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Strange Days July 19, 2011

Posted by FCM in entertainment, kids, pop culture, race, rape, WTF?.
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serving suggestion: if you can stand it, listen to the songs first, without the videos, and then watch the videos afterwards.  lyrics below.

ive tried to wait it out, and hoped they would go away but they havent — these 2 songs are currently playing on every radio station at all times, and have been for awhile.  listen to any station for more than 6 minutes (or change channels) and you will likely hear them back-to-back.  its a double-feature horror show, and the saturation is full.  people are hearing this, whether they particularly care to or not.

for overlapping and probably irrelevant reasons, i heard the songs long before i saw the videos, and the lyrics without the images accompanying them absolutely chilled me to the bone.  rihanna sings about s&m, how she loves whips and chains and how pain and pleasure are indistinguishable to her; a black woman with a history of institutional and domestic violence being paid handsomely to literally read from the script of every mans fantasy for all women, within a context of american black slavery and a global epidemic of male sexualized violence against women.  a willing victim who wont call the cops, no matter what is done to her.  how sexxxay!  according to wiki, she didnt write the script, someone else did.  one writer is a woman (ester dean) the other 4 appear to be men.

meanwhile, katy perry sings about wanting to be an abduction victim, “disrobed and probed” as well as infected, poisoned, stunned, and “lead into the light” by her abductor.  according to wiki, three doods “helped her” write it; all four get songwriting credit.

i dont know who gets credit for the videos, and i am sick of googling already.  but its kind of irrelevant isnt it?  i mean really.  we all know from whose perspective we are all supposed to be viewing/consuming these images (and indeed, the entire world) at all times.

anyway, the banality of the male violence in these songs, the pure horror and the banality of it is so clear when the music plays.  women really are abducted, stunned, and “disrobed and probed” (aka raped) by men all the time.  men really do beat, rape and abuse women, with whips and chains and with other objects and with their own hands and bodies, whether or not the women “like it” and consent may be better than no-consent to men who like to abuse women, but maybe not.  like all consent rhetoric, it serves to keep men out of prison sometimes, but theres no such thing as a willing victim, and men like to sexually victimize women.  they want women to not want it.  it really couldnt be more obvious.  and in these songs, the women are saying they want it and need it or whatever, but the horror is still so obvious.

but something happens when these words are made to correspond to these sexualized images.  doesnt it?  the banality of it is erased: the images that accompany both songs seem alien, exotic, and staged (and they are, and they are meant to appear this way).  the violence of it is transformed into something else.  at least, it fails to register as violence anymore, or not in the same way it did when i was just listening to the words.  and its not like the words themselves are unproblematic either.  but this is not the first time i have noticed that something happens when the images are added.  so what is going on here?

i think whats happening is that we are being shown the meaning and the impact and the history of these words through mens eyes.  and that these images are somehow more powerful and meaningful, and are able to displace the reality invoked by the words.  the words clearly signify (to me) that these women are being victimized, and i can relate to that, its a female-centered reality afterall.  but the images?  to use my own image….its as if the video images displace that female-centered reality like water in a bowl, if the images were a stone and the words were water, and the water reminded me of my own life.  and the stone didnt.  and once this happens, you forget instantly that there ever was another reality, or that there was ever even a bowl.  what the fuck?  i dont know, im not really into deconstructing film, and ive never made one, but how’d they do that?

as for the videos, this is all just sex to them, and this becomes clear when they let us see what they see:  women being beaten by hands and objects is sexxxay.  its sex.  women being kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and raped is made to seem like a fun little game.  a sex-game.  and it is, for the abductors, and for people who fantasize about doing this.  but ask jaycee dugard what its really like to be abducted, disrobed and probed, for example.  for women, this is our worst nightmare, but the images belie this dont they?  noone wants this to happen to them, so from whose perspective are we supposed to be consuming these images/fantasies?  whose reality do these images represent?

once again, women are made to see everything, even our own destruction through mens eyes.  someone once made a sci-fi flick about this, but its not science fiction is it?  anyone remember this?

from the movie strange days.  some fucking dickwad (james cameron…directed by kathryn bigelow) surely thought he was being very clever here, inventing the novel concept that a rape victim could be “jacked-in” and experience her own rape, from her own perspective and from the perspective of the rapist at the same time (i havent seen this film for probably 15 years, but i remember that part clearly) but you know what?  this really happens, or something approaching it.  this is reality, what women encounter daily, when we are forced to see mens sick pornified misogyny and rape fantasies, acted out and projected against our bodies, but from their eyes.  and never from our own.

trying to unravel this is a full-time job, and women-identified-women do a good job of this, but it takes constant vigilance and belligerence to stay behind our own eyes.  who else can say this, and in what circumstances?  this is a serious question.  clearly james cameron can only envision this jacking-in and jacking-back-out-again as a fantasy, but its not one.  i feel exhausted just thinking about it, but i do it, and i struggle to do it consistently and to be honest i cannot do it consistently.  i fail, constantly.  there are not enough hours in the day, there are too many images and messages to digest, and i have other things to do, before, during and after.  this is what feminists do.

but seriously, whats the deal with images, specifically, and the seemingly transformative power of images, and their ability to frame and reframe issues?  i hope im not the only one who saw the videos last, instead of first, because i dont think i ever wouldve noticed.  but considering that so many of us are jacked-in now and our preferred media appears to be video (and not words or music by themselves) i suspect there are many people who dont notice, and that many of these people are young girls.  and this is fucking terrifying.  it really fucking is.