Thursday, August 26, 2010

And your Birkin too!

I am as prone to seeing the misogynistic side of pop culture artifacts and unsympathetic to the lament of the Nice GuyTM as much as the next grouchy feminist, but this condemnation of "Fuck You" is just out of hand. This is not a song about denying women's agency or some moral obligation to date broke guys or about shaming women for having standards. It is at best a song about a values conflict and at worst a song about making excuses for yourself.

Although all the facts are presented through singer-narrator's perspective and thus are not definitively true, what do we know about the characters in "Fuck You"?"

- Cee-Lo previously dated Girl. Cee-Lo, then as now, lacked substantial material resources and was forced to "to borrow, beg and steal and lie and cheat" in order to keep Girl. ("Trying to keep ya, trying to please ya/'Cause being in love with you ass ain't cheap.") Cee-Lo feels that Girl would have continued to date him if he'd had "been richer."

- However, it's not clear that Girl actually made these expenditures a condition of continuing to date Girl---it may have been that Cee-Lo felt pressured to provide these experiences or presents to Girl due to outside influences.

- Girl now appears to be dating Rich Boy, who owns a car, possibly a Ferrari, in which he drives her around town. Said driving includes trips through or to areas in which the impoverished Cee-Lo can see Girl with Rich Guy.

- Even though Cee-Lo thinks Girl plays games in an unfair way in relationships, he still loves her. He simultaneously wishes her the best and tries to dismiss her from his mind with a punchy insult.

Crucially, we do not have any certainty about why Girl broke up with Cee-Lo. The mere correlation between the financial position of her past and present paramours does not prove causation. But do we have affirmative reason to doubt Cee-Lo's narrative? If Girl does in fact value the Rich Boy's ability to buy fancy status objects more than Cee-Lo's love, is this not a value choice that we too might wish to condemn? Perhaps, if we are not obsessed with civility, even by telling her "fuck you"?
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