The most offensive song of the year will continue to play on our airwaves, unless you help to drown it out.
Last night I couldn’t sleep, and it had nothing to do with the three extra coffees I snuck in before bedtime.
It was because once again rape culture and misogyny were being celebrated in the music industry, because once again social media was seething with song lyrics promoting violence against women and once again I was hit with the harsh reminder that gender equality is not something I’ll get to see in my lifetime.
This is where it started.
Musician Redfoo, well known to the Australian public through his role as a judge and mentor on the reality show X Factor, has just released a new collaboration with Lil Jon, Play-N-Skillz and Enertia McFly, the song Literally, I Can’t. It’s already been labelled the worst song of the year, but this unwanted accolade has nothing to do with how uncatchy the tune is and everything to do with how offensive the lyrics and video clip are.
Haven’t heard or seen it yet? Lucky you. Allow me to break it down for you.
In the video a group of young women are harassed and verbally assaulted, simply because they don’t want to drink or engage in certain activities. These women are depicted as killjoys and labelled ”bitches” and ”sluts” for refusing to conform to the wishes of the male party goers. When the women repeatedly make it clear that they are not interested, they are then surrounded by a group of rowdy men who shout in their faces to ‘shut the f*** up”.
One woman is pushed unwillingly to the ground while Redfoo films for the porn site ”Redtube”. Offensive lyrics in the song include:
“You’re annoying b**** because you’re talking”
“Girl I’m sipping on this drink, trying to see what you got, not hear what you think.”
Thankfully, the push-back against this abhorrent song has been just as loud as the offensive tune itself. Entertainment website The Fix have issued a blanket ban against Redfoo, vowing to never write about or promote him again. Collective Shout, a grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls in media, advertising and popular culture, have started a petition on Change.org against Redfoo requesting that Channel 7 part ways with him. The petition has already received 9,774 signatures since it was started yesterday, with more continuing to roll in as momentum grows.
Their voices were joined by thousands of others across multiple social media platforms and while this was heartwarming to see, the din of those supporting the song and its artists threatened to drown them out.
Redfoo claimed he was being ‘victimised’ and made excuses for the song by tweeting that he really ‘loves and respects women’ and sees them as ‘powerful’. Well, that’s nice of you to say, ‘foo, I’ll remember that next time a group of men are telling me to ‘shut the f*** up’ and I’m sure it will fill my heart with joy.
While it’s not surprising to see an artist trying to disentangle themselves from a public mess via a few offhand tweets, what was surprising were the number of people in my own social media feeds who couldn’t see the need for such drastic action. Comments such as ‘it’s just a joke, lighten up’, ‘this is just the music industry, if you don’t like it just don’t listen’ and ‘I’m so sick of women complaining about misogyny, there’s nothing more to be done with women’s rights. Men have problems too’ swarmed across my screen like little misogynistic blowflies.
It’s statements like these, rolling off the tongues of young men and women alike, that remind me equality between the sexes is not something my generation will see.
Here’s the thing, guys: it’s not manly or funny or harmless to shrug off misogyny, sexism or the promotion of rape culture simply because you’re sick of hearing about feminism or believe that a pop song doesn’t have the power to do serious damage. And ladies, it is OK to speak out. There’s no need to try and be ‘the cool girl’, the girl who can ‘take a joke’, or the girl who doesn’t need to care about sexism because it’s never affected her. Because let me tell you this; you’re affected every time somebody laughs or sings along to this song and songs just like it.
This isn’t an Us vs Them debate, because the only way we’re going to make a difference is to speak out together and make a change. By bringing down one hateful song at a time.
What do you think of Literally, I Can’t? Do you think it is offensive? Let us know in the comments.