Lily Allen. What can we say? We have just added Ms. Allen to our growing list of Worthy Women of The Year for producing perhaps the most epic social commentary of the year. In her recent video, “It’s Hard Out Here (For A Bitch)” Lily satirizes the Pop and Hip Hop World, particularly for it’s exploitative visual presentations of women. In the video, Lily is on an operating table, receiving lipo (and presumably implants) as her body is critiqued by a caudrey of elderly white executives. She tries to help them understand that she has had two children (like many women) and then the camera flashes to a music video of a multicultural (albeit largely African American) assembly women, scantily clad and dancing provocatively. This, presumably is where the accusations of racism begin. Lily satirizes the absurd, stripper inspired dance routines that have become a mainstay in Hip Hop videos by hilarious parody. She fingers her own crotch and dances through a graphic of balloons that spell out that “Lily Allen Has A Baggy Pussy”. Those critical of the video are largely complaining about the visual images of black women pouring champaign on themselves, smacking and giggling their own asses and licking falic symbols like bananas. Lily Allen, they argue is obviously a racist!
We have one simple point/question. If the images of black women pouring champaign on themselves, and giggling their asses are disturbing for these protectorates of the black community, we (at Worthy Magazine) must ask where in the hell have these folks been for the last two decades of hip hop.
We won’t be coy here. The images in hip hop and pop music are not just deleterious to the African American community, they are debilitating. They have undermined the self image of African American women and the level of respect they enjoy both in the black community and outside of the black community. The term objectification is barely adequate when we consider the linty of songs that discuss black women as having little value beyond the sexual. Our little girls are now expected to hold in esteem female rap icons that flaunt their buttock implants to create an expectation that isn’t just unrealistic, it’s unhealthy.
We don’t actually believe that any of Lily Allen’s critics would take issue with any of our points. Any thinking person observing hip hop/pop imagery has become increasingly concerned about an industry that seems wholly fallacious. When broke artists are compelled to make endless anthems about money they don’t have, cars their labels lease for them and cribs that are rented, the industry itself can be seen as perverse. When musicians allude to date rape, drugging groupies, running trains and discuss sexuality with lyrics that are at minimum tinged with sexual violence- as images that depict black women are whores have become normative – reasonable people can conclude that perhaps, we have gone a bit too far. Again, we don’t think any one of Lily’s critics would take issue with our points. They take issue with the fact that these points came from a white woman.
The image of black women on their knees, twerking their asses, surrounding a Bentley isn’t new in music. In fact it’s so repetitive that it is trite. Where have these critics been when this same image is used in virtually every video of note. “I pray my dick gets big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can Fuck the World For 72 hours. God Damn I Got Bitches, Damn I got Bitches, Damn I got Bitches, wifey-girl friends and mistresses” is chanted with the professional precision from one of Hip Hops best M.C.’s as a gorgeous black queen is instructed to pop her ass vigorously next to Kendrick Lamar’s head. We are certain that images like this disturbed Lily Allen’s critics, yet they are angrier at her for a parody of them then they are at the actual images that inspired the satire. And why they are suddenly aroused to anger, is the most offensive of all. Her status as a white human being somehow means that she is unfit, or unallowed to poke fun at, or slam, through social commentary the denigration of black women? But if NAS wants to declare Gwenneth Paltrow “a real nigga” the twitter verse wont be calling for his head.
The real racist in this affair are in fact Allen’s critics, who cannot simply agree with the entirely valid points of a creative and socially responsible artist, because they don’t like the color of the person making the point.
We like the Allen video! We like the way she shows the elderly white male executives that drive the business that pays young blacks pennies on the millions of dollars in sales. We like that she shows that behind the cameras directing pops most sexual videos are often elderly men ordering beautiful black and white women to dump champagne on themselves and make their asses clap. We like that she shows that hip hops most denigrating images are not often the result of the creative expression of artists but rather of monetarily motivated geriatrics. We like the Allen Video! And we hope that it’s critics will reserve their fury for the industry that produces the images and not the satirist that lampoons them.
Here is what Lily Allen had to say about the accusations of her being racists.
“The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture,” she wrote. “It has nothing to do with race, at all.” She said that she tried for weeks to get her own twerk moves down but couldn’t get it right, and so hired the best dancers for the job; and that the reason she was more clothed was insecurity about her figure (reminding fans that she did have two children recently).
“I’m not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of, or compromised in any way,” she wrote, before concluding with an invitation to “Ask the ladies yourselves @shalaeuroasia @monique_Lawz @ceodancers @TempleArtist @SelizaShowtime @melycrisp.”
Watch and tell us.