on November 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


For those that don't think this video is racist, perhaps you should view it in the light of Allen's racist tweet to Azealia Banks earlier this year (NSFW).
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:19 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


when it comes to lily allen or azealia banks beefing on twitter, i'm team not them. when they beef each other, i'm team nobody. that whole fight was super nasty and unnecessary from both sides. it's hard to find a full write up for it because it went on for weeks and they didn't @ each other.
posted by nadawi at 5:46 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


colie: "Because the themes, expressed both lyrically and musically, that expand the universe of pop music virtually always boil down to either 'desire' or 'loss'. You need new ways to make listeners feel desire or loss in order to be a memorable pop artist (by pop I mean everyone from Adele to Elton John to The Beatles).

I quite like Lily Allen (and she is one of the few females in pop with genuine sex appeal) but this kind of gesture song is why she will never be remembered as a pop star.
"

If that were true, Pink wouldn't have a pop star career. There's no shortage of social issues and angry anthems from her discography.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record, I do find this video very problematic (In contrast I am ambivalent re Lorde). My comment was intended to refer to lazy blogging, as nadawi and josher71 suggest, although it was also charged with my unhappiness at facing a week of sifting through articles about why this video is so bad, given that it's much less defensible than Lorde's. Danila's point about the line re Allen not having to dance because she's smart (cue dancers!) has certainly come up in conversation here at home.

Anyway, sorry to let the confusion linger but the other comments seemed pretty uniformly uncritical, so I just closed the tab, showed the video to my partner, and then we complained for a while, just the two of us. It wasn't intended to be one of those "Oh no, just wait until the Libruls show up" things, although I can see how people saw that.

I haven't watched the John Lewis thing yet. I can't watch a UK Christmas ad without getting mad all over again about Tesco using Fairytale of New York.
posted by maledictory at 9:50 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lily Allen's Anti-Black Feminism
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:41 PM on November 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


the man of twists and turns, your article tries really, really hard to make her song about dissing black women.

Twerking has been taken over by Miley Cyrus in the public eye; hard to believe Lily meant "I'm not like colored girls!" (Nor that her audience would think that.)

"The non-white women in Allen’s video act as dehumanized proxies of patriarchy—assumed to have neither brains nor agency—with Allen aiming all her contempt at them sideways." About half of the women dancing backup aren't non-white - does she therefore only glance sideways at the girls of color?

Worst of all, the author criticizes Allen for her parentage: "the elite prep school educated daughter of an actor and film producer". It would be a stronger argument of racism if the author wasn't belittling Allen for her bloodline.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:48 PM on November 17, 2013


Alex Macpherson at the Quietus has pretty spot on article going into the many problems of the video.
posted by molecicco at 2:05 AM on December 3, 2013


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