Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weezer: Sexist but Fun

Kimber feels conflict, but is easily distracted from it.

Weezer's latest album, Ratitude, can be a little grating on my feminist ears because the lyrics are fairly sexist. Weezer has had sexist overtones since their first album ("I want a girl who will laugh for no one else", how much more controlling can you get?), but Ratitude has especially prominent problems with tracks like "The Girl Got Hot", "I'm Your Daddy", and "Can't Stop Partying", among other tracks.

"The Girl Got Hot" is annoying simply because the subject of the song finds value through her blossoming physical attractiveness. The singer finds her interesting only after she "got hot", and remarks that the "other girls in town" find things lacking in comparison simply because "she got hot and they did not". Descriptions of what makes the girl interesting are limited to her physical appearance, yet the singer claims to be falling in love with her. This cheapens the value of women by suggesting that any allure, interest, or value they may hold lies solely in their physical appearance, rather than in their mental, emotional, or other capability.

In the song "I'm your daddy", the title lyric "you are my baby tonight/and I'm your daddy" reinforces the infantilization of women and lends support to the general idea that women need to be taken care of, while men gain superiority through their financial favors. The lyrics are a representation of the most predictable form of love/affection/what-have-you, in that the subject couple's love is unique, unpredictable, and fleeting, but depends on the girl being willing to follow the guy's lead.

"Can't Stop Partying" states that the singer needs "a lot of pretty girls around me", along with "the beat", "Patron", and "the jewels". Women are simply a status symbol, as well as another element of addiction in the partying lifestyle ("all the girls in the corner getting loose"). The song is about the shallow party lifestyle, but women are reduced to parts in the machine of that lifestyle, rather than being people who also may choose that lifestyle.

However, as troubling as the lyrics of the album are, the songs are something I can hum along to, break out in a little dance to, and generally just allow me to rock out. I feel as though I'm selling out on my values, but Rivers Cuomo has compiled an album that is musically fun, thus allowing me to occasionally ignore the sexist lyrics and give in to the music.

I would usually ignore completely any band that had even this marginal amount of misogyny in their lyrics, but Weezer redeems themselves through other songs like "Put Me Back Together", "Love is the Answer", and "I Don't Want to Let You Go" that speak of real human connection and a need for each other. These songs aren't the best material that Weezer has produced, but they are representative of the better qualities of the band, and enable the album Ratitude to be something I don't completely object to. In short, I think Rivers Cuomo is sensitive in many ways, but his portrayal of women could use some work. Still, he has a knack for crafting songs that are just plain fun, so I won't be boycotting his music anytime soon.

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