Find Me On:
The big danger of a lot of the language of this kind of stuff is a new power dynamic is emerging. I think the idea of privilege is really interesting and has a huge amount of value to it. BUT, it’s turning into this “I’m so much more aware of my privilege than you are, here, read this blog post you piece of trash, your talking rights are revoked until then.” It’s almost pandering to people of oppressed groups. “See? I’m being aggressive and defending you! I am the great white hope.” The language of privilege can just keep spiraling out: A white person might not have come from an economically privileged position of even being educated about white privilege in the first place, and on and on. Privilege as an all encompassing, all-motivating concept breaks down because it’s always going to be more complicated than a binary; Power groups within groups are an inevitability, especially when unchosen position is used as leverage against someone up or down the social ladder. Again, it’s all very interesting, important and true, but it has to have limits in conversation and praxis.
And also, does privilege prevent me as a white guy from having a legitimate moral stance on something? For example, I’m pretty numb to black men on TV calling women bitches. I think that’s something we kind of need to talk about, but I don’t know if I’m “allowed” to. We all have to share the same pavement, and we just can’t afford constant shifting rules of who can speak and when and what about.
The one moment in the video that actually made me raise my eyebrows was when she was riding in the car in the front passenger’s seat, and they pass a black guy crouching on the sidewalk in coveralls. That shot implied, to me anyway, the guy in the coveralls was looking at Sky in a way that one would look at a powerful crime boss, or at least someone who is notorious/intimidating/commanding respect. Anyway, it was not a casual glance at the very least. There’s a lot of race-relation weirdness in that to me.
I’m not particularly interested in political correctness and the self-indulgent indignation that comes along with that kind of thing, and I don’t think Sky Ferreira is a racist, or at least this video doesn’t make me think that she’s a racist: I just think the video is a bad idea.
Hip hop videos, for all of their issues, are kind of hard to divorce from the social and economic background most of the artists come from. Whether or not they glorify or critique drug-gang culture, it’s a commentary from that experience (with varying levels of credibility) and being in that experience IS a product of a racist culture that puts a people group in a ghetto and leaves them to rot. Now, do I think white people can engage with that as an art form, talk about it, ask questions about it, criticize it? Yeah, I do. BUT: It’s probably a crappy idea to appropriate it as the backdrop of your pop video that ends with you in jail and using your sex appeal to get out of trouble with the white cops.
I guess I’m just used to hostility to my beliefs from others, and nine times out of the ten that I face it, it’s low-hanging fruit type material. I mean, I’m more or less un-offendable over it in any particular instance, it’s just what it is, however over time it’s taken it’s toll on my general outlook. There’s just no way around that. I’m not complaining, it’s just what it is. That said, I would rather put nails in my knee caps than be in the same public position as Sufjan because you’re going to have different groups of varying shittiness vying for you as a member of their tribe when they respect you, and using something that he’s more or less kept in the background as fodder for yucks when they don’t. I mean, I’m sure he has a sense of humor about it, because you kind of have to, but I think there’s a more interesting conversation to be had about how faith, morality, art and generally goofing off play together.
This kind of thing is probably why Sufjan has been coy (or flat out reclusive) about the details of his faith. It’s just going to be used as a sensationalist filter to run everything he does through. To reduce the complexities of Christian ethics in thoughtful people to youth-pastor hand wringing is exactly the kind of thing I’m sure he’s tried to avoid.
They split in 2012, but they have a kid together. Her quote on the wikipedia page is cringeworthy:
“I think it’s weird. It’s not that I got with Ben and then suddenly I was a billionaire. You know? I got with Ben, and I realized that we do come from different worlds, but it’s interesting that it is more about the concepts of elitism and power.”
I don’t have the slightest issue with pop artists who focus a lot of energy and speech on philanthropy. I just think the attitude of the snarling deconstructionist clashes with the pop artist’s complicit place in a wasteful culture. Our issues have complex overlaps of the philosophic, existential and practical, and we all participate in the problems in varying degrees, and I think that should discipline our tone. But in her case, when railing against western socio-economic problems, don’t act all superior and socially-enlighteneder-than-thou when you’re on camera AT THE SUPERBOWL SINGING POP SONGS.
I woke up on my 30th birthday and realized, very suddenly, so many of the things that I cared about between, say, 23-29, just didn’t seem to matter anymore. I wear hiking pants and comfortable shoes pretty much every day now. I met my fiance. I was out at a crowded bar getting shoved from behind and was like “I can make a better cocktail at home.” and 6 of us left and had a great night at the apartment. Things like that keep happening, and man I love being 31.
I was in something similar with my faith. I got to a point where Christianity was experientially a carrot on a stick. I went to a place that was recommended by a friend, and I’ll leave it nameless to avoid seeming like I’m plugging something. Long story short I had a “tutor” and he asked me to tell my story, and I was DREADING some trope fix-you-up answer. He caught me off guard and said “Yeah. Your life is absurd and God is frustrating. We can’t fix your problems, so that’s not what we try to do.” That was probably the most important thing I’ve ever heard. My faith, while undulating often violently, is something now that I consider “alive” and peace, at least my peace, turned out to be something I didn’t expect. I don’t begrudge the people who’ve tried to help, I think it’s a cultural thing in and outside the church, but like you’ve seen, it’s probably torturing and holding a lot of people back.
Yeah, but on the other hand, it’s a spot on the internet where someone mentioned religion and people aren’t ripping each other’s throats out in the comments section. It’s a fair trade.
If I vanished in a bizarre, apparently nefarious plane heist, my last thought would definitely be “It’s ok. Courtney Love will find you.”