I am not... Sasha Fierce.
Every time I hear Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" it gets stuck in my head, and not just my head as in the catchy rhythmic beat that makes time on the treadmill spin by, but the way a contradiction of a love-hate relationship gets caught in the wheels of the mind. I hate that I like this song.
Much has already been written and said about whether this song is really an anthem to female empowerment or a chink in the armor of feminism... and like most arguments of this nature, no one on either side agrees, so there is an understanding to disagree politely. After all, this is just a song, right?
I am coming in late to the discussion, but with the Grammy's around the corner and the song stuck in my head, there is a renewed interest for me. First, I do not believe there is anything as "just a song" as all art, all communication and all action has influence in some way. That isn't say it is all meaningful influence or wide-spread, but when a song like Beyonce's is as viral as this particular one, it does become more important to understand what we are bopping around to.
On the surface, it is a song talking about getting over a failed relationship; an "anthem" to say if you don't like that I've moved on, we should have got married. Now, I'm only slightly okay with that... but assuming marriage is a metaphor of commitment, well, then, I can get on board (and if we assume the "it" in the song is the relationship and not the speaker). But what I really struggle with, the essence that causes a brain cell meltdown for me is the age-old theme that we always seem to overlook... in order to move on, the character (because a song is a story) is out in the club hooking up with another guy.
Not to discount the value of a rebound relationship, but recognizing too many times, this is the "answer" not only this song delivers, but that I see too often for real and often at the detriment of the already emotionally weakened party. We are all probably guilty of going this route on at least one occasion (and some more than we'd care to admit) and there is nothing really wrong with it--this isn't a value judgement, but a recognition that there are other ways. Too many women need to find their value and self-worth through a relationship; I hear it in the coffee shop, from friends and acquaintances, and in music, television, movies and books.
And, I've noticed a growing trend of depicting men in the same vein... most recently the example struck me in watching the movie 500 Days of Summer. In this movie, if you haven't seen it, we follow Tom's relationship with Summer... she's simply not into it, not willing to commit and he's crushed, finding in the end, his only solace of hope in the meeting of another woman (groaningly named Autumn). The movie, while well-acted, with moments of brilliance in writing, ultimately failed me with its theme. Another love-hate moment where I couldn't fault some of the brilliance in its art, but found myself cringing at the overall theme.
So, is this a question of life imitating art, or vice versa? What can be taken from today's most common and popular art forms? Are we able as a society enmasse to accept these themes and transcend them, or are they as emergent and popular because as a society they are the norm? Questions I ponder that I wish more people would rather than just posting another YouTube video of themselves dancing to Beyonce's music.
19 hours ago