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June 10, 2014 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Why should I have to hear about a guy comparing his girlfriend to a dog while I’m buying vegetables?

Alternet senior editor Lynn Stuart Parramore hears "Under My Thumb" in a supermarket and tries to bring her displeasure to the attention of management.
posted by monospace (596 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
and that's how we end up with bland muzak playing over the speakers everywhere.
posted by k5.user at 11:15 AM on June 10 [42 favorites]


Now that we all have ipods and such, the solution is to just stop playing music in public spaces. Then nobody gets offended by nothing and those of us who LIKE A LITTLE QUIET NOW AND THEN are happy also.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:17 AM on June 10 [52 favorites]


Jesus H. Christ this person is the absolute worst.

She picks on and gives the full name of some random TJ's employee and puts the fact they're using MUZAK like 100,000 other companies at the end of this shitty thing.

But, you know, TJ's and mass murderers get clicks, so why not bullshit a story.
posted by lattiboy at 11:18 AM on June 10 [79 favorites]


This is the same argument as banning video games because of the school violence.
If you want to end sexism and misogyny, don't start by banning rock-n-roll songs.
posted by Flood at 11:18 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


“Under My Thumb” is nevertheless considered by many to be one of the most misogynistic rock songs of all time. In a grim twist of fate, it was actually the song the Stones were playing when a fan named Meridith Hunter was stabbed to death by members of the Hell's Angels hired as security guards at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969.

Suppose the author knows that Meredith was male?
posted by ish__ at 11:19 AM on June 10 [146 favorites]


I am completely sympathetic to Parramore's point, but I think it's deeply odd of her to try to hold lower-level cogs in the corporate machine responsible for this issue. Slagging working-class people for the music that their employer plays is just...not good messaging. Clearly these people constitute the available infrastructure for receiving complaints, so it makes sense that she would avail herself of them, but it's (IMO) unreasonable to get frustrated at them when they can't personally address it.
posted by threeants at 11:19 AM on June 10 [52 favorites]


Also that thing Trader Joe's does where their salsa is Trader Jose's, and their pasta sauce is Trader Giotto's? Racist. Why can't Jose make pasta sauce?
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:20 AM on June 10 [62 favorites]


I'll be the first to admit that lyrics are typically the last thing that register for me when I'm listening to songs. That said, given how iconic the two Stones songs are, I'm shocked that I never noticed how horrible those lyrics are! I'm never going to be able to enjoy Brown Sugar again, which is just as well given the content.
It sounds like Trader Joe's handled this really poorly, and I think she makes a good point. I also think it may have originally been an honest mistake, but the employees in the store and on the customer service line sure did bungle their handling of this.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 11:20 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Most people just don't have the ability to hear lyrics when they're focusing on something else. They just automatically tune the words out. Some small percentage of us are cursed with the inability not to hear them, just as we're cursed with the inability not to read text that's right in front of us. I've had a number of conversations with people where I was all "oh my god, that song they were playing was so [racist/gross/creepy]" and my conversation partner just didn't hear a thing.

I really do not enjoy listening to creepy gross songs while I'm trying to pick up groceries/drink a coffee/wait in line for my driver's license/etc. There's a lot of creepy gross Elvis Costello, actually, that people play because they think that if it's Elvis Costello it's classy. And when people play "Take A Walk On The Wild Side", that is also gross. (Thanks for the racism, Lou!) Or when you're in hipster spaces and they play "Los Angeles", by X. ("She had to leave/Los Angeles/....She started to hate every n***** and Jew" and then some other racist and homophobic stuff, hooray!)

I mean, we all like some stuff that isn't ideal. (I like Elvis Costello, mostly. And the Pogues album with "Transmetropolitan".) But I certainly wouldn't force anyone to sit through it.
posted by Frowner at 11:21 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


Ronald Reagan thought "Born in the USA" was straight boosterism.
posted by JohnLewis at 11:24 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]


"Under My Thumb" stops being misogynistic if you take it to be a song about Stockholm Syndrome. I mean, that's not what it's about but that's what I pretend that it's about.
posted by I-baLL at 11:24 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I agree that "Under My Thumb" has pretty maddening lyrics (and yes, it pales in comparison to "Brown Sugar"), and I get exactly why this is irritating from a feminist point of view, but the author is kind of being a classist asshole (a classhole?) for hassling the store workers for being unable to magically intervene in the corporate bureaucracy to her immediate satisfaction (heh).
posted by scody at 11:24 AM on June 10 [91 favorites]


I guess I would expect someone who is the "director of AlterNet's New Economic Dialogue Project" to be significantly more attuned to what it's like to be a low-level service industry worker in the US.
posted by threeants at 11:24 AM on June 10 [29 favorites]


On the other hand "uh, I don't have time, we play racist and sexist stuff all the time so chill out, I can't do anything about it" and "no one else has complained" are really, really crap answers from a customer service standpoint. I've worked plenty of shitty jobs where I had to cover for stuff I did not control, and there are all kinds of ways to handle that better.
posted by Frowner at 11:27 AM on June 10 [28 favorites]


It's not like she was talking to the cashier. She specifically said she was "directed" to the guy at the store as being the one to talk to about the situation.
posted by jaguar at 11:27 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


I wonder why the American left is completely impotent.
posted by goethean at 11:27 AM on June 10 [54 favorites]


I heard The Clash's "Lost In The Supermarket" (real, not muzak) while at Target recently. I thought "Now THAT'S irony"
posted by Gorgik at 11:28 AM on June 10 [35 favorites]


In a grim twist of fate, it was actually the song the Stones were playing when a fan named Meridith Hunter was stabbed to death by members of the Hell's Angels hired as security guards at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969.

Suppose the author knows that Meredith was male?


Oh god I read that and cringed so badly in sheer horrifying secondhand embarrassment for this terrible terrible writer that I think I may have further ruptured 3 herniated disks in my neck.

thanks mefi
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on June 10 [58 favorites]


Truthfully, “Under My Thumb” is not even their most aggressively misogynistic song: that prize goes to “Brown Sugar,” which celebrates slave owners raping black women:

So, by that logic, does "Gimme Shelter" celebrate rape and murder? I mean IT'S RIGHT THERE IN THE LYRICS. Isn't it a bit prudish/naive to equate the content of song lyrics with the beliefs of the artist?
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:28 AM on June 10 [30 favorites]


(Thanks for the racism, Lou!)

"Colored" can be used in a racist way, but is there racism in the song because of it?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:28 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


Poor Kyle.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:29 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


And I actually read the article as being about her frustration with the unresponsiveness of the corporate bureaucracy. We all get told to "Do something!" to intervene in daily misogyny, and then when we do, we hit a wall. I didn't get the impression she was blaming the store manager for that as much as illustrating the ubiquity of misogyny combined with the impenetrability of the denial it was a problem.
posted by jaguar at 11:30 AM on June 10 [17 favorites]


I really do not enjoy listening to creepy gross songs while I'm trying to pick up groceries/drink a coffee/wait in line for my driver's license/etc.

Well you can't say Brian Eno didn't try, damn it.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:30 AM on June 10 [23 favorites]


Yeah, trying to shame a powerless working stiff who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time really does come off as a particularly shitty kind of sanctimoniousness.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:31 AM on June 10 [12 favorites]


k5.user: “and that's how we end up with bland muzak playing over the speakers everywhere.”

But "Under My Thumb" isn't even a very good song! It's just boring marimba and chick-chick guitars! It's like the lamest most inoffensive boring pop tune ever! Seriously, I feel like the only reason anybody would like that song is because the menacing lyrics give it an edge. But if you actually understand what they're saying, it's hard to enjoy. So... yeah. It's a useless song.
posted by koeselitz at 11:31 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


"Hey Nineteen" is often heard in supermarkets and department stores, much to my bemusement.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:31 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


At my kid's elementary school picnic today, the Shaved Ice truck was playing tinkly electro semi-muzak. The first song I recognized was "The Phantom of the Opera" and I laughed out loud.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:32 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Camille Paglia liked it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:32 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


She picks on and gives the full name of some random TJ's employee and puts the fact they're using MUZAK like 100,000 other companies at the end of this shitty thing.

He was the employee the store directed her to. It is the responsibility of the store to know who to direct complaints to. I neither agree nor disagree with her complaint, but this was bad customer service on Trader Joe's part. You don't have someone who is in no power to change things argue with the customer. You don't give them phone numbers that fail to reach who you have told them to call. You don't have a customer service people tell a complaining customer that "no one has ever complained." You take down the message, along with a phone number and an address, and pass it along to whoever is appropriate.

Sometimes you just can't help a customer. But they repeatedly refused to even try, or even to get her to the right person to address this. I would have called her and told her we get the music from Muzak, we passed along the complaint and the nature of the complaint, and we're not in a position to change music services, but we have made sure her complaint was registered.

Muzak is historically pretty responsive to this sort of thing, especially after tragedies. They suspended "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You" after Kennedy was shot, along with a lot of other songs that seemed inappropriate. They might suspend misogynist songs. But Trader Joe's doesn't know till they try, and the customer's concerns are worth respecting.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:32 AM on June 10 [51 favorites]


On the other hand "uh, I don't have time, we play racist and sexist stuff all the time so chill out, I can't do anything about it" and "no one else has complained" are really, really crap answers from a customer service standpoint. I've worked plenty of shitty jobs where I had to cover for stuff I did not control, and there are all kinds of ways to handle that better.

I don't know, the first person the author talked to doesn't sound very deft, but is actually significantly more honest than I think might be hoped for from a customer service employee. "It’s just like the radio in your car. There are all kinds of songs playing on different stations" would be weaselly coming from someone with the power to change things, but as a description, it seems pretty accurate to me. He admits honestly that some of the songs are "racist, sexist, and misogynistic" but that he doesn't really have any leeway to do anything about it, which is true. I mean, he could pledge to move heaven and earth to remove Under My Thumb from the music service that Trader Joe's Corporate rents for their stores, but that would be completely disingenuous.
posted by threeants at 11:34 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


"Colored" can be used in a racist way, but is there racism in the song because of it?

I have heard many, many unfavorable remarks about this song from women of color. I'm not saying that every person of color on the planet is going to be bothered by it, but I've definitely heard from enough people who find it racist that I do not feel good at all about listening to it.

On a personal level, I think that particular lyric is just sort of racially clueless and stereotyping - like, he's using the image of black women singing backup as a kind of cliche/background/ironic detail, an empty and non-human thing, and I don't like it.
posted by Frowner at 11:34 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


This thread has really colored my opinion of Trader Joe's.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:35 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I don't know, the first person the author talked to doesn't sound very deft, but is actually significantly more honest than I think might be hoped for from a customer service person. "It’s just like the radio in your car. There are all kinds of songs playing on different stations" would be weaselly coming from someone with the power to change things, but as a description, it seems pretty accurate to me. He admits honestly that some of the songs are "racist, sexist, and misogynistic" but that he doesn't really have any leeway to do anything about it, which is true. I mean, he could pledge to move heaven and earth to remove Under My Thumb from the music service that Trader Joe's Corporate rents for their stores, but that would be completely disingenuous.

I've been in a somewhat less charged situation that was a bit similar (and in related situations where the complaint was on the level of "stop putting fluoride in my tinfoil because it attracts the contrails"). It's really not that difficult - you empathize with the complaint, promise to do what you can to bring it to the attention of someone who can change things, and (if you can do so without creating further ructions) you also tell them that it's difficult to change because of [large corporate thing]". And honestly, if someone brought something to my attention that actually was gross and racist or sexist, I would put some emphasis on the "wow, you're right, that is pretty awful" part.

But that's typical of corporations - say that you have someone in charge of complaints, give them no power and no training and then hang them out to dry.
posted by Frowner at 11:39 AM on June 10 [12 favorites]


I have no knowledge of the Stone's actual intent with "Brown Sugar," but the song reads to me to be an exhibition of the grotesqueness and perversion of slavery and not a celebration of it. If she didn't live in NYC the writer would be at her children's suburban school with a sharpie in the library.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:39 AM on June 10 [19 favorites]


I guess I would expect someone who is the "director of AlterNet's New Economic Dialogue Project" to be significantly more attuned to what it's like to be a low-level service industry worker in the US.

She's shopping at Trader Joe's, not C-Town. What do you expect?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:41 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


"Under My Thumb"? Pshaw. For real, ripped from the headlines misogyny, look no further than the Beatles
posted by neat-o at 11:42 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


She's directly responding to what seems like a pervasive atmosphere of misogyny in the wake of a series of murders resulting from misogyny. I wonder if we can steer clear of painting her as some pearl-clutching nanny with an urge to censor. In the wake of the Holocaust Museum shootings, I'd be pretty upset to walk into Trader Joe's an hear "Dachau Blues," although I would also be surprised to hear Captain Beefheart,
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:44 AM on June 10 [26 favorites]


But that's typical of corporations - say that you have someone in charge of complaints, give them no power and no training and then hang them out to dry.

Well, yes, absolutely. This is so ubiquitous that it seems weird to me that she doesn't direct her campaign in a more sophisticated way. I hope this doesn't sound too much like a tone argument-- I don't think her point is devalued by her poor tactics.
posted by threeants at 11:44 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Also, trade is exploitation of the marginalized by the privileged.

They should be required by law to call themselves Racist, Misogynist, Exploitative Bigot Joe's. Then see who shops there.
posted by Naberius at 11:45 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


For real, ripped from the headlines misogyny, look no further than the Beatles

Yep, horrible song. To John's credit, though, he called it the worst song he ever wrote.
posted by scody at 11:46 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Isn't it a bit prudish/naive to equate the content of song lyrics with the beliefs of the artist?

Isn't it a bit derailing to pretend that her complaint was about the "beliefs of the artist" when she specifically says: "My problem is not so much with Sir Mick, who penned the lyrics with Keith Richards when both were 23 years old in a bygone era, before I was even born."?

She is saying that the song is misogynist, and that playing it today in a supermarket is, at the very least, tin-eared and insensitive.
posted by Etrigan at 11:47 AM on June 10 [30 favorites]


it seems weird to me that she doesn't direct her campaign in a more sophisticated way.

Really? Because her first tactic is to privately go through the system and see how well it works, and her second step is to make the failure of the system public. That's pretty much the template for activism.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:47 AM on June 10 [23 favorites]


I'm still sort of unclear on whether or not it was the actual song playing or the Muzak version of it, though.
posted by elizardbits at 11:49 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck people have horrible taste.

Who are these people and how can I join their fascinating religion?
posted by vorpal bunny at 11:50 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Because there is no American Left currently.
posted by carping demon at 11:50 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I'm still sort of unclear on whether or not it was the actual song playing or the Muzak version of it, though.

The actual song. Trader Joe's does this. I try not to sing along, although I seem to be the only one....
posted by Floydd at 11:51 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I'm still sort of unclear on whether or not it was the actual song playing or the Muzak version of it, though.

It sounds like it was the actual song. Muzak now offers specialized playlists of popular standards, instead of elevator music versions.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:51 AM on June 10


In the wake of the Holocaust Museum shootings, I'd be pretty upset to walk into Trader Joe's an hear "Dachau Blues," although I would also be surprised to hear Captain Beefheart

Absolutely. But the real issue here is just how pervasive this misogyny is. The song is a staple of "classic rock." The problem is much more that, and much less that TJs was playing it. It was only playing it because the former was true.

In other words, if you heard Captain Beefheart you would be hearing a different level and kind of choice.

I'm not saying this excuses it, but this is what makes it complicated. The likelihood was that most people who "allowed" the song to play had never even considered the lyrics because it's just kind of a received song. That's fucked up, and it should be scratched from the playlist, but I doubt anyone "chose" to play this song.
posted by JohnLewis at 11:54 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Isn't it a bit derailing to pretend that her complaint was about the "beliefs of the artist" when she specifically says

The point I was trying to make is that just because the lyrics depict someone who is a misogynist doesn't make them misogynistic. As a general matter, there are multitudes of songs that have dark, violent lyrics; that doesn't make them wrong or unsuitable for modern day listening. One can argue, I guess, that "Under My Thumb" isn't grocery store music, that it should all be bland and devoid of controversial content, but it's lyrics don't make it a misogynistic song.
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:54 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


This stuff is super complicated for me. I mean, I completely support anyone's right to avoid hearing things that make them uncomfortable and to respond as they see fit to the policies of businesses they patronize and register complaints and all.

I think we can all agree that human society, Western society, American society is/are and have been from the get-go thoroughly fucked up in terms of ethnicity, gender, etc., so their artworks and entertainment are just as thoroughly fucked up. There is terrible shit in many, many, many works of literature, music, media, and I absolutely support anyone's desire to avoid and even maybe erase it. But it's like removing a beach with a pair of tweezers.

And many of the same artworks and bits of pop culture that contain terrible terrible shit also contain sublimely beautiful shit as well. "Brown Sugar" is a beautiful song. Sticky Fingers is a fantastic album. The Stones have MASSIVE AMOUNTS of really awful lyrical content throughout their albums ("Midnight Rambler," "Some Girls," Jesus, "Under My Thumb" is trivial by comparison), and I'm a giant feminist but still delightedly listen to a lot of those albums, and feel a certain amount of discomfort or guilt or offense or general strangeness. It's all very fraught and complicated!
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:56 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Yeah, Midnight Rambler. Fuck.
posted by JohnLewis at 11:57 AM on June 10


I'd be delighted if Trader Joe's - and every other store - stopped playing music at all.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:58 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Oh, the song is misogynistic. I don't think there can be an argument about that. It's not a critique of misogyny. It's Mick Jagger celebrating (in a jokey way) having gained control over a pushy woman. He himself said exactly that.

I love the Stones, but it's a love tempered with awareness that sometimes they were genuinely awful people.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:59 AM on June 10 [30 favorites]


1966 Under My Thumb
1985 She's The Boss
posted by timsteil at 12:00 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Midnight Rambler. Fuck

Which is very similar to Peter Gabriel's unbelievably creepy and fabulous "Intruder," and nobody would say the latter is endorsing its narrator's viewpoints. But probably not great for the grocery store.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:01 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Because there is no American Left currently.

And this is why.

This is a freaking 50-year-old classic rock song written and sung by a British band. And to the point above, "there are mutitudes of songs that have dark, violent lyrics" - let's all drive to our local classic rock radio station right now and demand that they never play "Hey Joe" or "Down by the River" ever again, because we live in a society where violence and murder are all too common and these songs, in effect, endorse that!

This is pearl clutching at its worst. If someone wrote this song today and had a hit with it, we'd have an issue extraordinaire. Instead we are going to try and expunge cultural memory by taking select classic rock songs off the radio, or off the muzak because we're offended by sentiments expressed in the lyrics by artists who may or may not have personally believed that message.
posted by kgasmart at 12:02 PM on June 10 [52 favorites]


Naberius: "Also, trade is exploitation of the marginalized by the privileged."

So, you're advocating total autarky, down to the personal level? That seems less than desirable.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:02 PM on June 10


There was a great little bit on Neil's Heavy Concept Album (of the Young Ones fame) where he's grooving out with a few people playing Brown Sugar, sings the lyrics for a while, and then suddenly realizes what the song is about and is horrified to realize it's not about unprocessed, 'whole' foods. While the bit was pretty funny, after that, the lyrics of that song always stood out like a sore thumb for me and I could never listen to it the same way again.
posted by chambers at 12:02 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I can be pretty good at taking things way too seriously, but I always enjoyed "Under My Thumb" and had no thought that it was meant to be serious, as the lyrics are so outrageous. It just seemed obvious that Mick was playing the part of a dominating creep in the song, perhaps even to showcase how *not* to be.
posted by serena15221 at 12:03 PM on June 10


Is this the thread where we get to nominate the well known and popular song we completely hate due to the message in its words? Then I'm going to go with I'll Be Watching You, the ultimate stalker/DV perpetrator song. It is so eponysterical that it is by The Police.

Not endorsing hassling store staff whenever it plays though
posted by bearwife at 12:03 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


This is pearl clutching at its worst.

No it isn't, and this is not the reason for the death of the American left. The American left was literally destroyed by a series of policies that criminalized their politics and their activism. This is an individual person having a reasonable reaction to a culture of misogyny, and she's not the first -- this song has been the subject of feminist critique literally since the day it came out. She's not trying to ban the song, but asking for sensitivity about where and how it is played, and the fact that you're using this as an excuse to paint a reasonable demand as unreasonable and lay the blame for the death of the left on it is ridiculous.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:05 PM on June 10 [82 favorites]


...you empathize with the complaint, promise to do what you can to bring it to the attention of someone who can change things, and (if you can do so without creating further ructions) you also tell them that it's difficult to change because of [large corporate thing]

Not to single you out, but you have to do that realizing that this is simply a gentle way of telling someone to fuck off. It's a little more polite than what the TJ employee did, but a polite brushoff is still a brushoff.

I'm not assigning blame, indeed those who have to practice this deception get my sympathies. It's a frequently-used tactic in bureaucracies: give the person who hears the complaints no power to do anything about them. It's all about the appearance of listening, at a cost borne by the low level schmuck who gets the crappy complaints desk job, while in practice doing nothing at all.

Still, a Please Fuck-Off response is still a PFO, even done kindly.
posted by bonehead at 12:06 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


This is pearl clutching at its worst. If someone wrote this song today and had a hit with it, we'd have an issue extraordinaire. Instead we are going to try and expunge cultural memory by taking select classic rock songs off the radio, or off the muzak because we're offended by sentiments expressed in the lyrics by artists who may or may not have personally believed that message.

You're admitting that it's a problematic song, but still defending it being played, and calling objections to that "pearl clutching". That's a great hill to die on.
posted by Etrigan at 12:07 PM on June 10 [21 favorites]


Tina Turner's version of "Under My Thumb:"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10YJNWyKoPU

The words are substantially the same when Turner sings it. In both versions the song tells a story about a sexual power struggle in which power has changed hands. Since the song can be sung by either gender, it is clear that it is not sexist. The aggressive dominance is not directed toward a class of person, but toward a particular person.

The objection, then, appears to be to any song in which a man expresses aggression, hostility, or a desire to dominate toward any woman. Censoring all such songs does not seem fair unless all songs by women expressing hostility, aggression, or a desire to dominate toward any man are also eliminated. This will, I think, eliminate between half and three-fifths of rock music.
posted by ckridge at 12:08 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


Which is very similar to Peter Gabriel's unbelievably creepy and fabulous "Intruder,"

Maybe. But even then, I think that the songs were written from different perspectives, and can/should be interpreted differently. Genesis/Peter Gabriel was in the time period of ironic meta-pop avant garde-ism. Like Sting/The Police, Paul Simon, Yes, Jethro Tull, etc. That whole scene is people writing songs in different voices, playing different characters. The whole Randy Newman thing.

I've never seen or heard that same kind of theatrical character playing in the stones.

It just seemed obvious that Mick was playing the part of a dominating creep in the song, perhaps even to showcase how *not* to be.

That's assuming a whole lot of self-examination and maturity from someone who's lifelong dream (apparently) was to do drugs, wear leather pants, moan badly on stage and sleep with groupies until he dies, far far too late to be a youth icon anymore.
posted by DGStieber at 12:09 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Should've played some wholesome Misfits songs instead.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:10 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Not to single you out, but you have to do that realizing that this is simply a gentle way of telling someone to fuck off.

It's all in how you interpret it, of course. In most cases, it's also the truth. Perhaps the determining factor should be whether or not the person is wearing a suit or not.
posted by chambers at 12:11 PM on June 10


Why should I have to hear about a guy comparing his girlfriend to a dog while I’m buying vegetables?

You don't. Leave. Go shop somewhere else, or go back into the Trader Joe's after about four minutes.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:11 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


They should be required by law to call themselves Racist, Misogynist, Exploitative Bigot Joe's. Then see who shops there.

Depends on whether they still carry 1000-day gouda.
posted by goethean at 12:11 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I look forwards to the world of tomorrow where all art displayed in a public or commercial space will be completely stripped of any potentially triggering or unpleasant sensations. Bonus if we could somehow eliminate historicity in the same move, as to treat all artifacts the same, regardless of historical nuance.

I'm not defending this particular song or focus of analysis (misogyny/pop US music), but rather the entire project the author of this piece appears to be suggesting-- the sanitation of cultural artifacts used in public areas.

Also, I hope we all get cool jumpsuits in this safe future.
posted by mrdaneri at 12:13 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


Censoring all such songs does not seem fair unless all songs by women expressing hostility, aggression, or a desire to dominate toward any man are also eliminated.

No. You are wrong and should consider reading a bit about oppression before spouting off in a thread like this.
posted by JohnLewis at 12:13 PM on June 10 [37 favorites]


You don't. Leave. Go shop somewhere else, or go back into the Trader Joe's after about four minutes.

She could go over to Target, where they're probably playing "Get Down" by Gilbert O'Sullivan.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:14 PM on June 10


"That's a great hill to die on."


As long as we're picking hills to die on, I'm not sure Trader Joe's Hill of Corporate Muzak is the best one either.
posted by mikeand1 at 12:14 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


Censoring all such songs does not seem fair unless all songs by women expressing hostility, aggression, or a desire to dominate toward any man are also eliminated.

"At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them." -- Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear

As long as we live in this world, where the power dynamic is so heavily skewed toward men, you don't get to claim that you're just being "fair" like that.
posted by Etrigan at 12:14 PM on June 10 [39 favorites]


That's assuming a whole lot of self-examination and maturity from someone who's lifelong dream (apparently) was to do drugs, wear leather pants, moan badly on stage and sleep with groupies until he dies, far far too late to be a youth icon anymore.

And somehow he ended up writing dozens of classic songs by accident?

I've never seen or heard that same kind of theatrical character playing in the stones.

Um, "Sympathy for the Devil?"

Anyway I think it's pretty apparent that "Midnight Rambler" does not express Mick Jagger's personal beliefs or intentions, but "Under My Thumb" easily could and it's rather beside the point anyway.
posted by atoxyl at 12:15 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


DGStieber, what are you talking about? The quote you pulled was discussing how changing the gender doesn't change the meaning of the song.
posted by GrapeApiary at 12:16 PM on June 10


I was honestly not sure which direction this thread would go, and am kind of surprised.
posted by swift at 12:16 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Oh, the song is misogynistic. I don't think there can be an argument about that. It's not a critique of misogyny. It's Mick Jagger celebrating (in a jokey way) having gained control over a pushy woman. He himself said exactly that.

Yes, exactly. There's no big mystery about what Mick and Keith mean in a lot of their songs -- they've talked at length about how they wrote them, what they intended, etc. Regarding "Under My Thumb," "Stupid Girl," and other similarly angry-at-women songs of the period, Mick has said: "Obviously, I was having a bit of trouble. I wasn't in a good relationship. Or I was in too many bad relationships. I had so many girlfriends at that point. None of them seemed to care they weren't pleasing me very much." [emphasis mine]

He wasn't being ironic; he was writing songs about dominating women in order to get back at women who were failing to please him.

Now, he also claims in the same interview "It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others." But frankly, I think it's hard to trust Mick's assessment of whether that's really true or not.

And look, I'm a huge Stones fan. I think they're one of the greatest bands that ever walked the fucking planet. But I'm also a feminist and it is impossible to ignore the fact that there is a shit-ton of problematic stuff about women that's embedded in their music. Being a fan of the Stones does not obligate me to refrain from critiquing the Stones (for any reason, not just this one), nor does it mean that those of you who want to hand-wave away their problematic views about women are just bigger fans who understand rock'n'roll better than the rest of us prudish, shrinking violets.
posted by scody at 12:16 PM on June 10 [68 favorites]


Oh FFS. People have been debating whether or not all art presented in a public space should to be morally unimpeachable or whatever since Plato wrote the fucking Republic (hell, even the Analects argues this point of view. And you know who else?). I can't imagine how boring a world these people want to live in where all art presents some sort of allegory or parable or morality tale or whatever. Do they want us to live in a world where there is only Kenny G played in the supermarket and every show on television has a happy ending with a nice message for our children? Pretty soon we'll be back to painting over Michelangelo's Last Judgement.

Seriously, most people are not so dim that they are unable to have complex and critical views of some art, and don't need coddling by some regulatory body to ensure that there is no chance anyone is offended. Just because the message is not something you agree with doesn't mean it isn't interesting or beautiful or entertaining or good or whatever, or that you should be free from ever seeing or hearing it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:19 PM on June 10 [45 favorites]


In most cases, it's also the truth.

That may be, but that's also irrelevant from the blogger's point of view. Being told why a low-level corporate drone is powerless doesn't help her at all.
posted by bonehead at 12:19 PM on June 10


No it isn't, and this is not the reason for the death of the American left.

Yes it is, and yes it is.

The American left is now all about "trigger warnings" and policing pronouns and harassing low-level retail workers to take a 50-year-old song off the muzak. That's what the American left has devolved into - an aggregate of identity groups that have ***nothing to do*** with economic justice across the board, seemingly no interest whatsoever in the economic reality that weighs ever-heavier on ALL Americans. Instead, it's: I'm offended! Identity politics writ large. Cleansing the language and cultural memory.

And its eating its young. See how now even Dan freaking Savage supposedly uses "hate speech".

Are we really so sensitive that a song half a century old that everyone had heard 5,000 times is too much to bear? Is that really the hill you want to die on?
posted by kgasmart at 12:19 PM on June 10 [73 favorites]


This right here is why I desensitize myself by listening to The Mentors for two hours a day, everyday.

Are we really so sensitive that a song half a century old that everyone had heard 5,000 times is too much to bear? Is that really the hill you want to die on?

It's not all bad, it's good for a few cheap laughs.
posted by codswallop at 12:20 PM on June 10


I look forwards to the world of tomorrow where all art displayed in a public or commercial space will be completely stripped of any potentially triggering or unpleasant sensations. Bonus if we could somehow eliminate historicity in the same move, as to treat all artifacts the same, regardless of historical nuance.

I'm not defending this particular song or focus of analysis (misogyny/pop US music), but rather the entire project the author of this piece appears to be suggesting-- the sanitation of cultural artifacts used in public areas.

Also, I hope we all get cool jumpsuits in this safe future.


C'mon now, do we really have to put out a Beige Alert for this?
posted by chambers at 12:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Baby, it's cold outside.
posted by furtive at 12:21 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


Yes, wanting background music in a grocery store to not be misogynistic means you also want all forms of art everywhere to be pablum.
posted by jeather at 12:21 PM on June 10 [42 favorites]


Most people just don't have the ability to hear lyrics when they're focusing on something else. They just automatically tune the words out. Some small percentage of us are cursed with the inability not to hear them, just as we're cursed with the inability not to read text that's right in front of us.

I wonder if part of the reason that people say things like it's just music / it doesn't matter is because so many people just don't notice the lyrics. I don't know what's typical in terms of hearing the lyrics - personally, I have a lot of trouble focusing on lyrics, and even if I concentrate I won't pick up most of the words - my brain just insists on ignoring them. That means that even really offensive songs are sort of just background noise to me, and it's hard for me to intuitively understand how they could bother someone, though of course I get it on an intellectual level.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:21 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


My opinion is that no one has ever been meaningfully influenced by unambiguous meaning in lyrics. I think music should get a pass on this stuff.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:22 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't want to have to have a complex, nuanced, and critical view of art when I walk into Trader Joe's. I just want some fucking groceries.

And I really hated having to explain what a "real pussy wagon" was to my nine year old when they were playing the soundtrack from Grease before our movie started.
posted by jfwlucy at 12:22 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


The American left is now all about "trigger warnings" and policing pronouns and harassing low-level retail workers to take a 50-year-old song off the muzak.

You know, there is probably a comments page on George Will's columns for people who want to paint the left as a parody of itself, but this isn't really a good place for people who know nothing to behave as though their caricatured understanding of the world is based in fact.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:22 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


The American left is now all about "trigger warnings" and policing pronouns and harassing low-level retail workers to take a 50-year-old song off the muzak. That's what the American left has devolved into - an aggregate of identity groups that have ***nothing to do*** with economic justice across the board, seemingly no interest whatsoever in the economic reality that weighs ever-heavier on ALL Americans. Instead, it's: I'm offended! Identity politics writ large. Cleansing the language and cultural memory.

It's true. This woman is literally the entirety of the American left.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:22 PM on June 10 [30 favorites]


Don't feed the troll, Kyle!!
posted by batfish at 12:23 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Try the Beatles, If I Fell. That was such a sweet wistful song, in a seventh key, then in my late fifties I listened to the words. He is working one woman and eliciting a no-future-harm verbal contract with her, as he shares with her the fact that if she signs on, he will dump his current girl friend. With the song he attempts to set up a risk free relationship.

Yeah, OK I still listen to the Beatles, and I laugh when I hear that song now. Then the significance of the "Sea of Holes" concept struck me that came out of Yellow Submarine. Still I have to say people do life differently in the rut era, and the whole game has shifted, and yet stays the same for the poor, the marginal, the indigenous, the women, the children all over the world.

If you can shop at Trader Joe's the Muzak is set to entice the most monied, or the largest population demographic. At least you aren't in a Nigerian jungle, getting used to your new religion, new husband, or new all rape, all the time lifestyle, as they have just killed your parents and relatives in their respective villages, for even complaining about your theft, and lavish, new, unwanted, lifestyle.

This got posted to Metafilter, and it is not particularly relevant to anything, and the Rolling Stones certainly didn't cause slavery, or bad thoughts and words about women. Just a minute here, I will get a life and then I won't even think of this. I wish I were shopping at Trader Joe's right now.
posted by Oyéah at 12:23 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Yes, wanting background music in a grocery store to not be misogynistic means you also want all forms of art everywhere to be pablum.
Hear, bloody, hear!
posted by jfwlucy at 12:23 PM on June 10


Do they want us to live in a world where there is only Kenny G played in the supermarket and every show on television has a happy ending with a nice message for our children?

AH I FEAR NUANCE THE GRAYNESS BURNS
posted by Etrigan at 12:23 PM on June 10 [23 favorites]


You know, when I am in an environment where I have to hear a lot of misogynist pop culture stuff just to do some ordinary thing, you could envision my experience as a cartoon panel where I am walking through a space and all the open area is written over with "remember that our culture has contempt for you remember that our culture has contempt for you remember that our culture has contempt for you remember that our culture has contempt for you remember that our culture has contempt for you remember that our culture has contempt for you remember that our culture has contempt for you" and it's blaring really loudly and I cannot shut it out and I still need to get my goddamn groceries.

It gets very wearing. I've known all my life that as a fat, queer, lower middle/upper working class person of weird gender presentation, my culture does have contempt for me on every level - my body, my opinions, my face, my voice, my wishes, my sexuality, the work I do, the cultural and economic choices I have- and that my life chances are contoured by this in all sorts of shitty ways. Up through my twenties, it was very very hard for me to shut out this knowledge enough to function. Right now, I get through the day on one big "la la I can't hear you", except when I have to listen to bullshit pop songs or talk radio or whatever.

This whole business of "we must not sanitize the art, however will we know the difficult truths" - believe me, I know the difficult truths of misogyny pretty well at this point.
posted by Frowner at 12:23 PM on June 10 [121 favorites]


That's what the American left has devolved into - an aggregate of identity groups that have ***nothing to do*** with economic justice across the board, seemingly no interest whatsoever in the economic reality that weighs ever-heavier on ALL Americans.

Sure, this is absolutely true. But it's a circular argument to say that the left has devolved into identity politics because of... identity politics. It's devolved because of a ruling-class offensive that has smashed the labor movement and divided the working class. It's devolved because we are stuck with a winner-takes-all two-party system in which both parties represent capitalist interests (and despite of the fact that the kinder, gentler capitalist party sees labor as a "special interest.")

The decline of the American left is a long, horrible tragedy that has been unspooling for nearly a century. It didn't happen because of people objecting to denigrating images of women in popular culture, although sometimes it feels like that's the only terrain we have left to fight on.
posted by scody at 12:23 PM on June 10 [36 favorites]


Being a fan of the Stones does not obligate me to refrain from critiquing the Stones (for any reason, not just this one), nor does it mean that those of you who want to hand-wave away their problematic views about women are just bigger fans who understand rock'n'roll better than the rest of us prudish, shrinking violets.

That's what I found so strange about this quote:
"My problem is not so much with Sir Mick, who penned the lyrics with Keith Richards when both were 23 years old in a bygone era, before I was even born. The young rockers had found that copping a swaggering sexual posture was money in the bank."
Even if it isn't her main point, I think it's really weird that she specifically brings this up only to outright excuses the behavior.

We're not talking about racist corporate mascots like Frito Bandito that would never pass muster today and we don't say, "Oh, I know Grandpa is racist but I don't have a problem with him because that's just the way people were back then." "copping a swaggering sexual posture was money in the bank" is still a very real and ingrained thing.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:25 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Oh my God, this woman is NOT the entirety of the American left! What the heck? She just has too much time and money on her hands, and too much education, take her to the jungle!
posted by Oyéah at 12:25 PM on June 10


@grapeapiary @cell_divide

Yeah, that was a terrible choice on my part. I don't know how to edit/delete a comment, so it's there as a monument to my stupidity.

What I was going for is that the "who" and the "where" of a comment are vital to its interpretation. To say that this song isn't misogynistic because Tina Turner sang it and flipped the genders is to deny that the speaker and the motivation are important. And then my brain shit itself and I said dumb things. Sorry all. Sorry @ckridge
posted by DGStieber at 12:25 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


This thread is embarrassing.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:25 PM on June 10 [44 favorites]


The words are substantially the same when Turner sings it. In both versions the song tells a story about a sexual power struggle in which power has changed hands.

Sometimes when I'm walking by the refrigerated section of the local Market Basket, looking for potato salad, I think: "You know what this moment needs? A song of the aggressive sexual power struggle between a woman and a man."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:27 PM on June 10 [21 favorites]


Oh my God, this woman is NOT the entirety of the American left! What the heck? She just has too much time and money on her hands, and too much education, take her to the jungle!

You know, if you want to discuss the problems in the Nigerian jungles, you are welcome to start a thread on the subject, but we can be both concerned about Nigeria and a pervasive atmosphere of misogyny without really deserving to be repeatedly mocked for it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:27 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


And I really hated having to explain what a "real pussy wagon" was to my nine year old when they were playing the soundtrack from Grease before our movie started.

Personally, I'd have loved it if a lyric like that had given me an entree to chat with my nieces around that age about some of the unpleasant dating-related attitudes they might be running into after puberty, but I recognize that's a minority view.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:27 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I've always imagined 'Under Your Thumb' to be Mick singing to himself, (ala Silence of the Lamb's Buffalo Bill,) about his irrepressible feminine side.

The only thing good about classic rock are the lawyers, who'll ensure that you continue to hear those songs as long as they get paid.
posted by Catblack at 12:27 PM on June 10


Yes, wanting background music in a grocery store to not be misogynistic means you also want all forms of art everywhere to be pablum.

Ok, so what is the suggestion then? Do we form a government body to determine what songs are deemed unacceptable for public consumption? And then decide what businesses are not allowed to play those songs? Should this be the law for hold music, music in commercials, music on public radio stations? Should only music without lyrics be played in supermarkets? What about atonal music, which historically has offended lots of people. Should that also be banned? Should only music which follows Fux's rules of counterpoint as only such music Glorifies the Lord be allowed to be played in the grocery?

I am being a little facetious, but I'm serious about the question - how really do you think it should be determined and regulated what art gets to be public and what art doesn't?
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:27 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


The decline of the American left is a long, horrible tragedy that has been unspooling for nearly a century. It didn't happen because of people objecting to denigrating images of women in popular culture, although sometimes it feels like that's the only terrain we have left to fight on.

That is all that's left - but it too often seems to me that what's left of the left is fine with that, or rather sees this is the primary struggle to be won.
posted by kgasmart at 12:29 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Do we form a government body to determine what songs are deemed unacceptable for public consumption?

That is quite obviously the next logical step after lodging a complaint to the store manager so, OF COURSE. Also we have to throw Mick Jagger to the gulag.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:29 PM on June 10 [16 favorites]


Believe me, FelliniBlank, there have been literally thousands of chances to discuss misogyny with my daughters already, thank you.
posted by jfwlucy at 12:29 PM on June 10 [16 favorites]


Ok, so what is the suggestion then?

Well, we could talk to the store about our concerns, and pass them along to Muzak as well. Or is that not sufficiently Orwellian enough?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:30 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others.

Well, maybe not more than any of the others but
posted by atoxyl at 12:31 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Ok, so what is the suggestion then? Do we form a government body to determine what songs are deemed unacceptable for public consumption? And then decide what businesses are not allowed to play those songs?

I am perfectly happy for grocery stores to make their own decisions, and for them to respond to commentary by customers. But if that doesn't work, definitely an agency that approves all art as soon as it is made and lists where it is allowed to be displayed or played.
posted by jeather at 12:31 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I am perfectly happy for grocery stores to make their own decisions, and for them to respond to commentary by customers. But if that doesn't work, definitely an agency that approves all art as soon as it is made and lists where it is allowed to be displayed or played.

My sarcasm detector is broken. You're joking, right? Because I think there might be some folks that actually would welcome that.
posted by jbickers at 12:33 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I am being a little facetious, but I'm serious about the question - how really do you think it should be determined and regulated what art gets to be public and what art doesn't?

I imagine that if we had a culture that didn't celebrate fucked-up masculinity quite as much-- or maybe one that valued the personhood of women a little more-- it would be a pretty easy decision for the GM of a fucking supermarket to go 'I don't think this song is appropriate to play over the loudspeakers' in the same way that that GM today doesn't play 'Bitches Ain't Shit' over the supermarket loudspeakers.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:33 PM on June 10 [55 favorites]


I don't think it needs to regulated but I think the writer just wasn't expecting such a shruggy "My hands are tied" response. Maybe someone, somewhere should have the power to say "That one song bothers people, we don't want to bother people, maybe we shouldn't play it."
posted by bleep at 12:33 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I'm just glad to hear I'm not the only one bothered by this song. I can't stand to listen to it on the radio. And I do think that both "Under My Thumb" and "Brown Sugar" reflect very poorly on Jagger/the Stones, regardless of what excuses anyone may make for them about the time period, the band's brilliance, or anything else. I have no use for songs like this.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:34 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Seriously, most people are not so dim that they are unable to have complex and critical views of some art, and don't need coddling by some regulatory body to ensure that there is no chance anyone is offended. Just because the message is not something you agree with doesn't mean it isn't interesting or beautiful or entertaining or good or whatever, or that you should be free from ever seeing or hearing it.

What regulatory body did she ask for coddling from? At what point did she say she wanted to be free from ever seeing or hearing it?

Do you honestly not see a difference between wanting to make sure no one is ever offended versus just wanting to register a complaint with Trader Joe's on the grounds that "Under My Thumb" is a song whose lyrics are probably not appropriate for a grocery store? Do you think maybe this would have gone differently if she hadn't been stonewalled?

And on preview,

Ok, so what is the suggestion then? Do we form a government body to determine what songs are deemed unacceptable for public consumption? And then decide what businesses are not allowed to play those songs? Should this be the law for hold music, music in commercials, music on public radio stations? Should only music without lyrics be played in supermarkets? What about atonal music, which historically has offended lots of people. Should that also be banned? Should only music which follows Fux's rules of counterpoint as only such music Glorifies the Lord be allowed to be played in the grocery?


At no point in the article does she say a single word about wanting to ban the song. Not one. None of the other crap you're making up wholesale makes an appearance either. She told a CS rep that the lyrics made her uncomfortable, and asked if he thought they were apropriate for the venue. She then tried to contact corporate and ask them the same thing.

It is seriously weird to be battening down the First Amendment hatches because one person wanted to give feedback - not make demands, just give feedback - to a public-facing company that ostensibly welcomes feedback.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:34 PM on June 10 [45 favorites]


Can someone who supports the writer's perspective propose a generalized version of the rule you want? Presumably, it isn't just limited to "Under My Thumb" at Trader Joe's. I'm assuming you want it to cover not just misogyny but racism too, and I'm going to guess you want it to go beyond grocery stores, to cover other public areas as well. And why should it be limited to music -- what about other forms of cultural expression?

So what's the rule, and how does it get implemented, exactly?
posted by mikeand1 at 12:34 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I am perfectly happy for grocery stores to make their own decisions, and for them to respond to commentary by customers. But if that doesn't work, definitely an agency that approves all art as soon as it is made and lists where it is allowed to be displayed or played.

???
It seems contradictory to be both "perfectly happy" to choose, but also say if their response to commentary does not meet with your approval, you want to have it regulated by the government?

edit: wow, I walked right into that one.
posted by chambers at 12:34 PM on June 10


Wow. Should have previewed.
posted by bleep at 12:34 PM on June 10


I'm not being facetious when I say that what I find most remarkable about this story is that there is a Trader Joe's in NYC that plays "Under My Thumb." I'd have thought NY would be hipper than that. (Though maybe they are and classic rock is the shape of hip to come.)
posted by octobersurprise at 12:35 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Can someone who supports the writer's perspective propose a generalized version of the rule you want?

Why would we? The writer was responding to a specific song, and it seems appropriate to address this on a song by song basis.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:36 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Those of you defending the right to hear this song in a grocery store: do you really think the service that provides the music doesn't have a "do not play" list? Or maybe even a pool of specifically approved music? I assure you they do. "Fuck the Pain Away" is never going to be played in a grocery store. "My Sharona" used to be fucking everywhere and is now slowly slipping off the approved lists because we have realized that getting it up for the touch of the younger kind is perhaps not okay now that we think about it.

That list isn't and shouldn't be administered by the government, but it is perfectly fine for private entities to moderate what is and isn't okay. If there was a song about eating gross stuff (I'm sure there is, I don't need to know), I'll bet that would also stay off the list. Kind of like not showing movies about plane crashes on planes, just aesthetically maybe best to not go there.

And unless someone at Corporate Black Box Music Provision Company was the one who first had the "My Sharona" epiphany, it was probably someone sending in a suggestion that perhaps let's not go up the length of anyone's thigh, thanks. And it would have been perfectly perfect customer service in that case or to this one to say, "whoa, we don't pick this stuff in the store but I will send this up the flagpole, thanks for letting us know" and trying to do just that.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:36 PM on June 10 [58 favorites]


Point about the Orwellian nature of my comment taken. Still, I think the trouble is that presumably it's not just this one particular song, right? So, someone would have to go through the library and determine what songs are morally objectionable for whatever reasons (which would have to be determined by some arbitrary group of people), and then, what, those songs are the only okay songs to play? What about all other art in public, or do we only care about songs in supermarkets?

I dunno - I feel pretty strongly that some corporate or government entity making decisions about what art is morally acceptable to be presented in public is a pretty dangerous thing.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:36 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


My sarcasm detector is broken. You're joking, right? Because I think there might be some folks that actually would welcome that.

Yes, I was joking. I don't understand why we're jumping from "I wish you wouldn't play this specific song in a grocery store" to "And no more controversial art ever!" or to "Government control of all art from now on!"
posted by jeather at 12:36 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


We are in a time so disconcerting to everyone involved, every group seeks to assert comforting social memes, dress codes, legislated religious views, medical care tailored to narrow moral views, no bare shoulders, no misogynistic music lyrics, no violent lyrics penned by African Americans, yet advocacy of unlimited gun ownership and use, contemporary speech curtailed at public events, we are over populated and getting irritated by it, and scared. This is my best guess. At the same time there is unprecedented flourishing of the arts in many forms, and many brand new forms never used before. Between the huge freedoms we enjoy for ourselves, and don't in others, falls the shadow. "This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, with both bangs, whimpers, simpers, screams, shouts, twisting and shouting, c'mon baby, let's twist and shout!"
posted by Oyéah at 12:36 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


So what's the rule, and how does it get implemented, exactly?

There's a bar near my place that plays old b&w films on their teevee screens most nights. I have never seen them play Birth of a Nation, and I don't expect that they ever will. And yet, I do not believe there is a rule that keeps them from doing so.

How can that be?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:37 PM on June 10 [45 favorites]


That list isn't and shouldn't be administered by the government, but it is perfectly fine for private entities to moderate what is and isn't okay.

And if these private entities decline to acquiesce to your demands? You have the right to take your business elsewhere; will that be sufficient for you?
posted by kgasmart at 12:38 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


So, someone would have to go through the library and determine what songs are morally objectionable for whatever reasons (which would have to be determined by some arbitrary group of people), and then, what, those songs are the only okay songs to play?

In a decent and good world, the radio business would be doing this work for us - ostensibly, if a song is racist or misogynistic, people aren't going to want to hear it in their cars either. But there are plenty of nasty songs on the radio, including "Under My Thumb." Which means that by and large, people aren't really bothered by these kinds of things in their music.
posted by jbickers at 12:39 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I dunno - I feel pretty strongly that some corporate or government entity making decisions about what art is morally acceptable to be presented in public is a pretty dangerous thing.

But the corporation is already deciding what music to play in their own grocery stores and choosing things they think will increase sales in various ways.
posted by jeather at 12:39 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


not make demands, just give feedback

I guess my assumption was that she didn't have a conversation with an employee and then write a long blog post merely to give feedback. Presumably she wants some action taken.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:40 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Wait, does any song with unpleasant subject matter imply approval of said subject matter?
posted by Cosine at 12:40 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Can someone who supports the writer's perspective propose a generalized version of the rule you want? Presumably, it isn't just limited to "Under My Thumb" at Trader Joe's. I'm assuming you want it to cover not just misogyny but racism too, and I'm going to guess you want it to go beyond grocery stores, to cover other public areas as well. And why should it be limited to music -- what about other forms of cultural expression?

So what's the rule, and how does it get implemented, exactly?


okay get ready because here it comes

warning: it's gonna get crazy and super-oppressive

here are the rules

- if a public-facing business welcomes customer feedback and complaints, customers are allowed to provide feedback and register complaints

- the business is then allowed to decide what it wants to do about the feedback and complaints they receive

- in light of that, the customer is allowed to decide whether or not they wish to continue giving their custom to this business

- BONUS ROUND: the customer, also being a person, is allowed to talk about frustrating experiences they have had dealing with businesses if their complaint was not resolved to their satisfaction

naturally these rules will be enforced by jackbooted thugs and failure to comply with them will incur a sentence of up to ten laser years in the reeducation cubes
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:40 PM on June 10 [139 favorites]


"And yet, I do not believe there is a rule that keeps them from doing so. How can that be?"


Can it be that nobody was ever offended by something they did play?
posted by mikeand1 at 12:40 PM on June 10


what I find most remarkable about this story is that there is a Trader Joe's in NYC that plays "Under My Thumb." I'd have thought NY would be hipper than that. (Though maybe they are and classic rock is the shape of hip to come.)

The Stones' output up to roughly 1974 has never not been hip I SAID GOOD DAY SIR
posted by scody at 12:40 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


I wonder how many stores are subscribed to that same Muzak service - I feel like I hear "Under My Thumb" in a shop every couple weeks. Hearing it once would be one thing, but hearing it all the time is really kind of a bummer.
posted by naoko at 12:41 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I wonder how many stores are subscribed to that same Muzak service - I feel like I hear "Under My Thumb" in a shop every couple weeks. Hearing it once would be one thing, but hearing it all the time is really kind of a bummer.

ding ding ding ding ding ding ding
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:42 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I get sick of hearing misogynistic music, like most jackbooted feminist thugs.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:42 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


okay get ready because here it comes

warning: it's gonna get crazy and super-oppressive


WHOA FAMOUS MONSTER I AM SO OPPRESSED BY THESE RULES WHEREBY CUSTOMER FEEDBACK IS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT

TIME TO MAN THE BARRICADES FOR GREAT JUSTICE
posted by winna at 12:42 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


This thread is embarrassing.

Is there some non-embarrassing way to discuss getting upset because Trader Joe's won't stop playing Under My Thumb? I mean no matter where you ultimately fall on the question, it just seems kind of an embarrassing framework for exploring the issues.
posted by Naberius at 12:43 PM on June 10 [24 favorites]


I feel pretty strongly that some corporate or government entity making decisions about what art is morally acceptable to be presented in public is a pretty dangerous thing.

I agree with this. I'm also pretty sure nobody seriously has requested this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:43 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Well, I would point out that jeather's point is probably closer to the reality.

Enormous Music Pablum Company has observed a .94 % increase in the purchases of frozen vegetarian entree's when 'Under My Thumb' is played, and this is offset against a -.16 % decrease due to offended or troubled listeners.

Clearly, the song stays. Trader Joe's cuts their check to EMPC every month on the 1st, and the world goes on its happy way.
posted by mrdaneri at 12:43 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


SOLUTION: reeducation camps for corporate music selectors

how's that MBA treating you now that you're in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT for ART

(also I think I'm the PC police but I'm not completely sure)
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:43 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Embarrassing? Well, in the same way that arguing over who does the dishes is embarrassing. It's trivial, and yet it's absolutely NOT.
posted by jfwlucy at 12:44 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


Its music I listen to when I want to feel enraged. The song is enraging. I hate the thing.

If we could treat complaints about songs like we treat complaints about the state of the bathroom instead of the forerunner to some horrible nanny state that'd be just great.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:45 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Which is to say, Quiznos Muzak had a skip forward button when I worked there. Surely just skipping the damn thing when a customer asks isn't the shadow of some horrible leftist take over.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:46 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


It's pretty hard to discuss a pervasive atmosphere of misogyny without discussing the trivial. If it were not showing up in all sorts of trivial way, it would not be pervasive.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:46 PM on June 10 [70 favorites]


I was under the impression that shift managers picked the music at TJs? Is that no longer the case?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:48 PM on June 10


Record companies should provide the info for lyrics that offend, however, every group, every person, is offended by different things. Some groups who are super religious are also extremely misogynistic and are not offended by it. Some groups are offended by certain politics, considering them immoral, some groups consider everyone who does not practice as they practice immoral, and justifiably in need of censure. It is hard to come up with a mean, when it comes to meaning.

I live in Utah, where a court reporter in a cute blouse was thrown out yesterday because the blouse was sleeveless. The predominant religion in this state is on one hand the largest consumer of porn per capita in the US, and at the same time does not allow bare shoulders.

Whose rules are best? How do you determine the line on misogyny, racism, classism, bigotry, acceptable levels of violence, acceptable name calling, in any and all art forms, and public places?
posted by Oyéah at 12:48 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Ok, so what is the suggestion then? Do we form a government body to determine what songs are deemed unacceptable for public consumption? And then decide what businesses are not allowed to play those songs? Should this be the law for hold music, music in commercials, music on public radio stations? Should only music without lyrics be played in supermarkets? What about atonal music, which historically has offended lots of people. Should that also be banned? Should only music which follows Fux's rules of counterpoint as only such music Glorifies the Lord be allowed to be played in the grocery?

I actually DJ a little bit. Not very well, and not very often, but I have played music for money at events at which people dance.

I have some values about the music I play - I try to avoid racist and misogynist content, for one thing. If I'm playing a lot of stuff from other cultures, I try to consider my sets in a holistic way to avoid creating a feeling of "ooh exotic foreign music". I consider my audience and try to pick what helps them have fun, rather than what gives me punk rock points, and I just basically try to avoid songs that are going to squick a bunch of people in the group. I don't play one of my favorite Australian punk songs of the eighties, "More Suicides Please", because I know that it's very likely that someone is in the room who has dealt with a suicide attempt or lost someone to suicide, and I know it's a charged topic. Basically, I think to myself "I am here to get people to dance to music that is enjoyable but not boring - how can I create a set which is neither upsetting nor anodyne?"

In my private life, I like free jazz, the Dead Kennedys, Arthur Russell in his repetitive moments, a surprising amount of Meat Beat Manifesto and really, really sad songs about human suffering under capitalism. I listen to this stuff at home or with like-minded people.

So anyway, I must be perfect, right?

Actually, no. See, there's this song - perhaps you've heard it mocked by Das Racist - called "Informer", by a white Canadian performing under the name "Snow", and performing in patois. Due to a lot of confusion and foolery on my part, I played this at an event - I didn't really know much about the song, I heard it more as "informer, I will punch you in the face" rather than "white person singing in fake patois". My social circle has had a spot of trouble with actual FBI-style COINTELPRO informers in the past few years, so I thought it was...funny? Small event. Mostly white people. Small group of black people. Frozen faces followed by hasty departure, followed by sinking feeling, followed by googling, followed by horrible, horrible shame, followed by about a six month hiatus from DJing while I did some serious reflection and changed how I planned what I play.

See, I did a racist thing, and a stupid thing, and ruined a portion of the night for some people. That's going to happen. We're always going to live in a world where we will, some of the time, hear shit that is offensive and gross.

It's healthy not to want to create that experience for others. I wish I had been smarter. I don't feel good about that whole situation at all, and I don't view it as accidental, and I don't think that people of color should have to put up with hearing racist shit at a dance party purely so that "art" isn't restricted in any way.

The thing is, if you have good values around racial justice and anti-misogyny, you can create a process for thinking through songs that are going to be in your "Muzak for grocery stores" playlists. You can review what you play. You can decide "ooops, I guess that was a really poor choice" and stop playing something. It doesn't strangle the art.

The most recent set I played was my best one ever and had a whole roomful of people dancing, which had never happened. I sweated blood over that thing and dropped a dubious song at the last minute. But those constraints, perversely, produced an awesome set. (Or awesome for me, anyway - the amateur who takes the first "room isn't that crowded yet" set before the real DJs.)

We're always choosing stuff. We will never hear All The Stuff. There's no reason not to develop, like, goals and a vision for what we do choose.
posted by Frowner at 12:49 PM on June 10 [47 favorites]


And I really hated having to explain what a "real pussy wagon" was to my nine year old when they were playing the soundtrack from Grease before our movie started.

What's interesting too about this example is that it had to have been Pandora or Sirius or something because I can't imagine that "Greased Lightning" would have ever made it through the naughty-word filters of an established commercial Muzak type service. Unless they have really, really changed policies lately. With all the businesses now using Internet/Satellite music players, there's going to be a much wider range of potentially customer-upsetting songs being played.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:49 PM on June 10


Latest clickbait template:

IN A POST-ELLIOT RODGER WORLD [Insert bland generic societal complaint]
posted by jjmoney at 12:50 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


I was under the impression that shift managers picked the music at TJs? Is that no longer the case?

The days of large corporations putting that much trust and power in the hands of a lowly shift manager has long since past.
posted by Reyturner at 12:50 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


As a counterpoint to my defense of Mick Jagger as a musician I will point out that of course he is exactly the sort of person who would write a song about rape as something done by shadowy figures what walks at midnight - "Midnight Rambler" is a horror song referencing the Boston Strangler - and go right back to routine backstage sex with sixteen-year-olds.
posted by atoxyl at 12:52 PM on June 10


>Well, I would point out that jeather's point is probably closer to the reality.
Enormous Music Pablum Company has observed a .94 % increase in the purchases of frozen vegetarian entree's when 'Under My Thumb' is played, and this is offset against a -.16 % decrease due to offended or troubled listeners.

Naw, there is no causal mechanism or statistical tool to make measurements at that level.
posted by jjmoney at 12:52 PM on June 10


Corporate Black Box Music Provision Company

I now have a name for my band. Thank you.
posted by neat-o at 12:53 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


And even good 60s radio rock is closer to being the pabulum at this point come on
posted by atoxyl at 12:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


"here are the rules

- if a public-facing business welcomes customer feedback and complaints, customers are allowed to provide feedback and register complaints

- the business is then allowed to decide what it wants to do about the feedback and complaints they receive

- in light of that, the customer is allowed to decide whether or not they wish to continue giving their custom to this business

- BONUS ROUND: the customer, also being a person, is allowed to talk about frustrating experiences they have had dealing with businesses if their complaint was not resolved to their satisfaction"


So use more Yelp basically? I can do that.
posted by mikeand1 at 12:53 PM on June 10


I guess, that "Under My Thumb" isn't grocery store music, that it should all be bland and devoid of controversial content

So, its either we live in Rush's 2112 or we need to play music that comes at the expense of respecting women, while grabbing bags of pre cut Kale?

Got it.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


The examples of rules-lawyering here are FUCKING TEXTBOOK.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:54 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


Remember when the left was against the PMRC? Good times.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:54 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


"Oh you don't like X? WELL. Here and now gimme every rule that says when X is ok and when it is not and when other things are ok and when they aren't."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:54 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


and I don't view it as accidental

Can you expand on this because it sounds accidental.
posted by josher71 at 12:55 PM on June 10


Bob Dylan shot a man named Gray, fled the United States to avoid the law, and took the man's wife to Italy to avoid being prosecuted for murder. The woman inherited one million dollars from the man Dylan killed. When she died, Dylan inherited it. When it was all over, he counted himself as lucky.

Being a person who is very opposed to probate fraud (and by murder, no less!), you can be sure that I give the store clerk an earful whenever I hear this subversion and abomination of the legal process and human dignity.
posted by flarbuse at 12:56 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


I had a kid in Junior High, who wanted to take a vocal music class. Group singing. Well, finally she came to me, wanting out of the class, or however it went, because more than 50% of the music was religious in nature.

I went in for a meeting with the teacher, and we started talking, she was rolling her eyes back in her head, and flittering her eyelashes as she told me that religious choral music is the most beautiful music in the world. I told her that was not my opinion, and this is a public school, receiving federal monies, and I didn't think her establishment of religion was legal. She asked me to wait while she went for the vice principal.

I asked what was up, when he came, and he said that I was the only person who had ever come in with this complaint who was rational about it, all the rest just were very angry and over the top, we talked for an hour. The teacher was delusional, the principal was rational and nothing changed, my daughter got out of music, because she wanted to.

This relates to this topic because it is very difficult to determine who has the moral upper hand in any instance. Morality is an excuse used for some of the most outrageous misbehavior on Earth. Control of the arts, and expression is the hallmark of a society that is not free.
posted by Oyéah at 12:57 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


You can be against government agencies imposing totalitarian censorship and still believe that we can voluntarily create a world in which women aren't constantly exposed to casual misogyny. I mean, I don't want the government policing people's speech, but I still think it is shitty that men catcall women all the time, and neither are in conflict with each other, or make me a betrayer of socialism, or whatever.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:58 PM on June 10 [23 favorites]


Because nobody's ever written or performed a good song that wasn't misogynistic?
posted by divabat at 12:59 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Ok folks, well, I probably went to the Don't Censor Me thing too quickly, and I want to apologize for that. I have an overly-sensitive art censorship button left over from some weird childhood things of never being allowed to listen to mainstream music and being made to call the theater every time they were showing a racy Rated R movie to tell them they were hurting children. Ever since then I've had a pretty hardline 'allow everything everywhere' type of view, and I obviously came poorly out of that gate in this thread.

I dunno. I still feel pretty uncomfortable with too much curating based on moral objections in songs or other works of art, though I appreciate that this is an important conversation to be had, and I understand that this person doesn't want to be reminded of certain things while trying to buy groceries. I do think though it's kind of a difficult line to start making.

My grocery store seems always to be playing Train and so I've taken to always shopping with headphones, which I do highly recommend.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:59 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


God, I hope an asteroid hits us and kills us all.
posted by kbanas at 12:59 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


the left was great before women were allowed to vote, now it's all gone to shit, amirite?

No, but speaking as a leftist, I think the left was pretty great when it was in favor of freedom of expression and focused on real issues like economic justice instead of 50-year-old songs in grocery stores.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:59 PM on June 10 [34 favorites]


shakespeherian: "This thread is embarrassing."

And sad. Very, very sad.
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Funny isn't it, how all this talk about "identity politics" is absolutely ruining the American left and drawing attention away from "real" battles is always directed at women. Why isn't pervasive misogyny, in pop culture and otherwise, one of the real fights? I mean, we've seen the consequences, in the wake of the Elliot Rodger shooting, the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, etc.

(Source: anarchist bookstore volunteer here. If another cis dude never interrogates me and scrutinizes my answers about what I'm doing "for the revolution" ever again, that would be just lovely.)
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:00 PM on June 10 [40 favorites]


So, its either we live in Rush's 2112

Shopping would be rad if they played that record, by the way.
posted by klausman at 1:01 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Listen if you know where an asteroid is going to strike, send me an email, and I will meet you there. You wear your headphones, and I'll wear mine!
posted by Oyéah at 1:01 PM on June 10


No, but speaking as a leftist, I think the left was pretty great when it was in favor of freedom of expression and focused on real issues like economic justice instead of 50-year-old songs in grocery stores.

Actually, the left pretty much sucked when it dismissed women's issues as trivial, as you are doing now.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:01 PM on June 10 [68 favorites]


Control of the arts, and expression is the hallmark of a society that is not free.

WAAAAIT a second. Oh shit. I've been all wrong all this time. Trader Joe's is a socialist grocery store that is run by the government and it has significant market share such that banning music from it is...wait for it...government censorship.

Fuck you, Obama, how am I supposed to get my tasty dumplings without the bitter aftertaste of your government oppression? That's right, I CAN'T.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:02 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Can you expand on this because it sounds accidental.

Well, in the sense of "I did not plan to play something racist", it was accidental. But in a larger cultural sense it wasn't - I was not in the habit of thinking "huh, this song contains actual lyrics about how this guy is white, and yet he is singing in patois, that's kind of gross". I also wasn't attuned enough to the fact that my audience isn't just white people, and what might strike many white people as "this is inappropriate but let's move on" would be really alienating and buzzkilling for others. That, actually, is what really bugs me. I hate to think of having made those people feel unwelcome.
posted by Frowner at 1:02 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


No, but speaking as a leftist, I think the left was pretty great when it was in favor of freedom of expression and focused on real issues like economic justice instead of 50-year-old songs in grocery stores.

Yeah, why can't these women/ POC/ LGBT people care more about straight white men's problems instead of the shit they face in their own lives? Uh?

*facepalm*
posted by sukeban at 1:02 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


Funny isn't it, how all this talk about "identity politics" is absolutely ruining the American left and drawing attention away from "real" battles is always directed at women.

For instance:

No, but speaking as a leftist, I think the left was pretty great when it was in favor of freedom of expression and focused on real issues like economic justice instead of 50-year-old songs in grocery stores.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:02 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


speaking as a leftist, I think the left was pretty great when it was in favor of freedom of expression and focused on real issues like economic justice instead of 50-year-old songs in grocery stores.

You do know it's possible to be a leftist focused on economic justice, favor freedom of expression, AND object to misogyny, right?
posted by scody at 1:03 PM on June 10 [39 favorites]


This strikes me as one of those annoying gotcha-type stories you see in the lefty press occasionally, where the author picks a supposedly progressive-friendly target (Trader Joe's) and focuses in on some trivial detail (the background music, whose content is part of a larger cultural context not specific to TJ's function as a supermarket) to expose outrage (songs with racist or sexist content, on pop radio - who would have guessed?) and to show how terrible even the Left's supposed friends are, to arms, to arms, brothers, sisters, comrades! Pure omgwtf outrage-filter; pure lazy pseudo-journalism. (And I say this as someone generally sympathetic to Mother Jones's overall political agenda.)
posted by aught at 1:03 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


Lutoslawski, I am impressed by your last comment. Thanks for stepping back with good humor and sincerity.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:03 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


For the most part this very savage world society we are all a part of, even to the farthest reaches, runs on misogyny. We do need to be careful here at home that we keep the freedoms we have as Americans, and make sure we seek a more inclusive and safe culture for all of us, that we exist as a shining example of the rewards of such doings.
posted by Oyéah at 1:04 PM on June 10


Again with the trivial. It's not fucking trivial to some of us.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:04 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


No, but speaking as a leftist, I think the left was pretty great when it was in favor of freedom of expression and focused on real issues like economic justice instead of 50-year-old songs in grocery stores.

Can't like this enough.

neither are in conflict with each other, or make me a betrayer of socialism

When the FIGHT FOR FREEDOM entails harassing a minimum-wage making clerk because you're offended by a 50-year-old song, you've not betrayed socialism so much as completely misunderstood it.

Further, let's think about this. Over-educated woman who probably makes a pretty decent living feels it appropriate to voice her OUTRAGE to the "young man" Kyle Morrison, who probably makes far less than she does, dealing with customer complaints and other issues in the retail store all day.

His initial reply may well have been snotty, but here we have privelege basically berating a worker because privilege's tender sensibilities have been offended - by a 50-year-old song.

If you can't see how this undermines socialism, I can't help you.
posted by kgasmart at 1:06 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Boards Of Canada would be good shopping music. And Loscil.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:06 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


And the camera slowly zooms out from the discussion, and Rod Serling appears, and gives a Metafilter-themed version of the closing narration of The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street:
The tools of conquest of a website do not necessarily come with hacking and DDOS and SQL injection attacks. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of humans commenting on the 'best of the web'. For the record, prejudices can close accounts...and suspicion can destroy rational conversation...and a search for acknowledgement of social issues and the quagmire one falls into over the enumerating the frustrations of the world they live in has a fallout all of its own - for the users...and the users yet to join. And the pity of it is...that these things cannot be confined...to the Twilight Zone.
posted by chambers at 1:07 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


It's pretty hard to discuss a pervasive atmosphere of misogyny without discussing the trivial. If it were not showing up in all sorts of trivial way[s], it would not be pervasive.

Repeating this, because favoriting it isn't enough.
posted by gauche at 1:07 PM on June 10 [23 favorites]


There's no shortage of problematic oldies.
posted by dhartung at 1:08 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Why isn't pervasive misogyny, in pop culture and otherwise, one of the real fights?

For the same reason that most reasonable people don't consider Senatorial crusades against violent video games or violent movies or whatever to be appropriate or productive responses to real-life violence. Because such efforts simplify away and ultimately attempt to censor (notwithstanding the hugely disingenuous objection that people like the author are "only providing feedback!") art on the basis of subjective (and usually really lame) preferences and interpretations, when the real problems lie elsewhere.
posted by eugenen at 1:08 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


kgasmart, Kyle Morrison is a grownup, paid a grownup's wage, paid to deal with grownup issues like customer complaints. You don't need to infantilize him.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:08 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


The Stones were never intended to be BGM music in the supermarket, FFS. Also isn't the point of the song that transgressive lyrics are paired with a catchy, innocuous rhythm?
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


pure lazy pseudo-journalism-the internet is a breeding ground for this epidemic.
posted by Oyéah at 1:09 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


If I were in charge grocery stores would play nothing but drone.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:09 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Building on Frowner's point: I was once shamed out of a community radio station, where I had been co-producing a weekly feminist radio program for 2 years and brought in new hosts & listenership, because I objected to a White DJ playing music with racial slurs.

People lose jobs and opportunities over this and you think it's TRIVIAL?
posted by divabat at 1:10 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


[Folks, this thread reeeeeeally needs to cool down a notch or two. Sarcasm can be funny but tends to escalate - please let that snark pass by. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:10 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Microaggressions aren't real problems, after all. That's why they're micro, duh.
posted by Etrigan at 1:11 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


You don't need to infantilize him.

A grownup's wage? Really - you know what he's paid, then? So the working man can bugger off so long as he dares defend 50-year-old Stones songs?

This not only undermines socialism, it rips it apart. Way to do the right's work for them.
posted by kgasmart at 1:12 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Another appropriate response to hearing "Under My Thumb" in a grocery store would be to head over to the meat counter and order a Nickel's Worth of Liver.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:13 PM on June 10



When the FIGHT FOR FREEDOM entails harassing a minimum-wage making clerk


This literally did not happen. Go back and get your facts right and I will listen to you as a defender of socialism.

No, fuck it, you want some socialism? Here goes: Women make 19% less than males who work the same number of hours. There's your economic issue. An entire class of humanity is being economically punished, and, as a good socialist, this concerns me.

So what's the problem? Well, let me ask somebody who know, maybe somebody who experiences it. So let me ask a woman. I mean, I'm a good socialist, and good socialists know you don't trust accurate assessments from the economically privileged, but instead look to the disadvantaged for their narrative, because it will be a narrative of struggle.

And that narrative, again and again, comes back as: We are raised in a hostile environment where we are told, again and again and again, that our primary, and sometimes exclusive, value is as a provider of sex. We are expected to provide sex on demand. We are expected to be personally, sexually, and socially subservient to men. When we aren't, we are punished. We are often murdered for it. And this plays out in a million ways, some small, like songs about how irritating it is to have a woman who won't be subservient, some large, like a mass economic disenfranchisement. But the core of the problem is a culture of misogyny, and it must be addressed in ways both large and small.

So what's a good socialist to do?

Well, they could start by reading the fucking story and getting their facts right, and not presuming to lecture other lefties and claiming that somehow women -- WOMEN -- are hurting the movement.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:13 PM on June 10 [84 favorites]


Misogynistic songs being played as background music -- here is the world you live in, where the soundtrack to groceries is that women are worth less than men -- is different from people actively choosing to play violent video games (which don't need to be misogynistic, though they can be) or even from deciding that you would like to listen to this particular misogynistic song at your home.
posted by jeather at 1:13 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


Violence is a really poor analogy to cultural misogyny. If a character gets blown up in a videogame, no one really gets blown up. If a videogame character were to freely throw around slurs aimed at women, actual women are being targeted by the game.
posted by kewb at 1:14 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Way to do the right's work for them.

Ignoring women's concerns: Not the right's work
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:14 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


For the same reason that most reasonable people don't consider Senatorial crusades against violent video games or violent movies or whatever to be appropriate or productive responses to real-life violence. Because such efforts simplify away and ultimately attempt to censor (notwithstanding the hugely disingenuous objection that people like the author are "only providing feedback!") art on the basis of subjective (and usually really lame) preferences and interpretations, when the real problems lie elsewhere.

You know what? The problem with "hearing misogynist shit at the grocery store" is "now I have to hear misogynist shit at the grocery store". I have no data about how people listening to misogynistic shit act later on, or what it means for the culture as a whole. What I do know is that the problem with playing gross and rapey songs at the grocery store is that I have to listen to gross and rapey songs at the grocery store. That's the difference between the Senator bloviating about video games and me - he's free associating about something that doesn't affect him personally and that, in any case, has an unclear connection with the problem he ascribes to it. I am, as has been pointed out upthread, describing an experience that is gross and unpleasant and actually happens to me personally.
posted by Frowner at 1:14 PM on June 10 [31 favorites]


I seriously cannot believe this thread is so full of cries of 'Censorship!'

I thought we finished having that asinine conversation many, many Boyzone-related threads ago.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:14 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


When the FIGHT FOR FREEDOM entails harassing a minimum-wage making clerk

Try educating yourself first. She didn't harass anyone. In NYC a TJs employee probably makes 50k a year.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:14 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Lutoslawski: I dunno - I feel pretty strongly that some corporate or government entity making decisions about what art is morally acceptable to be presented in public is a pretty dangerous thing.

Complete and utter red herring. No one is suggesting Trader Joes, Incorporated, be allowed to limit what art is presented in public.

Some are suggesting that TJ,I, might wish to remove this song from their in-store playlists... or at least the one in NYC that received the complaint.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:16 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


All these complaints are separate from each other, though:

1. This song is offensive and sexist and reflects problematic attitudes.
2. I don't want to hear this song.
3. I feel entitled not to hear this song in a public space.
4. If I hear this song in a public space, I will tell the place I don't like it, hoping that if enough people complain, they'll tell the service that they're getting complaints and to pull the song from the rotation.
5. If I find out what the service is that's serving the song, I will complain to them.
6. I expect the nearest immediate person at Trader Joe's to be respectful when I bring this up.
7. I expect the nearest immediate person at Trader Joe's to be able to do something about this.
8. I expect the person Trader Joe's tells me to talk to to make a record of my complaint.
9. I expect the person Trader Joe's tells me to talk to to be able to do something about this beyond making a record of my complaint.
10. I expect a customer service person in any company to take my complaint seriously.
11. If I don't get satisfaction from a company, I will complain publicly about the company.
12. If I don't get satisfaction from a person working at Trader Joe's whose name I got from someone else, I will complain publicly using that person's name.

You can also hear a song at the store, say "That song is gross," not want to hear it, and still conclude that the answer is not to silence the song, but to be cognizant of how screwed-up a lot of popular and beloved culture is. If you required Trader Joe's line workers to answer for every objectionable lyric in every song, it would indeed be just about impossible for them to play songs with lyrics. The problem isn't necessarily the playing of the song, it's the song itself, and the attitudes it reflects and reflected when it was written. I'm not sure how much you gain by, as others have noted, erasing the song from public spaces.

I agree with some of these arguments and not others. When someone is arguing one, it doesn't make much sense to argue against another. They're all different things.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:16 PM on June 10 [48 favorites]


The real misogyny is pervasive low pay for women in this country, glass ceilings, overwork, and staring at us from over our borders, (well not Canada) is a world of woman who want to come here, because it is so much better than where they are, even at it's worst. I appreciate the fact we can complain to management at a store if we are not pleased, or at a school, or by use of our voting power.
posted by Oyéah at 1:16 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


The entire point of music in the grocery store is to get you to buy more stuff, anyway. It's not for entertainment. We should be listening critically at all times, really.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:16 PM on June 10


- BONUS ROUND: the customer, also being a person, is allowed to talk about frustrating experiences they have had dealing with businesses if their complaint was not resolved to their satisfaction

Also known as the INTERNET OUTRAGE round
posted by Big_B at 1:18 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Boards Of Canada would be good shopping music. And Loscil.

BoC always leaves me strangely afraid and distressed, but I agree on Loscil. Although since I walk around with headphones on, coast/range/arc is usually what I hear when I'm buying food, anyway.
posted by winna at 1:18 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Well this turned into an intense battle for the heart of socialism pretty quickly!
posted by lattiboy at 1:18 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Has anyone tried playing Under My Thumb backwards? It probably says "buy more triple ginger cookies" when you do I just know it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:19 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


That's funny, flarbuse, but your are more likely to get Idiot Wind from eating Trader Joe's than over the musak.
posted by Catblack at 1:19 PM on June 10


Linda, as I said earlier in this thread -- I don't want to have to think about misogyny and violence and "be cognizant of how screwed up a lot of popular culture is" AT THE GROCERY STORE. I just want to buy some groceries without hearing misogynistic lyrics.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:19 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


[T]the answer is not to silence the song, but to be cognizant of how screwed-up a lot of popular and beloved culture is.

And the way to un-screw popular culture is perhaps to stop reinforcing, or at least blithely reproducing and re-presenting the screwed-up parts.
posted by kewb at 1:19 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


some corporate or government entity making decisions about what art is morally acceptable...

The fact is some corporation did decide what is morally acceptable to play in their stores. In fact they may have personally chosen the misogynistic material because of current trends in the world, and in our country. The press is full of hateful spew about women, who need to be controlled medically, physically, morally, spiritually, and this is the United States. It is not a trivial issue by any means.
posted by Oyéah at 1:19 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Well this turned into an intense battle for the heart of socialism pretty quickly!

I'm pretty sure I could do that in a thread about Hannibal as well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:20 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Misogyny as background noise /= desirable or acceptable.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I think it's unfortunate and shameful this author felt the need to Googlebomb a low-level grocery store employee (as opposed to, say, the company's CEO), no matter how reasonably common his name. Those proper nouns add absolutely nothing to her argument, and her decision to use them leaves her open to a very valid derail of a criticism.

That said, she made her shitty journalistic decision, and now we have the same one. Using his name adds no rhetorical weight to anybody's comment in this thread. Maybe refrain. It's perfectly possible to discuss the substance of her complaint without that.
posted by cribcage at 1:20 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


No, fuck it, you want some socialism? Here goes: Women make 19% less than males who work the same number of hours. There's your economic issue. An entire class of humanity is being economically punished, and, as a good socialist, this concerns me.

Please explain how removing one Rolling Stones song from circulation at Trader Joe's is going to address this. Please be sure to show the inverse relationship between the playcount of "Under My Thumb" and women's wages. Thanks in advance.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:21 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


. Please be sure to show the inverse relationship between the playcount of "Under My Thumb" and women's wages.

I'm not your monkey.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:22 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


Misogyny background music, is the rattle of the snake. At least it warns, what about all the rest of the more subtle, tender persuasion?
posted by Oyéah at 1:22 PM on June 10


Well, they could start by reading the fucking story and getting their facts right, and not presuming to lecture other lefties and claiming that somehow women -- WOMEN -- are hurting the movement.

I read the story. Did you? Kyle Morrison had to give her card to the store "captain" - he wasn't the captain. He's some low-level schmoe tasked with dealing with dealing with complaints. Like, the price is wrong on this, I bought that and got it home and it was spoiled.

Now, instead, he gets a complaint that the 50-year-old muzak is oppressive.

But who's being oppressed here? He makes 50K a year - how much housing does that buy you in NYC? Enough to raise a family on in NYC? Do you think she makes more than 50K?

We can talk in general about how much less women make than men, and it's true - but in this specific instance, is it not completely bloody likely that she is far closer to bourgeoisie than he'll ever get?

And yet he's the oppressor and she's the oppressed?
posted by kgasmart at 1:22 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Please explain how removing one Rolling Stones song from circulation at Trader Joe's is going to address this. Please be sure to show the inverse relationship between the playcount of "Under My Thumb" and women's wages. Thanks in advance.

Please explain how reminding women of their god-given subordinate status at random moments is going to improve anything. Please.

* Edited to include quote for clarity. Thread is fast.
posted by sukeban at 1:22 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


And I really hated having to explain what a "real pussy wagon" was to my nine year old when they were playing the soundtrack from Grease before our movie started.

I have apparently never actually listened to that song before.

Wow.
posted by madajb at 1:22 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Epic concern troll.
posted by anazgnos at 1:22 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


No, but I'm A Monkey, by the Stones, is one of the better dance tunes ever, I am not sure if we should be helping the Stones, or the Monkeys...
posted by Oyéah at 1:23 PM on June 10


The real misogyny is pervasive low pay for women in this country, glass ceilings, overwork, and staring at us from over our borders, (well not Canada) is a world of woman who want to come here, because it is so much better than where they are, even at it's worst. I appreciate the fact we can complain to management at a store if we are not pleased, or at a school, or by use of our voting power.
posted by Oyéah


The issues you name are real problems for women, no question about it. But you're suggesting that smaller "trivial" problems like catcalling and lavaballing and hostile workplaces aren't real misogyny. And I think that's wrong.
posted by workerant at 1:23 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


I seriously cannot believe this thread is so full of cries of 'Censorship!'

I thought we finished having that asinine conversation many, many Boyzone-related threads ago.


Seems like a sign that people weren't actually convinced, they just got sick of arguing.
posted by smackfu at 1:23 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


My most recent Metafilter Mix was directly inspired by, and changed at the last minute due to, hearing a song in Trader Joe's last month! It was "Sherry" by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, and every other shopper I wheeled my cart past was bouncing to it or singing along. Music affects people, sometimes in more pleasant ways than others.
posted by obloquy at 1:23 PM on June 10


kgasmart are you even trying? Are you reading these comments? Who said that he's the oppressor?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:24 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


As a cyclist, I hate "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.

As a human, I hate "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.
posted by Mister_A at 1:24 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


There's a bar near my place that plays old b&w films on their teevee screens most nights. I have never seen them play Birth of a Nation, and I don't expect that they ever will. And yet, I do not believe there is a rule that keeps them from doing so.

How can that be?


I know a restaurant that does the same thing near me. I dunno if it is anything like the one you mention, but the one here affects an old-timey vibe, and has been doing this screening of black and white films since I was a kid forty years ago (although they were 16 mm film projectors then and are plasma TVs now). I rarely recognize the films or any of the performers.

I suspect the reason for their choices are not motivated by anything other than easily accessible public domain stuff that can be found for download at various websites or picked up in a DVD store in a box set called Hollywood Classics or something where you get fifty b&w films for $9.99. I have been a film guy for longer then there has been home video and I have never once seen a copy of Birth of a Nation in a DVD store. You can order if off Amazon for twenty bucks, of course, but I think you may be attributing a level of contemplation of the programming choices that could be unwarranted.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:24 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


There's a simple answer: 101 Strings has you covered
posted by tyllwin at 1:24 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "When the FIGHT FOR FREEDOM entails harassing a minimum-wage making clerk

This literally did not happen.
"

FTFA: I returned to Trader Joe’s to speak to a harried Kyle Morrison,

This LITERALLY happened. She went back. Printed out lyrics. Asked him to read them. Then read them to him.
And now she felt compelled to use his real name in her screed, insuring that it will continue from even more parties.
posted by Big_B at 1:25 PM on June 10 [30 favorites]


I have a friend that used to work in a bookstore, back when there were bookstores and people worked in them. This bookstore that was an extension of a record store. Remember those? Anyway, I was hanging out with him at work once during the holiday season, and the store was overrun with shoppers. Really annoying shoppers. And he was, geez, 19? and I was in my mid 20's, and neither of us owned the book store or had anything but a vague sense of annoyance with these people shopping. Again, because we were young and kinda dumb, and he was going to make $4-something an hour no matter how many books he sold. And one of us -- it may have been me -- thought it would be funny to play something truly obnoxious over the stereo. And that was how we ended up playing all of Joe's Garage at Tower Books during Christmas time. We didn't play it loudly, and it was noisy in the store so you couldn't hear it well anyway, but it was there, and people did hear it. And one woman complained that it really wasn't in the spirit of the holidays, which we agreed with. And yes, in retrospect, we were total dicks about it. I'm sure I wouldn't find it as funny now. Pretty sure, anyway.

I haven't thought about this in years, but reading this thread does bring it back into focus. Like a lot of things in my mid-20's, "it seemed like a good idea at the time." Of course, we also wore onions on our belts then.
posted by mosk at 1:25 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Now, instead, he gets a complaint that the 50-year-old muzak is oppressive.

oh noes a customer service representative was forced by a cruel uncaring world to perform a reasonable service request for a customer

we will have 1,000 years of this fourth reich mark my words
posted by elizardbits at 1:25 PM on June 10 [26 favorites]


ckridge: “The objection, then, appears to be to any song in which a man expresses aggression, hostility, or a desire to dominate toward any woman. Censoring all such songs does not seem fair unless all songs by women expressing hostility, aggression, or a desire to dominate toward any man are also eliminated. This will, I think, eliminate between half and three-fifths of rock music.”

This would be a good thing, because between half and three-fifths of rock music is utter shit.
posted by koeselitz at 1:26 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I'm all for social justice, but you will not convince me this sort of thing is anything more than a symbolic gesture designed to gin up outrage.

And while a lot of folks seem to have an endless supply, my outrage is increasingly tapped and requires more judicious allocation.

What drives me mad (aside from actual violence against women), is the endless partisan scolding. The scolds on the left should get together with the scolds on the right and have a good old-fashioned scold-off. Contestants shall be judged on a ten point scale, trophies awarded.
posted by echocollate at 1:26 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


In fact they may have personally chosen the misogynistic material because of current trends in the world, and in our country.

The (the cable or muzak station) chose the song because it made enough money once upon a time to get on someone's list of money-making songs, and they want to make lots of money, so they put the songs on the money-making lists on their music station.

The Mother Jones author should be going after the programmed-music channel's decision makers, not a Trader Joe's employee who was likely working too hard making a living to even notice what was on the insipid music channel.
posted by aught at 1:26 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Printed out lyrics.

I know where this is going and its GOING TO GET UGLY.

Asked him to read them.

Oh fuck. Oh no. Poor Kyle. This isn't going to end well!

Then read them to him.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!! Jesus Christ he's lucky to get out alive!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:26 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


This LITERALLY happened.

How do we know he was minimum wage clerk?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:27 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I go to that grocery store that only plays Fugazi. They have really good kale.
posted by Mister_A at 1:27 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


All else aside:

There is an easy solution to this problem that doesn't even require Trader Joe's to address any questions of sexism or rock music or whatever.

Just give store managers a goddamned button they can push to skip to the next song if a customer complains. Easy, simple, and ultimately pretty useful.
posted by koeselitz at 1:28 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


This is nothing. Chipotle once played this song while I tried to eat a burrito. I couldn't even finish without tweeting a complaint.
posted by mullacc at 1:28 PM on June 10


Please explain how removing one Rolling Stones song from circulation at Trader Joe's is going to address this

Jesus, nobody ever said that fighting for legislation to close gendered wage gaps, raise overall minimum wages, create mandatory paid maternity leave, or otherwise improve women's economic well-being can't be done at the same time as addressing misogynist song lyrics.

This may blow your mind, but women (and men, even!) are capable of fighting oppression in multiple ways, on macro and micro levels! Imagine that!
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:29 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


Oh sorry, I thought you were saying he wasn't harassed. I should have known that for a given income that would be ok.
posted by Big_B at 1:29 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I don't know what lavaballing is, and catcalling is something I never heard, and don't hear now. I take responsibility for what I do on the street, and others do what they do. If they go from cat calling to touching, it will be a bad day for them, guaranteed. I don't need a bishop, king, prince charming to stake my territory. Public education is left with the task of creating universal culture that works for everyone. Good luck with that.
posted by Oyéah at 1:30 PM on June 10


The "censorship!!!" people and the people actually defending the bullshit tactics of the author completely deserve each other.
posted by lattiboy at 1:30 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


I should have known that for a given income that would be ok.

*ding*
posted by kgasmart at 1:31 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I think it bears reiterating that you aren't ever going to hear 'Fuck the Pain Away' or any electroclash at TJs, nor GG Allin, Die Antwoord, Billy Bragg, etc...

They self-censor plenty, and while I agree that a relentless pursuit of inoffensivenes can lead to an apalling blandness, where do we draw the line? Are we going to lobby for Aryan Blue in the playlist? 'Croppies Lie Down'? No, and there are plenty of other Stones songs that aren't going to engender complaint.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:31 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I should have known that for a given income that would be ok.

Um, no, but nice try. There are people who are responsible for answering customer complaints. Going to them and complaining is not harassing them. When they present themselves as representatives of the customer complaint wing of the business, calling them out publicly when they do their job badly is not harassing them. He was who she was told to talk to, and he dismissed her concerns and then gave her non-working phone numbers to take it to the next level. I probably wouldn't have put his name in my blog entry, but he is a public representative of the store, so it's not off limits.

Painting him as just some harassed low-wage employee colors the story, and that was what I was objecting to.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:33 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


So, its either we live in Rush's 2112
Shopping would be rad if they played that record, by the way.


As long as no one posts the liner note dedication. But actually there is an excellent example of a band that didn't expend a lot of ink on objectifying women but focused on the human condition. However Rush invokes an irrational hatred far outside the scope of anything political.

Wow, this thread is a piece of work. I wonder how long I would have look back in our human history to see so much energy expended to dismiss and trivialize the concerns of one woman.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:35 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I wonder how long I would have look back in our human history to see so much energy expended to dismiss and trivialize the concerns of one woman.

Microseconds, I imagine.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:36 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Man I would've loved to deal with this sort of complaint, but something tells me these employees have been exposed to so many unreasonable complaints about price-matching or stuff like that, that this probably sounded like another person just being unhappy about the dumbest thing.

I would've thanked her for bringing this issue to out attention, as we strive to offer an enjoyable shopping experience. From the top of my head, I would've explained that the music comes from X company and we can't alter the playlist on the fly. We can, however, contact this company and make them know that that song is not suitable for our establishment and, while they decide what to do with our suggestion, we would select another music channel from the same company that doesn't include that song. I would then ask her info to update her of any actions taken. Something like "We are happy to inform you that we've switched to another music channel that provides bla bla and we have made sure it doesn't include Under my thumb by The Rolling Stones. We thank you again..."

This could go nowhere, of course, but I mean it's something that wouldn't take too much to at least try to fix.
posted by infinitelives at 1:36 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


To John's credit, though, he called it the worst song he ever wrote. [citation needed]

"I'd rather see you dead then to be with another man" is also a quote from Elvis, so maybe we should blame him?

That lyric goes on:

Well I know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind


Which should just mayyyybe be a clue that the author is portraying the narrator as a bad person, not agreeing with him? Art has a point of view, and it's not always the point of view of a perfectly nice person.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:36 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I go to that grocery store that only plays Fugazi. They have really good kale.

Terrible wine selection, though.
posted by scody at 1:37 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


Frequently when I hear this old music played on PA's I reflect ruefully that I used to put the record album on the changer (decades ago) and sit down and listen to it. Carefully. As a fan. Now I just wish this music would go away, to be heard rarely, not every-fucking-where. I am so sick of hearing the same crap over and over and over. It just depresses me now. And it's the same 200-odd "hits" from those times. Never relatively-obscure, cool sounding stuff that might open a fresh glimpse into a bygone era.
posted by telstar at 1:37 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Man I would've loved to deal with this sort of complaint, but something tells me these employees have been exposed to so many unreasonable complaints about price-matching or stuff like that, that this probably sounded like another person just being unhappy about the dumbest thing.

The (surprising to me) degree of contempt being expressed in this thread for the Trader Joe's staffer suggests to me that a lot of folks here have never had the true joy of working retail for a living.
posted by aught at 1:40 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


I just had an epiphany; Trader Joe's is the last good venue for Art and not just a place where I can get those tasty-ass premade Indian foods
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:41 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


He's the Retail Manager.

And so it's OK to put his name her story as AN OPPRESSOR!!! when he tells her, accurately, that he doesn't have the authority to turn off the music because he's a low-level peon. Because her grievance trumps all.
posted by kgasmart at 1:42 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


The (surprising to me) degree of contempt being expressed in this thread for the Trader Joe's staffer suggests to me that a lot of folks here have never had the true joy of working retail for a living.

What contempt is that? I worked in retail for a decade. I'm still in customer service. I don't think he did his job very well, but I'm not blaming him. It sounds like they don't have a very clar process for addressing customer complaints, which every business should have.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:43 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Why didn't she just Google and fill out Trader Joes feedback form? It took 2 seconds to find. You can also find their corporate number and address with as much trouble.

Kyle already told her the only thing he can do is turn the music down. Why return like he's a person in corporate who has control/can influence the playlist/contract between Trader Joe's and Muzak? Either she's young/sheltered/doesn't know what Muzak is, or it wouldn't've made as good of a "gotcha!" article.
posted by sfkiddo at 1:43 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


Which should just mayyyybe be a clue that the author is portraying the narrator as a bad person, not agreeing with him?

I don't understand these complicated literary tropes to which you refer. Please, lecture me more on the basics of narrative devices.
posted by scody at 1:44 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


And so it's OK to put his name your story as AN OPPRESSOR!!!

Please don't paraphrase her. You're not doing it very well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:44 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Aught, I worked retail AND waitressed for a number of years, and I can say definitively that this guy did a shitty job. Check out infinitelives' response a couple of comments up for a much more professional way this could have been handled.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:44 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I never said anything contemptuous about the staffer, or even mentioned the staffer. I am one of those annoying folks who when in public places and people are mistreating staff, I go stand by the staffer and listen and look at the speaker. I really should get a life...
posted by Oyéah at 1:45 PM on June 10


To be fair, the Indigo Girls can get pretty damn raunchy
posted by KokuRyu at 1:45 PM on June 10


aught: “The (surprising to me) degree of contempt being expressed in this thread for the Trader Joe's staffer suggests to me that a lot of folks here have never had the true joy of working retail for a living.”

I don't see any contempt here at all. And, man, have you worked in retail? We were force-fed music all day, and I would have been outright relieved to have a customer complain about the awfulness of said music. I agree she shouldn't have posted his name, but man. She did not do Kyle a disservice by bringing this complaint to him.
posted by koeselitz at 1:46 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Why didn't she just Google and fill out Trader Joes feedback form?

Why didn't the customer service person have that information handy, she specifically asked for ways to contact corporate.

When I asked how to get in touch with “corporate,” Kyle Morrison gave me a card printed with the name of the store “Captain,” Justin Matthews, two phone numbers, and an uplifting message that Trader Joe’s had a mission to provide “the highest quality of customer satisfaction delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, fun, individual pride and company spirit.”

Two numbers that went nowhere.

I went home and called both numbers, and was told that Captain Justin Matthews could not be reached at either.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:46 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


There is a difference between listening to or looking at art in an environment made for that and background art that's there to fill up space, like office wall art or supermarket music, and asking for one to be considered with more care isn't asking for some kind of censorship of the other. It's often not trivial to walk out of a store and waste several minutes waiting for a song to end while leaving your cart unattended and your frozen stuff to melt.

Also, TJs employees get paid pretty well, and in my experience working retail this isn't nearly as bad as the aggressive, rude and often racist and sexist bullshit retail workers have to put up with.
posted by NoraReed at 1:46 PM on June 10


Please don't paraphrase her. You're not doing it very well.

Admit it, you didn't read the article.

Either she's young/sheltered


I don't think you understand. She's ENTITLED. Oppression has entitled her to the outcome she desires. And any low-level schmuck who gets in the way of that is part of the problem.
posted by kgasmart at 1:48 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I don't think TJ employees should have to listen to misogynistic music either
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:48 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


You know what? I'm a feminist and I love this song. I sing it happily, with the pronouns changed to reflect my own gender and I like it a lot. I've always felt (because I realized some time ago that despite of my enjoyment of it, it's basically pretty misogynistic) that because I can do this, exchange the pronouns and not lose any of the meaning, that it's still a good song. If I sing it, it's about a guy who was a controlling jerk and is now compliant to my wishes, and about how he's not allowed to even look at girls anymore, while I'm able to pretty much do whatever I want.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:51 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


She's ENTITLED. Oppression has entitled her to the outcome she desires.

No, seriously. No. It does not work that way.
posted by sukeban at 1:52 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


For the last time before I take a long breather: wanting to not being treated as an untermensch in the cultural messages that get blared at you is not being entitled. It is the baseline.
posted by sukeban at 1:54 PM on June 10 [20 favorites]


I went home and called both numbers, and was told that Captain Justin Matthews could not be reached at either.

Ok, Milton, that's fair that she tried the numbers to reach the store manager and had no luck. But if you have the ability to write this article online, I'm thinking you have the ability to follow the first Google link for "contact trader joes."
posted by sfkiddo at 1:55 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I don't see any contempt here at all.

Okay, we'll have to agree to disagree then.

and in my experience working retail this isn't nearly as bad as the aggressive, rude and often racist and sexist bullshit retail workers have to put up with.

So because it's not as unpleasant as some of the characters who make the lives of retail workers difficult, it's okay? (And yes, whoever it was who asked up-thread, I have worked retail at both independent and chain stores.)

Sorry, but my bottom line is that the article writer would have been more effective and honest in going to Muzak and talking to them about play lists than taking the easy target in the supermarket who, if she had thought for two minutes about it, she should have known had no control over the situation.

(Or, I'd like to think she didn't think about it. A more cynical interpretation is that she knew full well no one in the store had any real control over the muzak play list, but created some drama anyhow so that she could write an article about it for a national magazine.)
posted by aught at 1:55 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I guess if we're all weighing in, I think the Rolling Stones is pretty bad music for boring babyboomer squares. But the Trader Joe's nuts are pretty cheap, so I'm torn.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:55 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


I don't think you understand. She's ENTITLED. Oppression has entitled her to the outcome she desires. And any low-level schmuck who gets in the way of that is part of the problem.

So you're saying that society has made her victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges?
posted by Etrigan at 1:55 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Oppression has entitled her to the outcome she desires.

you are bad and wrong and your opinions are bad and wrong
posted by elizardbits at 1:57 PM on June 10 [30 favorites]


but created some drama

!!!!!

I think its perfectly reasonable to assume that the store managers have some control of the songs being played in their store. When she found out that was not the case, she asked who she could contact that does control the songs being played in the store.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:58 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


aught: “The (surprising to me) degree of contempt being expressed in this thread for the Trader Joe's staffer suggests to me that a lot of folks here have never had the true joy of working retail for a living.”

me: “I don't see any contempt here at all.”

aught: “Okay, we'll have to agree to disagree then.”

No. You can't just make an accusation like that and leave it vague. Who in this thread is being contemptuous of Kyle? Who, exactly? In what comments?
posted by koeselitz at 1:58 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


There's never any reason to think that a customer knows how the store works. And there is no reason for them to fill out an online form when they have been given the names and phone numbers of people to call and then told to call them. We're not describing a customer who has run rampant, but instead one who is earnestly trying to find the right person to talk to, and it is the job of the store to guide them, not her job to figure it out all on her lonesome.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:00 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


[Seriously, chill out, people. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 2:00 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]



The issues you name are real problems for women, no question about it. But you're suggesting that smaller "trivial" problems like catcalling and lavaballing and hostile workplaces aren't real misogyny. And I think that's wrong.

I did not suggest anything, I said exactly what I said. And again, I have no idea what lavaballing is, and I now know it is something I don't want to know.
posted by Oyéah at 2:01 PM on June 10


You can block the sound of the rolling stones by putting cookie butter in your ears. Plus you will be delicious.
posted by srboisvert at 2:01 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Whenever someone in my office complains about the music, i say 'it's for those of us who are here all day, you are welcome to use your own player'. works just fine.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:01 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


1. A few years ago, a few feminist music blogs discussed "The Ellen Willis Test" as a music/lyrical equivalent to the Bechdel Test.
"A crude but often revealing method of assessing male bias in lyrics is to take a song written by a man about a woman and reverse the sexes. By this test, a diatribe like "Under My Thumb" is not nearly so sexist in its implications as, for example, Cat Stevens's gentle, sympathetic "Wild World"; Jagger's fantasy of sweet revenge could easily be female—in fact, it has a female counterpart, Nancy Sinatra's "Boots"—but it's hard to imagine a woman sadly warning her ex-lover that he's too innocent for the big bad world out there." (Willis 2011:136) cite
2. Can we not agree that some music is appropriate for specific listening contexts and not for others? Husker Du are one of my favorite bands ever, but I would never want to hear "Diane" while I was grocery shopping*. The woman who wrote this blog entry isn't saying she wants to ban "Under My Thumb" and "Brown Sugar" from all contexts, but that maybe it's not the most appropriate song to hear in a grocery store.

* Yes, I know this is an extreme example. Yes, I know "Diane" would never make it past the Muzak filters, or even that Muzak is aware enough of the song in the first place. Yes, I know Grant no longer plays it live. Just...go with it, okay?
posted by pxe2000 at 2:01 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Well, if anyone does find out who it is I need to talk to about getting songs taken off playlists, please share. I have a list.


Rush....there is an excellent example of a band that didn't expend a lot of ink on objectifying women but focused on the human condition


Rapping skeleton. THEY'RE ON THE LIST
posted by Hoopo at 2:02 PM on June 10


When she found out that was not the case, she asked who she could contact that does control the songs being played in the store.

And then she put Kyle's name in the article. For what reason, exactly?
posted by kgasmart at 2:04 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


So you're saying that society has made her victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges?

In case people don't get the reference, go look at the thread that's about straight-up rape and sexual assault. George Will said this of rape survivors.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:05 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


The Stones song that's actually misogynist is "Mother's Little Helper."
posted by neroli at 2:05 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Rapping skeleton.

Any reference Roll the Bones should come with a [Trigger Warning].
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:06 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Is this really the world liberals seek - expunged of any historic song, or document, or program that can be lumped into this category of negative "cultural messages?"

Shit! That's a good point! That's exactly what liberals want! Welp, I'm a conservative now. you did it. Yyou convinced me
posted by Greg Nog at 2:07 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Is this really the world liberals seek - expunged of any historic song, or document, or program that can be lumped into this category of negative "cultural messages?"

when I'm stoned TJ's does seem like the apex of human cooperation, but I have been informed that it is actually just a grocery store
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:07 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


I think the "privilege" issue posited in this case is more of a well off customer harassing a probably far less well off employee. I agree that it is a troubling usage of the term due to how it is used on Mefi though.
posted by Big_B at 2:07 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I think the "privilege" issue posited in this case is more of a well off customer harassing a probably far less well off employee.

We have no idea what their respective incomes are.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:10 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


kgasmart: “How about here, to start.”

Well, easy now. That wasn't really contempt for Kyle, was it? That was expressing the fact that it wasn't so terrible for him to talk to this woman. And I agree on that point. It wasn't the most awful thing, and it is in fact part of his job.

I agree, as many people seem to in this thread, that it was totally unnecessary and also wrong for her to mention his name in the article. But this is the real world, and justice has several vectors. There is more than one wrong here. It's not just an evil crank of an internet writer writing a terrible piece, and it's not just an obnoxious Trader Joe's worker doing terrible things. It's complicated.

The sexism of a song on a public PA is worth addressing.
posted by koeselitz at 2:10 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I returned to Trader Joe’s to speak to a harried Kyle Morrison, who insisted that the numbers he had given me were the right ones. Finally a colleague said that Captain Justin Matthews could only be reached at one of the numbers when he was in, and he wasn’t in. I would have to come back another day.

So then she gave up and decided to write this article blasting everyone instead.
posted by sfkiddo at 2:11 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Dude Alternet pays like 1k per word. Its on the internet.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:11 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I repeat again; Kyle is a grownup. He earns a wage. Both Kyle and TJs believed that Kyle was enough of a responsible grownup person, possessed of both intelligence and diplomacy enough to handle customer complaints.

It is insulting of kgasmart et al. to imply that Kyle is in fact too weak of spirit and lacking of fortitude to perform the duties of his employment which include dealing with customer complaints.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:11 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


[Playing the "but what if this is extended to EVERYTHING?!!" game leaves everyone cranky and the moderator sad. Please stop. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 2:12 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


We don't know Kyle's title or role here - she was "directed to him" from someone else. All we know is that he is NOT the store manager.
posted by Big_B at 2:16 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Shit! That's a good point! That's exactly what liberals want! Welp, I'm a conservative now.

But see, this politics of grievance does indeed turn liberals into conservatives. This is how you get "Reagan Democrats." This is how you get working class people who come to think, correctly, that the politics of cultural sensitivity come first and foremost - and who get their name in some article if they don't acquiesce to the demands.

It is insulting of kgasmart et al. to imply that Kyle is in fact too weak of spirit and lacking of fortitude to perform the duties of his employment which include dealing with customer complaints.

No, it's insulting of you to suggest that Kyle has to simply endure whatever shite the author decides to sling his way because he failed to meet her demands.
posted by kgasmart at 2:16 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


According to the web, he is one of the managers.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:18 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the opening lyrics to "Under My Thumb" open with a reference to a situation where the tables were turned, and he was under her thumb, and being pushed around? It's seems to be a bit more of a 'what's good for the goose' scenario than a one-sided domination from the start. The song's reveling about his new situation is a bit much, and if not for those lines regarding the previous power arrangement this sound would be most certainly straight-up misogynistic.

But hey, we're well over 300 comments in, and barely any talk about the actual lyrics in the song that started all this, so why start now?
posted by chambers at 2:22 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Yes, let's all google Mr. Morrison to see what we can find out!
posted by Big_B at 2:22 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


She shouldn't have named him. But she's just COMPLAINING, not hitting him over the head with her purse.

That's part of his JOB. DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS. IT'S WHAT THEY PAY HIM TO DO.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:24 PM on June 10


Hey, I didn't link to it, but if you're going to make claims, it's your responsibility to research them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:24 PM on June 10


Yeah sorry, I was relying on TFA to be truthful. My bad.
posted by Big_B at 2:26 PM on June 10


But hey, we're well over 300 comments in, and barely any talk about the actual lyrics in the song that started all this, so why start now?

Yeah, let's go with a factual rebuttal to whether someone should be offended at something. That always works out really well.
posted by Etrigan at 2:28 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


The article wasn't untruthful. She said he was who she was directed to. She may not have known his title, or considered it irrelevant. She probably didn't expect that people in this thread that people would imagine a scenario in which she's screaming at a cashier.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:29 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah sorry, I was relying on TFA to be truthful.

What part of TFA says that Morrison isn't a manager?
posted by Etrigan at 2:30 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Look, it's clear that he wasn't the store manager, as he directed her to that person (via the contact card). I brought this up, and then you looked him up to do some sort of gotcha (well his linkedin says manager! HUZZAH!).

I'm not imagining her screaming, but you started with the "no one's harassing him!" narrative, when the AUTHOR HERSELF described his as "harried," and when called on that you ignored it.

You are the one creating the scenario here.
posted by Big_B at 2:33 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: "Yeah sorry, I was relying on TFA to be truthful.

What part of TFA says that Morrison isn't a manager?
"

What part of it says he is?
posted by Big_B at 2:33 PM on June 10


"Yeah sorry, I was relying on TFA to be truthful.

What part of TFA says that Morrison isn't a manager?"

What part of it says he is?


You are the one who said "All we know is that he is NOT the store manager." I'm asking for proof of your assertion.
posted by Etrigan at 2:37 PM on June 10


You cannot seriously put forth that the small print on this guy's nametag is a material issue worth so much "nu-uh!" fact-checking here.

No he's ASSISTANT TO THE MANAGER that makes all the difference! No you prove it! No you prove it!
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:40 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


you know, I enjoy some pretty god damn problematic music from time to time -- classic rock, the blues, rap, hip-hop, even fucking Mozart -- because I love it and it's good music. But when I don't feel like dealing with the constant implications that I'm a sex dispenser who deserves violence if I fail at the one thing that justifies my existence, I can turn it off. At the grocery store, I don't have that option, it's there no matter what. Nobody in this thread or ANYWHERE is suggesting this music should be banned for life, labelled for content, pulled from stores, or even that the people who listen to it are bad people who should feel bad, we're just saying "maybe not in the grocery store."
posted by KathrynT at 2:41 PM on June 10 [16 favorites]


Nobody in this thread or ANYWHERE is suggesting this music should be banned for life, labelled for content, pulled from stores, or even that the people who listen to it are bad people who should feel bad, we're just saying "maybe not in the grocery store."

Maybe the twentieth repetition of this will help. People do not want to ban it, legally restrict it, burn down stores which play it, whatever. They would like to not hear misogyny as unavoidable background to their errands. Many people who don't want to hear specific songs in the grocery store like those same songs.
posted by jeather at 2:44 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


it's fucked up that liberals won't let me play M.O.P.'s Ante Up in Ann Taylor Loft

This is why Reagan got elected
posted by Greg Nog at 2:50 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


You know what this thread needs?

[sfw, no triggers, nothing offensive, srs]
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:52 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I'm surpised the term "microagression" hasn't come up yet in this discussion.

The lyrics to Under My Thumb as background "buy moar $tuff" are practically textbook definition microaggression. The OP writer was HURT, said OUCH to the relevant corporate person and was essentially told "no one else had said "ouch" and furthermore too bad it hurts, now man up about the pain TJs considers acceptable to inflict on you."

Microagression causes pain. Telling the hurting person
a) it's not hurting you
b) it hasn't hurt anyone else that we recall
c) even if you persist claiming you're in pain, we don't care
d) we will continue to uncaringly cause pain because it makes us more money
Is inappropriate ethically and stupid businesswise in the long term.

TJs music choice PAINED a (former?) customer. STOP IT AND SAY YOU'RE SORRY AND DON'T DO IT AGAIN.
posted by Dreidl at 2:56 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Dear Lynn Stuart Parramaore

You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need
posted by Hoopo at 2:57 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


But see, this politics of grievance does indeed turn liberals into conservatives. This is how you get "Reagan Democrats." This is how you get working class people who come to think, correctly, that the politics of cultural sensitivity come first and foremost - and who get their name in some article if they don't acquiesce to the demands.

I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on this. "Reagan Democrats" were largely the same people who voted for Kennedy and Johnson in the height of the attempts to bring civil rights and cultural awareness to the forefront of voter's minds. Furthermore, Carter wasn't much seen as a President who played on identity politics. The crossover was far more influenced by economic and class factors, and was largely based on cultural identifiers that could be attached to race. Those factors were built up by the right as bogeymen, not the left.

This claim, like the thousands of similar claims before it here and elsewhere, has never once been supported by anything but the usual grousing about left. An absolutely infintesimal number of Americans are aware of Tumblr or Twitter as social advocacy platforms, and it takes monumental news (like a half-black guy running for President or a misogynist shooting up a sorority or gay marriage) for racism or sexism or homophobia to be anything but background noise for any of them. Outside of the right-wing crazy chamber, what you refer to "the politics of cultural sensitivity" doesn't exist as a motivating factor for people changing their perspective on anything. Increases in socioeconomic and cultural biases in ageing populations have repeatedly shown to have a far higher correlation with people changing their perspective than the nebulous "leftist extremism" that is constantly brought up in these conversations.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:59 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


I have heard this rumor that no one is perfect.

As long as you accept that people can make mistakes, and don't turn it into a me vs. them thing, and they in return acknowledge that you may have a valid point and then apologize, that doesn't detract from also addressing more serious issues.
posted by halifix at 2:59 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I'm surpised the term "microagression" hasn't come up yet in this discussion.

...and yet it has.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:00 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I think it's remarkable that so many people here immediately identify a complaint about misogyny to be "the left". I mean, sure, it's obvious that the American Right doesn't have any problem with misogyny, but why does that make a complaint about it automatically from "the left"? Way to just completely buy the Fox News framing of stuff, people. You've skipped straight to the minimization of the issue and the concomitant identity politics label without them even having to do it this time.
posted by norm at 3:02 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need

People seem legit upset that she tried to get what she needs.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:02 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


And lo and behold, an FPP that just went up also notes that prejudice is based more on economic issues exacerbating cultural ones, rather than people getting tetchy about identity politics because of feminists/teh gayz/etc.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:05 PM on June 10


People seem legit upset that she tried to get what she needs.

vegetables?
posted by Hoopo at 3:07 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need

That's the crux of all of this, right? Framing her desire to shop without songs such as "Under My Thumb" as a want, a luxury, rather than a legitimate need?
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:07 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Music in a grocery store is not "public art" in any meaningful sense. It is an aid to commerce, from the point of view of the businesspeople who think it provides a shopping experience in which customers may be enticed to spend more money than they would if no music were being played.

No governmental regulatory agency or "pop music death panels" need be convened. The complaint seems to me to be an example of the market in action - if enough people complain that the commercial music being played in a commercial setting makes them feel marginalized and disinclined to spend money at that enterprise, then responsible businesspeople will consider changing the approach to music, and might screen the music they approve for play at their businesses with greater social awareness.

There are people in this thread who appear to have quite powerful intellects creating ridiculous straw men and absurd all-or-nothing scenarios.

Music can be art. Not all music is art. Not all applications of music are art. People responsible for programming music make all sorts of discriminations when they choose what music to play innumerable numbers of times every day. Asking a business to exercise more awareness in its choice of music is not asking for art to be neutered. That's just ridiculous.

If we can't agree that the song and/or the artist is mysoginist and should not be played in the grocery store on that basis, can we maybe agree that

a song half a century old that everyone had heard 5,000 times is too much to bear

is enough to stop playing a song, and call it an imperfect compromise?
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:08 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


no that's a bunch of RS lyrics you guys stop it
posted by elizardbits at 3:08 PM on June 10


jesus christ i can't even
posted by elizardbits at 3:09 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


The problem with this article is that if she'd just emailed Muzak (after finding out they were providing the music) and asked them why they offer this song it would've been a completely boring thing nobody would want to talk about and we'd be 350 comments less terrible.

Raise the specter of a recent massacre and include a well-loved company: profit!
posted by lattiboy at 3:09 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


WHAT A DRAG IT IS GETTING OLD
posted by elizardbits at 3:09 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


I mean, sure, it's obvious that the American Right doesn't have any problem with misogyny, but why does that make a complaint about it automatically from "the left"?

In fairness, it does come from Alternet, which calls itself "a top content provider in the progressive and independent media world", so it's a pretty good bet that Lynn Stuart Parramore is coming at it from the left.
posted by Etrigan at 3:11 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]



We have no idea what their respective incomes are.


Given that one of them shops at Trader Joe's, and one works there in a customer-facing position, we have a pretty decent guess.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:12 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Disclaimer that maybe I'm a little extra hostile to grocery store music because many background noises like that put me very much on edge, especially when I can hear something but not quite fully make it out. I would happily ban waiting room TVs and piped in music from my life entirely.

But even apart from that, not long ago, I was in a grocery store where they played this song. I was not familiar with the song before, and I can't hear the whole thing, but I heard excerpts:

Little children
You better not tell on me
I'm tellin' you
Little children
You better not tell what you see
And if you're good
I'll give you candy and a quarter
If you're quiet like you oughta be
And keep a secret with me


Now, if you go look at the whole lyrics, the narrator wants the children to leave and/or not tell on him for canoodling with his girlfriend. But should a stinking Kroger store be assuming that all their patrons will be familiar with the song and know not to get wigged out by it? Maybe should they be sensitive to shoppers who could even be triggered by that sort of thing?

Are the rules different for that song vs. Under My Thumb? Does the recognizability of the song matter, and if so, how much?

What about a particularly melodic white power anthem? Would that be OK too?

I personally like a lot of creepy music. I love Elvis Costello, for example, and I generally assume that his creepier 'love' songs like I Want You and Alison are more character studies of violently abusive men than they are expressions of his sincere beliefs. But I also think they're inappropriate as grocery store music (and Alison is super popular in grocery stores) because the audience isn't necessarily familiar with the songs, and didn't opt in to hear them. They're just trying to buy some damned food.

I don't think it's unreasonable at all to expect extremely conservative choices of media in unrelated public venues that are designed for the general population. And while I'd be happiest with silence, if that means annoying elevator music, that's probably better than playing something that could cause genuine offense to something more significant than people's artistic sensibilities.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:13 PM on June 10


Big_B: " I'm not imagining her screaming, but you started with the "no one's harassing him!" narrative, when the AUTHOR HERSELF described his as "harried," and when called on that you ignored it."

"Harried" is not the same as "harassed". One can be "harried" simply because it's busier than usual. But if Kyle is the customer service representative for the shift he's working, it's his JOB to respond to customer complaints and feedback. That's literally what he's being paid to do. And if I'm a customer who has a complaint or wants to give feedback, the fact that the designated customer service representative seems busy isn't going to make me think "oh, the poor dear, clearly my feedback isn't important enough to bother them with."
posted by Lexica at 3:14 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


You cannot seriously put forth that the small print on this guy's nametag is a material issue

Exactly right. We're all familiar with Trader Joe's. Even if the employee were a regional manager who happened to be on-site that day, we know the corporate hierarchy that exists above him and so we'd probably still agree: the correct answer for him was to listen to her concern and kick it upstairs. Which he did. Too many employees don't do that because they aren't properly trained—so instead they stand there and argue issues they aren't able to fix or paid enough to care about—but he did. Good for him.

The next level abdicated, and shame on that person. At this point, Parramore could have skipped upward. Trader Joe's isn't some mysterious band of rovers. They have a website with a mailing address and a corporate roster. She is a senior editor, a founding editor, and a PhD, so we charge her with some level of competence; she can find an executive. Instead she decided to go back to the employee, and he again did the right thing: he double-checked the number he had given her and then offered an alternative kick-it-upstairs route, the contact information for the music providers.

But rather than keep chasing, she apparently decided she had enough for a column. That's lazy journalism. And then she decided to hang her column, in significant part, around the employee's neck. That's lazier journalism. Sure, you can say Trader Joe's put that employee on the front line, and it's on them if the next guy didn't answer his phone...but that ignores the reality of how retail actually works, and it's privileged and naive. The fact is, she could have buttressed her argument, but it would have required more work and she decided it wasn't necessary. Fine. I don't disagree that her point is conveyed regardless. It's still fucking lazy.
posted by cribcage at 3:17 PM on June 10 [59 favorites]


man i'm somewhere to the left of karl marx on most social issues, but this is the dumbest waste of time i've ever heard of. if somebody came into my store and put me on the spot about a song she heard over our radio last week i would assume they were a nutjob.

how many times is it gonna take before the left realizes that taking offense based on identity politics is a waste of energy? it's super-depressing.
posted by facetious at 3:17 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


What ought to super-depress you is that you didn't bother to read the thread before commenting, since this topic has been covered.
posted by jfwlucy at 3:23 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


That's right! If someone has already said something there is no reason for you to say it! Unless of course you agree with me.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:31 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Just so you know, there's lots of things in and about grocery stores that people complain about and are offended by. My boyfriend works in the customer service department for a national chain and I ask him what kind of calls and emails he gets most often.

He tells me lots of people are offended when baggers speak Spanish, that the company sponsors Pride Week, and the occasional racy magazine cover in the checkout lane.

(Interestingly, I don't recall him ever telling me about anyone complaining about the music the stores play.)
posted by girlmightlive at 3:31 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


offended when baggers speak Spanish

I just give up.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:33 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


The problem with this article is that if she'd just emailed Muzak

We've now been given three or four different ways that she should have proceeded in order for her grievance to have been heard. Huh.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:40 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Given that one of them shops at Trader Joe's, and one works there in a customer-facing position, we have a pretty decent guess.

I shopped at Trader Joe's when I was utterly broke in Hollywood. It was a close walk and smart shopping produced some very good food for little money. But, you know, go ahead and assume if it helps make your case that this is a story of rich oppressing poor somehow.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:40 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Has she ever listened to people talking in public? Some of the conversations I've been privy to just by proximity are way more chilling than "Under my Thumb".

Also, I was eating Pad Thai from TJ's last night and felt skeeved out when I saw the box said "Trader Ming's" - is that necessary? Can't beat their prices on chia seeds and gluten free oats, though.
posted by sockermom at 3:46 PM on June 10


Guys. Here. Enough already.
posted by Hoopo at 3:47 PM on June 10


If I sing it, it's about a guy who was a controlling jerk and is now compliant to my wishes, and about how he's not allowed to even look at girls anymore, while I'm able to pretty much do whatever I want.

Marry me!
posted by prodigalsun at 3:49 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


But rather than keep chasing, she apparently decided she had enough for a column. That's lazy journalism. And then she decided to hang her column, in significant part, around the employee's neck. That's lazier journalism. Sure, you can say Trader Joe's put that employee on the front line, and it's on them if the next guy didn't answer his phone...but that ignores the reality of how retail actually works, and it's privileged and naive. The fact is, she could have buttressed her argument, but it would have required more work and she decided it wasn't necessary. Fine. I don't disagree that her point is conveyed regardless. It's still fucking lazy.

Agreed. And then to misrepresent the situation in her title "Trader Joe’s NYC Store Defends 'Racist, Sexist, and Misogynistic' Songs on Playlist", creating a false controversy, intimating that the Trader Joes in question provided an impassioned defense for culturally abhorrent songs. But I guess "Low Level Trader Joe's Customer Service Rep Says He Can't Personally Change The Corporately Mandated Background Music Service That Plays Some Songs That Are Misogynistic" would have a lower click bait quotient, and might sound too much like the title of an Onion article.
posted by prodigalsun at 3:56 PM on June 10 [28 favorites]


"But hey, we're well over 300 comments in, and barely any talk about the actual lyrics in the song that started all this..."

The writer's piece is not limited to "Under My Thumb" -- it's just a convenient focal point. See the headline of the piece, which is quoting from this excerpt:

Morrison hemmed and hawed, explaining that Trader Joe’s playlists were “edited for appropriateness.” Yet he also admitted that probably a lot of the songs were “racist, sexist, and misogynistic.

“So why are you playing them?”


So there's apparently quite a bit of music she wants taken off the Muzak setlist. Perhaps she should start a comprehensive list. (Note that she actually links to one, which includes, among others, a Beatles song -- another mainstay of Muzak sets and shopping soundtracks.)

And yeah, you don't have to invoke government-sponsored powers of censorship before this endeavor starts to get uncomfortable. For some of us, anyway. For the rest of you, go ahead, show us your lists.
posted by mikeand1 at 3:57 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Speaking of Rush, I was in a little locally-owned hardware store I'd been shopping at for 15+ years picking up some tools and sandpaper ( wet/dry silicon carbide, which no one else carried) when Rush Limbaugh suddenly came on the radio.

I waited for them to change it just long enough to really start to smolder, then found one of the two owners, whom I'd known to speak to for at least a decade, behind a counter a little ways from the register and said "I think Rush Limbaugh is a worthless piece of shit, and I won't be spending my money in a store which subjects me to garbage like that." His face worked a bit, and I could see he was angry at being confronted, but all he said was "I'm sorry you feel that way," at which I slammed the stuff I'd been planning to buy down on the counter, said "that wasn't the answer I needed to hear" and walked out.

I still miss that place, and the memory of how rude I was makes me cringe, but some things are too much to take.
posted by jamjam at 3:57 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


Eh, I happen to like "Under My Thumb". Maybe because I first heard Tina Turner's version, so to me it is just a song about a controlling asshole of whatever gender is appropriate. I like to imagine that in a short time the person under their thumb is going to leave them high and dry.
I am the sort of person who was angry every time I watched Mad Men for the first two seasons because of all the casual misogyny in the show. However, this song is about a narcissist and their unfortunate lover. I have far more problems with "Johnny Get Angry" because it's explicitly and exclusively about a female/male relationship.


Try the Beatles, If I Fell. That was such a sweet wistful song, in a seventh key, then in my late fifties I listened to the words. He is working one woman and eliciting a no-future-harm verbal contract with her, as he shares with her the fact that if she signs on, he will dump his current girl friend. With the song he attempts to set up a risk free relationship.


Except he doesn't have a current girlfriend- he sings "Cos I've been in love before" meaning that the bad relationship is in the past. But yeah, all kinds of songs are all kinds of problematic, and thinking about them too hard in the grocery store is not really to anyone's benefit.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:03 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


how many times is it gonna take before the left realizes that taking offense based on identity politics is a waste of energy?

Not that the Left has a history of throwing feminists under the bus or anything. Or a history of treating women with a "Shut your mouth and open your legs for the Revolution"attitude.

I think that the real takeaway from this story is that the Left and Feminsm are not actually natural allies. Sure it is possible for individual leftists to be feminists, but on a movement level, not so much. I've seen a few too many instances of "It's not how women are treated, it's class that's the important thing." to really believe otherwise.
posted by happyroach at 4:05 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Guys. Here. Enough already.

Crew. Mate. Captain. Shit. Now I'm afraid I'm gonna get drunk one night and wake up to find myself shanghaied by the Cheese Department.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:06 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


"I think that the real takeaway from this story is that the Left and Feminsm are not actually natural allies."

I have no idea how you get that out of this piece. Surely "the Left" cannot be equated with Trader Joe's, much less its corporate power structure.
posted by mikeand1 at 4:08 PM on June 10


Mikeand1, it's more the "shut the fuck up women, there are REAL problems to deal with" attitude that has been on display in this thread rather than the actual article.

This thread has been illuminating, and not in a good way.
posted by tinkletown at 4:13 PM on June 10 [31 favorites]


how many times is it gonna take before the left realizes that taking offense based on identity politics is a waste of energy? it's super-depressing.

Look, I get what you're saying, but please let me try to explain it this way. How about if at least two or three times a week, when you're not expecting it, someone kicks your shin. You're in Trader Joe's buying some lovely fresh produce or whatever, and someone boots your shin again. And you're like, "Jesus, would it just STOP?"

A kick on your shin is not going to kill you, but being kicked over and over again, on the same damned bruises is pretty wearing. Because you're so worthless that anyone can kick you. Meanwhile, a substantial minority of the population isn't getting kicked at all -- and when you point out that someone is kicking you, they say "it's only a tap on the shin, what's wrong with you?"

So you complain to Trader Joe's and maybe that turns into one place where you don't get kicked.

And if you want to play Under my Thumb in your own house, no one is stopping you. Or indeed kicking you. It's still going to be ubiquitous, in a playlist with Blurred Lines, More Than Words and other paeans to 'shut up and fuck me, bitch'

I feel as though decrying an effort to effect small changes to make the world better because WIMMINZ! IDENTITY POLITICS! is depressing in itself.

Bah. Boards of Canada is too good for this thread.
posted by finisterre at 4:15 PM on June 10 [28 favorites]


I'm sick of the phrase "identity politics" it seems like a dog-whistle for meaning "you have concerns that are based on something other than being a straight white man".
posted by supercrayon at 4:18 PM on June 10 [59 favorites]


Sometimes I begin to understand why some people choose to be hermits.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:23 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


"Mikeand1, it's more the "shut the fuck up women, there are REAL problems to deal with" attitude"

I don't see anyone intoning "shut the fuck up women". And as far as there being bigger problems, they have a damned good point.

I've worked for some very powerful women in my career. One of them was the first female federal judge appointed in her jurisdiction. She was a real trailblazer, a liberal stalwart, and someone who made the world a distinctly better place for women and minorities (among others).

She had little tolerance for this kind of political correctness. In part, she saw it as unjustified victimhood, and a display of weakness. In her day, she faced a degree of discrimination and disadvantages that made this kind of thing look insanely trivial by comparison. She overcame it with sheer toughness and determination, and she had not much sympathy for younger women who were unwilling to exert the same kind of strength and grit that she did.

But more fundamentally, she also thought it was a waste of time and resources. There are only some many battles you can fight. It's infinitely more important to focus on the battles that involve getting women into real positions of power -- into legislatures, executive branches, big law firms, C-suite positions, and like her, judgeships.

The Muzak at Trader Joe's? Yeah, she'd chuckle and say that's a "battle" that can wait for another day...
posted by mikeand1 at 4:26 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Sometimes I begin to understand why some people choose to be hermits.

The hours are flexible and you can fart as much as you like and there's no one to moan at you about it. What more do you need?
posted by Grangousier at 4:26 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


She had little tolerance for this kind of political correctness.

Well, great for her and all, but women aren't a monolith.
posted by KathrynT at 4:31 PM on June 10 [19 favorites]


Sometimes I begin to understand why some people choose to be hermits.

"L'enfer, c'est les autres."
posted by cwest at 4:33 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Dear Trader Joe,

Your misogynistic Rolling Stones records suck. Have you ever thought of replacing them with the 101 Strings Orchestra? They do a very nice version of Theme from a Summer Place, and I hear the younger folk enjoy their covers of Beatles songs.

Yours faithfully,
Metafilter
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:35 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


There are only some many battles you can fight.

Well, yeah, but people get to choose which battles they wish to fight. And despite the sort of activist-y framing of the article, I think this incident was not really a "battle" the writer decided to fight but more of a pressure vent. We are all soaking in this stuff, after all. A lot of it is pretty micro-, but it's not just a few kicks in the shins. It's hundreds and thousands of kicks -- like a constant barrage of kicks on your chair legs, some harder than others, some hitting your leg, and most of it you probably tune out. It's hard to predict which ones are going to unaccountably piss you off or really stick in your craw. I think I probably ground my teeth a lot more over all the times in college that someone called me "miss" or "honey" than the one time someone grabbed my wrist as I entered the darkened entryway/lounge of a women's bathroom in an empty part of the student center and tried to drag me inside.

Sometimes it just makes you feel better, at least temporarily, or at least defuses some stress, to kick back. We all know the song they replace this one with will probably also be problematic, and we all know there's a pretty much infinite fount of new and improved sexist bullshit, but sometimes you're just a person who's had enough of a given thing regardless rather than a measured judicious reform worker.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:38 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


This thread is fucking with my head and not in the good way. Just to be clear, a woman complained about a song COMPARING A WOMAN TO A DOG being played in the supermarket, they fucked up in dealing with her complaint, she wrote about it, and next thing you know we will LOSE ALL THE ART? FFS.

It's infinitely more important to focus on the battles that involve getting women into real positions of power -- into legislatures, executive branches, big law firms, C-suite positions, and like her, judgeships.

That's admirable, but hard for people to do single-handedly. You know what you can do single handedly? Fight sexism on a small-scale everyday basis like, oh I don't know, personally complaining when you're paying money to a corporation and you don't like the sexist shit they're playing at you. A journey of a thousand miles...
posted by billiebee at 4:38 PM on June 10 [23 favorites]


I don't see anyone intoning "shut the fuck up women".

Did you read the thread? There are a zillion dismissive and belittling comments. Did you think every sexist blatantly comes out and tells all women to stop talking? Do you not understand how groups of people stomping on those who choose to deviate from the norm (which is, in this case, keeping one's head down and enduring misogynistic messages) can create or reinforce a cultural message, like a message telling women to shut up?

This followed by a story about a woman who had to behave in a certain way to be taken seriously, with praise for her "toughness", as if all women need to do is behave in this one way, expressing an appropriate amount of masculinity and being happy to throw the apparently "trivial" concerns of other women under the bus-- it's like the perfect storm of pseudo-feminist man speak and it makes me feel like I need a shower.
posted by NoraReed at 4:38 PM on June 10 [48 favorites]


Hey, they are a private business. They can play whatever they want, and she can choose not to shop there. They play that song on the radio every day and its ridiculous to think that you have a right to only hear what you want to hear.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:38 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


She also has a right to communicate her concerns and write about it if she's unsatisfied, but I guess those rights don't enter into the equation.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:40 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


Did I say she didn't have the right to do that? She does and she did. They aren't going to change their playlist. She probably would have had much better luck reaching out to Trader Joes corporate. OR at least she'd be talking to someone who could DO something about it.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:44 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


> I know "Diane" would never make it past the Muzak filters, or even that Muzak is aware enough of the song in the first place

When I lived in Seattle in 1989-ish, many people who were involved in what got labeled the grunge scene worked or had worked at Muzak. I'm pretty certain that included Mark Arm, Bruce Pavitt, and members of Soundgarden. I presume there are still hip people working there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:47 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


> The Muzak at Trader Joe's? Yeah, she'd chuckle and say that's a "battle" that can wait for another day...

Which is fine! But this writer decided it was a battle to fight that day. Which is also fine! Different people can choose to do different things!
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:48 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


And yeah, you don't have to invoke government-sponsored powers of censorship before this endeavor starts to get uncomfortable. For some of us, anyway. For the rest of you, go ahead, show us your lists.

The Muzak lists of songs are already limited by people at Muzak. They do not currently have every song ever on random. They already try to avoid offensive songs.
posted by jeather at 4:50 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


They aren't going to change their playlist.

They might. You'd be surprised how responsive businesses can be to consumer concerns, and it is impossible to know without asking.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:50 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


"Did you read the thread? There are a zillion dismissive and belittling comments."

It's possible that many people think she's written a bad piece of journalism, regardless of her being a woman. Sorry, but being a woman expressing an opinion does not exempt you from criticism.

"This followed by a story about a woman who had to behave in a certain way to be taken seriously, with praise for her "toughness", as if all women need to do is behave in this one way..."

Oh, I'm not trying to suggest everyone has to act like her -- frankly, I don't think most men had her level of determination. And I didn't always agree with her myself. But she was inarguably a very successful and ardent feminist. Part of my point is that disliking the aim and tactics taken by folks like Parramore is entirely consistent with feminism. And disagreeing with her doesn't make me a misogynist either.
posted by mikeand1 at 4:51 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


I'm pretty certain that included Mark Arm, Bruce Pavitt, and members of Soundgarden. I presume there are still hip people working there.
Wait, Soundgarden is hip now? Where have I been?

In all seriousness, I concede your first point but the second one still stands. No matter how many hip people with awesome record collections work at Muzak, there's no way "Diane" would make it past the gatekeepers. It was an imperfect comparison, anyway.

And while I agree with the point she's making -- specifically, that there's a time and a place for the Stones, and that time and place might not be the produce aisle -- I do think the way she went about trying to get it removed from the TJ's playlist came off to me as concern trolling.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:53 PM on June 10


Maybe someone could work with Muzak to make a playlist of awesome yet non-misogynistic music, like how Lean In worked with Getty on the "realistic working women" photo collection.
posted by sallybrown at 4:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I was in my local TJ's yesterday, when "I Touch Myself" played over the store speakers. We all have that special Trader Joe's product that elicits such a feeling when we think about them.
posted by raztaj at 4:55 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


> the way she went about trying to get it removed from the TJ's playlist came off to me as concern trolling

She. Herself. Was. Offended.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:55 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


I guess I don't understand your definition of concern trolling. Every time I have heard it, it has described a false concern that somebody raises to deliberately derail a subject. What subject was she derailing? And do you think her concerns were fabricated?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:55 PM on June 10


We all have that special Trader Joe's product that elicits such a feeling when we think about them.

Salt and pepper pistachios mmmmmmmm
posted by sallybrown at 4:56 PM on June 10


But Bunny, she didn't ask. At least she didn't ask the right person. She never even waited long enough to speak to the store manager. She was there Friday night, and blogged about it Monday morning. I don't think she tried hard enough to talk to the right person. Maybe the store manager had the weekend off? Is it really something that had to be handled immediately?

Customer service is built to deflect calls. That's the point. But, if it's really important, you keep escalating until you get someone who can do what you need them to do. And if they refuse, well, you have a choice to make.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:56 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


They might. You'd be surprised how responsive businesses can be to consumer concerns

Pretty sure the takeaway from her telephone conversation with their customer service people was that they weren't going to change the playlist.
posted by Hoopo at 4:56 PM on June 10


And if you want to play Under my Thumb in your own house, no one is stopping you. Or indeed kicking you. It's still going to be ubiquitous, in a playlist with Blurred Lines, More Than Words and other paeans to 'shut up and fuck me, bitch'

Wait, More That Words? Or is there another one? I don't see anything problematic with those lyrics.

Blurred Lines, however, was recently added to a local restaurant's playlist. I won't eat there anymore, and I've made sure to let everyone know why.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 4:57 PM on June 10


But Bunny, she didn't ask. At least she didn't ask the right person.

She literally communicated her concerns to everybody they told her to contact. I guess if you don't say pretty please, even if you have no power of enforcement, it's not actually a request?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:58 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


We all have that special Trader Joe's product that elicits such a feeling when we think about them.

Mmm. Cookie butter.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:59 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Also, you decribed shitty customer service. Actual customer service is there to help the customer.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:00 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


When the Turing test is satisfactorily passed, by whatever means, the first use I hope for is a means to strip the internet of hyperbole - from all sides.
posted by vapidave at 5:01 PM on June 10


"Concern trolling" was not the best phrase I could have used (and the edit window has now closed). I do think that going to corporate and/or contacting Muzak would have been the better way to go.

On preview: Some of the fault is on TJ's, since they gave her an ineffective chain of command and the manager handwaved her concern. I rescind that part of my comment. It wasn't a matter of saying "pretty please" so much as it was going to someone with no control over the playlist that bugged me, but that's on TJ.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:01 PM on June 10


Wait, More That Words? Or is there another one? I don't see anything problematic with those lyrics.

The song is basically saying "Sure you could tell me you love me, but do you know how you could prove it?" i.e. stop with the talking and get with the fucking already.
posted by billiebee at 5:05 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I just figured out right now that cookie butter is an actual thing they sell. Is speculoos a trademarked name or something?
posted by jeather at 5:07 PM on June 10


But, if it's really important, you keep escalating until you get someone who can do what you need them to do. And if they refuse, well, you have a choice to make.

Hold on, I'm confused. It's clear you think she handled this wrong, but did she take it TOO seriously, or not seriously ENOUGH? Or does it only matter that whatever way she handled it, it was clearly wrong?
posted by KathrynT at 5:13 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


I don't even know what you are talking about anymore. They told her to speak to the store manager. Who wasn't working at the time she wanted to talk to him. Did she actually try to contact him during business hours? Not on Friday night or Saturday or Sunday. All I know is she never actually talked to the store manager. Who, in a retail store, is most likely the ONLY person who could do something about the situation. Which is why the other guy told her there was nothing he could do. He was telling the truth. That's not crappy customer service. That's telling the truth.

I'm in technical support and I help people every day. If someone wants to talk to a manager, they can. When my manager becomes available, and he will call them back ASAP. If she had left a message asking the store manager to call her, I'd guess she'd probably get a call.

She can also send as many letters or requests that she wants to Trader Joes. It will still come down to a personal choice on whether or not to shop there.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:14 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I feel bad for everyone involved. The overly complicated labyrinth of a system the author had to navigate to lodge a simple complaint is ridiculous, and I suspect set up on purpose to be hopelessly frustrating so that the complainer will grow weary and give up rather than press forward.

On the other hand, I've also held one of those ironically titled "Customer Service" positions before where I was given virtually no authority to tangibly solve any customer complaint that was out of the ordinary, so I continue to feel solidarity with people who hold similar jobs who are frequently the misguided target of customer ire as in this case.
posted by The Gooch at 5:14 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


stop with the talking and get with the fucking already

See also....
posted by neroli at 5:15 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I think she didn't take it seriously enough. She made a token effort. Talked to a few regular team members and perhaps a supervisor. And then slammed them on the blogosphere before actually seeing if her issue would be resolved. I'm not saying she shouldn't be offended. Clearly she is, and she has a right to be. But, give the process a chance to work. You can't force the world to do your bidding.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:16 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Or does it only matter that whatever way she handled it, it was clearly wrong?

It seems clear to me that this is yet another situation in which there are a ton of responses saying what the woman in question did wrong, and how she should've done it, but if she'd done what they suggest instead, there'd be comments saying the inverse. It's how sexists and misogynists try to shield themselves from complaints of sexism and misogyny. She's trying too hard about something that doesn't matter or she's not trying hard enough about something that does. This is how it always goes down.
posted by NoraReed at 5:18 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


So now I'm a sexist misogynist? Or I just do things that sexist misogynists do?
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


This is how it always goes down.

Recently we had a thread about leaving young children unattended in the car. People argued different sides, and then toward the end of the thread a couple folks appeared and said, "All I see in this thread is X/Y." [One said X, another said Y.] This is not something you can respond to or argue with. The pertinent words are the first three. "All I see..." It's not an assessment of the actual conversation, as any reasonable person can plainly see it's false. Rather, it's a declaration about self. "This extreme position is all I can see."

It's unfortunate you see "a zillion dismissive and belittling comments" in this thread. I see a more complex discussion.
posted by cribcage at 5:22 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Or I just do things that sexist misogynists do?

You're certainly acting like a sexist misogynist, and you're getting super defensive about how you're being labeled instead of engaging with the topic. If it walks like a duck and responds to criticism like a duck, etc.
posted by NoraReed at 5:26 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Well, you've got me all wrong. Sorry we don't see eye to eye. Have a good night.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:27 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


cribcage: " It's unfortunate you see "a zillion dismissive and belittling comments" in this thread. I see a more complex discussion."

There is a complex discussion here despite a bunch of people also being dismissive, belittling and generally unpleasant. Not to mention sexist.
posted by zarq at 5:28 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Are we sure it's misogynist? Apart from the pronouns, it's about one half of a couple celebrating getting an advantage over the other. It's meant to be transgressive - but there's nothing inherent or essential to the gender of the person on the losing end. A couple of pronoun swaps, and it's about a relationship between two men, two women, or a woman getting it over on her guy.

This is about power and dominance, but it is not about violence, nor is violence implied. It does not express that this is the way men should treat women, or imply it's justice for the woman violating a gender role.

Yes, many men do treat women like crap because they hold all women in contempt, or demand women take a subservient role because they are women. I don't think this is a song about those men - if it is, there's nothing in the lyrics (just re-read them) that lays it out like that.

There comes a point in every relationship where we wind up winning a contest of wills, and feeling more smug or triumphant about it than we should. It's usually an ephemeral thought, and the song is more in line with that than justifying violence or degradation of women because they are women.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:29 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


billiebee, I disagree with that. As my Mom always taught me, "Actions speak louder than words", and I'm pretty sure this song is simply about that. If you want to interpret the actions as Sex, that's your interpretation, but the song is clearly non-sexual. It's just an attempt at stretching out the afore-mentioned Mom saying.

We humans can sexualize anything, and often times vague lyrics do have sexual connotations, but I think saying that that's the case with More Than Words is a stretch.

doesn't make it a good song though. I'd probably complain about it on the principle of being overindulgent and encouraging the plague of mopey male singer songwriters.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 5:29 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand defenses of "Under My Thumb" that posit that Jagger could just be expressing a viewpoint he doesn't agree with; I don't see the grounds for being so charitable to the Stones.

I never had a classic rock phase growing up, so, despite my love of the Sixties, I've always been familiar with only a handful of Stones songs. My girlfriend, by contrast, comes from a very pro-Stones family. As a fun couple thing to do, we've been going through all of their singles and albums, in chronological order. Previously, I had thought the supposed misogyny limited to a track like "Under My Thumb". But, reading the lyrics along with our listening, their entire catalog is suffused with contempt for women, especially those Jagger perceives as his social betters. (And we're only up to Beggars Banquet so far!) There's no reason to think "Under My Thumb" a one-off thought experiment when so much of their "bad boy menace" is tied up in their snide attitude toward women they perceive as disposable, quite aside from their own views of women expressed in interviews. (Especially when "Under My Thumb" appears on the same LP as "Stupid Girl"!)

Spin it around: suppose "Under My Thumb" were about a black person*. Just one such song would be problematic, but I may hesitate from calling them die-hard racists. But if their lyrics contained continual derogatory references to black people? Then I'd think it pretty safe to call them toxic in that regard, and I don't think any article about them would hesitate to point out that attitude. Yet if women are the target, then "it's only rock and roll", don't be such a drag; at worst, they are merely labelled "controversial".

Then again, I'm a man whose favorite Stones' LP is Their Satanic Majesties Request, so what do I know?

*Putting aside "Brown Sugar" and Jagger's frequent lapsing into jokey "black bluesman" voice.
posted by kaisemic at 5:30 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Also—though it doesn't make "Run for Your Life" any less gross, or young Lennon any less nasty when it comes to women—it should be noted that Lennon did not write the line "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man"; he is quoting Elvis Presley's cover of "Baby Let's Play House".
posted by kaisemic at 5:33 PM on June 10


The important point is: If you represent x, then you are endorsing x.

The American right is dangerous; as for flat-out absurdity, though, the other end of the spectrum really can't be beat.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:37 PM on June 10


"She literally communicated her concerns to everybody they told her to contact. I guess if you don't say pretty please, even if you have no power of enforcement, it's not actually a request?"


Actually, you raise an excellent point.

Because you know who has the power to make these changes? It's people higher up in the corporate structure. How do you get the power to make these changes? You become one of those people.

Oh, and if you can do that, it may also come with a slew of other, more important powers: For example, you might have the power to make sure women below you are paid equally, and you might have the power to make sure more women get hired and promoted into other powerful positions. And you might have the power to improve the world in myriad other ways not necessarily specific to just women.

Now, will you run into some glass ceilings along the way? Yeah, absolutely, I'm not denying it. And smashing glass can cut you pretty bad, so you better have a damned thick skin when you try it. If hearing "Under My Thumb" on the Muzak while shopping at TJ's causes you a substantial amount of mental pain, you might just have to work on that...
posted by mikeand1 at 5:40 PM on June 10


So instead of giving feedback to the person who is literally paid to take her feedback, she should have shut her mouth, toughened up, and worked her way into the TJ's C-suite?
posted by KathrynT at 5:43 PM on June 10 [33 favorites]


So all I have to do is not be so thin-skinned and be prepared to suck up the shit that annoys me as I battle through the glass ceilings on the way to the top? Well that sounds easy! Thanks for clarifying how best to get ahead as a woman in the world.
posted by billiebee at 5:49 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


"So instead of giving feedback to the person who is literally paid to take her feedback, she should have shut her mouth, toughened up, and worked her way into the TJ's C-suite?"


Yes. Absolutely. C-suites, legislatures, judicial benches, etc. etc. These are all vastly more effective ways to create change than writing stuff on the Internets. And they all take a great deal more emotional toughness. (And I don't think "shut her mouth" is quite what I'm implying either, those are your words, not mine.)
posted by mikeand1 at 5:51 PM on June 10


Ugh, worst special snowflake ever. Certainly she has the right to complain, but she's living in a dream world if she expects that they will just change the music they play in the stores. That music is probably there because it appeals to aging hippies who shop at Trader Joe's. Plus it's not like it has super explicit lyrics. Basically this woman already knew what the song was about and was able to (over)process it as some sort of statement against women by Trader Joe's. I ran this by my wife who is about the most bad-ass pro-woman woman ever and she said in the universe of music about women this song "doesn't even register" on her outrage meter. And that "[expletive]s like that who linger too long in the produce aisle are why I hate going to Trader Joe's." So, uh, yeah.

I have a 9-year-old daughter and am pretty cognizant of the messages in the environment. I would say that so-called "women's" magazine covers and blurbs in the checkout aisle are about 1000 times more offensive. Be airbrushed! Please your man! Stop being fat! Hopefully the author of this is constantly harrying the publishers of those magazines. Old toothless rock songs ... not really a useful target.
posted by freecellwizard at 5:53 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


What the actual holy balls. Of all the ways I have seen women's frustrations with every day sexism belittled and dismissed, "you have no right to complain if you aren't willing to change careers and battle your way to the top of the organization in question" is a new one on me!
posted by KathrynT at 5:54 PM on June 10 [65 favorites]


The important point is: If you represent x, then you are endorsing x.

No, if you are representing x, you are repeating x; this means that sizable chunk of people will just hear "x." This means that representing x, especially in contexts where no one is engaging in much critical thinking, as when x is the background music at a grocery store, will tend to have the effect of reinforcing x by repetition.

This isn't that hard a concept to grasp; much of modern advertising relies on ironic reinforcement of the brand through repetition.
posted by kewb at 5:56 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


"What the actual holy balls. Of all the ways I have seen women's frustrations with every day sexism belittled and dismissed, "you have no right to complain if you aren't willing to change careers and battle your way to the top of the organization in question" is a new one on me!"

I never said you don't have the right to complain. Complain all you want.

I'm telling you how to effect change.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:56 PM on June 10


Yeah, mikeand1, you're being super preachy. I really don't like this article, the current environment of hyper-sensitivity, ect.... but you sound like a puppet account of somebody trying to make a point about sexism. Jeez.
posted by lattiboy at 5:56 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


s/telling/mansplaining
posted by NoraReed at 5:59 PM on June 10 [21 favorites]


NoraReed took my comment nearly word-for-word.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:00 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


(And as a man I am owed it back)
posted by shakespeherian at 6:00 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


When I was a little kid, the UHF stations (I know, ancient history) used to play cartoons every afternoon when I was home from school. A lot of the cartoons were from the 40s and a bunch of them featured some really horrible caricatures of black people (e.g., Tom and Jerry cartoons that had a black "Mammy" in them, or ones with "savages" with bones in their noses and big lips). Those cartoons aren't on TV any more, and certainly not for kids, because people decided it wasn't okay to put cartoons with racist caricatures on TV any more because of protests and complaints and eventually the tide turning on whether people were hypersensitive about not liking racist caricatures.

It's been 50 years since Under My Thumb came out but deciding we don't want sexist music on the radio or in the background while we shop and protesting to the stores that play it is still a bridge too far, I guess.
posted by immlass at 6:01 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Yes. Absolutely. C-suites, legislatures, judicial benches, etc. etc. These are all vastly more effective ways to create change than writing stuff on the Internets.

And for women who will never be in a position to reach these levels for many reasons (most of which are due to sexism in the first place) what should they do exactly?
posted by billiebee at 6:01 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]




So so far in this thread:
she's too sensitive, picking the wrong battles, They Didn't Really Mean It, "what a bitch for chewing out the poor employee", But What About the Art, It's Just Tradition, Your Tone Was Wrong, and Stop Complaining and Do Something About It, But Not The Thing You're Doing, that was the wrong thing.

Even on Metafilter, a pretty good, tolerant, reasonable corner of the Internet, we covered a lot of the derailing / anti feminist bingo board. Can we take this as a micro example of the exact phenomenon she was talking about? That women's opinions, complaints, feelings, depictions in our culture are often not taken seriously?
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:05 PM on June 10 [68 favorites]


"Yeah, mikeand1, you're being super preachy."

OK, fine. I'll shut up then. You don't have to take my word for it. Go talk to some women in actual power. Ask them if they think it's important to be tough enough to deal with the Muzak in TJ's, or if they think that's an important issue for you to focus you energies on.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:05 PM on June 10


Also, "writing a blog article that got posted on Metafilter and now has 400+ comments" doesn't merit any power?? She used her agency and the tools at her disposal to bring attention to an issue she wanted out there. She's a senior editor on Alternet. She has a PhD.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:12 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Can we take this as a micro example of the exact phenomenon she was talking about? That women's opinions, complaints, feelings, depictions in our culture are often not taken seriously?

Or we could take it as a case where one particular woman's one particular opinion on one particular topic was not taken seriously, the way lots of people's Andy-Rooneyish complaints about rock music are not taken seriously every day. But if you want to argue that it's all or nothing– that either we take this woman's every opinion seriously or we must take no woman's opinion seriously– I guess you could give it a shot.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:14 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Hey, neat! Trader Joe's, The Rolling Stones, retail store music, sexism, calling people out in the blogosphere...I have opinions about all those things! I'll just read the thread before I weigh in here...

reads thread

Welp, good luck everybody!
posted by prize bull octorok at 6:14 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


To Whom It May Concern, White Star Line

I found myself quite offended on my last voyage by your band's inclusion of Quando me'n vo' from Puccini's La boheme. Perhaps you are not aware of it, but this song is offensive in the way it portrays women as vain, arrogant tarts concerned only with their beauty and its affect on men. I complained to the bandleader, but he did not seem affected by my offense at this, nor did one of the chief stewards seem concerned, suggesting that I write your company's headquarters, as the band's playlist is determined there, after which he rudely said a lot of nonsense about some iceberg and how he was too busy to argue more.

Sincerely,
Lynn Stuart Parramore,
On board the RMS Titanic

Postscript -- The conditions of your rooms are becoming appalling tonight. Wet, clammy and quite unpleasant.
posted by pyramid termite at 6:15 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


Can we take this as a micro example of the exact phenomenon she was talking about?

No, I don't think we can.

The day Ariel Castro was sentenced, I was out running errands and when I walked into my bank, the bank's televisions were showing the testimony. I finished my transaction and then found the manager, introduced myself, and explained my concern. She agreed with me and changed the channel. If she hadn't...? I know where the bank's main office is. I have their telephone number. I know how to write a letter to VPs of customer relations and what not, because I've done it before.

In other words, in addition to the more substantial and productive ways I've tried to improve the world in this regard, I have also done basically the exact same thing Parramore was trying to do here. Except I wasn't writing an article about the incident in my capacity as senior editor for a major web presence. So you can brush off all criticism of her tack as sexist or tone-argumenty or whatever else, but you are mistaken. She did what she was doing, wrong, and then mean-spiritedly pilloried an unfortunate employee who appears to have done his job surprisingly right.

I don't really care if Trader Joe's reaches out to Parramore. They probably should. But I do hope someone at their corporate level contacts the named employee and apologizes to him.
posted by cribcage at 6:15 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


It took 45 years for someone to start a fuss about that Stones song, really? It created a fuss when it was released but it may be new to some peeps. I refused a long time ago to buy that album and my friends thought I was "sensitive". The song is misogynistic at best but then a lot of things were 45 years ago and not all has changed.

I don't like hearing it, I don't go where I am forced to hear it, I don't give them my money but my choice. And if I were a senior editor on some major website I probably would have said so a long time ago and not waited to "hear" it at Trader Joes because it gets played other places so the "I heard it just now" is weird. And be nice to the employees because they are forced to listen to the same tunes over and over and over. Some one picks those to make us customers buy more.

I also think Bob Dylan was a sexist pig and so I don't listen to that...and then there was "It's my Party" and "Judy's turn to Cry". I bet my kids are laughing when they read this because every time it came on I turned on the oh god why is she putting up with that pig......but I don't want any government agency telling me what I can and cannot listen to...I also don't need that.
posted by OhSusannah at 6:25 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


[Things are getting pretty heated here, I'd ask everyone to take a breath, chill, try to refrain from name-calling or directing repeated comments at specific users and stick to the original story instead?]
posted by mathowie at 6:26 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Go talk to some women in actual power.

Oh is that how you get men to listen to you?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:27 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


aww but mom
posted by elizardbits at 6:27 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Man, go to work for a few hours and you miss everything.
posted by josher71 at 6:42 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Corporations are not moral entities Citizens United be damned. By evolved structure they are amoral, not immoral. They don't "care", they hire people to appear to care. They evolve like viruses in that if they kill the host they aren't ultimately successful.

TFA might work, not because of any shame a corporation might suffer but because it might cost them money. I doubt this will make a difference though, Trader Joe's has the young crowd, now they want the oldsters. I think the journalist made a mistake, not that the article didn't earn a few clicks but in damage to their reputation as a journalist.

If you've ever worked for GIANTCO [there were 30,000 people in my division in one I worked for] - or called customer service damn near anywhere you know that the process is usually set up to frustrate customer service from both the consumer and frontline employee ends.

Also this from the wiki which suprised me because I was poor and used to shop at Trader Joe's and I still think Whole Foods is insanely expensive:"...Fortune magazine estimated sales to be $1,750 in merchandise per square foot, more than double the sales generated by Whole Foods."
posted by vapidave at 6:54 PM on June 10


Ask them if they think it's important to be tough enough to deal with the Muzak in TJ's

this article is pretty much dealing with it like a boss (and a bit of an asshole)

"dealing with it" somehow only means shutting up and sitting down when it's a woman, which is weird, because there are a lot of different ways to deal with things and this one seems pretty successful
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:06 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


like, it's pretty tough to put your name on an article that means the downfall of the socialist state AND the suppression art AND the harbinger of totalitarianism AND is an embarrassment to real women in power
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:07 PM on June 10 [16 favorites]


I feel a little icky about having taken issue with the article just before the Misogyny Denial Train pulled into the station. I want to touch briefly again, though, on my specific problem with it. While the story could be interacted with as "gee, that microaggression sure is a microaggression"-- and it absolutely is-- I see the author's account as first and foremost a prompt for discussion about oppression-fighting practice. A few things bother me about Parramore's tack:

1) She places the responsibility for the microaggression on low-wage workers who she should know have no power whatsoever to effect the change she seeks-- making her either extremely out of touch, or someone trying to give powerless people a hard time. (I won't speculate which is the case because I genuinely don't know). I do believe we all have the responsibility to confront oppression where we can, but holding front-line employees responsible for music played on a service that Corporate outsources to another company is, in my opinion, about as far a stretch as can be made. A PhD-cum-blogger taking her campaign to individual service industry workers-- I don't know anything else about her or their backgrounds/identities so this is all I have to go on-- just has real bad optics.

2) In imagining a fantasia where low-wage workers have the power to push change upwards through a national corporation, Parramore reifies this truth that Frowner (disagreeing with me) pointed out upthread: "that's typical of corporations - say that you have someone in charge of complaints, give them no power and no training and then hang them out to dry." The author plays along with this corporate farce and, in my opinion, empowers it in doing so. I suppose it is outrageous that a misogynistic song can't be eradicated based on complaints from the bottom up, but anyone who's paying attention knows that. Implying that the customer-service chain of command is the end-all be-all of exerting pressure on a corporate entity is ultimately incredibly status quo-ist.

Parramore's actions may well have been a consciousness-raising exercise for the two workers she interacted with-- it actually sounds like it might have been for "Kyle"-- but were nowhere near the road towards genuine action, and she re-entrenches notions that are somewhat classist and deeply tactically anti-progressive.
posted by threeants at 7:07 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


I'm not clear who the low-wage employee here is. She met with the manager, who she was told to meet with, and then was given the number of a higher manager, who was not available, and then reached out to corporate.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:12 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I'm referring to the two employees that Parramore actually got to speak with: "Kyle", whose position isn't explicitly mentioned but seems unlikely to be anything more than a shift supervisor, and "Nicki", who appears to be a call center worker.
posted by threeants at 7:16 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that Trader Joe's actually pays its employees pretty well. This fact is a part of the reason a lot of us shop there. It also might be why the author thought that she might be listened to there, because it isn't, in some respects, like an ordinary grocery store; the writer of the piece may have thought them more likely to care about the impact that their musical choices might have because a lot of their marketing is based on being a company that tends to give a shit.
posted by NoraReed at 7:17 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Kyle is the store's retail manager. According a link posted above, it's somewhere in the vicinity of a $70k per year job.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I also think the title of the article-- Trader Joe’s NYC Store Defends 'Racist, Sexist, and Misogynistic' Songs on Playlist-- is misleading. Pointing out the misogyny of Under My Thumb is in itself reasonable and even thought-provoking...so why the need to mislead?
posted by threeants at 7:20 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Kyle is the store's retail manager.

Hrm? How do we know that? (I see someone responding to this statement upthread, but it looks like maybe the original comment was deleted or something?) If we're talking about someone who does indeed make $70k a year, then yes, that does change that aspect for me.
posted by threeants at 7:25 PM on June 10


I googled it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:27 PM on June 10


Yes, because Kyle's LinkedIn profile says he is a manager at Trader Joe's and he is mentioned in this article mefites have concluded that he makes over $70,000 a year and is in charge of all decisions, including the Muzak programing, and is perfectly capable of dealing with complaints from customers. Glad we get to do this bullshit scenario again.
posted by Big_B at 7:34 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Oh and it doesn't count as harassment anymore.
posted by Big_B at 7:34 PM on June 10


What doesn't?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:35 PM on June 10


I should admit my bias of having a deep distaste for clickbait journalism, and to me this article bears the hallmarks: one genuinely noteworthy element (the truth of the microaggression that the author suffered) cloaked heavily in misleading editorialization, misdirected ire, and a baffling lack of awareness. It's toxic.
posted by threeants at 7:37 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Jeebus. Now we're doxing Kyle.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:37 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


His name is already in the article and nobody has linked out, or even directly connected his full name. It's not as though he's anonymous and I'm outing him. Jesus.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:40 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Glad we get to do this bullshit scenario again.

Folks outlined a bullshit framing (this is about a richy-rich lady being mean to an underpaid grocery clerk!) and then other folks called bullshit on that framing. The latter party is not attempting to say that this Kyle dude is personally responsible for every decision made at TJ's. The latter party is only saying that the pseudo-Marxist critique is bullshit.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:41 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I can't really see the harm in using available information to find out relevant, non-squicky information about someone. But I do think it's very uncharitable for the author to have included his full name, given that he's not a noteworthy actor. I am genuinely all for holding people accountable for wrongful actions in the public arena-- this doesn't bother me in the abstract-- but Kyle didn't do anything except give her lukewarm customer service!! Honestly, I think Parramore's assessment of his role is super-wrongheaded: he was really honest with her, even though it wasn't the answer she wanted to hear; he admitted that the song was misogynistic; and he admitted his inability to take action, giving her the numbers for the companies that actually authorize the song.
posted by threeants at 7:47 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Folks outlined a bullshit framing (this is about a richy-rich lady being mean to an underpaid grocery clerk!) and then other folks called bullshit on that framing. The latter party is not attempting to say that this Kyle dude is personally responsible for every decision made at TJ's. The latter party is only saying that the pseudo-Marxist critique is bullshit.

Ok, this is an unnecessarily glib and antagonistic reading of an actual discussion that's going on here that contains multiple people with various viewpoints.
posted by threeants at 7:51 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


I'm not really attempting to be antagonistic. I'm explaining why people are posting things like what, on average, Kyle-dude's position pays, and why that isn't the same thing as saying that therefore he is the bad guy or whatever.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:53 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Ok, gotcha.
posted by threeants at 7:57 PM on June 10


As frustrated as I get with the infighting among we on the left sometimes, as I always say, policy over politics. If you're for equality and justice, we're on the same side. Let's see some solidarity and bonhomie, y'all.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:59 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Seriously.
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:14 PM on June 10


why is it that when people have legitimate complaints about issues it becomes "infighting"? this is why a lot of people I know no longer identify as leftist or liberal because you're expected to be tolerant of so much microaggressive bullshit for the sake of "solidarity" and that ALWAYS is done in a way that attempts to silence marginalized groups.

i see it happen a lot more to trans and non-binary folks in the queer/rainbow community and to WOC in the feminist community but it happens often enough and alienates enough really smart radical people that every attempt to "see some solidarity" leaves a bad taste in my mouth. maybe that wasn't what you were going for, ob1quixote, but you should know that's why those sort of statements leave a bad taste in a lot of our mouths.
posted by NoraReed at 8:28 PM on June 10 [29 favorites]


I feel like I can add something to this thread, and here goes nothing...Muzak does indeed provide a music streaming service. You can select a channel that is themed to what you want. We usually run "Rock Show" which include Under My Thumb but aso about eight and a half days' worth of classic rock (the longer you work here, the more you recognize the pattern.) Rock Show is one of the channels with a greater variety; Swing Kings has about five hours' worth, and the seasonal Halloween channel has about three hours' worth and plays Thriller on the hour, every hour. It's basically an ipod or computer playlist somewhere that is hooked up to broadcast. Younever hear Beatle's after Sgt. Pepper so I think the selection largely depends on what Muzak can license.

Granted, I don't work at a TJ's, but I've heard Rock Show at several other sttores in my area, so it's not unlikely that it's the same channel and setup, which I should note does not have a skip button or any controls accessible to the front of house (I asked; that costs extra.)

You can write to Muzak's customer service and they will get back to you pretty quickly, and can even tell you what was playing at a certain date and time. Do I think they'll care if you don't like Under My Thumb? No. It was a huge hit that most people don't care about hearing once in a while if they even notice. Maybe they should care. I think direct, obvious misogyny should not be on the airwaves, and yet Blurred Lines was a hit. Kyle needed to do a better job acting like he cares about a thing that he has zero power over/expressing helpless empathy, and the customer needs to make an effort to contact Trader Joe's or Muzak before she writes an article.

Everyone-- the author, Kyle, Mick Jagger, Muzak, and the greater culture with its baked-in misogyny acted at not 100% here.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:52 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


NoraReed: “maybe that wasn't what you were going for, ob1quixote, but you should know that's why those sort of statements leave a bad taste in a lot of our mouths.”
It's infighting because our enemies in the capitalist class rub their hands together with glee when we snipe at each other like this. You can take it however you wish, but what I meant was let's see some solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have to put up with having their concerns dismissed as mere "identity politics." If that is seen as aggression, I suppose I am entirely done exhorting people to empathize and show solidarity.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:16 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I want to add that I can totally see how you could take what I wrote the other way, NoraReed. I see now that it reads exactly like the kind of thing a grey-beard would say to dismiss feminists or people-of-color. My apologies for responding in anger.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:54 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Nah, it's cool, I figured there was a 50/50 chance you were on the side of the angels on this one, it's just that the whole "solidarity" thing is so often code for "we'll get to your problems when we finish with these more important ones" which are never solved and wanted to make sure that people knew what kind of feelings that tends to invoke, because I'm tired of seeing it used to silence and shut down marginalized folks.
posted by NoraReed at 9:59 PM on June 10


So parts of this has been pointed out before but I still want to draw some attention to it as it kinda bothers me:

The story happened Friday evening and was published on Monday. So she kept trying to reach the general store manager over the weekend.

I returned to Trader Joe’s to speak to a harried Morrison, who insisted that the numbers he had given me were the right ones. Finally a colleague said that Captain Justin Matthews could only be reached at one of the numbers when he was in, and he wasn’t in. I would have to come back another day.

This is the part that kinda struck me as strange. Was she expecting to be able to reach the store "captain" (also, why even mention his whole name?) when he wasn't in? What was the assumption here?



Morrison told me he would write down the name of the two satellite companies that compile the music lists, Mood and Muzak (actually they are one company: Mood bought Muzak in 2011). “Maybe you could call them,” he offered.

“But Trader Joe’s is the company that makes the contracts. Doesn’t Trader Joe’s have any responsibility?”

“I’m sorry,” Morrison said. “There’s nothing I can do.”

Yeah, me, too.


And this part too. What is she asking for here? Morrison basically told her who to contact in order to complain about the content of what's being played. It's not Trader Joe's who chooses the content but Muzak. Why ignore that advice?

"But Trader Joe’s is the company that makes the contracts. Doesn’t Trader Joe’s have any responsibility?”

Responsibility for what? For manually checking every song on the playlist for potentially offensive content? No, it's not their responsibility as it's what they pay Muzak for. Muzak is the company that can change the playlist.

“I’m sorry,” Morrison said. “There’s nothing I can do.”

Yeah, me, too.


I think the "Yeah, me, too" (what's up with the second comma? Genuine question. Is that grammatically correct? It looks weird.) part is sarcastic as she just posted the employees full names' on the net and I'm guessing that she considers it to be "doing something". Or maybe she doesn't and i'm reading too much into that line. If she wanted to do something she could have followed Morrison's advice and contacted Muzak and, if she wanted the song to be removed from the playlist, she could've put in the contact info for Muzak into her article.

Weird vibes abound for me.
posted by I-baLL at 11:08 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Go talk to some women in actual power. Ask them if they think it's important to be tough enough to deal with the Muzak in TJ's, or if they think that's an important issue for you to focus you energies on.

Hmm what about people who focus their energies on finding endless tiny flaws in how women focus their energies?
posted by serif at 11:39 PM on June 10 [20 favorites]


It's not grammatically incorrect. Editors often argue about commas.
posted by cribcage at 11:40 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


mikeand1: "OK, fine. I'll shut up then. You don't have to take my word for it. Go talk to some women in actual power. Ask them if they think it's important to be tough enough to deal with the Muzak in TJ's, or if they think that's an important issue for you to focus you energies on."

What, exactly, makes you think that none of us know women or for that matter ARE women "in actual power"? If you pull out the old "on the internet no one knows you're a dog," I'll remind you that we have exactly the same amount of evidence that you know a lot of women in power including the first female judge in her jurisdiction?
posted by gingerest at 12:27 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


Trader Joe's Captain's salaries range up to $150k, and Mate's salaries up to $89k. Given this is NYC, I'd think they'd be at that top end. The guy who runs Alternet made $159,999 according to the last filed 990 tax return. That same return listed zero additional employees making over $100k. Despite being a "Senior Editor" the author of this piece is not listed on the staff page, which makes me wonder if she's compensated as well as the nine people listed there (none of whom cleared $100k apparently). Perhaps she makes a ton of royalties off book sales ( at Amazon sales rank: 3074569)? Or from recessionwire.com (has published one thing since 2010). Let us please not pretend because she has an ostensibly white collar job that this is some kind of issue of the priveleged feeling entitled. My freelance writer friends ride the bus and practically work a full time unpaid job worth of cold calling just to get a meager part time wage every week. The people I know who've quit TJs don't even complain about working there. Sure, she could be independently wealthy. Prove it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:08 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


Wait, what, economic justice is a "straight white men" problem?

I can't tell if that was satirizing the Left Eating Itself theme, I hope it was.
posted by Catch at 1:36 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Oh, of course it affects everyone. Indeed, it affects women and POC more than white men. But when women/POC/LGBT people are talking about problem X that affects them personally but not so much straight white men, derailing the conversation to problem Y that you are interested in is an asshole move.
posted by sukeban at 3:10 AM on June 11 [10 favorites]


This article reads horribly because nothing is learned here. She had a valid point about a misogynist song being played in a store, but instead of writing a boring ol' essay about why it's bad, she pulled a stunt that had no real effect, except to generate some names and boilerplate-but-real dialogue to put in her post. I think she knew perfectly well what the outcome of her Scoops McGee tape-recorder-to-the-face questioning was going to be.

It probably had less effect than the often decried online petitions, which actually do effect policy changes from big corporations from time to time.

It all feels very staged, like a kid writing a paper first, then looking up supporting references later.
posted by ignignokt at 5:02 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


Now that we all have ipods and such, the solution is to just stop playing music in public spaces. Then nobody gets offended by nothing and those of us who LIKE A LITTLE QUIET NOW AND THEN are happy also.

From an interview with Quentin Crisp in the Winter 1997 issue of Monk, a magazine published from various locations throughout the country by Michael Lane and James Crotty. Crisp is the author, most recently, of Resident Alien. He lives in New York City.

Monk: Why do you have to live in New York?

Quentin Crisp: Well, I live in Manhattan for the same reason that everybody lives here: so as to be ready to rule the world, should the opportunity arise. And you can't rule the world from anywhere else. So you have to stay here.

Monk: What kind of ruler would you be?

Quentin Crisp: Very benign. I would let almost anything go, except the music. I would put a stop to the music.

Monk: All music, or just certain kinds?

Quentin Crisp: All music.

Monk: No music?

Quentin Crisp: No more music.

Monk: Why's that?

Quentin Crisp: It's the cause of everything that's gone wrong in the world. The dirty music. The young are violent because they have no inner life. And they have no inner life because they have no thoughts. And they have no thoughts because they know no words. And they know no words because they never speak. And they never speak because the music's too loud.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:05 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I hate a lot of music, so I wear headphones while I am out shopping. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 6:28 AM on June 11


The devolution of threads like these into MeFi infighting is so constant that the underlying mathematics could probably be used to construct an FTL drive.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:45 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


I watched Frozen last night. It was the first Disney movie I watched in a long time. And the way women are portrayed in that movie is not perfect, but it is light years ahead of The Little Mermaid.

The market, for all its faults, responds fairly well to demands. If a cultural product is offense, complain. Loudly and often. Change will come. And, a victory described in detail is indistinguishable from defeat.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:03 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


This side effort to determine exactly how much the Trader Joe's employee the author approached with her complaint makes in a year is not only a derail but a red herring. Whether he makes 25K per year or 250K per year, the fact remains he is not likely sitting in the back of the store in a DJ booth personally selecting the music played in the background.

A legitimate discussion can be had about whether or not he handled the complaint well (politely, with empathy, etc.) and properly escalated it to his immediate supervisor or corporate (where it seems likely contracts with companies like Muzak would be handled) when he realized it was totally outside his scope of power. But I don't understand how proving that this guy is a barely above the poverty line wage slave or living the high life on a great salary changes the fact, which seems undisputed, that he has no ability to personally remove this song from his store's playlist and thus was somewhat limited in his ability to address the author's grievance.
posted by The Gooch at 7:51 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


I just thought I'd point out that the writer did know Meredith was a "he" as evidenced by her using that pronoun later in the sentence.

Also...I was listening to hold music on our conference call service and they were playing Sirius "Jimmy Buffett Radio" and a song came on that had "asshole" and "shit" in the lyrics. I'm no prude, but I thought that was inappropriate for business conference call service hold music. I called the company and they apologized and said they would take that channel off the rotation. So, yes, it can be done.
posted by Kokopuff at 8:39 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I ran this by my wife who is about the most bad-ass pro-woman woman ever and she said in the universe of music about women this song "doesn't even register" on her outrage meter.

Can people stop "running this by their wife who is by the way teh authority on women not just according to me but also the most reasonable person ever and this is no way my personal bias"?

It's honestly a ridiculous argument. Reasonable people will reasonably disagree, just because one woman (or 50) feels differently on having it "run by them" for their "woman's take" doesn't make something invalid or unworthy of discussion or people being [expletives] or whatever.
posted by sweetkid at 8:40 AM on June 11 [30 favorites]


I find the condescension on what she should have done from some of the men on here to be far more enraging than the original complaint in the article. But I do expect a company like Trader Joe's to take into consideration that I don't want to be reminded of misogyny when I'm shopping there.

It is NOT too much to ask.
posted by agregoli at 8:57 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


"I'll remind you that we have exactly the same amount of evidence that you know a lot of women in power including the first female judge in her jurisdiction?"


OK, fine. I just sent you her contact info. Call her and ask her if I clerked for her.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:57 AM on June 11


sweetkid: "Reasonable people will reasonably disagree"

If only.
posted by Big_B at 9:00 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


It's not about your feminist "credentials." Whew, you are seriously not listening.
posted by agregoli at 9:01 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


> I just thought I'd point out that the writer did know Meredith was a "he" as evidenced by her using that pronoun later in the sentence.

That sentence was edited after publication to correct the spelling of Meredith's name and add some new details (including his gender). The original version used no pronouns.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:10 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


What's the saying? Any discussion about feminism proves the necessity of feminism?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:10 AM on June 11 [11 favorites]


I think she knew perfectly well what the outcome of her Scoops McGee tape-recorder-to-the-face questioning was going to be.

Yeah, I think like Michael Moore's old stunts, the impotence isdeliberate. If she had waited until Monday at called the Muzak company, or even the higher-up at TJ's that she was urged to call, someone might have said "You have a good point, we'll take it off." And then she would have had a story of a small success.

But activist journalists, whether writing for Alternet or TPNN, know that stories of small successes don't get nearly the clicks of stories of How We Are Oppressed. That's why tea partiers dress in tricorn hats and yell at DMV employees, and why lazy Alternet writers seethe and complain to low-level functionaries: the story of a single individual abused by the system gets readers mad, and angry readers are the ones who link to things on Facebook.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:10 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Sorry, correction: the sentence was edited but Meredith Hunter's name is still misspelled.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:14 AM on June 11


mikeand1: " OK, fine. I just sent you her contact info. Call her and ask her if I clerked for her."

The point is that you are lecturing people you don't know as if they've never considered what you're saying. Not whether your credentials personally pass muster.
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


"It's not about your feminist "credentials." Whew, you are seriously not listening."


Is that directed at me? I posted that because someone was basically accusing me of making things up, not because I need to prove my "feminist credentials."
posted by mikeand1 at 9:15 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I went home and called both numbers, and was told that Captain Justin Matthews could not be reached at either. I did manage to reach Trader Joe’s customer service department and spoke to someone named “Nicki” (she refused to give her last name), who told me robotically that the music lists were set and Trader Joe’s would not change them.

Read the fucking article.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:15 AM on June 11


[Cool it.]
posted by cortex at 9:23 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I find the condescension on what she should have done from some of the men on here to be far more enraging than the original complaint in the article. But I do expect a company like Trader Joe's to take into consideration that I don't want to be reminded of misogyny when I'm shopping there.

In fairness, I think it is possible to simultaneously believe:

* The author has a legitimate point that she should be able to go grocery shopping without being exposed to music with misogynistic lyrics.

* There should be a method in place for her to lodge this type of complaint with the offending store without being sent down a confusing rabbit hole that seems more about passing the buck rather than solving her issue

while also thinking the author is being somewhat unfair and disingenuous in presenting this story as "Trader Joe's New York store defends racist, sexist, misogynistic song playlist", when in reality her situation could far more accurately be described as, "Mid-level Trader Joe's manager unable to IMMEDIATELY remove an offensive song from outsourced music playlist/Call center employee sticks to annoying script". It does appear that the author had a story she wanted to tell in as dramatic a fashion as possible and is somewhat unfairly using powerless mid and low level TJ employees as her fall guys.
posted by The Gooch at 9:28 AM on June 11 [10 favorites]


This side effort to determine exactly how much the Trader Joe's employee the author approached with her complaint makes in a year is not only a derail but a red herring.

The discussion came up because the article was repeatedly reframed as a wealthy busybody hectoring a minimum wage clerk. I would rather not have had that discussion either, but it seemed the only way to rerail the conversation was to establish exactly who she had talked to and what their financial circumstances were.

I mean, it's a derail tactic. Instead of having a discussion about something that effects women, we construct a scenario where it's not about women at all, but instead about something else -- in this case, class. It was manufactured whole cloth, with no evidence, but it came up again and again. She's rich. He's some poor shlub working minimum wage. He's the oppressed, she's the oppressor.

It was a disgusting spectacle, and I'd rather people not do it, but when they do, it's worth fact checking.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:29 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


Sure, but so what? Can't we ignore the breathless tone of this kind of blog-reporting and talk about the issue? Seems like it's worth mentioning but it shouldn't take precedence, or need to be repeated over and over that her tone is too dire.
posted by agregoli at 9:30 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


She didn't say things nicely enough and she didn't quit her job and be a CEO and she probably listened to the Stones before in her life on purpose and she should have done exactly what she did but Ill pretend she didn't do what I'm saying she should have done.

Anyway.

AND YOU THOUGHT NICKI STUCK TO THE SCRIPT!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:33 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


She's rich. He's some poor shlub working minimum wage. He's the oppressed, she's the oppressor.

Yeah. also she has a English PhD. Which means she makes beaucoup bucks.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:35 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I just thought I'd point out that the writer did know Meredith was a "he" as evidenced by her using that pronoun later in the sentence.

That entire paragraph was dramatically altered since the article was first posted.

In a grim twist of fate, it was actually the song the Stones were playing when a fan named Meridith Hunter was stabbed to death
by members of the Hell's Angels hired as security guards at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969.


which implies Meredith Hunter was a woman, was changed to:

In a grim twist of fate, it was actually the song the Stones were playing when an African American male fan named Meridith Hunter was stabbed to death
by members of the Hell's Angels hired as security guards at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969 when he tried to climb on stage (film shows that he brandished what appears to be a gun).


I don't see any footnote regarding this edit.

The article was crap to begin with - self-serving and mean spirited. Now the dishonesty...
Which is unfortunate because the discussion is important - how are we to end misogyny while its components remain embedded in popular culture?
This topic deserves a much stronger framework than the FPP provided.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:44 AM on June 11 [17 favorites]


These conversations never begin precisely as we want them to begin. We can choose to have the discussion anyway, or we can use the framing or the language or the personality or whatever else irritates us as an excuse not to have the discussion. Every single objection raised by a woman, every way she tries to redress a wrong, will die a death of a million cuts, every time, unless we decide that that we're the ones killing the discussion, not the one who instigated the discussion, and objections that we have to how they began the discussion are just the tool we use to end the discussion, not something that is the fault or the responsibility of the person who started the discussion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:51 AM on June 11 [31 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod for the win! That needs to be said in every feminist thread that is attempted to be derailed by minor quibbles.
posted by agregoli at 10:09 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


That needs to be said in every feminist thread that is attempted to be derailed by minor quibbles.

The Venn diagram for that is a circle.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:17 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Hoping to add another circle, zombieflanders.
posted by agregoli at 10:35 AM on June 11


Ok, there is a specific article in question that we are dealing with in this thread. This piece was clearly framed as a blow-by-blow account of the action process someone used to react to a microaggression. I don't see it as condescending to critique this process as carried out by someone who is a peer-- or rather, someone significantly more accomplished than me-- and a political being. The author is someone who suffered a genuine, upsetting microaggression and who also wrote a misleading account of a poorly-executed attempt at direct action. These things can coexist. There is a huge, important difference between accepting the validity of all lived experiences and endorsing equally all courses of action.
posted by threeants at 10:48 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


Whatever Morrison makes, I feel Parramore acted in an highly questionable way. Then, wrote a very bad article, that if a lot of people didn't agree with her underlying message wouldn't be defended with even a fraction of the intensity it has been. The article is not good and people labeling others as sexists and misogynists because they think the article is bullshit are cheapening those labels.

Whatever conversation was supposed to happen from this was poisoned from the beginning by Parramore.

I mean, blind edits with no footnotes?!??! Crazy, since Parramore is an English PHD who edits a journalistic enterprise.
posted by lattiboy at 10:51 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


The hair-splitting about how she should have complained is utterly ridiculous. This woman kicks ass. She is a kick-ass woman and I'm so glad she complained.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:51 AM on June 11 [6 favorites]


I feel Parramore acted in an highly questionable way.

I don't know that I one hundred percent agree with everything she did. I also know that this sort of objection becomes the thrust of one hundred percent of the threads we have about women's issues, which suggests to me that no woman, ever, will do things or say things right enough to have her point be the important thing, rather than the way she made her point.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:54 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


The hair-splitting about how she should have complained is utterly ridiculous.

Most of the article is documenting how she complained!
posted by lattiboy at 10:54 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


and most of this thread is how she should have done it instead. or not done it at all.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:55 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I agree 100% with the frustration over "feminist threads" (which is a sort of silly and vaguely problematic concept, but of course we all get what it means) being derailed by minor quibbles. But if talking about the author's complaint process-- which is what the article is about-- is a derail, well, I'm really not sure what the rail is. Honestly, I see it as condescending to treat a political writer on a political journalism site writing about a political action process as if her political tactics are beyond critique.
posted by threeants at 10:55 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


And she probably felt the need to document how she complained, because if she didn't, there would be numerous comments like, 'DID SHE DO THIS? OR THAT? OR THIS AND THAT? SHE DIDN'T? OH SHE JUST WANTED ATTENTION!'.

I mean she documented what she did pretty well, and even so, in this thread people have wilfully or not ignored the information she presented! and they suggested that she do things that she actually did and wrote about!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:57 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The article is not good and people labeling others as sexists and misogynists because they think the article is bullshit are cheapening those labels.

People are being labeled as sexists and misogynists because they're making excuses for how to be assholes using the same arguments as sexists and misogynists. When people simultaneously engage in said assholery, then get all huffy when that's pointed out, and then make entirely substance- and evidence-free rants about even discussing concepts like microaggression being the downfall of The Feminist Cabal or whatever, then maybe--just maybe--the problem isn't the people complaining about sexism and misogyny.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:01 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the fact that it happens in every goddamn thread about women or feminism is definitely a cause for concern.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:03 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Ugh, in my opinion clickbaity stuff like this piece is terrible for MeFi; just because an article contains a genuine experience or even has some good points doesn't mean it can't also be misleading clickbait. The conversation here, on our side, is tainted from the get-go when the article itself is framed in poor faith. But that is a MeTa issue at heart, I suppose, and I'm sorry if I've expounded too much on it here and if that has had a deraily quality.
posted by threeants at 11:09 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


The article is not good and people labeling others as sexists and misogynists

There really is no better way to wound a straight white dude than by labeling him an -ist.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:10 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Speaking of MeTa...
posted by divabat at 11:12 AM on June 11


All I said yesterday was she should have waited to talk to the actual store manager (not the retail manager) before writing her blog post. For that, I was labeled a sexist misogynist. It's events like that which make me want to NOT take part in these conversations, but I will continue to support feminism and treat everyone I know equally. For what its worth, her sex had no bearing on my recommendation. If a man had pulled the same stunt, my advice would have been the same.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:14 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Sorry but we can actually look up what you wrote. You said,

"They play that song on the radio every day and its ridiculous to think that you have a right to only hear what you want to hear." (Huh?)

"She probably would have had much better luck reaching out to Trader Joes corporate." (She did that, BTW)

"You can't force the world to do your bidding" (Huh again?)

"She never even waited long enough to speak to the store manager. She was there Friday night, and blogged about it Monday morning. I don't think she tried hard enough to talk to the right person." (She called corporate and spoke to a couple people)

That is why you were getting pushback.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:19 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


But, she was told to speak to the store manager. She didn't. She never tried to escalate her call. She kept speaking to the same person at the store who clearly told her he couldn't help her. I agree, it shouldn't be that hard to raise a complaint. But, still has she talked to the store manager, or ask to speak to someone other than Nicki, the first-line customer support rep?
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:22 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Also do you think that in a private business you have the right to tell them what they can play? Do you think that you can force the world to do your bidding? Thanks for taking time to explain though. I'll reconsider my words.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:24 AM on June 11


Under my future gynocentric totalitarian theocracy, yes.
posted by elizardbits at 11:25 AM on June 11 [21 favorites]


seriously, read the mother fucking article.

When I asked how to get in touch with “corporate,” Morrison gave me a card printed with the name of the store “Captain,” Justin Matthews...I went home and called both numbers, and was told that Captain Justin Matthews could not be reached at either.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:25 AM on June 11


I did read the article. Ever call technical support? Level 2. Supervisors. First line can never help you. Sad fact of life, but true.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:28 AM on June 11


Roger Dodger,

I was directed to a young man named Kyle Morrison at the manager's station [...] When I asked how to get in touch with “corporate,” Morrison gave me a card printed with the name of the store “Captain,” Justin Matthews, two phone numbers [...] I went home and called both numbers, and was told that Captain Justin Matthews could not be reached at either. I did manage to reach Trader Joe’s customer service department and spoke to someone named “Nicki” (she refused to give her last name) [...] I returned to Trader Joe’s to speak to a harried Morrison, who insisted that the numbers he had given me were the right ones. Finally a colleague said that Captain Justin Matthews could only be reached at one of the numbers when he was in, and he wasn’t in.

She returned to Morrison (the guy she was initially directed to) because the phone numbers he had given her to escalate the problem weren't operative. Would you PLEASE drop this derail.
posted by sukeban at 11:29 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I don't get all the cursing either. I've been cursed at several times in this discussion. I'm out.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:29 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I see it as condescending to treat a political writer on a political journalism site writing about a political action process as if her political tactics are beyond critique.

Agreed. It's bizarre and very loaded—and ironically, at root, sexist.

She called corporate and spoke to a couple people

Parramore is being disingenuous when she describes speaking with someone who was obviously a bottom-level telephone rep and pretends that her buck was forcibly stopped there. She knows who Dan Bane and Chris Maguire are—because I do, and I don't have her credentials. Parramore has the privilege to be able to request comment from 800 S Shamrock Ave in Monrovia using official press letterhead. I plugged two terms into Google and I'm looking at a media relations page for the music channel, and a name, email, and telephone number for a press contact at Trader Joe's. It takes a lot of bias to throw your thinking cap far enough out the window to buy into her narrative that Captain Justin and first-name-only Nicki were her attempts at redress and now Trader Joe's has no further comment because Kyle said so.
posted by cribcage at 11:50 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


Yeah if its one thing you must do to pass your comps and get PhD in English and a journalism job it is to memorize the Trader Joe's corporate tree.

I'm joking but you do I have a point and I see it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:07 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


She returned to Morrison (the guy she was initially directed to) because the phone numbers he had given her to escalate the problem weren't operative. Would you PLEASE drop this derail.

Uhm, the numbers worked. She was just calling the guy's office during the weekend as apparently she didn't know that he won't be in his office on the weekend. This is mentioned in the article.
posted by I-baLL at 12:17 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I think I have just dented my desk.
posted by sukeban at 12:19 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


?
posted by I-baLL at 12:42 PM on June 11


Under my future gynocentric totalitarian theocracy, yes.

ELIZARDBITS FOR GOD-EMPRESS 2014

wolfs for the wolf god, scruff for the scruff throne
posted by NoraReed at 12:47 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


These conversations never begin precisely as we want them to begin. We can choose to have the discussion anyway, or we can use the framing or the language or the personality or whatever else irritates us as an excuse not to have the discussion. Every single objection raised by a woman, every way she tries to redress a wrong, will die a death of a million cuts, every time, unless we decide that that we're the ones killing the discussion, not the one who instigated the discussion, and objections that we have to how they began the discussion are just the tool we use to end the discussion, not something that is the fault or the responsibility of the person who started the discussion.

Spot on, Bunny Ultramod. Upon reflection, I agree the tone and structure of her narrative are irrelevant; that criticizing them dismisses her complaint and derails the discussion.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:53 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I thought she was a jerk, partly in the store, but mostly by how she framed the article. She approached Morrison and "explained in friendly terms" - but he responded "rather smugly" when she buttonholed him and demanded he join her in an on-the-spot debate about art interpretation. She describes him as flustered and harried; he hems and haws. She points out that he 'had no control' - apparently to highlight him as ineffectual and incompetent. He answers what apparently is a yes/no question about 'lots of songs' being 'racist, sexist, misogynistic' - and it sounds as if she was cross-examining him, courtroom-drama style, to get that nugget. 'Sir, would you agree that lots of these songs are probably racist, sexist and misogynistic?' Deer-in-headlights manager, internal monologue: customer is always right, customer is always right: "...uh, sure?")

She speaks to 'Nicki' (and specifies Nicki 'refused' to give a last name - as if Nicki is obligated to do so?) - and outlines her concern about a song that's 'offensive to women' - not offensive to her as an individual, but to women - all of em. Nicki points out that hers is the first complaint - so by the article, at least, that's one woman for, one woman against.

I read through the lens of having worked retail, and having encountered the squeaky-wheel 'I am dissatisfied, you will fix this now' customers (of both sexes). You know what's awesome? When the manager responds to a page. You know what an employee can't make happen? A manager responding to a page... much less a phone call.

If it's a tone argument for me to call this a cheap, gotcha article, then I'd like to know what to say when a woman does something purportedly in the name of feminism, but does it in a shitty fashion.

I'm ostensibly a woman by most estimations, and if I use cheap gotchas to make points, and pretend to not know how retail hierarchies work, I want to be called out on it as fair play. I don't want to be handled with kid gloves because feminism is sacrosanct. Yeah I know coy debate tactics happen. But you can't call all debate tactics coy and in the service of misogyny, because sometimes the stopped clock is really truly going to point to the correct time.

It sucks that the song, this time, was the straw. The song has been on for a very long time, though, and the people working in that store location didn't have a whole lot to do with that, or with Elliot Rodger, or with the institution of patriarchy. Maybe call to task the mummified marionettes who originally recorded it lo these many years ago. Maybe they'd denounce it, seeing how the world has moved on. Maybe they'd donate some of the profits from it as atonement. Who knows? But you don't make things better by being a jerk to other people, as I feel she did. I think she does a piss-poor job of representing women, and customers, and journalists, and people, and people of good intention, and activists who want to make the world better for the disadvantaged and humanity as a whole.

The song is gross, but at least it's not disingenuous. It's a better example of art than her article is an example of journalism.
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:15 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


Moving away for a moment from the topic of the author of the piece and how well she did her job, I'd like to raise the question of music lyrics in our culture.

Because not long ago, I was in a retail space (can't remember which) and "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People came on the canned music system. The lyrics speak of a boy who brings a gun to school, and his narrative is that all the kids better run better run, faster than my gun. Those kids better outrun my bullets.

I had thought, when Sandy Hook happened, that nobody would ever be able to stomach this song again, in any context. But no, there it is, still everywhere. I honestly don't believe people pay attention to the words, and that's why nobody thinks twice about putting "Under My Thumb" on a retail playlist. I mean, for god's sake, that new Katy Perry song says she will "eat your heart out like Jeffrey Dahmer." Really? The Muzaks and radio programmers have decided that to a very large extent, it doesn't matter what the words say.

This might be an interesting experiment, to take a sample playlist from a Muzak or a classic rock station and take 50 songs and see how many of them have something offensive in them. I'll bet you it's the majority.
posted by jbickers at 1:16 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Or take "I Don't Like Mondays" or "Jeremy", which I wouldn't expect to hear as muzak either, the way I wouldn't expect to hear half of Rammstein's songs over PA unless I was at a goth/industrial record shop or the person choosing songs didn't understand a word of German.

Yes I'm dating myself. Shut up.
posted by sukeban at 1:20 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I think it took this thread for me to realize that I basically don't know any Rolling Stones lyrics that aren't also in The Hot Rocks Polka.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:28 PM on June 11


Maybe call to task the mummified marionettes who originally recorded it lo these many years ago.

"Mummified Marionettes"

Now there's a band name.
posted by I-baLL at 1:41 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


minimum wage workers for big corporations can do little about the music. at best, we might be able to skip a song on the playlist, but we can't stop it coming up again.

we can't even pick music we like when the store is closed and we're cleaning.

misogyny is bad. but leave the poor minimum wage workers alone, please. Write a letter to the corporation.
posted by jb at 1:43 PM on June 11


The manager is not a minimum wage position, and that's who she tried to talk to.
posted by agregoli at 1:46 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Which you would know if only you had read the thread.
posted by elizardbits at 2:08 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


"Well, in the sense of "I did not plan to play something racist", it was accidental. But in a larger cultural sense it wasn't - I was not in the habit of thinking "huh, this song contains actual lyrics about how this guy is white, and yet he is singing in patois, that's kind of gross". I also wasn't attuned enough to the fact that my audience isn't just white people, and what might strike many white people as "this is inappropriate but let's move on" would be really alienating and buzzkilling for others. That, actually, is what really bugs me. I hate to think of having made those people feel unwelcome."

Can I go back to this derail for a second? Snow grew up in a low-income, Jamaican neighborhood in Toronto, and worked with a Jamaican-born DJ to record a lot of dancehall songs, including some that became hits in Jamaica. He's a lot closer to Eminem than Vanilla Ice, and MC Shan guests on the track (and had a long working relationship with Snow). Further, describing the lyrics about "how this guy is white" is kind of disingenuous — he says that when people see him, they want to know where he's from, so he tells them that he grew up in the ghetto surrounded by "pure black people," which is true as far as it goes. From your description, it seems like you took a cursory look at the lyrics and decided it was cultural appropriation without, you know, even going to Wikipedia.

It seems like a weird racist essentialism to think that he can't have grown up with the Jamaican patois despite being surrounded by people speaking in a Jamaican patois, including his friends and musical collaborators. People feeling gross about listening to him may be feeling so out of a combination of ignorance and snobbery toward someone who was a one-hit-wonder in America. Granted, there's likely to be more discomfort from black Americans around "Informer," and your broader point about not wanting to exclude people is taken — right or wrong, people in your audience felt gross about hearing it — but it seems like a poor choice of anecdote for this thread, where "Under My Thumb" is pretty explicitly misogynistic, and the cultural gap seems to be more over whether background misogyny deserves any response at all (or if it does, what response is appropriate).
posted by klangklangston at 2:32 PM on June 11 [23 favorites]


And as a side note, getting incensed about the music is part of the reason that stores play it, believe it or not. People who are more stimulated or stressed tend to make more impulse purchases.
posted by klangklangston at 2:34 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but I HOPE tj's wasn't choosing misogynistic songs to increase purchases, more that they didn't think that "classic rock" like The Stones would rile anyone, without thinking about content of individual songs.
posted by agregoli at 2:41 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Oh, so that was why I heard Reality Asylum in KMart the other day.

Jesus shops for his own sins, not mine.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:49 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Granted, there's likely to be more discomfort from black Americans around "Informer," and your broader point about not wanting to exclude people is taken — right or wrong, people in your audience felt gross about hearing it — but it seems like a poor choice of anecdote for this thread...

Your "right or wrong" aside doesn't change the fact that you just explained why the people who were offended by the song really shouldn't have been, if they were being logical about it. That, sadly, is a perfect anecdote for this thread.
posted by Etrigan at 2:58 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The manager is not a minimum wage position, and that's who she tried to talk to.
posted by agregoli An hour ago [4 favorites +]


My manager is a near-minimum wage worker, and still has no control over the music.
posted by jb at 3:23 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I agree the tone and structure of her narrative are irrelevant; that criticizing them dismisses her complaint and derails the discussion.

It isn't about the tone or the structure of her narrative, it's about the content of TFA. Repeated insistences that the actual content of the article is a derail are disingenous.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:01 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


"Your "right or wrong" aside doesn't change the fact that you just explained why the people who were offended by the song really shouldn't have been, if they were being logical about it. That, sadly, is a perfect anecdote for this thread."

But, as I understand it, they're offended because they think Snow is appropriating a patois illegitimately. That's not actually true, though. For it to be analogous to the FPP, "Under My Thumb" would have to not actually be misogynistic, which practically no one claims. For Frowner, not playing the song may have been a better choice out of consideration for their audience, but that doesn't mean that the implied complaints are legitimate. You can, in fact, abstain from doing something not because you believe that people have a legitimate complaint but because it's more considerate to do so. There are certainly plenty of things that I refrain from doing on MeFi without thinking they're particularly wrong but because they're not appropriate here.

What's your alternative? Treat all complaints as if they're legitimate?
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]



The manager is not a minimum wage position, and that's who she tried to talk to.
posted by agregoli An hour ago [4 favorites +]

My manager is a near-minimum wage worker, and still has no control over the music.


We are still not talking about whatever is going on at your workplace.
posted by sweetkid at 4:42 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


it's about the content of TFA.

I know! she should have tried to contact corporate! or complained to whomever handles customer services complaints in the store!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:50 PM on June 11


For it to be analogous to the FPP, "Under My Thumb" would have to not actually be misogynistic, which practically no one claims.

klang, I generally like you and respect your posts, but dismissing analogies because they aren't perfect makes me grind my fucking teeth audibly. Now that I've said that:

But, as I understand it, they're offended because they think Snow is appropriating a patois illegitimately. That's not actually true, though.

And you get to decide what a legitimate use of patois is on their behalf? There is a long history to the discussion of how much "appropriation" is "legitimate," particularly the use of music associated with artists of African descent by artists who do not appear to be of African descent. As far as I know, it is by no means a settled issue. You probably didn't mean to come off this way, but it sounds like you're pretending that it is a settled issue, and that Snow spent X percent of his childhood living below $Y annual family income in a neighborhood that is Z percent Jamaican, and (X*Z)/Y is over the Elvis-Eminem Threshold, so no African-American is allowed to be offended.
posted by Etrigan at 5:22 PM on June 11


Person over-reacts and responds inappropriately to offensive media content, therefore discrediting herself, her group and the general category of her opinions!

Whew. Glad we got that settled.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:32 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Can I go back to this derail for a second? Snow grew up in a low-income, Jamaican neighborhood in Toronto, and worked with a Jamaican-born DJ to record a lot of dancehall songs, including some that became hits in Jamaica. He's a lot closer to Eminem than Vanilla Ice, and MC Shan guests on the track (and had a long working relationship with Snow). Further, describing the lyrics about "how this guy is white" is kind of disingenuous — he says that when people see him, they want to know where he's from, so he tells them that he grew up in the ghetto surrounded by "pure black people," which is true as far as it goes. From your description, it seems like you took a cursory look at the lyrics and decided it was cultural appropriation without, you know, even going to Wikipedia.


The thing is, Snow the person doesn't seem like a bad guy, actually. And I happen to remember the "multicultural" nineties pretty well - a lot of the stuff that reads as really sketchy now (bindis, chinoiserie, various "world music" stylings) really wasn't sketchy then - it was often a cultural cue, in fact, that the person wearing/saying/using the thing was attuned to the discussion of race and privilege that was going on at the time. But the discourse has changed for a variety of reasons, and stuff that signaled "I am actually more clueful than many white people" in 1996 now signals "I am annoyingly oblivious to structural racism, power disparities and my own privilege". I mean, fake patois was always a little bit dorky, IIRC, but now it's definitely Not Okay. The point isn't to establish whether Snow was pure of heart in 1996, but whether I am attempting to respect the norms around racial justice in 2014.

The point of my anecdote upthread, though, was in answer to a specific question about "so how do you propose to play only inoffensive music, then". I was trying to illustrate both that it is possible to have a rubric for playing good and non-offensive music and that it is possible to fuck up in that attempt without deciding that the whole thing is useless and pointless.

There may come a time in the utopian future when folks play "Under My Thumb" for the tune and a bit of a giggle, right? "Ha ha," they'll say. "What ridiculous attitudes those long-ago people had...They were the ones who believed that a woman's womb would wander around her body, right? And that tomatoes were poisonous?"
posted by Frowner at 5:34 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


(One other quick response - I actually think it's important for white women (and people like me, who are white and not-cis-men) to remember racism when we're complaining about misogyny. Feminism has a long history of positioning itself as The Biggest Oppression Of All, and I've experienced a lot of conversations both online and in real life where - not because anyone is terrible - there is a tone as if white women are always and only the marginalized and never the marginalizers. I think it's helpful for white women and white trans* folks in these conversations to remember that while we are certainly the victims of misogyny, we are also just as often the perpetrators of racism. )
posted by Frowner at 5:54 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


I sympathize with everyone involved. It seems like a case where everyone was just trying to get through their Friday and enjoy the weekend, but it just did not work out. I mean, it's definitely reasonable not to have to be reminded of misogyny and Elliot Rodgers while shopping in a market. But, it also seems there was no precedent and an unclear area of responsibility, the sort of situations where corporate memos filtered through the inter-departmental bowels of legal, marketing, and customer service are written before getting e-blasted to all employees mid-morning on a Monday.

The solution is obviously not to shrug and give up. Other than thinking how it can be applied to my work, I just hope this isn't the end and there's a positive resolution.
posted by FJT at 6:53 PM on June 11


"klang, I generally like you and respect your posts, but dismissing analogies because they aren't perfect makes me grind my fucking teeth audibly."

It's not because it's not perfect — it's because it's pretty much the exact opposite.

"And you get to decide what a legitimate use of patois is on their behalf? There is a long history to the discussion of how much "appropriation" is "legitimate," particularly the use of music associated with artists of African descent by artists who do not appear to be of African descent. As far as I know, it is by no means a settled issue. You probably didn't mean to come off this way, but it sounds like you're pretending that it is a settled issue, and that Snow spent X percent of his childhood living below $Y annual family income in a neighborhood that is Z percent Jamaican, and (X*Z)/Y is over the Elvis-Eminem Threshold, so no African-American is allowed to be offended."

You know, I respect you too, but this is bullshit. Yes, overall appropriation is not a settled point, however that doesn't mean that there are no points where people are offended because they're ignorant about the deeper story. And I put it pretty clearly in my previous comment: The implicit offense is that Snow is wrongly appropriating, but that assumes that Snow isn't a part of that culture and didn't grow up in it. If a black person was offended by how this guy talked because he's "appropriating a patois," they'd be an idiot because he's not appropriating anything. Toronto has a huge Jamaican population, and Snow grew up immersed in it. If that's deciding what a legitimate patois is on their behalf, so be it. Not every complaint is legitimate, even if there's legitimacy to a general complaint. KRS One adopts a Jamaican patois despite that not being his speaking dialect; Alborosie is distributed by Bob Marley's old label. And fundamentally, it's fucked up to have Americans imposing their racial politics onto other communities without being able to tell the difference between this and this. (And yeah, if you think that MC Shan — who beefed with KRS One over The Bridge fer goddsakes — is cosigning fronting, you're on some bullshit.)

"I mean, fake patois was always a little bit dorky, IIRC, but now it's definitely Not Okay. The point isn't to establish whether Snow was pure of heart in 1996, but whether I am attempting to respect the norms around racial justice in 2014. "

The point is that it's not a "fake patois." It's part of Snow's performance in the reggae idiom, and is no more fake than KRS One's patois or any number of other reggae artists who are accepted without question because their names aren't "Snow." Snow represents reggae through the Jamaican diaspora into Toronto, and came up within that scene — and still performs in it. If it's a norm, it's a dumb, counterproductive norm that ignores actual hip hop and reggae culture in favor of reductive and blithe judgments.
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


The implicit offense is that Snow is wrongly appropriating, but that assumes that Snow isn't a part of that culture and didn't grow up in it.

That's your assumption of why they don't like it, and further, it's your declaration that his experience counts sufficiently to be non-offensive to other people, and you don't get to tell people that, just like no one gets to say, "Sorry, Lynn Stuart Parramore, but 'Under My Thumb' doesn't actually offend you because of X and Y and Z."

Yes, overall appropriation is not a settled point, however that doesn't mean that there are no points where people are offended because they're ignorant about the deeper story.

You want to bring up Snow's Wikipedia page and show that he's steeped in the reggae idiom, that's fine. It's great. It (slightly) adds to the discussion. But you turned that into declaring flat-out that anyone who's offended by it is ignorant and therefore has an illegitimate complaint of being offended, and not only do you not know the former, but the latter is beyond bullshit. That is gross.
posted by Etrigan at 7:32 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I was in a Trader Joe's a few months ago and I remember thinking how some of the music was pretty misogynistic (maybe it was the same song). Although I did not stop to complain, I am pleased others have. Maybe I should have said something too.
posted by ryanrs at 7:40 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


This is not something I've run into at other shops. It seems like a "Trader Joe's thing" at least in my area (San Francisco).
posted by ryanrs at 7:42 PM on June 11


"That's your assumption of why they don't like it, and further, it's your declaration that his experience counts sufficiently to be non-offensive to other people, and you don't get to tell people that, just like no one gets to say, "Sorry, Lynn Stuart Parramore, but 'Under My Thumb' doesn't actually offend you because of X and Y and Z.""

OK, is that an unjustified assumption? Or is it pretty reasonably supported by Frowner placing it in terms of racial justice? What other issues would they be taking offense over that directly implicate race? And yes, it's my declaration that his experience counts enough to be not legitimately offensive. I did not say that they were not offended; I did say that not all offense-taking is legitimate. If someone is offended that Hotel California is about Satanism, they're flatly wrong. If someone is offended that Snow is using a patois that he grew up using in collaboration with first-generation Jamaicans, to perform in an idiom associated with that patois, then yes, they don't know what they're talking about.

"You want to bring up Snow's Wikipedia page and show that he's steeped in the reggae idiom, that's fine. It's great. It (slightly) adds to the discussion. But you turned that into declaring flat-out that anyone who's offended by it is ignorant and therefore has an illegitimate complaint, and not only do you not know the former, but the latter is beyond bullshit. That is gross."

So… you think it's legitimate to be offended by Snow's patois? Really? You'd like to defend that position? What about El-P or Action Bronson? At what point does someone have a legitimate claim to a dialect associated with an artform where they're making significant contributions to that artform? Never? Hey, what about Bix Beiderbecke? If someone was offended that he was called a jazz musician, would that be a legitimate complaint?

Let's go even further with the idea that it's gross to exercise any discretion about which complaints are legitimate: When an evangelical Christian complains that they're offended by same-sex couples getting married, is it gross to tell them that's not a legitimate complaint?

I think you're coming at this from fundamentally good intentions and perspective, but you're making sweeping judgments (and supporting other people's [third-hand] sweeping judgments) in a way that leads to some pretty incoherent and bullshit cosigning of people reflexively dismissing things that they're not familiar with in a really loaded way.
posted by klangklangston at 7:47 PM on June 11 [13 favorites]


Let's go even further with the idea

Nope. Not going to do that. You can demand your own intellectual consistency, but you don't get to demand mine.
posted by Etrigan at 7:51 PM on June 11


Holy shit is this a tempest in a teapot.

Yes, the song should be dumped from Trader Joe's playlist.

No, the right way to go about doing that is not to bug the store manager about it, who has no control over it. Probably could have been handled in less than 24 hours by sending a tweet to their corporate twitter account.

If I had been the store manager, I'd have said: "I think that's a valid concern, and you should write corporate about it -- here is their contact information."

He didn't do that, but I mean really, the assistant manager of a small grocery store is generally not going to be the most competent employee in the world.
posted by empath at 3:27 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]



Because not long ago, I was in a retail space (can't remember which) and "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People came on the canned music system. The lyrics speak of a boy who brings a gun to school, and his narrative is that all the kids better run better run, faster than my gun. Those kids better outrun my bullets.

I had thought, when Sandy Hook happened, that nobody would ever be able to stomach this song again, in any context. But no, there it is, still everywhere.


Sandy Hook wasn't the first school shooting. The song was a response to school shootings. I'm not sure why another would would make the song less relevant.
Bassist Cubbie Fink has a cousin who survived the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Fink said of his cousin's experience, "She was actually in the library when everything went down, so I actually flew out to be with her the day after it happened and experienced the trauma surrounding it and saw how affected she was by it. She is as close as a sister, so obviously, it affected me deeply. So to be able to have a song to create a platform to talk about this stuff has been good for us."[6]
posted by empath at 3:33 AM on June 12 [6 favorites]


Sandy Hook wasn't the first school shooting. The song was a response to school shootings. I'm not sure why another would would make the song less relevant.

Um ... so what? Mick Jagger wasn't the first guy to treat a woman shitty, either. That doesn't make it a story that you want to hear when you're buying groceries (or anywhere else, for that matter).
posted by jbickers at 7:49 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Is the supposed problem with Snow that he's a Canadian whitey and uses patois? That's a weird complaint -- is no one to sing in a language other than that of their birth? (Because patois is a creole, not an accent.) He used to get some radio play in the Caribbean and I don't think there was ever any major friction about it. There are very few white dancehall artists that I can think of, but there's a long tradition of mostly terrible white guy reggae bands. There are issues involved in that (I would argue more with the terribleness, but culturally as well, and definitely there are differences of opinion about taking on the trappings of Rastafarianism) but it's not some straightforward issue of offensiveness and it's weird to present it that way.

The song in question in this FPP, though, fits into that category of amazing music with deeply problematic lyrics. At some point maybe the culture will shift just enough that it will be seen as an embarrassing relic of another age. I don't think we are quite there yet, but I can see a pretty clear pathway to that day. The list of songs that would fail the test of being equally or more crudely misogynistic is probably long, and I'll guess that they will increasingly drop out of commercial play over time, just like those awful racist songs from earlier in the twentieth century mostly have.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:51 AM on June 12


(I just want to point out that actual people of color got upset enough to walk out of an event when I played "Informer". We can debate all day long about the finer points of cultural appropriation, just as we could talk about how normal violent misogyny was in the sixties*....but the fact is that when a white person plays a song wherein another white person sings in patois, that is experienced as racist and clueless by some significant percentage of people of color. And honestly, there's a pretty gross history of white folks performing in patois and various Caribbean speech forms and I don't think it's legit to expect an audience to keep a running tally of just which white performers are offensive and which have the "right" to sing in patois.

*Read some novels and memoirs by feminist women writing in the sixties and you'll be astonished by how many of them are really, really blase about women being hit by their male partners, experiencing stuff that we would now consider obvious sexual assault, etc. This is visible both in how they describe their own experience and in their fiction. "Under My Thumb" really wasn't that different from the norm in pop culture at all. But it is experienced as actively misogynist today, now. )
posted by Frowner at 9:23 AM on June 12 [6 favorites]


Huh. I'm not a big Stones fan and in all this time I've never paid attention to the lyrics before. Fuck that noise.
posted by homunculus at 10:20 AM on June 12


Read some novels and memoirs by feminist women writing in the sixties and you'll be astonished by how many of them are really, really blase about women being hit by their male partners, experiencing stuff that we would now consider obvious sexual assault, etc.

Oh god, yes. And I've known this intellectually for a long time, but most recently the thing that really drove it home for me viscerally was this chilling passage from the New Yorker's profile of Shulamith Firestone last year:
The women were in Washington to attend the New Left’s Counter-Inaugural to Richard Nixon’s first Inauguration. Late in the protest, under a large tent set up near the Washington Monument, the antiwar leader Dave Dellinger, serving as master of ceremonies, announced, “The women have asked all the men to leave the stage.” They hadn’t, but his words gave a nasty impression, made worse by the sight of a paraplegic Vietnam veteran being carried off to make way for the “women’s libbers.” Marilyn Webb, a local feminist who was slated to speak, remembers thinking, “Holy God, how did I get here?” Webb was three sentences into “the mildest speech you can imagine,” she said, when men in the audience began to shout, “Take her off the stage and fuck her!” and “Fuck her down a dark alley!” All the while, she recalled, “Shulie is on my right saying, ‘Keep going!’ ” Firestone tried to speak next, but was drowned out by a howl of sexual epithets.
So for all of you leftist men insisting that we leftist feminists are distracting from the "real" issues that were being addressed 50 years ago: get your own history straight.
posted by scody at 11:17 AM on June 12 [19 favorites]


scody, you should check out Susan Brownmiller's excellent memoir In Our Time, it talks about that issue a lot, and is a great read too.

Maybe the author didn't handle this perfectly, or maybe she did, I don't know. But I understand her frustration that she can't even go buy a tomato without having to hear misogynist shit she doesn't want to hear, that everyone acts like she's crazy for being bothered by it, and not being able to do a damn thing about it.

There's so many beyond beyond Trader Joe's that took part in this--this song was written, produced, played on the radio thousands upon thousands of times, selected as appropriate for what piped corporate radio Trader Joe's uses, and played over and over again--without anyone along the line saying that this message isn't okay. And it's not just this song, it's thousands of songs, movies, art, television that gets passed on through--it's just part of living in a misogynist culture.

And when you try to say something is misogynist and offensive, you're met with people who tell you you are overreacting, that it's always been this way, that it's just a song and doesn't mean anything, you want to scream back ITS NOT JUST THIS ONE SONG--IT'S THE ENTIRE GODDAMN SYSTEM THAT PUT IT INTO EXISTENCE AND IS PLAYING IT IN GROCERY STORES AAAAHHHHH!!!!
posted by inertia at 1:27 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


The most misogynist song ever was written by Carole King.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:27 PM on June 12


I wonder how much the Rolling Stones get in royalties each time that song is played in a Trader Joe's.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:29 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


A thread about how much women hate running into misogynist songs isn't a good place to start a list of misogynist songs.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:33 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


Yes, there are many, many misogynist songs. Some written by women. Yes.
posted by sweetkid at 1:34 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


The most misogynist song ever was written by Carole King.

OK, everybody, check your bingo cards. For "Apex and Eternal Source Of All Misogyny in Culture and Daily Life", did anyone have Carole King? Anyone? Looks like "Carole King" was the answer, so we've pretty much got this wrapped up tight now.
posted by superfluousm at 2:14 PM on June 12 [6 favorites]


It looks like the Stones don't play it in shows any more, if that site is correct. I wonder why not. They still play Brown Sugar, so it's not like they're bowing to the pressure of Big Feminism.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:30 PM on June 12


The most misogynist song ever was written by Carole King.

This statement is factually incorrect. But thanks for trying to...actually I'm not sure what you're trying to do with this.
posted by billiebee at 3:57 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


My suspicion is that it's a "Gotcha, women can engage in misogyny too!" but since misogyny is a system of oppression that occurs at every level of society, it's irrelevant, even leaving aside the facts that the lyrics were written by Gerry Goffin and it was just intended to document the phenomenon of a woman interpreting her abuser's possessive violence as love.
posted by gingerest at 6:21 PM on June 12 [6 favorites]


Even the most rudimentary Google search would produce the fact that Carole King wrote the song in response to Little Eva getting beat by her then-boyfriend. But the song is written in an ambiguous way, and Carole King, who herself experienced domestic violence, has expressed regret every having had anything to do with the song.

In the meanwhile, until it plays at Trader Joes, perhaps we can table a discussion of Carole King's song.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:11 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


The Stones do still perform "Brown Sugar," but they've long substituted new lyrics for the most horrible lines, e.g. "hear him whip the women just around midnight" becomes "you shoulda heard them just around midnight."
posted by scody at 10:50 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


It's to the author's credit that she's become more aware of the pervasiveness of misogyny in our popular culture and is trying to raise awareness of it. And it's good that she made a complaint somewhere where she might have some influence as a customer. If enough customers complain and explain why, Muzak might eventually realize that some of the songs included in their playlists aren't going over very well with some of the people in the audience they're trying to please, and make some changes.

Scapegoating the store manager because he works at a large bureaucratic company and can't unilaterally change the music channel the company's subscribed to is pretty backwards. I'm pretty sure Trader Joes subscribes to Muzak's classic rock channel because they think their customers like it, and Muzak includes "Under my Thumb" it's really popular with people who like classic rock. I'm pretty sure both of those perceptions are accurate, and probably well researched. The manager who can't change the music selection isn't the problem; we're the problem.

We're part of society. If we want to change society, we have to change ourselves and try to change things we can influence or control.
posted by nangar at 8:00 AM on June 13


I stopped reading the thread about 80% of the way down (400-450 comments in?) because JFC I'm starting to get annoyed by the mansplaining and repeated denial of the (a) presence and (b) impact of this particular bit of microaggression. I'm glad that Ms. Parramore undertook this course of action to try and make the world into what she thought was a better place and followed up with a report on what she did and what didn't happen. All too easy to throw up your hands and say fuck it, I'm not dealing with this anymore, I have other things to do in my life. She did a hard thing and holy balls do we need lots and lots and lots more of this.

Personally, I never really thought about the lyrics before from this perspective. Because I don't need to. I'm a white man with a good amount of physical strength, not insubstantial bankroll, a working car to take me to my office job where I'm not subject to sexual harassment, good running shoes that I can lace up and go out without too much fear of getting raped. So yeah, I especially appreciate her perspective. I have two daughters that I want to feel as free as I do someday, and her actions are going to help them out. Every goddamned complaint about how she's "privileged and beating up on a poor minimum wage worker" or "doing the right thing in the wrong way" or "hurting feminism by making this picayune thing into a Major Issue" are, in my opinion, harmful to the end goal which is LESS DIVISIVE AND HARMFUL ENVIRONMENT.
posted by disconnect at 10:52 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I was in Anthropologie the other day and was shocked to hear them play the entire second side of The Meatmen's Crippled Children Suck. Well, I can only assume they played the entire second side, because by the time 'Tooling for Anus' came on I grabbed my grandmother and my two beautiful children and high-tailed it out of there.
posted by item at 11:00 AM on June 13 [4 favorites]


On a different note, it really is too bad that the lyrics make 'UMT' an uncomfortabloe listen. I've seen it upthread that some of y'all think it's a boring, simplistic song with only its marimba line making it stand out. I strongly disagree. Andrew Loog Oldham's production is spectacular, some of his best work (and yes, I realize it was probably Mick and Keith doing most of the production by that point, but I've just last night given away my copy of Keith's Life so I can't quickly check who's actually responsible for the song's strikingly minimalistic sound. It's probably a bit hazy anyway, even though Keith's book is one of the most surprisingly lucid memoirs you'll ever run across). Due primarily to its production, 'Under My Thumb' reminds me heavily of many Buddy Holly songs, especially 'Everyday' and 'Look at Me'.
posted by item at 11:25 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


On an even more different note, because I've been taking part in this thread and the MeTa, I have been earwormed by this song for days, with only occasional "relief" (I am glad I don't know the actual words to Brown Sugar and can just mentally skip to the fun yeah-yeah-yeah-wooo part, and damn whoever brought Rush into this).
posted by gingerest at 7:21 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


nangar: "Scapegoating the store manager because he works at a large bureaucratic company and can't unilaterally change the music channel the company's subscribed to is pretty backwards."

Personally, I'm not scapegoating the store manager because he can't/didn't unilaterally change the music channel. I'm pointing accusingly at the store manager (not the same as "scapegoating") because when a store says "here are the people to contact if you have a customer service issue: X, Y, Z" and neither X, nor Y, nor Z can or will help me — or even be skilled enough to brush me off while still making me feel like I've been heard — that's a damn customer service failure.

I feel like that's getting overlooked in the "she should have googled for the TJ's executive contact info" argument. She asked the person she was dealing with face-to-face who she could contact. That person gave her certain names. She attempted to contact those people without success, and (apparently; I'm willing to believe she would have mentioned it) without anybody offering to take a message or put her in touch with somebody else.

That, right there, is worth reporting on, IMO. I shop at TJ's on a regular basis. If it's the case that they're handing out "contact info" for "customer service representatives" who don't or can't respond to customer service issues, I'd like to know that.
posted by Lexica at 7:49 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Trader Joe's Customer Service web site

Trader Joe's Customer Service Phone #, via GetHuman.com. If you do NOT have the time to wait on hold, please note that you can contact them via LucyPhone, and Trader Joe's will then call you back.

We don't know for certain from this story that Muzak was the music provider to this particular Trader Joe's, but in case you want to complain to them anyway:

Muzak's Customer Service web site

Muzak Corporate Headquarters, 3318 Lakemont Blvd, Fort Mill, SC 29708. Phone number (803) 396-3000

I have never had to work with Muzak, but I do know some small business owners who haven't been happy with their service at all. They've switched to Pandora for Business via DMX or Playnetwork.com (where you can also get SiriusXM feeds for business) and been quite satisfied with pricing, music selection, and customer support. I would suggest that, should you decide to contact Trader Joe's Corp. HQ with your concerns, you inquire what music provider they use, and request that they consider alternatives.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:21 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


Thanks, magstheaxe, that's actually helpful.

(Muzak is mentioned in the article, by the way. The author was annoyed that the store manager she talked to identified them as the company's music service provider and suggested calling them.)
posted by nangar at 9:27 AM on June 14


My assumption very much would have been that Muzak would let individual businesses customize their music streams and that a business would have much more control over what music is playing than is being implied by the comments here. Is that not the case? If a business subscribes to Muzak but hates X artist for whatever reason, they can't set up their account such that X artist is excluded?
posted by jaguar at 10:18 AM on June 14


they've long substituted new lyrics for the most horrible lines

I saw Robert Plant live last year and was grateful that he'd cleaned up the lyrics of a couple of the really rapey Led Zeppelin songs on his set list. Some songs are probably beyond the point where a few changes to the lyrics will salvage them, but it's nice to go to a concert and hear a band make an effort that acknowledges some of their older lyrics are, if nothing else, alienating part of their audience.
posted by immlass at 12:06 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


I assure you, as an employee of trader joes, that Muzak sucks. The offending songs are not even on the radar for worst songs played. I'd wager that the grossest songs are the borderline pedophelia songs. "She's sixteen, she's beautiful and she's mine."

Please don't make us listen to even shittier music. Please.
posted by schyler523 at 2:52 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that Bob Seger gets played at least once an hour. Talk about torture!
posted by schyler523 at 3:37 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


There will always be a song, movie, piece of artwork etc that will upset someone on the planet. And there will always be someone who will take it to the next level about how offended they were about this/that/the other.

If it wasn't way past my bedtime, I could list at least 100 songs that have offensive lyrics to someone. And that would just be the tip of the iceberg.

Muzak? Really? Good grief, will we EVER get over ourselves?
posted by sundrop at 10:22 PM on June 16


I could list at least 100 songs that have offensive lyrics to someone.

Are they all played at the supermarket?
posted by billiebee at 1:20 AM on June 17 [6 favorites]


I'd wager that the grossest songs are the borderline pedophelia songs. "She's sixteen, she's beautiful and she's mine."

Christine Sixteen, I'm looking at you. Ew.

I've mentioned this before, but one of my "when I get a round tuit" projects is a blog or tumblr or something quoting lyrics from classic rock songs and pointing out the problems with them. There's so much underlying garbage in a lot of classic rock, some of which I like very much, that people don't think about until they listen to the lyrics and think about it.

One of the things I find darkly amusing about this whole brouhaha is that they're playing the same songs in stores now that they did when I was in high school back in the dark ages. They were 10-20 years old then, and they're 30 years older now. The thing that should horrify the Stones fans about this is that their music is essentially grandpa music now.
posted by immlass at 8:47 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]


gingerest: "My suspicion is that it's a "Gotcha, women can engage in misogyny too!" but since misogyny is a system of oppression that occurs at every level of society, it's irrelevant, even leaving aside the facts that the lyrics were written by Gerry Goffin and it was just intended to document the phenomenon of a woman interpreting her abuser's possessive violence as love."

And in one of those weird coincidences the universe throws up, R.I.P. Mr. Goffin.
posted by gingerest at 11:53 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


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