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Please. These aren't our real enemies.
January 27, 2014 7:51 PM   Subscribe

The real enemies are the homophobic politicians and world leaders committed to outlawing LGBT “propaganda.” There are real, horrifying events happening every single day in the world — and if you truly believe the biggest problem is that a straight white man “using us” for record sales by publicly supporting LGBT equality on a nationally televised awards show in front of a tearstained audience, then you’re not genuinely fighting the same fight. Same Love: On Madonna, The Gay Community And Why That Macklemore Performance Mattered

Included in the above article are also links to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performance of "Same Love" at the Grammy Awards, and some other material, providing excellent source-material context for deeper understanding and discussion.
posted by hippybear (101 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a little bit of both, more the one than t'other.
posted by angerbot at 7:59 PM on January 27


Pinkwashing and greenwashing are not such different things.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:03 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Yeah, things don't have to be the biggest fight to still be problems, but then there are also ways in which this is a good thing. So, in conclusion, Macklemore is a land of contrasts, or something.

I will say that I don't hear as much about Macklemore himself using the gay community as the corporations that have been promoting him. The music industry is an industry and it's trying to make a profit, here, but given that fact, I guess I prefer them making a profit off of this than off of straight chicks kissing.
posted by Sequence at 8:07 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I have no problem whatsoever with people "using" me in my favour.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:09 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


I can't imagine that opinions will have shifted much since the last thread we had on this topic, so I'll just put this out there:

Does Madonna make anyone else think of "Death in Venice"?
posted by Slothrup at 8:12 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


I suppose it shows how far things have come that a straight man singing a song that supports LGBT rights could even be seen as exploitative and not disastrous.
posted by the jam at 8:16 PM on January 27 [44 favorites]


It has become clear to me that I am the only person in America who associates mass public weddings with the Moonies and thinks they're creepy.

Can we talk about the Kacey Musgraves song? I mean, obviously her light-up boots are amazing and I must have some immediately, but the whole "make lots of noise/ kiss lots of boys/ or kiss lots of girls if that's what you're into" thing? I never thought I'd hear that coming from a pop country singer at the Grammys, but I can't decide what I think of it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:17 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Not the only one. Mass weddings / weddings as spectacles are creepy. Not as creepy as weddings on reality shows, but creepy.
posted by LucretiusJones at 8:20 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


My reaction to everything I'm seeing people say about this is "it's hard out here for an ally", but I think I'm okay with that, it's okay for me if I'm a straight ally and maybe GLBTQ folks aren't one hundred percent behind every straight ally for reasons of their own. I think in the end it washes out, but it's okay with me, at least, if people are uncomfortable with how straight people project. It's not for me to ultimately say. I am okay with waiting for the cues on how to respond.
posted by padraigin at 8:28 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


I think the real sign we've grown is how much of a non-story this was. I have a lot of southern conservative family members and I've barely heard a peep about this. The most reaction I've witnessed is a roll of the eyes "these kids..." resignation. And working with a bunch of west coast liberal people I haven't seen this as cause for a lot of cheering or celebration or anything. It's just weirdos that decide to get married on TV. If anything shows how quickly marriage equality is becoming accepted, its the indifference of everyone who doesn't see why it'd ever be an issue to begin with.
posted by fishmasta at 8:44 PM on January 27


Yeah, as a gay man currently living in Nigeria -- in the employ of a gay-friendly foreign government and firmly ensconced in the expat community, and so in very little actual danger myself, but with a perfectly fine view of the incredible hostility displayed toward LGBT people by almost literally everyone, in every public sphere (and most private ones), 100% of the time -- let me give a hearty, belly-holding chuckle at any and all angst surrounding overly zealous straight allies on national television.
posted by eugenen at 8:49 PM on January 27 [54 favorites]


I'm not sure if I hate being pedantic or I love it, but... I kinda have to take issue with:
Back in 1986, Madonna’s best friend Martin Burgoyne died of AIDS. It was a time before AIDS was really even AIDS — back when it was still being referred to as Gay Related Immune Deficiency
I remember as early as 83/84 (I always thought it was earlier, but I guess not), in my small independent Christian School, AIDS was brought up as an issue (you know, to scare all the teens from sexing it up or being teh gayz or whatever the fears were). Point being, I had to look it up, because I was damn sure that by 86 AIDS was a pretty common term.

Wiki says the following...
However, after determining that AIDS was not isolated to the gay community,[183] it was realized that the term GRID was misleading and the term AIDS was introduced at a meeting in July 1982.[186] By September 1982 the CDC started referring to the disease as AIDS.[187]
I realize that is just a small aside, and really, the larger story of her standing beside the gay community for a LONG time should never be forgotten. I know one of my ex-girlfriends said it was Madonna's influence that sort of helped open her to tolerance of the gay community.
posted by symbioid at 8:58 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Can we talk about the Kacey Musgraves yt song? I mean, obviously her light-up boots are amazing and I must have some immediately, but the whole "make lots of noise/ kiss lots of boys/ or kiss lots of girls if that's what you're into" thing? I never thought I'd hear that coming from a pop country singer at the Grammys, but I can't decide what I think of it.

Would it help if you knew that Kacey Musgraves' two cowriters on the song, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, are both LGBT?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:05 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


I feel like this has been presented as a remarkably black-and-white issue. Either Macklemore is amazing and groundbreaking and etc, or he's the worst thing ever. It seems sort of ridiculous. You're sick if you have a cold. You're a lot sicker if you're dying of cancer, but that doesn't mean that the dude with the cold is A+ health.

Going with this somewhat questionable analogy, the treatment of gay people in Nigeria is human rights cancer. That a straight cis white dude is getting lauded for singing a song that basically says 'gay people should have equal rights! also, no homo' is, you know, the sniffles. It's not going to kill anyone, but you still feel crappy. "Lots of people have it worse" doesn't magically make people feel less angry or hurt or whatever, it just makes them feel guilty for how they feel.

Mostly unrelated: mass weddings are totally fucking creepy.
posted by MeghanC at 9:07 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Does anyone find a sick sick irony in the fact that the most popular band to come out of the Russia in recent years is Tatu? I was going to say 'best known', but I imagine Pussy Riot is a better known band now than Tatu (even though their music may not be).
posted by el io at 9:09 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Random anecdata: I forgot completely about Tatu until you mentioned them. I don't think I ever heard any of their music, whereas I actually did watch footage of a Pussy Riot song being performed.

And I think if you polled high school kids they wouldn't think of Tatu, because they'd have been about 6-8 years old at the time.
posted by Foosnark at 9:14 PM on January 27


It's a truism that while Russian culture is deeply homophobic, most Russian pop stars are very obviously gay. The homophobic Russian audience never seems to notice.
posted by clarknova at 9:17 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


It's a truism that while Russian culture is deeply homophobic, most Russian pop stars are very obviously gay. The homophobic Russian audience never seems to notice.

Welcome to the US in the 1980s.
posted by hippybear at 9:19 PM on January 27 [42 favorites]


a straight cis white dude is getting lauded for singing a song that basically says 'gay people should have equal rights! also, no homo'

yea, people would totally attack him less if he had not been very careful to make it clear he wasn't gay. The same people saying 'how dare he say he's straight' would not instead be saying "he wants to look gay, does he? Oh right, he wants to pretend to be one of us now that it's cool to be gay!?!? How dare he fake being gay in that song! how dare he ride our artistic coat tails!!!"
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:21 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


I think it's interesting to compare this with the earlier thread about Little Steven and the Sun City record. I don't recall any backlash at that time against a white man leading an effort to raise awareness about South African Apartheid.
posted by rocket88 at 9:22 PM on January 27


Welcome to the US in the 1980s.

I remember a fellow student in college pointing out that during the Reagan years, one could actually buy a Snoopy Boy George doll. This was a thing that existed.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:55 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I don't recall any backlash at that time against a white man leading an effort to raise awareness about South African Apartheid.

The issue isn't a white man raising awareness. It's a white man raising awareness while simultaneously saying that hey, people say that [Other] is [list of stereotypes], and gosh, he sure is glad that he's not one of those Others for whom he's raising awareness. I admit that it can be a fine line, but feel nonetheless that Macklemore is on the wrong side of it.
posted by MeghanC at 10:13 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


So I had to go watch this on YouTube, 'cause I tend to despise celebrity awards shows... but I've seen so much about this whole deal that I got curious. Sadly, part of that curiosity came from seeing Jezebel's hatefest about Macklemore (which, thankfully, seems to so far have been roundly shot down in reader comments).

I'm glad to have seen this article. I'm not thrilled with the last few things Madonna has done, but to say that this is a desperate grasp at relevance is pretty shitty given her track record... and whether or not Macklemore has some "I'm not gay" going on in that song or not, I think it's vastly more important that he cared enough to put out the song in the first place.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:47 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I am a totally queer radical-ish somewhat anti-marriage lady and I just 100% do not get "no homo" from "Same Love." Am I crazy? Dude can say he's straight without it being anti-gay. It comes up a couple times but that doesn't mean it's a problem, just that he's situating himself as an ally. The whole backlash against Macklemore to me kind of seems like the pinnacle of Internet non-activism, circling around social justice and reveling in its trappings without actually being of any value to the world.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 11:53 PM on January 27 [42 favorites]


I love Macklemore; I think a lot of people forget that when he released Same Love, he was not-famous to a ridiculous degree (I mean, this was released less than a year before Same Love), that he released it before he released Thrift Shop, and that he wrote and released it to help get Washington's Referendum 74 passed, which brought marriage equality to our state. And Same Love really did help get that referendum passed, in a material and critical way.

But the story doesn't stop there, does it? No, the story goes on with him being the First Pro Gay Rapper (which, no) and the First Socially Conscious Rapper (again, wtf to the no) and basically lifts him on top of a pedestal, saying "This guy right here, THIS is the first man to bring these sentiments to hip hop" while there are literally thousands of queer PoC artists standing around the bottom of the pedestal saying "Oh, excuse me, the fuck are you talking about?" And that's a problem -- a big problem. And while it's not a problem Macklemore created, it's a problem he could definitely be doing more to solve. I get that it's complicated for him, but come on, he's not even shackled by a record label who's directing his PR. He has done some, to be sure, but I would really like to see his position on having this mantle thrust upon him change from "reluctant, awkward acceptance" to "outright rejection."
posted by KathrynT at 12:11 AM on January 28 [24 favorites]


"This guy right here, THIS is the first man to bring these sentiments to hip hop"

With a song that sold more than 100 copies. Same Love is, as they say, a good tune that you can dance to, and that's at least as important in spreading your message as the message itself. As another rapper commented "Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told."

The fact would seem to be that the music industry is about demographics and sales and there is no message on the planet that would see Madonna performing a B-side song at the Grammys.
posted by three blind mice at 1:01 AM on January 28


It's not just an issue of a straight dude exploiting his status as (somewhat tentative, sort of "no homo"esque) ally; it's about the fact that only a straight white dude could ever manage to get this sort of acclaim and attention for this sort of thing. And he might've stolen some Thrift Shop from Le1f, who is queer. (I don't feel qualified to judge if that's the case, so that might be a false claim.)

I feel like this is saying that we should just be taking whatever scraps of acceptance we should get, even if artists that are actually a part of our community are being overridden by a straight dude. It's sort of a gay anthem for straight people who want to feel better about themselves.

But the straight ally getting a bunch of cookies over how allytastic he is isn't exactly the only issue; it's also that he's a derivative white dude making a fortune and winning awards that would've gone to artists of color if the award show wasn't so wrapped up in either their own ~progressive ally status~ or their own white supremacy.

For a while, Macklemore seemed like he might actually do a good job of acknowledging that he'd only gotten as far as he had because white people find a white rapper nonthreatening, but he's really been half-assing that lately.
posted by NoraReed at 1:48 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


It's sort of a gay anthem for straight people who want to feel better about themselves.

THIS.
posted by crossoverman at 3:05 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


I have so many conflicting opinions about this but it's 3:30 AM here and I am having a hard time putting them all down.

For now all I want to ask is: does anyone else remember Frank Ocean? I mean, at all? That was recent history. That was 2012. Frank Ocean said he was once in love with a man. A lot of people supported him when he made that blog post, including some of the literal best hip-hop artists of all time. Common, a long time ago, came out against homophobic lyrics. Queer hip-hop artists like Le1f and Mykki Blanco and THEESatisfaction are regularly ignored while Macklemore & Ryan Lewis reap the benefits.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where DeGeneres introduced them by saying, “Here’s why you need to care about our next guest. No other artists in hip-hop history have ever taken a stand defending marriage equality the way they have.”

You gotta be kidding me.

We Invented Swag: NYC's Queer Rap

Hip Hop's Queer Pioneers

A straight white dude goes out and does a song for marriage equality. Cool, that's great, and I mean that sincerely and not sarcastically at all, but c'mon. Black queer hip-hop artists have been out there for a while, talking about their experiences in their songs, and they get forgotten about. smh that's sad
posted by gucci mane at 3:50 AM on January 28 [20 favorites]


it's about the fact that only a straight white dude could ever manage to get this sort of acclaim and attention for this sort of thing.

Should only gay people should bring up gay rights and homophobia? I thought it was not the job of the oppressed minority to bring up these issues?

I feel like this is saying that we should just be taking whatever scraps of acceptance we should get, even if artists that are actually a part of our community are being overridden by a straight dude.

Why is it saying that? How does that work that a straight guy coming out in support of gay marriage is suddenly hurting us? Who of the LGBT community bringing up homophobia was overridden by Macklemore?

But the straight ally getting a bunch of cookies over how allytastic he is isn't exactly the only issue

Yeah, fuck him for trying to be supportive.

As a gay guy who does't like the idea of marriage and especially televised mass weddings, this smells of concern trolling.
posted by ts;dr at 3:51 AM on January 28 [13 favorites]


And as a side note I just wanna say that Kendrick should have won. GKMC is one of the best modern rap albums in my generation. In time it will be defined as a classic.
posted by gucci mane at 3:52 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


The reaction to this I saw on Twitter was really the first time I think I've seen an ally given much harsher treatment than I think they really deserved. The "no homo" bit seems particularly unfair - to me it seems like he's being super-careful to write the song exactly as an ally and to be as non-appropriative as possible, which ties in with his giving the write of the chorus to a gay person. (saw no mention of this latter fact in the pile-on, either.)
posted by ominous_paws at 4:33 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Would it help if you knew that Kacey Musgraves' two cowriters on the song, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, are both LGBT?
Yeah, it totally does! As does this bit from one of the articles you linked:
Ms. Musgraves recalled the “Follow Your Arrow” co-write: “I had a few lines, ‘Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys.’ I was like: ‘I wish I could just say: ‘Or kiss lots of girls.’ And Shane was like, ‘Why can’t you?’ I’m not sure that line would have happened if Shane wasn’t in the room.”
Which makes it sound a lot less like a Katy-Perry-esque "I kissed a girl and it was awfully rebellious and sexy and my boyfriend thinks that's super!" thing than I worried about and much more like an actual gesture of inclusiveness.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:04 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I'm also going to chime to agree that people who are saying Macklemore's position is "ally (but no-homo!)" might not be reading carefully. In the song, he position is very clear: "I am straight but homophobia clearly hurts people around me, including gay members of my family; in that way, homophobia hurts all of us." There's a big, important difference between that and "no homo!"
posted by erlking at 5:55 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Maybe it's just me, but I think you have to be kind of self-absorbed and tone-deaf to think that this particular issue - straight dude getting undeserved props for doing a song about gay rights - is worth making a huge fuss over, given the context of this year's Grammys, when the 800-pound gorilla over in the corner is the fact that a rather averagely talented white rapper (being generous here) has swept the rap awards for no other reason than that he's white, and that the Grammy voting pool are perhaps not very representative of the hiphop audience.

It's certainly nothing to blame Macklemore himself for - he seems like a good guy, and he was the first to say that Kendrick Lamar was robbed, and he apologized for not mentioning that fact onstage.

(And I'm saying this as a white guy who hopes to get gay-married myself someday, if that matters.)
posted by Umami Dearest at 6:03 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]


It's a truism that while Russian culture is deeply homophobic, most Russian pop stars are very obviously gay. The homophobic Russian audience never seems to notice.

Welcome to the US in the 1980s.


I knew George Michael was gay right from the beginning. I didn't think this because of the way he dressed or the make-up he wore or his hair. Super straight hair metal bands wore more make-up, after all, and everyone was wearing clothing like that.

No, the reason I knew George Michael was gay was because of this lyric from Wham!'s first hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go:

You take the gray skies out of my way
You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day


Doris Day?

Find me a straight male who knows who Doris Day is, much less would ever find the occasion to name-drop her in any situation. Of all the people who might make the world brighter, he picks Doris Day?
posted by flarbuse at 6:13 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Haven't the Grammys always favored bland, corporate, marginally-talented artists, though? Here's a list of record of the year winners. Does anyone think that Phil Collins's "Another Day in Paradise" was the best record of 1991, which, among other things, was the year that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was eligible? I'm not excusing the Grammys' long, sad history of racism and utter suckitude, but complaining that the Grammys pick terrible winners seems to be giving the Grammys more credit for potentially getting it right than they even come close to deserving.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:17 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Who of the LGBT community bringing up homophobia was overridden by Macklemore?

Gucci mane lists a handful of artists. I'd start there.

Also: it's not like he made some big sacrifice by making Same Love. He's making a bunch of money off of it. Maybe we should stop treating an attempt by a straight white man using a primarily Black art form to make money off of the gay rights movement like it's some kind of selfless enlightened act.
posted by NoraReed at 6:23 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Add me to the list of people who do not understand the "no homo" reading. The intro to the song is about how, for a moment as a kid, based on the stereotypes that are flung around him constantly he thought he might be gay. Then he wised up and realized that sexuality can't be summed up by a bunch of stereotypes. It's his story.

It's a contextual lead to the rest of the song, where he talks about how mindlessly stereotypes and hatred are perpetuated - both within and without hip-hop. It is a natural setup to the rest of the song, and given the broader context (the fact he wrote it way before he was famous, supporting a gay rights bill) you have to read it really uncharitably to think it's only there to distinguish him as straight.

The only other part of the track where he references his own sexuality is "I might not be the same, but that's not important." We aren't all the same, but we deserve the same rights. Really innocuous.

Maybe we should stop treating an attempt by a straight white man using a primarily Black art form to make money off of the gay rights movement like it's some kind of selfless enlightened act.

It's not his fault he's making hand over fist money off of Same Love - he wrote it before he was famous, without a label to back him. It's also not his fault he won a Grammy he shouldn't have. It's also not his fault the media wants to anoint him as the "first" of his kind - a socially conscious, pro-gay rapper.

Nobody controls fame and fortune. It seems silly to me to think, given the broader context and timelines, that the originating act was about money. What happened to him is a 1-in-100 million shot - is your answer that he should shrink out of the spotlight because he's gotten too famous?
posted by rutabega at 6:31 AM on January 28 [14 favorites]


Gucci mane lists a handful of artists. I'd start there.

Is the argument seriously that, if Macklemore did not exist, these other artists would have had monstrous radio smash hits that nudged the rudder of Middle America in a progressive direction?

Because I don't think radio hits work on a quota system.
posted by erlking at 6:39 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


In regards to the "no homo" vibe:
"I'm so happy right now. No homo...I love new york! Pause. I'm so not gay! Fuck yea. And I'm so secure in that!" - from Macklemore's twitter years ago and without context.

I think the recognition for Same Love is a positive thing, but the "no homo" vibe still feels real to me.
posted by Peccable at 6:44 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


^ "years ago" and "without context" are two pretty large grains of salt, though.
posted by erlking at 6:49 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Erkling, not quarrelign or anything but is there any context or whatever for that tweet? As in, I can't make any sense of it whatsoever... loving NY doesn't seem to require a "no homo"? am I being spectacularly thick?
posted by ominous_paws at 6:51 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Find me a straight male who knows who Doris Day is, much less would ever find the occasion to name-drop her in any situation.

Yay! Gay/straight interest stereotyping! How novel!

Okay, how about a kid whose mother really liked old musicals and played them a lot in the house while he was growing up, so he ended up watching them?

Or what about someone who really loved Hitchcock movies and had encountered her there?

Also, I really don't know what sort of cultural figure Doris Day was for someone living in the UK, hitting his 20s in the 80s. Maybe there was an exposure there through their much smaller and self-feeding collective culture than I can understand as someone who grew up in the US.

Anyway, if you knew George was gay back in the early 80s, you knew it earlier than he did, because he was still dating women and claiming to be bisexual at that time and had not yet come to terms with his sexuality even in a private way. /derail
posted by hippybear at 6:56 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


In regards to the "no homo" vibe:
"I'm so happy right now. No homo...I love new york! Pause. I'm so not gay! Fuck yea. And I'm so secure in that!" - from Macklemore's twitter years ago and without context.

Erkling, not quarrelign or anything but is there any context or whatever for that tweet? As in, I can't make any sense of it whatsoever... loving NY doesn't seem to require a "no homo"? am I being spectacularly thick?


It sounds very much to me like he's making fun of the "no homo" thing. The fact that he followed up "no homo" with "Pause. I'm so not gay! ...And I'm so secure in that!" kind of indicates that he's making fun of the people who use "no homo" for being insecure in their masculinity/sexuality. The whole thing's just dripping with sarcasm.

This is a guy whose very first track on a previous album was literally titled "White Privilege" and was all about how he's unfairly given more attention and credit than black rappers just because of the color of his skin. He actually originally wrote "Same Love" from the perspective of a gay person, but his mother called him out on it, basically telling him he was appropriating the gay experience, so he re-wrote the song and gave the chorus to an actual lesbian. He is trying so hard to be a good ally, and people are shitting on him because of societal factors he can't control.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 7:06 AM on January 28 [26 favorites]


(I have no idea what the context of the tweet was, but my having no idea about the context makes me reluctant to resolve an opinion about it. Also, it's entirely possible that, between 2009 and 2012, he may have refined his views and his language; I mean, as teenagers in the 1990s, my friends and I, without consciously meaning any malice, used "retarded" as a general word for "ridiculous," something I absolutely cringe to remember now. Thank god we didn't leave a digital archive to mine for damning quotes by which we'd be judged today).
posted by erlking at 7:07 AM on January 28 [2 favorites]


(Anyamatopoeia seems to know more of the story than I do!)
posted by erlking at 7:08 AM on January 28


Shane McAnally

Surely one of his ancestors would have gotten tired of the teasing and changed the family name?

Personally, I find Macklemore's music tiresome and not worth listening too, so I avoid it totally, but fascinating as a cultural phenomenon. He's clearly talented, but he's also clearly benefiting (and is aware of this) from being a white and straight performer, standing on the backs of non-white and non-straight musicians who paved the way. He knows it and, from what I've picked up in previous threads and in interviews with him that I've read, seems to be trying to be ethical about it while still pushing forward with his music in the directions he wants to go. I don't see much to criticize there honestly, other than the music itself which isn't to my tastes.

As was said above, I think the real story here is that it was a non-story. The rednecks I know aren't talking about it or complaining, the way they were during the stupid Duck Dynasty flap the other week. It's received a big collective shrug, which is in its own way an amazing sign of progress and change.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:20 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I was leaning toward a sarcastic reading too, but w/out context I was wondering if I missed something.

I'm not the greatest fan of Macklemore, and it winds me right up when people trot out the "oh here come the internet social justice warriors" line, but I do really feel in this specific case about this specific song he's not really being given a fair shake. It's almost as good of a song as you could hope to write within the limitations of being an ally.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:14 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Is the argument seriously that, if Macklemore did not exist, these other artists would have had monstrous radio smash hits that nudged the rudder of Middle America in a progressive direction?

No. The argument is that when Macklemore is lionized for being "the first rapper to talk about these things," he needs to say "Nuh-uh. Let me tell you about all the other artists who have been telling this story for decades, who have gone un-noticed by mainstream sources because they weren't white. I am glad for the success of Same Love, and I'm proud of what I've done with it, but it's bullshit to claim that I'm the first at anything. Except having a #1 charting hit without a record label. I might be the first at that."
posted by KathrynT at 8:53 AM on January 28 [8 favorites]


from Macklemore's twitter years ago and without context.

Enough years ago that it could have been when he was still an alcoholic? That could have been the context right there, that he wasn't quite lucid.

And as for the "exploitation" issue - he didn't write that song out of "hey I'll do something about same-sex marriage because it's 'in' and it will sell records", he wrote that song because he thought his uncle should be able to get married. Good enough for me.

...Actually, while I appreciate the concept behind the mass-wedding-during-the-song idea, that mass-wedding itself felt a bit exploitative, or at least....stunt-y. But not, like, "this is causing a political ruckus" kind of stunty, more like it was a tiny bit tacky, maybe?

Or maybe Madonna just creeped me out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:03 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


As a gay man, I would rather have Macklemore as a friend and ally than the people in this thread who ascribe bad motivations to him for no other reason than that he is straight and white.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:13 AM on January 28 [20 favorites]


What I always think is that I would hate to be in this guy's position, because I think you'd have to be a really tough person with your head screwed on right in order to reject (or quickly redirect) the praise, money and awards you were getting. That's one reason I'm a little bit tired of internet shitstorms about celebrities - if you're famous, you're living in a really different world from the rest of us, people are far more anxious to use you and pacify you than they are the rest of us, you have bigger temptations and farther to fall, and there just isn't much use asking a lot of your old friends for advice on how to handle it.

Seriously, let's just say that due to a confluence of circumstances, you suddenly got a lot of fame that you only partially deserved, in a field that you loved but where while you maybe were acceptable as an amateur participant, you really shouldn't be a major player. So you're suddenly famous, you suddenly have all this weird stuff going on in your life, people are pushing you to give your opinions and be a spokesperson, you're not sure whether you're doing more good or more harm by speaking up, and everyone is praising and yes-manning you all the time. That has got to fuck with your head and erode your judgment.

And what's more, it's not a problem that's unique to "allies" - it's a problem whenever anyone who starts out as basically a regular person rises quickly to fame, and it only too obviously fucks with people in a huge way*.

Clearly, the only way to win the game is not to play - but are you sure that with all the money and fame and attention on the table you'd be able to refuse the awards, step back, use the right language at the right time to redirect people? I don't see famous folks doing that very often, and the ones who do are usually people who've been movement activists and have some actual practice.

Frankly, in very low-stakes anarchist social circles, it has taken me some thought and practice to be able to say "no, actually [correcting history and credit]". And I've been surprised by how much resistance I've encountered when I do it, how much "no, you did this thing, you are great!" I can only imagine that if there were real money and real fame in play, it would be a lot harder.

It's not whether he's a good guy or a terrible person; it's that he's one weak individual caught up in a celebrity system that is very, very strong. Trying to parse out exactly how much blame we should assign to him and just how terrible an "ally" he is....that's not only impossible but a huge misdirection of emotion and energy.

Now, I don't really give a good goddamn about Mackelmore, and I don't actually right now have a good theory about whether this whole marriage-mortgage-respectability GLBT politics thing is going to be mostly good or mostly neoliberal bullshit that sets most people back while elevating a few.

It's not Mackelmore - he's just Joe Well-Meaning-But-A-Little-Clueless getting pulled along by the tide. It's the whole system that looks to celebrities - especially but not exclusively white dude celebrities - to represent large, complex populations; and the system that looks to rich and secure people to speak for poor and precarious people.


*One reason I didn't want to come in with a critique of white people getting involved in black liberation movements in the Steve van Zandt thread was precisely because it sure looked like that guy was fucking negotiating the world of white celebrity about as well as he could.
posted by Frowner at 9:45 AM on January 28 [12 favorites]


I am so out of it. I thought Macklemore was gay. Actually, I wasn't sure if he was the Ryan guy or the Macklemore guy. I guessed I missed a few words during that song if the lyrics made it obvious that he wasn't gay. Either way, I don't care. I think it's ok for straight people to like the song and feel good because of it. Don't you want more people to fight for your rights and demand equality, even if they get motivated by some slick hipster white straight rapper dude? Everything doesn't have to be performed or written or sung or acted by someone who is gay to portray gay or communicate something something about being gay.
posted by Kokopuff at 9:53 AM on January 28


I don't have a fully formed thought about this, but still want to say it so bear with me.

I'm a avid black metal fan, which is made almost entirely by white males. Recently, there is a thing called USBM, which is United States Black Metal, which basically appropriated nordic black metal and made it more atmospheric/postrock/better. What's interesting is that I have never encountered any discussion about cultural (mis)appropriation here, obviously because people in scandinavia are white.

I also spent a lot of time reading, writing, learning Arabic and studying the Middle East, so have encountered many pro/free Palestine movements and activists, some of whom are white and/or Jewish. What is interesting about that is that I have NEVER encountered any critique/mention/ or problem with white people getting involved in a non-white liberation movement.

I don't know what that says about race but I think it says something.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:04 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


I didn't stay late enough to watch that part of the Grammys, but I know the song.

And for me, as a gay man? I wish I had heard that song on the radio when I was 14. That song is saying "The people like me? Who aren't on your side? They suck. You're fine. Let's change their minds."

And to straight people, he's saying "I'm not gay, but this affects me too. And it affects you. "

I mean yeah, he's got privilege behind him. But why does nobody think that hey, maybe this guy is using his privilege for good? Same Love tells his own story, in his own words, and isn't that something we want for everyone? The song explicitly comes down on the side of the angels, here; "No freedom till we're equal, damn right I support it" is an unambiguous statement of support to a community that has been incredibly marginalized by mainstream hip-hop.

Yeah, okay, there were factors in his success that were beyond his control. But isn't that the point? There are always things that are beyond our control, and societally we are trying to iron out those attitudes, so anytime the right message is getting broadcast to such a wide swath of people, well that's a good thing in my book.

The guy didn't make some calculated decision about making shit-tons of money off this song. He wrote his story and told people why he feels the way he does. I think that's amazing. He's unambiguously on the side of the angels. I don't get any "no homo" vibe, I get "it doesn't matter if you're straight or gay, homophobia is bad for everyone."

I realize there are others out there who don't have his exposure. I realize that his exposure comes from privilege. But a lot of the time that's where real change does start happening: when the privileged realize their privilege and start trying to dismantle it. The guy puts homophobia, especially homophobia in hip hop, right in his sights and fires. I think he's going to bring about a big change in hip hop, most likely starting with much more visibility of queer hip hop artists who are also people of colour.

It sucks to be a person of whatever marginalized group, and see someone telling our stories who is part of the privileged. But for one thing it's his story, and for another, at least the story is getting told. And the most important thing: he's not appropriating. That's where the problem lies.

Ditto for the country girl (whose boots were indeed amazing). Country music culture, I think, is probably a solid majority not too much in favour of the gays. So maybe a girl has to talk about it first to make it easier to swallow, but she's changing attitudes too. The contrast with Katy Perry above is stark.

The bottom line that I am tortuously getting to is this: these artists aren't singing to us. They're singing to their ingroups and trying to make a point there. Maybe some guys will see a straight rapper saying "Look it's okay to be in favour of gay rights, it doesn't change anything about you, and besides it's the right thing to do" and start internalizing that message.

Sometimes you have to work within the system to change hearts and minds; people like these two are working within the system, trying to change attitudes, while telling us that they're on our side.

I dunno about you, but that's the definition of 'ally' to me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 AM on January 28 [12 favorites]


And as a side note I just wanna say that Kendrick should have won. GKMC is one of the best modern rap albums in my generation. In time it will be defined as a classic.

You know Macklemore agrees with you, right?
"It's weird and sucks that I robbed you."
"But in that category, he should have won IMO. And that's taking nothing away from The Heist. Just giving GKMC it's proper respect."
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:52 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Peccable: "In regards to the "no homo" vibe:
"I'm so happy right now. No homo...I love new york! Pause. I'm so not gay! Fuck yea. And I'm so secure in that!" - from Macklemore's twitter years ago and without context.
"

I was curious about this and looked up "No Homo" on knowyourmeme:

"“No Homo” was first defined on Urban Dictionary[8] on October 21st, 2003, which was featured as Urban Word of the Day on November 8th, 2010."

I do remember the phrase becoming much more visible widely used throughout 2009. It started to pop up in places like the Daily Show and, IIRC, there was a South Park episode about it as well. It seems like this context would lend itself to interpreting his tweet as making fun of the phrase during a time when its usage peaked throughout pop culture.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:32 PM on January 28


The intro to the song is about how, for a moment as a kid, based on the stereotypes that are flung around him constantly he thought he might be gay.

The lyrics:
She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k, trippin' "
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"


He did the math and realised he was good at little league. No homo!

I find the song condescending. I don't think it was a calculated move to co-opt the gay rights movement to make money. I'm very sure this is his story. And I'm glad he did the math and realised it was a bunch of stereotypes... but I still can't help but think, every time I hear the song, "I'm glad you've dealt with your complicated feelings about maybe being gay. I'm glad you're trying really hard to be an ally... but why'd you have to start out with this 'no homo' verse?"
posted by crossoverman at 2:17 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Just re: macklemore and race and not acknowledging it. I'm just going to leave this here from a wake, from his recent album.

"They say it's so refreshing to hear somebody on records
No guns, no drugs, no sex, just truth
The guns that's America, the drugs are what they gave to us
And sex sells itself, don't judge her 'til it's you
Ah, I'm not more or less cautious
The rappers rappin' 'bout them strippers up on the pole, copping
These interviews are obnoxious
Saying that it's poetry is so well spoken, stop it
I grew up during Reaganomics
When Ice T was out there on his killing cops shit
Or Rodney King was getting beat on
And they let off every single officer
And Los Angeles went and lost it
Now every month there is a new Rodney on Youtube
It's just something our generation is used to
And neighbourhoods where you never see a news crew
Unless they're gentrifying, white people don't even cruise through
And my subconcious telling me stop it
This is an issue that you shouldn't get involved in
Don't even tweet, R.I.P Trayvon Martin
Don't wanna be that white dude, million man marchin'
Fighting for our freedom that my people stole
Don't wanna make all my white fans uncomfortable
But you don't even have a fuckin' song for radio
Why you out here talkin race, tryin' to save the fuckin' globe
Don't get involved with the causes in mind
White privilege, white guilt, at the same damn time
So we just party like it's nineteen ninty nine
Celebrate the ignorance while these kids keep dying"
posted by Braeburn at 2:29 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"


???? He explicitly says that he remembers how "good at little league = not gay" was part of his childish stereotype-based reasoning.
posted by erlking at 3:10 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Some folks are working WAY too hard to be upset about Macklemore.
posted by msalt at 3:59 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


He explicitly says that he remembers how "good at little league = not gay" was part of his childish stereotype-based reasoning.

It's not explicit.
posted by crossoverman at 4:08 PM on January 28


"I'm glad you've dealt with your complicated feelings about maybe being gay. I'm glad you're trying really hard to be an ally... but why'd you have to start out with this 'no homo' verse?"

It's meant to be a reflection on his own experience, starting from the first ones he can remember. The inspiration for the song was a story his mom sent him about a kid bullied for being gay. It seems pretty natural he'd start with his own experiences as a kid and how that's where his experience with gay stereotypes began.
posted by rutabega at 4:09 PM on January 28


It's not explicit.

It's pretty explicit.

Dude is on our side. This is why the Left keeps losing: as soon as someone public does something in our favour we immediately go on about how it's not enough.

Perfect, enemy of the good, come on. He's an unambiguous ally.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:32 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


He did the math and realised he was good at little league. No homo!

He's talking about the way he thought when he was in the third grade.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:38 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


I mean seriously, this is a straight dude in a largely homophobic music genre standing right up and out there and saying "Hey! You! Cut that shit out now."

I like to think some people are listening.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:41 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


We know America is no more post-race than it is post-hetero, but each of these lies fuels the other. Macklemore is so popular in part because his music critiques gratuitous consumption and homophobia, both of which are figured to be problems endemic, not to American society, but to hip-hop culture in particular. Thus both he and Lorde scored big awards, he as best new artist, and her song of the year, because the view is that these white folks have come to a transnational consensus, that hip-hop culture is what ails us, and their critiques constitute a cure.
posted by jaguar at 6:01 PM on January 28


Angel Haze's fab queer cover of "Same Love" is a beautiful thing.

Le1f's "Wut" is at the very least a major inspiration for "Thrift Shop".
posted by bile and syntax at 6:14 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


Really? "hip-hop culture" is what ails us? The only places in US society that homophobia and consumerist consumption is lauded is within the confines of that form of music? And that music holds sway over everything else? And these two artists, the simple fact of the existence of their art, holds the key for us to break free of these shackles?

Somehow, I don't think any of this is true. The mere suggestion of it smacks of racist attitudes on behalf of the author which belie any attempt to make a wider point.

I find it fascinating how many times I've read, in this thread and other places, that Macklemore (and now Lourde, whose background lies entirely outside US culture) won these awards because of racial privilege and perhaps even outright bigotry. Perhaps they've simply captured the fascination of those who vote for the awards because of the art they are creating.

Lourde might have won because she's not an overproduced diva working with a zillion named producers and yet still created music which the ears find fascinating.

Macklemore may have won, not because he's appropriating some black art form (if that were the case, basically any non-black doing anything that isn't classical music should be scorned) but because he and Ryan Lewis pulled an album out of nowhere which contains interesting ideas that have caught the attention of jaded music industry types.

Personally, I don't place much faith in the Grammys as awards which actually MEAN anything. It's all just publicity on one level or another, even more so than the Oscars (but somehow it seems less so than the Tony awards).

But this continual ranting about how all this smacks of racism... I didn't actually watch the awards, but were there announcements being made from the stage to the effect of "and now because he is white, we give the award to..."?

Why hasn't anyone called out Daft Punk for being French? Surely people would rather have their retro-disco music created by some Freedom musicians...

*shakes head*
posted by hippybear at 6:33 PM on January 28


You might want to actually read the linked article before commenting on it, hippybear. She isn't saying that hip-hop culture is what ails us. She's saying that Macklemore and Lorde are lauded because their songs promote the idea that hip-hop culture is what ails us. She thinks that's bogus and racist and all kinds of fucked up.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:43 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


It would perhaps be more accurate to say that (mainstream) hip hop culture is among the many symptoms of what ails us.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:46 PM on January 28


I have listened to both Macklemore's and Lorde's albums and don't see anything in them which says hip-hop culture is what ails us. What I do see is "hey, maybe this, also". And a bit of "why always that?" And if that is read as a commentary on race, I think that's more in the ears of the listener than the creators of the sounds.

And I did read the article, three times, to make sure I wasn't missing something.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


And... taking that a bit further... if maybe there is a valid critique to be made about hip-hop culture and its supposed influence over the vast prism of humanity that is the US... are you saying it can NEVER be made by a white person? Wherefrom should that critique spring where it could not be taken as racist?

At what point might a supposed critique of something happen which does not spring from within the supposed race group which originated the thing being critiqued without that being regarded as somehow racism?

I don't even think that is what is going on here, but I'm curious about the answer to this question.
posted by hippybear at 6:55 PM on January 28


I think the criticism of Lorde is that the things she talks about in Royals (Cristal, Maybach, gold teeth, etc.) are associated with hip-hop culture. I've also heard people counter that she also mentions stuff that is associated with white rock 'n' roll excess: trashing hotel rooms, for instance. I have no idea who's right, because I'm old and out of touch and don't necessarily catch the connotations. But the argument is that in both that song and "Thrift Shop," hip-hop signifiers stand in for consumerism, as if there was something particularly cravenly capitalist about hip-hop. And the same thing, sort of, about "Same Love." I don't know that it's in the song itself, but a lot of people have praised it precisely because it's not homophobic like those other (read, "black") rappers, ignoring that there are plenty of black rappers who have protested homophobia and not been given the same kind of stage to do it on as Macklemore got. So it all sort of reinforces the idea that black people are the problem: they're homophobic, they're consumerist, and white musicians can score brownie points by asserting their superiority to hip-hop's supposed pathologies. And in fact, it's the entire society that's consumerist and homophobic, not specifically hip-hop.

Whether this is a fair critique or not, I don't know, because like I said: old. out of touch.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:01 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]


I have listened to both Macklemore's and Lorde's albums and don't see anything in them which says hip-hop culture is what ails us

She's talking about the praise of their albums. You can see the phenomenon happening in this thread, where hip-hop is getting called out as particularly homophobic, in the same way that blacks kept getting blamed for Prop 8 passing in California. This country, and white cultures in general, tend to have a long, long history of deciding that black people are somehow less enlightened than whites and that white saviors need to come in and rescue them; when a particular story conforms to that model, it's worth looking at the underlying assumptions.
posted by jaguar at 7:16 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


in the same way that blacks kept getting blamed for Prop 8 passing in California

And all this time I've been blaming that on the Mormons. Silly me!
posted by hippybear at 7:18 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


And all this time I've been blaming that on the Mormons. Silly me!

Well, good for you, I guess?
posted by jaguar at 7:28 PM on January 28


I'm not the only one...
posted by hippybear at 7:35 PM on January 28


[Maybe let the Mormons/Prop 8 thing drop? Bit of a derail, no?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:38 PM on January 28


When I think of homophobia in rap music, Eminem springs to my mind pretty quickly.
posted by erlking at 8:04 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]


It's kinda weird seeing the backlash over "Same Love," since where I work were some of the first promoters of it. We paid to send volunteers to Washington to work on marriage there, and that's where we heard about it. It was something that really fired up a lot of our young volunteers, straight and LGBT alike. I remember our field manager crying when she first heard it. It was explicitly put out in favor of LGBT freedom to marry, so bagging on it for usurping attention from LGBT artists is kinda weird. It resonated with a lot of people, helped win marriage in Washington, and that he's getting plaudits for that is pretty understandable.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on January 29 [4 favorites]


[Maybe let the Mormons/Prop 8 thing drop? Bit of a derail, no?]

Discussion of Prop 8 and the primary institution behind its passage should hopefully never be considered a derail in a thread about same-sex marriage rights, no?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:45 PM on January 29


I didn't know about the history of "Same Love," that's cool. But the Grammys and charts this year were dishearteningly a story about and for white people, and some of those songs implicitly criticized black culture in a way that suggests they misunderstand it entirely. Something seems to be going on with pop culture at large. There were no black artists with number one singles in 2013. It's the first year in Billboard history (since 1958!) that's ever happened. Further: "White artists even sat atop the R&B and Hip-Hop Songs chart for 44 out of 52 weeks of 2013. Compare this to ten years ago, when every No. 1 Hot 100 single was performed by an artist of color. And in a final interesting twist, there are no living black artists being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 -- although Clarence Clemons will be inducted posthumously as part of the E Street Band. That's only happened once before in Rock Hall history."

So we're entering a weirdly white-dominated stretch of pop culture history, and the Grammys show undeniable symptoms of that being the case, and that being a problem. "Thrift Shop" and "Royals" criticize the aspirational, brand-conscious aspects of (implicitly black, implicitly "other") hip-hop culture, while not getting that this part of hip-hop grew out of implicit recognition of despair, poverty, and awful choices. Kanye (conspicuously absent at the Grammys) talks in "New Slaves" about how that materialism is being encouraged by white capitalism and is another cunning way to hold black people down in a "post-racial" America. People like Macklemore find it easy to condemn the aspirational stuff because they're not entering the discussion with the same context and nuance. In a sense, they're coming at it with the requisite privilege to have thrift shops be "hip" and brand-consciousness be "gauche."

This is all somewhat but not entirely orthogonal to the "Same Love" discussion - a song which contains lyrics that criticize hip-hop's apparent homophobia, despite "no homo" not being a cool thing to say for something like 5-6 years now, and despite lots of mainstream rappers condemning homophobia, and lots of queer rappers saying things a lot more eloquently than this song, etc. But most importantly the "Same Love" performance was a part of the race narrative - this is white, middlebrow, safe progressivism triumphing over anything with actual substance (again, "New Slaves" and "Black Skinhead", Pusha T, etc. are probably enough to give the typical Grammy voter a heart attack.) Watching the Grammys was like watching Crash win the Oscars over and over again.
posted by naju at 3:41 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]


[I took it that the thread was about pop musicians and gay marriage, so "did the Mormons cause Prop 8 to pass" seemed a bit of a derail from that.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:27 PM on January 29


(I'm going to try to rerail the derail; if I'm just continuing the derail, however, I'll understand being deleted.)

What I was trying to get at by bringing up Prop 8 is that after it failed to be repealed (I misspoke earlier when I talked about it passing; I meant to talk about the period when it was upheld), a bunch of left-weaning/liberal/pro-GLB blogs and news sources (Dan Savage apparently among them) started blaming California's minority voters, without acknowledging that more white people voted to uphold Prop 8 than black people. As the Salon.com article puts it, the consensus became that black voters were the problem and that white critique of black (Christian) culture was what was necessary to cure that problem.

This article is a thoughtful analysis of that issue, in that it acknowledges that yes, black culture has historically been pretty homophobic, but white people can't lay the entire problem on black people. (Because, as you said, it was white right-wing Christian groups putting out the money and messages in favor of Prop 8.)

I'm wanting the same pushback on the idea that hiphop culture is uniquely homophobic and white people criticizing it is the cure for it. I somehow doubt that there's no homophobia in now-majority-white musical genres, but mainstream culture acts as if it's all neatly contained among black people, and that's neither accurate nor ok.
posted by jaguar at 4:44 PM on January 29


""Thrift Shop" and "Royals" criticize the aspirational, brand-conscious aspects of (implicitly black, implicitly "other") hip-hop culture, while not getting that this part of hip-hop grew out of implicit recognition of despair, poverty, and awful choices."

There are two points worth making in reply to this: First off, hip hop is larger than the black experience now, to the point that it's the dominant mode of pop. And a lot of the materialism within hip hop has been divorced from that African American background — someone upthread said that Cristal and Maybocks are associated with hip hop culture, which is true but is so historically naive that it's hard to take as a serious point.

Second, the defenses of problematic lyrics in hip hop get really tortured sometimes in an effort to fend off all white criticism as sort of an ad hominem gambit. Like, hip hop as a subsection of pop music really does have a problem with materialism and misogyny. And to step further, it's both true that it has problems with materialism and misogyny in ways that are specific to the tropes of the genre, just like any other genre of music has flaws that aren't specific to the genre but are expressed in ways specific to the genre. From there, it also makes sense for people who are working in the idiom of hip hop to criticize what's closest at hand, and that's other hip hop or pop music (since I really think that Lorde is getting blasted for a specificity that doesn't seem supported well by the lyrics — e.g. tennis isn't a trope of hip hop, but she's still referencing it as part of a criticized materialism).

Finally, I'd say that Good Kid, Maad City was the most over-rated album that came out last year, including probably one of the worst singles of the year, Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe. For everybody upping Lamar for trumping Big Sean on Sean's own song, that verse was also better than most of Good Kid. Chance, Yeezus, Drake, Danny Brown, all of them should have been in line before Kendrick (and Macklemore).

(I'll also point out that the Grammys have ALWAYS sucked at hip hop/rap, and it was almost better when they didn't try than when they try.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


"I meant to talk about the period when it was upheld), a bunch of left-weaning/liberal/pro-GLB blogs and news sources (Dan Savage apparently among them) started blaming California's minority voters, without acknowledging that more white people voted to uphold Prop 8 than black people. As the Salon.com article puts it, the consensus became that black voters were the problem and that white critique of black (Christian) culture was what was necessary to cure that problem."

African Americans voted for Prop. 8 in a higher proportion than white voters, with about 58 percent of them voting against marriage for same-sex couples. However, they were about 7 percent of the electorate, and the scapegoating is unfair. That doesn't mean that there isn't higher support for LGBT equality in the white electorate than in the African American one. The cause of that isn't skin color, it's religiosity:
The analysis 
shows that African Americans and Latinos were stronger supporters of Proposition 8 
than other groups (Model I), but not to a significant degree after controlling for 
religiosity (Models II and III)
From Polling post-mortem.
posted by klangklangston at 5:04 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


hip hop as a subsection of pop music really does have a problem with materialism and misogyny... it also makes sense for people who are working in the idiom of hip hop to criticize what's closest at hand

There are criticisms to make about the genre. What's noteworthy to me is that the Grammys reflected a superficial support of hip-hop, but only the safe kind that criticizes that other (black, messy, complex, engaged with a larger ongoing discussion) kind, and only the sort that sports a faux-progressiveness, that gives a self-congratulatory sense of accomplishment about endorsing the genre. A Danny Brown, Kendrick, Earl, Pusha, Kanye or even a Drake is too difficult for this mindset to support. Give us Macklemore instead. It's as backward and embarrassing to me as the people who "don't hate hip-hop; I love the Roots!" or whatever.
posted by naju at 5:30 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


"A Danny Brown, Kendrick, Earl, Pusha, Kanye or even a Drake is too difficult for this mindset to support. Give us Macklemore instead. It's as backward and embarrassing to me as the people who "don't hate hip-hop; I love the Roots!" or whatever."

…except that pretty much the same voters gave the Best Rap Album to Drake last year, and to Kanye two years ago. I agree that they both put out better albums than The Heist, but it's hard to see this year's Macklemore nod as symptomatic of the rest of them being too difficult to support when they've won in the last couple years. Kanye and Jay-Z won Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song for Niggas In Paris last year, and that's a pretty charged track that criticizes more than hip hop.
posted by klangklangston at 5:49 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


They didn't have a Macklemore equivalent to enthusiastically support in 2011 or 2012, though. Kanye and Drake also put out more inconvenient, pointed albums this year than in previous years. And I doubt the voters picked up on any cultural subtleties happening in "Niggas In Paris." The cultural weirdness I'm talking about is something that seems to be happening over the last year, and that's borne out in the way the charts, numbers, and critical establishments are responding to what's out there.
posted by naju at 6:05 PM on January 29


That doesn't mean that there isn't higher support for LGBT equality in the white electorate than in the African American one. The cause of that isn't skin color, it's religiosity...

Yes, that's what the linked article talks about, but contextualizes it within the frame of white right-wing Christian groups targeting black churches with misinformation. Which, again, is why I'm super uncomfortable with any flat assertions that any aspects of black culture are somehow mysteriously more homophobic than those aspects of white culture.
posted by jaguar at 7:33 PM on January 29


"They didn't have a Macklemore equivalent to enthusiastically support in 2011 or 2012, though."

That's an "If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle" argument.

"Kanye and Drake also put out more inconvenient, pointed albums this year than in previous years."

Kanye's basically had a lock on Best Song as long as it's been around, winning for Jesus Walks, Diamonds of Sierra Leone, Good Life, Run This Town, All The Lights and Niggas in Paris. He won last year's Best Rap Performance for Otis, where he and Jay-Z pretty pointedly talk about materialism and decadence. The only albums Kanye's failed to win a Grammy with are 808s and Heartbreak and Yeezus. (And calling this a "pointed" album from Drake is a pretty huge stretch. Just like thinking that heads wouldn't have been calling out the Grammys for tapping "straight up baby thighs, namsayin").

If you want to look at someone else who got shut out: Eminem didn't even get nominated, despite winning pretty much every time he dropped a record over the last decade. He and Kanye have won basically half of the Grammys for the category since it was invented. He's certainly technically a better rapper than Macklemore, and he put more singles into the Top 20.

What wins is hip hop that plays crossover top 40. But that doesn't mean that good things don't win, or that there's a cultural weirdness for the last year. The rap Grammys are always weird, always have some corny nom in with some decent A-listers, and sometimes the corny nom wins. Hell, all the Grammys are weird — rap actually comes out, even with the Macklemore nod, as one of the more defensible categories for winners over time — Best Alternative Album might as well be subtitled "Dads and Dorms." Satan help you if you like metal. Best Rock Song should lead you to believe that the Grammy voters have never actually heard a rock song. I mean, you don't blow it one year with Creed only to give the next one to Train.
posted by klangklangston at 8:35 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


"Yes, that's what the linked article talks about, but contextualizes it within the frame of white right-wing Christian groups targeting black churches with misinformation. Which, again, is why I'm super uncomfortable with any flat assertions that any aspects of black culture are somehow mysteriously more homophobic than those aspects of white culture."

I think that's fair, especially because as proportionally more blacks and Latinos identify as LGBT than whites, so proportionally there'd be a higher cost for homophobia.
posted by klangklangston at 8:52 PM on January 29


With all this talk of charts and who's in the number 1 position and what that means about shifts in pop cultural representation, it's a shame no technology exists which could process this big set of data and produce actual results.

I'll get on it over the weekend.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:02 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Dave Brubeck Was The Macklemore Of 1954
posted by homunculus at 6:49 PM on January 30


someone upthread said that Cristal and Maybocks are associated with hip hop culture, which is true but is so historically naive that it's hard to take as a serious point

It's knowing the historical context that makes that a serious point. That "prestige brands" are being compelled to grapple with the conflicting pressures of becoming hip hop status symbols and what that means for their overall brand identity is not a small issue, and placing that in an overall trajectory is the opposite of naive.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:29 PM on January 30


No, it's not. This is the quote I responded to: "I think the criticism of Lorde is that the things she talks about in Royals (Cristal, Maybach, gold teeth, etc.) are associated with hip-hop culture."

Criticizing Lorde for using TRADITIONAL WEALTH STATUS SYMBOLS in a song about the excesses of material wealth because they're nominally associated with hip hop is silly. It's, like, third-rate beef thinking — yo, it's called Royals, Jay-Z and Kanye did Watch the Throne, it's a Jay Z and Kanye dis track!

That the luxury brands are having to navigate a more complicated social sphere as they shift from being associated with white collar crime to blue collar crime doesn't negate them being luxury signifiers to begin with.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 PM on January 30


You're partially missing two points at once, though quite articulately, of course

One, the issue for the luxury brands like Cristal is that by being adopted by hip hop artists they lose massive brand prestige in the process (and yet also gain new sales and a different prestige, though presumably not enough to make up for the original prestige drop). Describing that as "white collar crime to blue collar crime" doesn't nail the issue at all. The theoretical end game for them is to stop being white luxury signifiers at all, though of course that is unlikely.

Two, the criticisms of Lorde are more complex than you are allowing. She's making a critique but is using those symbols both for her critique and for their status, which arguably negates that critique (and then there's the second-level issues of the shifting nature of those status symbols themselves, as just discussed). That's a difficult dance to manage, and smart as she is things aren't perfect with her treatment of it.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:57 PM on January 30


Boy I just don't don't see how Lorde is using those symbols for their status. Maybe I'm simple but I'm pretty sure she's just ridiculuing them as disconnected from life and not worth pursuing. That lux ain't for us. She's rather be your queen.
posted by msalt at 9:29 PM on February 1


The funny thing about criticism of Lorde is that people ignore the culture shift from New Zealand to the U.S. As klang said above, these symbols are more about hip hop culture, which is a worldwide phenomenon, than Black culture in the U.S. Cause, you know, not that many African Americans in Auckland really.

Conversely, people here in the U.S. miss the whole commonwealth legacy. We don't use the word royals here much, meaning members of the British royal family, but those luxury brands were typical of Windsors long before they were typical of rappers. She's making a connection between wealth displayed in the music videos omnipresent across the English speaking world, and the most undeserving and richest people on earth -- the British royal family -- and mocking that as a dream fantasy which it undoubtedly is for many commonwealth kids.

The idea that she is a racist mocking authentic Black culture signifiers like, you know, tigers on a leash, is absurd. What I'm getting is, that's ridiculous privilege and why would you even want it? How happy would that even make you?
posted by msalt at 1:51 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


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