I finally realized what bugs me about “Royals.”
It’s a great pop song, catchy, well-crafted, sparsely orchestrated. It’s simple and perfectly produced and doesn’t sound like anything else on the radio.
The racially charged imagery in the lyrics is definitely problematic (“gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom…”) though I hesitate to deem it racist, but that’s only half of what bothers me.
The song’s message reminds me of why it’s hard for me to be around certain other Millennials.
Listen, those of us who grew up in the age of Clarissa Darling and Denise Huxtable received a raw deal from the economy (PDF alert). A lot of us are working hard and doing the best we can with what we have.
I grew up the progeny of two unfailingly supportive upwardly mobile professionals in an idyllic suburb. I’m gainfully employed, have health insurance and can afford Netflix, so I have nothing about which to complain.
My high school friends? Well, they have similar backgrounds. Only they’re more privileged.
Their childhood homes are bigger than mine. Their parents bought them cars for their sixteenth birthdays. They all have cabins “up north.”
And they’re all white.
And now, even though they’re all employed, they never miss a chance to scoff at wealth. They also enjoy poking at what they perceived as my materialism. I was the first to get a career, you know, and do the full-time-salaried-with-a-401k thing. I took a lot of shit for using my spending money to buy the occasional Coach purse (on sale from an outlet, folks) or get a MacBook (I’m a media professional, Macs and iPhones are all but required, and it’s also important to note that as a small-town reporter I wasn’t exactly in the top income-tax bracket). They’d much rather luxuriate in the shabby-chic aesthetic of PBR Tall Boys, thrift-store finds and making your own totes.
And that’s fine. I never begrudged them an ounce of that joy. But I also never called them out on the fact that it’s an act.
Because it is an act. That’s a persona. Budget chic is only fashionable to those who have choice. You may be struggling to pay your bills, but you come from a family with the means to support you should times get tough. You have parents to fall back on as well as the societal infrastructure created to uplift you at the expense of people who look like me.
You’ve got white privilege which is more valuable than any bag or gadget I could ever hope to buy.
That’s why Lorde’s “Royals” sticks my throat while also in my head.
She sings about being from a “torn-up town” and not coming from money, reminiscing about how she and her friends have to count their cash but they “don’t care” because they’re “not caught up in your love affair.”
Not caring? Being “broke” — having money to go to a party, even if you have to take a train, doesn’t necessarily evoke poverty — and bragging about it in a hit pop song? That’s the luxury of having a safety net. That safety net? It’s white privilege and class cache.
I’m not pretending to know Lorde’s background. She just turned 17 and she’s from New Zealand, so I don’t blame her for not having deeper insight into issues of class and race in the US.
However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage in discussions about her music and its implications.
And when she all but directly calls Kanye West and Jay-Z out for glorifying an upper-class lifestyle full of status symbols — the “Cristal, Maybachs, diamonds on your time piece” Lorde namechecks seem like a direct rebuttal to the duo’s 2011 single “Otis,” with its lyrics about “poppin’ bottles,” a “big-faced Rollie” and “Maybach bumper sticker read ‘What Would Hova Do?’” — she forgets that having the ability to even publicly question them is a benefit of her privilege.
She’s missing the point. Almost anywhere in the world, at any time, Lorde will have more rights and access than Jay-Z, West or any other mainstream rapper from whom she’s distinguishing herself. She might not be as famous or as wealthy, but she’s less likely to be racially profiled or dismissed by the media. I’d wager that the press probably already takes her more seriously than they consider West.
Lorde is right; she wasn’t born a royal. Neither were any of the MCs with whom she takes issue.
No, Lorde was born white, which in much of society’s eyes makes her closer to a monarch than the people who look like me.
[Image description: a box of Hamburger Helper with a QR code sticker on it that says “GENETICALLY ENGINEERED.”]
^This is a shitty thing to do. You’re just going to make minimum wage workers have to spend all day peeling off stickers and make lower-class people who can’t afford non-gmo food afraid to buy food.
My favorite thing about this though is the QR code on the sticker.
Hamburger Helper and its generic versions are often go-to meal plans for lower income households. I know we sure ate the hell out of it growing up, back when my family was really struggling financially.
My family isn’t struggling so much these days, but still, we have nothing that could scan a QR code. We don’t have pocket devices with instant internet access. So how the hell is anyone financially worse off than us supposed to make use of this code and website?
This isn’t helping anyone. This isn’t educating anyone. This is just scaring people with limited options and giving more work to people who aren’t paid enough. This is bullshit.
According to MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff, systematic usage of paid internships disproportionately shuts out working-class and lower-middle-class writers from journalism careers. Do you agree?
This is a definite issue for young journalists — though not across the board. Many newspapers, for example, offer paid internships, and when I started in the industry, I was lucky enough to get a temporary job that was paid. (Magazines, traditionally, are less likely to offer paid internships.) So I definitely feel for journalists struggling to make a career out of this. Good on The Ed Show for raising the issue, though the next question is, what are NBC’s own practices on the matter? — Ernie @ SFB
More key points on the problem of access to journalism as a career.
The GOP has won the battle over food stamps. The House passed a $500 billion farm bill on Wednesday that funds nutrition and agriculture programs for the next five years and makes $9 billion in cuts to food stamps. The measure is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law.
What often gets lost in these policy debates is the people who are affected by them.
The only people that can afford to take an unpaid job are those that are already well-off enough to survive without pay. That means that there are careers where the only way to effectively break in to the industry is to be well-off in the first place.
This is a major problem in many industries, including film, advertising, fashion, music, and others. If your parents can pay for an apartment in Manhattan, congratulations, you can get your foot in the door. If not, tough luck, go find another job more suited to your lower-class life.
HDSFGIDSHFJKDSHFJDSHFKJSDFNJKDSFJKDSF (via pizzawolves)
Same with volunteering and “giving back”. It would be so much easier to do AmeriCorps if I could live rent free with mommy and daddy for a year, but that’s not possible for everyone. So you’re forced to choose between doing something positive and rewarding and financial security.
Now there’s an incomplete list. Lemme just add to it a bit:
You know, I’m amazed how we don’t judge the choices that rich white men make. Look at how we don’t prosecute bank executives who illegally foreclosed on middle class families and rigged international lending rates. Look at how we defend multi-million dollar pay packages for CEOs running their companies into the ground and yet scrutinize even a 10-cent increase in the minimum wage. Look at how we make excuses for male politician after politician who drop their pants and then make comebacks (pun intended!).
But poor women, especially poor women of color, immigrant women—we judge every choice they make. We judge them if they have children. We judge them if they get abortions and don’t have children. We don’t care that General Electric doesn’t pay any taxes—but we care that poor women of color collect public assistance AND have too nice of a cell phone.
In what began as a push to set up an independent public school district, the Village St. George community in Louisiana has now gathered almost half the signatures necessary to become its own city. The southern unincorporated portion of East Baton Rouge Parish is petitioning its 107,262 residents to form a local governing body, potentially creating Louisiana
things ppl say that alerts you to them being the actual worst:
- john was my favourite beatle
- abolishing religion would solve a lot of problems
- i’m not a racist i hate all races equally
- disliking someone because of their political affiliation is ridiculous
- but if you think about it stereotypes do exist for a reason
- god, can you believe people on welfare own iphones
- but what about mens rights
- why can’t white people say the n-word
- i’m just being the devils advocate
Well, white dude with I’m guessing considerable stock in Google, is the library just there for your needs or purposes?
Maybe you enjoyed your exercise in wordplay and making points already made. But what was your point again? Books make libraries so without books libraries aren’t libraries? Books look different so libraries can’t be libraries? Libraries look different so libraries can’t be libraries? You don’t need libraries for books so we don’t need libraries? I’m sorry, what?
Oh but wait, we’re pretending? Pretending what? Pretending there’s an access divide? Pretending there’s a digital divide? Pretending information illiteracy? Pretending folks lack job skills? Pretending college students need help with citation (BAHA HAHAHAHAHHA)? Did I get a Masters in Pretending? I MEAN I DO HAVE A GREAT IMAGINATION SO I PROBS GOT STRAIGHT A’S. OR P’S FOR PRETENDING. I’m sorry, what?
Also read this from BeerBrarian - The End of “The End of Libraries”
On Sunday, October 14th, yet another “End of Libraries” piece appeared. Per usual, it was written by a white male with no use for libraries, because every single time this trope appears, that’s part of the author’s demographic background. Beyond that, it’s a crucial part of the author’s background. It is overwhelmingly affluent white men who argue that because they do not use something, it has no value for anyone. Libraries. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Affordable health care. It’s the same argument.
"The internet has replaced the importance of libraries as a repository for knowledge." Ah, yes, because you can trust everything you read on the internet.
Republicans play this game all the time. “I don’t need it, therefore it’s not important and we should get rid of it.” I can vividly remember the last time I was in a library. It was three weeks ago. I needed to do research and the material I needed was not online. Not every book is completely indexed in Google Books. And yes, an ebook is cheaper and faster than buying a physical copy of a book - but it’s harder to skim through an ebook quickly, and the physical copy at the library costs you nothing (up front; tax dollars etc etc).
Like I said, I was at the library three weeks ago. It was around 4 pm on a Tuesday. And you know what? It was CROWDED. There was a packed sign-up sheet for the computers. Kids and parents abounded in the children’s section. Older people and teenagers read at the tables in the main area. I had to wait in line to check out my book.
Before that, I had spent a lot of quality time on my library’s website. I like to read both physical books and ebooks. My library does Kindle loans. OK, their website is a crappy government website, and it can be a little difficult to navigate, but it’s doable. I read books I probably couldn’t or wouldn’t pay full price for, AKA a big part of the purpose of a library.
Libraries are not useless in the digital age, and even more importantly, they aren’t all empty. Just because YOU, PERSONALLY do not need or use something doesn’t make it a charming but impractical relic of a long-forgotten age.
I work in a library. Here are some of the reasons people come to the library:
They want directions.
They want to collect food/garden/dog waste bags, all handed out free at libraries.
They want to print/photocopy/scan.
They want to access the internet, either on our computers or on their own, via the free wi-fi.
Often this is because they have to apply for benefits, housing or jobs through the official system which is only available online. If they haven’t internet at home, the library offers free internet access. Where else does that? Sometimes they aren’t computer literate, so they appreciate an environment where they can ask for help.
Maybe they’ll attend one of our free IT classes, ranging from the absolute basics to subjects such as Facebook, Office software, job hunting and how to use the Council’s Homesearch website. If they want something specific, such as how to use their own laptop or how to shop online, we can set up a one-to-one appointment, also for free.
Our study spaces are very popular. Often they are all taken by ten past nine, after we open at nine. The number of people who have asked me how much it costs and looked surprised when I explained that using the library space is free and doesn’t require you to be a member surprises me.
They want to read the newspapers or magazines the library buys (recently expanded with the launch of an emagazine service—I get to read SFX for free now, which is cool).
They’re researching their family tree and want to take advantage of the library’s subscription to Ancestry.
They want to consult the planning documents for a local development or the register of local voters.
They want to participate in a council consultation.
They may have come to seek advice from an agency that operates a drop-in session at the library, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau or the police.
They may be attending an event, either run by the library (an author talk, a book group, baby Rhymetime) or by an outside company who have rented the meeting rooms (theatre productions, ESOL classes, yoga). The library itself has regular events for babies, children, teenagers, adults, adults with mental health difficulties, adults learning English…
We have regular class visits from the local schools. We read them a story and they all choose a book. Sometimes we go to them. It was actually really lovely to see how many children came into the library, talking excitedly about the Summer Reading Challenge we came and told them in Assembly.
Children still look for books when they’re doing their homework, you know. Children who weren’t born at the time of the Millennium and have grown up with the internet.
People actually still read books. Over thirty thousand items were issued in my library last month, and while we certainly have DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs, Talking Books, Language Courses, all those added together can’t be more than a couple of thousand.
Free books. I’m sorry, I am never over how wondrous that is. Thousands of books, free to borrow and read. (And for those incapable of making the journey to the library, we have a Housebound service.)
For all these reasons, we are really busy. Dozens of people join every day. Hundreds of people walk through the doors every day. Of course, there are people who don’t make use of libraries, who don’t need them. But really, someone who can’t remember the last time they went to the library can have no idea of the role they play.
Libraries are not irrelevant. Libraries are not cultural artefacts. Libraries are living and changing, a resource and a social space, free at the point of access, engaging the community, offering a wide range of services, accessible to all. And what other institution can you say that about? Libraries are important.
Sure, let’s just shut down every bit of non-commercial community space we have left. That’s worked out great for us so far. :/
H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman, Articulate While Black (via socio-logic)
[great quote and “Articulate While Black” is such a good title *saving for future book/show title]
"Real food" is a term I dislike almost as much as "real women," and for many of the same reasons…
Right this minute, there is someone going through chemotherapy shopping at your grocery store, buying popsicles and ice cream to help their sore mouth, and worrying what the cashier is going to think.
There is someone on hemodialysis buying white bread instead of whole wheat, trying to keep their phosphorus levels reasonable between appointments and hoping for the best.
There is a person attending intensive outpatient treatment for their eating disorder who has been challenged by their therapist to buy a Frappuccino.
There are dietitians picking up a dozen different candy bars to eat with their clients, who feel ashamed and guilty about enjoying them.
There is someone who just doesn’t have it in them to cook right now, and this frozen pizza and canned soup will keep them going.
There are people recovering from chronic dieting and semi-starvation who are buying chocolate and chips at their deprived body’s insistence.
All around us are people listening to what their bodies need and attempting to make the best possible choice within a context of overwhelming food pressure. All of their choices are valid, and every single one of these foods is “real.”
that Lily Allen video is a hot mess and I can already hear the resounding clatter of the liberal white feminists as they fall over themselves to talk about how incisive and right-on it is (Caitlin Moran is already gushing about it on Twitter, as is my boring pseudo-feminist pal from uni)
-she thinks she can name a song after a Three 6 Mafia classic then go on to mock the aesthetics pimp rap was built on
-the line ‘I won’t be bragging bout my cars, or talking bout my chains/don’t need to shake my arse for you cos I’ve got a brain’ means she can join Lorde and Macklemore in the bin for White People In 2013 Who’ve Written Songs That Condemn and/or Parody Materialism In Hip-Hop As Though They Have Any Right To (and as though there aren’t deep-rooted historical reasons as to why lots of rap music revels in opulent wealth). gimme goofy, endlessly loveable 2Chainz snarling BOUGHT A NEW CRIB JUST TO FUCK YOU IN over this puritanical shite anyday
-if she wanted to specifically satire Blurred Lines, the BAGGY PUSSY balloons and the ‘have you thought about your butt, who’s gonna tear it in two’ line would have sufficed
-metatextually using black women as props is STILL using black women as props
-feels like a lot of the choreography explicitly mirrors that of the Pour it Up video, so we have Lily getting on her high horse about a video that is 1000000000x more empowering than hers could ever dream of being. the Pour It Up dancers getting to exhibit their athleticism free of any male gaze vs Hard Out Here’s voyeuristic shots of twerking while a Generic Old White Dude directs
anyway this feels like when Kate Nash decided feminism would be the best way to market her music while trotting about in a bindi and writing songs like ‘I’m A Feminist, You’re Still A Whore’
there’s nothing more infuriating than when people from privilege actually insult people without privilege for wanting status and wealth
I grew up in the fucking projects, have been homeless twice and moved almost 20 times in my life. You damn right I’m gonna want to buy a big nice apartment and have a closet full of YSL. Thrift shops are trendy now but when I was in school I was made fun of for being poor. These white rappers seriously think they’re making valid statements in this. Appropriating, colonizing and gentrifying things then shaming the people who had to endure them for wanting more because their experiences was actual struggle and not an experiment is the surest way to show your entire ass.
Tupac was right, the ghetto gets robbed for everything.
"Class warfare" being falsely interpreted as "class envy" is the most abjectly ideologically liberal rhetoric I can imagine.
Envy of access to medical care
Envy of adequate food
Envy of being paid the full wages earned
Envy of heat and shelter
Envy of the physical and temporal space to rest
Envy of having basic biological needs met