2 Insultingly Shallow Love Songs

While I was stocking shelves the other day I found myself contemplating one of the many craptacular tracks that fill the silence as the background score to my minimum wage job. This isn’t anything new. For the most part I don’t process whatever inoffensive, easy listening, pop track happens to be crooning through the air at any given moment, but every once in a while a lyric will jump out at me. Be it funny, nonsensical, or ignorantly derogatory. I’ll find myself paused with a look of scrunched up scrutinization, striving to confirm if I indeed just heard what I thought I heard.

That’s the beauty and the curse of having a job that lets you work on autopilot: your mind is free to wander. If you’re a critical over thinker like myself this leads to many hours of the week spent over analyzing meaningless, filler lyrics in popular songs. When you start dissecting the lyrics of top forty hits like you’re translating Shakespeare’s sonnets you start to notice just how misguided and shallow they really are. I can tell you that there are no songs more superficial and insulting than modern love songs. If we lived in a strange parallel universe where music could be used as a murder weapon you couldn’t even drown an infant in the thin sheen of perspiration that is the emotional depth of catchy love ballads. And I hear a baby can drown in as little as one inch of water so that’s quite the feat.

There however, are only two songs that stick out in my mind that are as shallow as Kanye West’s understanding of music beyond the works of Beyoncé. Two songs that are not only shallow but ignorantly misguided. that make me progressively more angry every time I hear them.

Steal My Girl – One Direction

Everybody wanna steal my girl
Everybody wanna take her heart away
Couple billion in the whole wide world
Find another one ’cause she belongs to me

Lets start with the song that inspired this post. I’m not trying to anger “directioners” or take cheap shots at them for being a mediocre boy band (I DID own every N’Sync CD after all…), I honestly didn’t even know it was One Direction I was listening to ten minutes ago when I looked up the song for the sake of this entry. I just assumed it was some one hit pop group I’d never hear from again, like Hedley, Fun. or MAGIC!.

I have two big gripes with this song. The first is that someone can steal your significant other and the second is that if someone could steal your significant other that there would be anything you could do about it.

I’m a little confused about how anyone sees this song as romantic, but than again I subscribe to more Holly Golightly ideology when it comes to ownership and romance.


You can’t steal a person. A person isn’t a piece of property. They have their own thoughts, feelings and motivations and no amount of charm, sex appeal, or gifts can override that fact. If someone leaves you they were always going to leave you for reasons that are entirely their own. If someone else comes along while you’re still together than they were just the perfect opportunity to dump your ass. Unless someone is literally kidnapping your girlfriend and holding her against her will, she isn’t being stolen.

The tune isn’t so much a love song as it is the musical equivalent of a dog marking it’s territory or a 5 year old calling dibs. The narrator is staking his claim over his generic, non-specific, insert your name here, girlfriend. I guess the sentiment they’re trying to convey is that you, young girl buying their record, are just so damn amazing that every boy wants you but that 1D only share amongst each other so those other guys are shit out of luck. Of all the “couple billion in the whole wide world” they chose you and they paid your dowry fair and square so now it’s time to meet your sister wives. Congrats girl! You earned it. After all, you must be some girl if the only thing your boyfriend has to say about you is that you “be my queen” and that you know how to wear a pair of jeans.

Her walk is so mean
And every jaw drop
When she’s in those jeans,
Alright (alright)

I get it! He loves you because being seen with you makes other dudes jealous! The bitch is arm candy. “Dat ass”, is literally the only specific reason given for why she’s so great and why he loves her. Everything else said throughout the song singing his fair lady’s praises is just some cliche, flowery words about how “the sun doesn’t shine” when she’s not there because every guy who’s looking to hang onto his philandering trophy girlfriend has used that line.

Gallery – Mario Vazquez

I can’t take
Seeing you with him
‘Cause I know exactly what you’ll be,
In his gallery
Just not fair
And it’s tearing me apart
You’re just another priceless work of art
In his gallery

For some reason despite never hearing this song when it was released 5 years ago I’m now forced to listen to it three times, a day five days a week. It’s a song about unrequited love/lust that’s sung by a guy who looks like a poor man’s Wilmer Valderrama, something I didn’t know was even possible.

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Vazquez sings about his crush on this chick who’s already involved with someone else but not in a cute Taylor Swift way as much as a MRA “friendzoned” kinda way. Her boyfriend has money. Like a lot of money and that’s Vazquez number one issue with the guy. That and he’s a player with “a whole wall of ’em just like [her]”. It’s unclear if her man is a cheater or just kind of a man whore but when the whole song is about trying to convince the object of his affection/boner that he’s such a nice guy, it’s hard to take his complaints about the guy as an objective observation as opposed to a hard held belief that girls only go for jerks and that any guy getting laid more than you is automatically a douche bag.

friend-zone-27
Lets give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this guy she’s with is a throbbing pustule of a human being. That still doesn’t make up for the narrator’s own short comings. Like the self righteous hypocrisy that populates every second line of the song. Before we get into that can I just ask: Mario, if this girl is only with this other asshole for the money, as you claim, than why the fuck would you want to be with her anyway?

She knows she deserves more
Someone who will love and adore
But his money’s hard to ignore

If she’s the kind of girl who warrants questions like , “Tell me is the money worth your soul?”, than she’s probably not what they call ‘marriage material’. She’s a gold digger. They call people like that gold diggers.

My favourite part is the copious layers of irony. And oh, is it glaring. He’s so mad that this guy, who’s got his girl, isn’t treating her as well as she deserves. This other guy is only interested in her for her appearance. Then Vazquez using lyrics like these to legitimatize his love:
And girl you’re just way too fine
Gotta be treated as one of a kind

And

You’re a masterpiece
I know that he
Can’t appreciate your beauty
Don’t let him cheapen you
He don’t see you like i do
Beautiful not just for show
Time that someone let you know

It’s not her intelligence, her sense of humour, or PS4 skills that he’s interested in. If he is, he certainly doesn’t bother to mention any of that. And how could he when he’s too busy focusing on how attractive she is.

Then there’s the art gallery metaphor which was supposed to be flattering and sensitive but all it really does is dehumanize the woman in question. He puts her on a pedestal instead addressing her like a real person. Some lines imply that he knows putting women on a pedestal is wrong. That’s what the guy she’s with is doing and he sees that that’s not right but what he fails to see is that he’s doing the exact same thing.  If she stays with her boyfriend than all she’ll ever be is “another priceless work of art” which isn’t cool because what she actually is a “masterpiece” that only Vazquez can can truly see.

The the blatant lack of self awareness is enough to force your eyes into an infinite loop of rolling.

 

How To Tell A Rape Joke

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Some people are of the opinion that rape jokes are never funny. To this I say, who slipped GHB in their drink?

The truth is rape is arguably the most despicable, and disgusting thing you can ever do to a person short of forcing them to reenact Human Centipede 2 or forcing them to watch Human Centipede 2. Being terrible doesn’t mean you can’t joke about it. Humour for many people is the best way to deal with horrible situations. Humour can also help promote a dialog about uncomfortable subject matter. Rape is a sensitive, heavy topic that can be intimidating for people to tackle. A joke made in the right way can deflate some of the stigma or in some cases cause offence to get the ball rolling. Rape is a serious issue and something that everyone needs to talk about. If it takes a few insensitive jokes to get people talking so be it.

That being said, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about making a rape joke. That’s why Amy Poehler and Tina Fey can be praised for making a rape joke at the Golden Globes and Bill Cosby’s attempt to make light of his accusations is decidedly distasteful and anyone who rewarded it with an applause should be deeply ashamed of themselves and might as well walk around wearing buttons that say “Proud Supporter of Rape Culture”.

As a humorist, a feminist, and what many call an”unfeeling and gross individual” I am exactly the person to tell you the difference between a good rape joke and a bad rape joke. I’ve compiled a little guide to help you learn how to make a proper rape joke that will inspire nervous laughter rather than outright rage… hopefully.

Understanding Rape Culture

Before you can even think about cracking wise about sexual assault or any other sensitive subject you have to understand the gravity of the matter. Lately you’ve probably heard the term rape culture tossed around a lot but do you know what it means? Do you even believe it is an actual thing?

Rape culture is a term used to refer to what is perceived as a normalization of sexual violence by society due to attitudes about gender and sexuality. Rape culture is things like victim blaming, misinterpreting of consent, and ignoring sexual harassment. Rape culture very much exists and it’s bad for everyone. It not only dehumanizes women but perpetuates myths that men can’t be victims of rape and that men are testosterone fuelled animals ruled by their libidos. Rape culture doesn’t benefit anyone except sexual predators.

If you don’t understand an issue then you have no business making jokes about it. People can tell the difference between pleading ignorance for comic effect and just being straight up ignorant. If you honestly believe that sexism doesn’t exist, that some people are “asking for it”, that rape itself is funny, or that people have no right to get offended when you make a rape joke, then you need to quietly remove yourself from society and stop holding back the rest of the human race.

Assessing Your Audience

Now that all of the jerk offs have stopped reading to focus on their angry comments the rest of us well meaning and educated, but twisted, sons of bitches can get back constructing our informed and tasteful quips about sexual assault.

Before you break out your carefully crafted rape joke, take a moment to take a look around you. Where are you? On public transit or at a women’s shelter? Maybe you should put it away. Who are you with? Co-workers or complete strangers? It’s probably best to hold off.  Are you at home surrounded by your closest friends? Go for it.

When it comes to making offensive jokes of any kind you have really pay attention to those around you. There is a time and a place for politically incorrect humour and it can take a lot of years of missteps before you can learn to identify when the time is right. Be warned, more often than not the time is wrong.

Other things you should take into account include: How politically charged is my joke? Are these people smart enough to realize that it’s a joke and I’m not a heinous human being? Is my joke a reference to a specific incident? Has enough time passed where it’s acceptable to joke about this incident?

That last one is very important. If the shock of a current news story is still hanging in the air it’s usually better to not go there. Take the other night for instance, I was watching Team America: World Police with a couple other people. During the opening sequences when terrorists attack Paris I stopped myself short of saying “They can’t all be cartoonists” because it was a terrible, terrible, thought to have and I didn’t need to spend the rest of the night averting my roommate’s judging eyes. Even sharing it now I’m not sure how it’s going to go over.

The truth is there’s no way to know for sure if your joke will be received positively. You have to play it by ear and use your better judgment. If you’re immediately met with appalled looks from those around you it’s best to start apologizing profusely.

Can You Get Away With It?

I hate being exclusionary as much as the next guy but there are simply some people who are allowed to make rape jokes and some who should never utter the world in a public place. I don’t make the rules.

I was born with a vagina so I already have an advantage when it comes to kidding around about sexual violence. Gentlemen, this is one the few things in life where you’ll find your penis is actually a hindrance. I know, I know, “but that’s misandry”, sorry guys but for the same reasons it’s more acceptable for a black guy to make jokes about black culture it’s more acceptable for women to make jokes about rape culture. Our day to day lives tend to be more impacted by the threat of rape then yours so we get more leeway to talk and joke about it. Same goes for domestic abuse, and the C word.

Being a guy doesn’t mean you have to give up rape jokes all together. Some of my favourite rape jokes have been made by men. You just have to know how to approach it. How comfortable people feel around you is a big part of it. If you’re a relatable and nonthreatening kind of guy you can probably pull it off. If you’re more on the aggressive side it’s gonna be more difficult. If you’re joking about yourself getting raped you should be in the clear but if you’re joking about doing the raping you may want to approach with caution. The exception to this bit is that you’re naturally so creepy that it becomes an uncomfortably kind funny but only when in a room full of people, never in a one on one situation. If your a comedian you’re pretty much golden as long as you don’t pull a Daniel Tosh.

If you have ever committed rape, threatened rape, or been accused of rape it should go without saying that under no circumstances should you ever make a rape joke. It’s not cool and I hope the authorities have been alerted.

Being Conscious Of Who The Butt Of The Joke Is

Above I mentioned Daniel Tosh. If you can remember he got in some hot water a couple years back for a joke he made at the expense of a heckler. During a bit where tosh voiced his affinity for rape jokes  a woman in the audience cut in “Actually, rape is never funny” to which tosh responded “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…”

Also as mentioned earlier Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey made a pretty great example of a well executed rape joke at this year’s Golden Globes.

The is one big difference between the two jokes. No it’s not the gender of the person telling them. The biggest and most important distinction between them is who the joke was mocking. The target of Poehler and Fey’s joke was the rapist where as Tosh’s was the, hypothetical, victim.

Poehler and Fey’s goal was to mock and shame those who commit rape in this case accused rapist Bill Cosby who, lets be honest, is almost definitely guilty. Due to statute of limitations he’ll likely never be found guilty in a court of law but when 20+ women come forward with eerily similar stories and nothing to gain, over the course of decades there’s little doubt that he did it.

In Tosh’s case he made a very poor choice in how to take down a heckler. Heckling is a shitty thing to do, but you know what is an even shittier thing to do? Telling someone you hope they get gang raped in front of an audience for interrupting you.  There were a hundred responses he could have given, even other rape jokes he could have made, like: “tell that to my rapist”, or “clearly you’ve never seen Sixteen Candles“. He could have followed up but he picked the absolute worst joke by making her a subject of sexual assault.

Accepting The Repercussions

When the incident happened it became an argument of comedic freedom vs common decency. As a comedian you should be allowed to joke about what you like. I firmly believe that. No topic should ever be off limits. That said, when you pick a topic like rape you do it knowing it’s a trigger topic. You know that you’re joke is going to shock and offend people and that’s why you do it. You want someone to be offended whether it’s for publicity, to start a dialog, to make a point, or because you just like to shock people. To fire back at the offence an audience member has taken, as if they have no right to be offended, is wrong.

For example: On my last period, which some of you may know was a particularly bad one, while eating dinner with my roommate I got into a monologue about having a hysterectomy. The gist was if I just had it removed than I wouldn’t have to worry about cramps anymore and would save so much money on feminine hygiene products. Of course the only way to have medic care cover this would be if I had cervical cancer. Exactly how long would I have to stand with my lady parts in front of the microwave to get cervical cancer? My roommate’s face became twisted in an enduring cringe; when I asked her why she exclaimed, “you’re joking about cancer!”, and that was a totally reasonable response. I share this with you now knowing that it has the potential to offend people with cervical cancer or with loved ones who have cervical cancer. Knowing that If someone leaves me a comment that “cervical cancer isn’t funny” and that I’m “an insensitive asshole” I brought that upon myself and I don’t not deserve it.

You do have freedom of speech. You have the right to say what you like but other people also have to right to tell you when they don’t like what you’re saying. 

I leave you with a good rape joke.

 

Should Have Stayed Home

If you’ve read at least a few of my posts it’s painfully apparent that I don’t get out much. Last weekend was a perfect example of why.

Disclaimer: Post contains first world problems.

Last Friday my roommate and I had plans to head downtown to see her co-worker’s band. Seeing as they describe themselves as “a mix of everything” my expectations for an enlightening and harmonious evening were not high. If nothing else it was a chance to get out of my slovenly apartment and how could I say no to that?

What else was I going to do? Dishes? HAH!
What else was I going to do? Dishes? HAH!

The first sign that I should have heeded that this night was a folly was my work schedule. I have worked plenty of Fridays in the last few months. Very few of those Fridays have been evenings but here I was scheduled till closing. It took some convincing for my manager to allow me to come in early so I could get off in time to make the show but ultimately my charm and infallible negotiation skills won out. The deal was I would come in early and leave after I had finished ordering, printing and putting out all of the next weeks sale signs.

I arrived at work shortly after noon to find my task had been stalled by my co-worker’s failure to finish their own. In order to make and put out the new signs the management team has to first put the merchandise on sale. This should already be done by the time I show up to work. As I was early and my manager did not adjust his regular routine, I couldn’t start until nearly an hour after I had arrived.

It takes about 6 hours for me to update all the stores signage not including a half hour meal break so it was about 7:15 by the time I was able to leave work. In that period of time In what felt like a near constant state of delay from the 20+ customers who forced me on many detours into stupidity such as trying to return cough medicine they didn’t like the taste of, and wanting to know which aisle of a drug store has hardware supplies. How I managed to keep the “fuck you”s that tickled the tip of my tongue from slipping through the corners of my mouth I will never know.

The doors for the show opened at 7 and the show it’s self began at around 9. It would take around 40min to brave the transit system and arrive at the bar so I was in a mad rush to change and get myself presentable for the Vancouver nightlife.

After touching up my make up and applying 4 layers of deodorant, the two of us made our way to the nearest skytrain and settled in for the ride, making family inappropriate jokes and speculating about our fellow passengers. We made it all the way to Granville when I froze. I had forgotten my ID.


I remembered opening my wallet to extract the cash, not wanting to have to worry about a bag, and mentally telling myself to grab my ID but I could not recall actually removing it from the card slot. When I told this to my roommate she urged me to check but as I already knew it was currently sitting at home in my purse which I so wisely chose not to bring.

My roommate texted her co-worker to see if he could still get us in. No go. There was no way I could go back and get it. By the time I’d make it back the show would be over. We stopped to eat, my roommate ready to throw the towel in and head back with me. She’d been so excited for this all week. Far more so than me. She’d even made a T-Shirt with her own design to support her buddy’s band. Being the incredible friend I am I told her to go without me and that I’d see her at home. Second mistake…

We parted ways and I got back on the skytrain to go home. Of course I didn’t bring my ipod, or a book or any sort of entertainment as I’d planned to be taking this ride much later in the night with my friend for company so I spent most of the trip dodging eye contact from this greasy looking guy across the car.

40min later I got off the train and stopped in the grocery store to pick up some comfort food as the plan that I concocted on the train to salvage the night was to curl up with my softest pyjamas and binge watch RuPaul’s Drag Race while stuffing my face and dreaming of one day growing up to be half the woman they are.

I needed something sweet to cleanse the bitter taste of my own incompetence from my mouth. Of course I go with a frozen desert because Haggen Daz’ green tea and honey ice-cream may as well be made with crack for how much willpower I have when confronted with it through the freezer door. The gift of hindsight reveals that this craving may have been largely charged by PMS as I would get my period not four days later.

With my ice-cream I headed for the bus loop. Turns out I had missed the bus by no more than two minutes and the next wasn’t for another hour. I live pretty close to this skytrain station. Maybe a fifteen minute walk away. This walk however is all up hill. And when I mean up hill I mean a trek up a small mountain. The hill I live on top of is retardedly steep and  doesn’t start to even out in the slightest for at least 2 of the 4 blocks it takes me to get to my street. That’s two blocks of walking at what has to be a 75 degree angle. In the winter it’s basically The Widow Maker. It’s a fucking monster and I already climbed it once that day. Never the less, rather than wait around for a half hour I warmed up with a few lunges and headed upwards.

I was about two blocks from home when I had my second soul crushing, fuck me, revelation of the night. I went into flashback mode and saw myself shrugging on my jacket and asking my roommate if I needed my keys. She jingles her own set at me so I left mine on my dresser.

Keys

I never grabbed her keys from her. I nearly never leave my apartment without my keys so whether or not I had them never crossed my mind before I left her outside the bar. Clearly it never crossed her’s either.

I tried to remain calm. I could call my building manager to let me in my apartment, he has keys. Normally that would be the end of that except that my building manager had recently left and it was only the day before on Jan. 1st that I’d met the new guy, who’s number I did not have. Not the end of the world, I could just buzz his apartment. And I did. Once. Twice. Three times. No response. Either he doesn’t have his speaker hooked up or he just isn’t answering.

I called my roommate not sure if she would even answer the phone and knowing that even if she left right then and there I would be sitting outside for another 45min minimum before she got home. It was fucking freezing outside too.

She answered.

“So, how am I supposed to get in the building?”

“…”

“…”

“Oh, shit! I didn’t give you my keys! The show is ending so I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I’m freezing my ass off.”

“When I forget my keys I climb up the white railing onto the first floor roof. My window isn’t locked.”

If only she was present she would have seen the look of complete and utter disbelief I was sending her way at that statement. Never mind she leaves her window unlocked, how the fuck did she think that I would be capable of climbing onto the roof. We’re on the second floor and in order to get to this railing she parkours off of, you have to get up on this cement half wall thing that’s on either side of of the downward stairs that go to the lobby entrance. There’s hedges on one side and about a 1.5 meter drop on the other. On top of the cement wall there is a thin white railing about half a meter long, like the kind you find on a balcony.

Like this shit.
Like this shit.

I’m not gonna lie to you. I do not have the body of an Olympic gymnast. My roommate is far more athletic and thinner than I am. The fact that she thinks I am capable of climbing up there without breaking my neck is ridiculous.

Not that I didn’t think about it. I inched my way along the cement platform and made it to the railing before I said “NOPE” and got the fuck down.

I sat outside for a while. The one positive thing about it being as cold as the underside of a white walkers ball sack was that at least my ice-cream wouldn’t melt. The downside was that I might loose a toe.

After about 25min. a lady finally comes along and goes towards the entrance and I tell her I’ve forgotten my keys and locked myself out to which she only replies, “I don’t live here. I’m visiting”. She eyes me suspiciously before buzzing her friend and shouting crudely into the speaker “let me in” three times before the door unlocks. Warily she holds the door open and gestures for me to come in. I thank her and go upstairs. I walk past my apartment and stop in front of the building manager’s door. I knock once. Twice. Three times. No response. The next day I learned he hadn’t moved in yet.

Defeated I sat outside my door and waited for my roommate to show up while my ice cream melted. My only solace was that I now had access to my WiFi. Luckily I was only seen camped out in the hallway by one of my nameless neighbours and he wasn’t that one cute guy with the glasses down the hall.

When she finally got home she gushed about her show, apologized for my terrible night, and tried to make jokes but I was beyond good humour. I put my ice-cream in the freezer and headed for my bedroom to change out of my wasted attire and what I discovered made me roll my eyes. I’d been running around with my underwear on inside out all day. Of course I was.