In The Case For “Blurred Lines”

I haven’t been able to blog for the past two/three months as I am now back in college, spending my days loathing all of my professors for being uberly under-qualified (none of them have doctorates in English or otherwise). But that is not the issue I wish to address here. Nay, that does not even bother me as much as this: the controversial “rape” messages surrounding Robin Thicke’s summer extravaganza “Blurred Lines”.

I was so bothered by this that I couldn’t sleep last night for almost an hour just thinking about what I would type out when I awoke in the morning. I even wrote a rage-filled message to my friend Apple just yesterday because I felt like no one would listen to what I had to say about the song seeing as all of my female friends in college are quite feministic.

I have only recently gotten into the song “Blurred Lines”. It must have been this past weekend. That may sound like shocking news but I like to let music – that is, pop music that seems to play on repeat EVERYWHERE – simmer down a little before I really grab hold onto it. This past Wednesday, I read a post shared by one of my friends: HERE. I don’t know if you’ve been living under a rock but the issue of rape and consensual sex has been recently raised by countless number of people all over the world. I could name a few examples but that is not my point. My point is, my whole good-vibes about “Blurred Lines” vanished from the moment I read this. I was disgusted to even listen to the song, not because I was disgusted by the so-called “message” of the song, but by the fact that my obsession hadn’t run its full course and I felt betrayed by the world for ruining my moment.

Since I love making bullet points and lists because it just easily maps everything out for me, I am now going to run you through the reasons why I am not okay with this complete ruination of my cloud-nine moment with “Blurred Lines”:

1)      I already had a preconceived notion of what’s been going around, that no one should listen to “Blurred Lines” because of its pro-rape message so I knew going in to my obsession, not to take heed to the lyrics (also, I have never watched the music video of the song itself but rather have relied on the song’s debut performance on The Voice and The Graham Norton Show so you can tell we had a little bit of history). NOT in the sense that I already knew the lyrics and therefore chose to ignore what could possibly be “implied” (I have put that in quotations because this is an issue I have with MANY MANY things in the world) but in the sense that in my mind, I kept mumbling the words and distorting them so I honestly didn’t know the words by choice. So that’s one thing ruined.

2)      Secondly, this “implication” maddens me to the depths of hell’s fury; after all, assuming makes an ass of you and me. Do you honestly think someone in their right mind would purposefully and knowingly write a song about rape? And for that matter, someone like Robin Thicke who has a beautiful son with his even more gorgeous wife Paula Patton? If we want to blame the composers of this song for anything it’s that they speak of promiscuity and nothing else. All other “rape” “implications” have been projections made by individuals who are completely disappointed by the crappy thing we call society. The closest thing to an implication of rape would be a mere Freudian slip and, ladies and gentlemen, psychology is not 100% just like astronomy is horse shit.

3)      We are currently studying the Wife of Bath’s Tale from “The Canterbury Tales” by Chaucer and today we came across a passage that totally fueled my argument. This is in her prologue where she says: “He spak more harm than herte may bithinke/And therwithal he knew of mo proverbes/Than in this world ther growen gras or herbes.” This is the part of the prologue where the wife of Bath’s 5th husband reads out of his Book of Wicked Wives in order to somehow tame his lecherous wife. The point is, I don’t understand why people have to dwell so much on the negative, so very much, to the point that they almost fetishize the horrible deeds done by horrible men and women. Yes, I said fetishize. I understand that some people need the shock, that some people will never get the message without a little punch but what does that say about the world that we dwell on such miserable topics? Someone I know who is an avid animal lover keeps sharing morbid pictures of physically abused pets on Facebook that I sometimes wonder if she likes the pain. Yes, you are trying to help but that is why we have freewill. I can’t stand people who complain and complain and do nothing to change their situation when they know they have a choice. Like my pops who complains about how much food my mom gives him for lunch: JUST CONTROL YOUR PORTIONS DAMMIT!

4)      There’s the whole misogyny of it all, or rather anti-misogyny. Why is it that when a man sings about sex and whatnot that there is this whole shit storm of feminists that follow close behind like a cloud of locusts? Why is it okay for women to sing about promiscuity and it being translated into female empowerment? Isn’t sexism twofold? Have feminists forgotten about their very own demeaning stance on men? Sure you may say feminism is about equality of sexes but I’m just implying that it isn’t. Am I wrong to “imply” such a thing? I don’t see why not.

5)      In that case, combining my points made in 2 and 4, let’s analyze any song that comes to mind. Let’s start with the obvious ones. Selena Gomez’s “Come And Get It” is a sultry song about a woman writhing in the agony of waiting for her lover to ‘come and get it’ and could also be about an ‘easy-target’ sort of woman who is telling any and all men that she is an open house. Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” is obviously about being in an abusive relationship and enjoying it. Where’s the harm in that if she likes it right? One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young” is about a group of young men seeking out potential sexual partners while they are still rampant and potent, obviously about gang rape. Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” is about a man who wants to ‘swag’ on you. No need for any further explanation. Taylor Swift’s “22” is about a girl who craves company to point where she desires to meet someone she doesn’t know but she “bets you want to”. She is blatantly considering a life of promiscuity with anyone she doesn’t know, duh! Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is about an insecure woman who has just had the only sexual experience she will ever have in her life, possibly by the friendly and extremely creepy old guy living next door, and wants him to desperately do her again. I could go on but I think I’ve scarred most of you enough. Now you know how I feel, now you know how upsetting it is to have a great song ruined just because of some “implications”.

6)      The last point I am going to make is that “Blurred Lines” is not some piece of exquisite propagandist poetry which we can compare to Yeats or Browning or Plath. It is just a song that a bunch of people wrote to make millions and millions of dollars, but besides this, it is just a song that a bunch of people wrote for the enjoyment of certain individuals (obviously excluding hardcore feminists). More than this, we should concern ourselves with songs such as “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Daylight” by Maroon 5 and “There’s No Going Back” by Sick Puppies to name a few contemporary ones. Why do such, I hate to say it but, useless songs come under the radar of people who work for important causes against societal problems? You’re just taking the easy way out and projecting your hatred onto something so dismal. Don’t create controversy over a peace of steaming poop.

Protecting the next generation of music lovers and individuals is important but “shielding” them from these types of songs isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, shielding anyone from any music can only ultimately be achieved if you pour hot metal into their ears because these are organs that we possess to perceive the world and to exercise free will. We must find both the pros and the cons to everything in life not only to keep our minds sharp but to also keep the light going. If we only focus on the cons, how can we improve? After all, doesn’t improvement entail a positivity towards a better future? So, come on folks, sit back, relax and enjoy “Blurred Lines” just because you enjoy it.

Echo out.

Gabrielle Aplin

Ahh so here we are back to reviews and really talking about music.

I first came across Gabrielle Aplin through a UK Top 40 download casually actually. I don’t think I made myself listen to it but it just seemed to pop up and I’m glad it did. It was definitely around the time the single for “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” came out and since I haven’t said it yet – d’oh – this was the track I first heard.

The first time I really took notice of it was during the early morning cab drop offs from our PG to college and I remember how serene it made everything even though mornings make me dreary as hell. I felt as though I was cruising down an open road surrounded by yellow fields and clear blue sky which is something you seek when life just seems like a monotonous burden.

Gabrielle Aplin is 20 years of age – which makes me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life being a year younger – and got her start on YouTube, something all we fellow musicians want to accomplish. That’s why we make covers for y’all, because we want to make something of ourselves, prove ourselves worthy of your ears. The future begins with one view from you.

Semantics aside, I know now why I feel connected with her. GABRIELLE APLIN IS A LIBRAN!!! I welcome all Librans with open arms because I know how you are, you know how I am so let’s just be BFFs, kay? Aplin was born 8 days and one year before me. How cool.

Maybe as soon as you read “got her start on YouTube”, you roll your eyes thinking “here we go again, another talentless schmuck ‘making’ music but not really.” Well, you sir are wrong. Her first EP, Acoustic EP, reached the Top 25 UK iTunes chart. Her second EP, Never Fade, reached number 14 on the UK albums chart – legit charts – not to mention, she played all the instruments herself. Then we get the EP Home and finally English RainIn the span of three years.

Now, I haven’t heard the whole album yet but I’ll be talking about two tracks that I think perfectly showcase the opposite ends of Gabrielle Aplin’s debut album “English Rain”.

First off, “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” is one of those classic tracks. Simple melody, simple lyrics, a love song in its essence but with something unspoken, some sort of aura that gives it that extra punch. It’s more than a love song. I mean, courtesy of Pops, I really can’t say it better: “the lyrics are so simple and cliched yet no one has ever thought of saying ‘please don’t say you love me/cause I might not say it back’…” This covers the pop segment of ‘English Rain’. It’s catchy, snappy and light. It’s the perfect start for any up-and-coming artist. It’s calm, serene, extra smooth and breezy. The perfect soundtrack for any road trip or drive-around.

Then comes the highlight of this post, the reason why I even bothered to open WordPress at 1 in the morning. I’d heard this one time before while my music player was on shuffle and I was baking some chocolate chip cookies at 3 am and did in fact notice it but it kind of flew over my head in the coming days. Then here I am again, listening to it. It’s called “Start of Time“. This covers the ambient, alternative side of English Rain. The first verse covers everything you need to know about Gabrielle’s voice, it’s just like “a drop of water/…running down a mountainside/…rising with the morning tide”. I haven’t felt this crazy about a song in a very long time because of my compulsive listening disorder which is that I can’t stick to one track for too long because I get inevitably bored with it.

There is absolutely no harshness in Gabrielle’s voice. It IS literally like water. Smooth and almost invisible to the senses, pleasant to the touch. I wanted to take the easy way out and just use “Start of Time” as the “Current Obsession” widget over there to your left but decided that it was time for me to start reviewing something and not talking about pimples and rashes.

I have watched a few of her earlier covers on YouTube and they don’t impress me much. You don’t see the potential she possesses as an artist so I thank God Gabrielle has had the nerve and passion to start making her own music and done something with herself. I feel ashamed as an artist standing against Gabrielle because we are practically the same age yet I’ve done nothing outstanding with my life for others to admire or even for myself to admire. I’m just…average. But that’s why I love people like Gabrielle Aplin because they make me believe in the future, in a future when I can finally take the reins and “make good art” (Neil Gaiman). World, stop pressuring me! I’m going to be a good girl and get my college degree like Jay-Z did.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE listen to English Rain you will not be disappointed by Gabrielle’s voice or her songwriting abilities, or her musical composition, or anything else. Gabrielle Aplin, I worship you and respect you as an artist.

Echo out.

Just Another Wednesday

Two new things happened to me today. Maybe three.

But let’s preface the story with a little Rhett and Link anecdote. Last night, I watched an episode of Rhett and Link’s “Good Mythical Morning” podcast show on a freaky dream that Rhett shared with his wife about the same creepy blonde lady haunting both their dreams. He then briefly mentioned lucid dreaming. I looked up the how-to’s and then tried it out. I need a bit of practice. I just hope it doesn’t turn out all ‘Inception’-y and then I lose my will to live. That’s thing one.

Thing two goes back to zombies. I just downloaded the full Walking Dead graphic novel series and just finished Volume 3. I don’t know which I like better: the comics or the TV show.

Both have very different approaches to the plot at hand. Obviously, being titled “The Walking Dead”, the show has to generally follow what’s going on in paper so we won’t fuss too much about that even if hardcore fans start ranting about the estate scene in Volume 2 or Donna and Allen and their twin boys. We get Darryl in the show anyway and you have to admit, he is one big BAMF.

Events in the comics are definitely more fast-paced and aggressive and really get down to humans’ primitive state but let’s be honest, if a zombie apocalypse were to occur, we would handle it like the superior species we are and have Brad Pitt save the world for us. Simple. The TV show definitely tones down the violence and graphicness of it all; there is no major cussing, Carl isn’t the one who kills Shane, Andrea and Dale aren’t having sex, someone or the other doesn’t die in every single episode, Lori isn’t a total bitch like she is in the comics, Glenn is not a super badass, etc.

Trust me when I say that you should read the comics if you’re a big fan of the show. It won’t be like “Game of Thrones” which I find to be a very thorough adaptation of the novels; i.e. when you read it, you might feel like skimming over bits because they were on the show. The general setting – the camp, the prison – is still the same with our central characters – the Grimes, Carol and Sofia, Dale, Andrea and Amy, Herchel and his kids, Glenn – however, the events surrounding them differ and are way WAY darker. After Herchel’s two daughters are decapitated by a psycho in the prison, Maggie decides she won’t love Glenn anymore because he will die one day anyway. Like I stated above, Carl kills Shane. And then ponies shit rainbows.

Now we come to the main event: thing three.

My dad and I went jogging about an hour ago. Initially, I thought, “I only got 5 hours of sleep last night, I’ll just walk.” But the last few days of eating cookies and this really horrible apple pie I baked have given me enough energy to last me a week and a half. Now, when I jog, because I hate the mundane steadiness of the pace, I sprint every once in a while. That’s what got me into jogging; the sprinting. And also, jumping up to touch a few hanging branches.

I remember only touching ONE particular branch today; usually I go for more. When we finished our 2 km run, and I totally out-sprinted my dad, I noticed a few bumps growing on my face. I thought I’d just scratched it really hard even though my brain was shouting, “NO YOU DIDN’T!” Then I could feel it growing and started scratching all over my upper body. Before I knew it, I got a rash. This has only ever happened to me one other time in my life.

I was in the first grade I think and I’d just gotten first place in the class examination. I was excited because I knew my parents were going to take us to McDonald’s for a reward. And, as it were, my brother and I went out to play with our gang of friends. When I got back home, my whole body was itching and these rash bumps were forming EVERYWHERE. But I was determined to have my reward anyway so my mother gave me some medicine and we were off to McDonald’s. After dinner, the bumps went away and my parents made a joke but I forget.

So here we are again. It doesn’t even tickle or itch, it’s just pulsating and really getting in the way of my facial muscles. Thankfully, it’s only on my face and shoulders/upper arms.

Trying to use the light as best I can to show the bumps

Trying to use the light as best I can to show the bumps

The white bits are powder

The white bits are powder

I am certain it was the branch that I touched because I don’t carry with me an arm band or a handkerchief to wipe my sweat so I use my hands and wipe my hands on my shirt or pants which is a very gross image, I know. I took a shower straight away where I started hyperventilating because I looked like a burn victim and because IT HAD TO HAPPEN AGAIN! Then I lathered on talcum powder all over the affected areas and even changed my sheets because I’m paranoid like that. I have currently retreated to my bedroom with a bowl of nuts and a glass of orange juice.

So there we go. The ups and downs of a Wednesday.

Echo out.

PS: Here’s my newest YouTube video. Got 1 like already. Yay. :\

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKE5Nd3lKJU

PPS: I only just found out this morning that “Peace of Mind” is a Boston original. I always thought it was Journey for some reason.

Zambies

Every summer, my number one priority has been to not turn into a summer zombie which is reasonable considering my tendency of sleeping early in the morning and waking up in the evening resulting in the least possible amount of time spent in human interaction. But this summer has been a summer of zombies in the best sense.

It all started with Pewdiepie. If you don’t know who Pewdiepie/Pewds is, then you sir are very much outdated with the interwebz. Regardless, for those of you who don’t know the Pewds, Pewdiepie is a Swedish YouTuber who makes gaming videos. Simple as that. It was a bit after midnight that I watched my first ever Pewds video and became a bro. It was the video for “The Last of Us” which I believe is a first person shooting-zombie-killing-other-surviving-human-killing game on the Playstation 3 following the protagonist Joel and his journey into learning to have hope again after the death of his daughter Sarah in the initial wave of the zombie apocalypse. (And I might also add that if you want to watch gaming videos but are like me and don’t want to watch all guns and war, then check Pewdiepie out because he plays a whole bunch of delightfully weird and funny games, although he screams and cusses A LOT.)

Like all zombie games/books/comics/flicks/chicks (because that rhymes), there is more to the whole post-apocalyptic/apocalyptic feel to the zombie interest. We who understand the ‘fad’ (I put that in quotes for people like you, pops, who don’t understand the need for the feels) know that there is more to the blood and gore and survivalist-badass-mofo thing going on with the zombie apocalypse; we get that the central theme of any and all zombie flicks is the weakness and eventual strength of the human race. It may have a tiny, tiny, little bit to do with the fact that we can’t feel any human emotions without them being based in fantastical settings to make up for our lack of comprehension of normal social interaction.

Eventually, 20 years after Sarah’s death, Joel is a hardened man. He travels with this ultimate BAMF chick named Tess to deliver a special and immune chick named Ellie – which made many of us uncomfortable at Pewds’ semi-attraction to the 14-year-old – to the resistance – resistance because a dictatorship has formed over the control of surviving humans’ protection and rations. All this sounds cool and all but the reason why many of us enjoyed watching the playthrough was because of the focus on the humanness of the plot. The gameplay is quite simple if I may say so but the plot is the driving force of the whole game, it gets to the deepest corners of your feeling bones – not to mention the landscape and soundtrack is incredible. And that, my friends, is why we love all these zombie flicks. I’m starting to sound like Smeagol/Gollum with all these “we”s and “us”s. They reinforce this raw humanity inside all of us and our potential ability to support each other and work as a team, because there is no ‘I’ in team but there is a ‘me’…wait, what?

Moving on, my dad and I then started watching ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 3 until the episode where Laurie dies. Did I spoil that for anyone? No? Good. We both ended up crying at that. Which is cool.

They have been shed.

Then comes my main point which will tie all this zombie-schmombie dealio up. Last Sunday, after service, I thought it would be nice to watch “World War Z” because it makes sense y’know; attend fellowhisp service about putting faith in God and then watching an apocalyptic movie about one possible way for the earth’s end. No big deal. The one and only time I cried was at the very beginning when the first wave of the infection hits Brad Pitt’s family; he is too big of a movie star to be known by any other character name, YOU ARE NOT GERRY TO ME!!! This hit me the hardest because this is the part in any apocalypse where you realize there is no fun and games anymore and your number one priority is to protect your loved ones. Of course the one thing that pissed me off was the 3D – WHY IS EVERYTHING IN 3D?? – but that was swiftly brushed aside when the apartment scene comes along and ZAMBIES EVERYWHERE! Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is effective use of the third dimension. Also, THEY CAN RUN.

I particularly enjoyed this movie because of its hopeful outcome. Most zombie movies just end in a very disturbing dystopian (this computer is so positive, it’s trying to auto-correct dystopian to utopian) light – which is how you milk the most out of a franchise…Resident Evil… – but ‘World War Z’ actually deals with prioritizing the seeking of the cure. I did think the young doctor ‘prodigy’ in the beginning was a bit useless because Brad Pitt clearly was smarter and more resourceful than the wimp. Prodigy my ass. And honestly, if the world did come down to a zombie apocalypse, this is how it would end; we/the UN (I wonder if the movie was sponsored by the UN) would find the cure/a way of controlling the zombie herds and then have a pint at the Winchester because we are at the top of the food chain and smarter than a bunch of zombies.

Also, I would like to point out my hatred for ants – because who wouldn’t hate another species that is just as efficient as us? – and the director’s inspiration of ants with the zombies. Now that is some ultimate cringe-binge for me. IMHO an ant apocalypse is much more plausible than a zombie one.

ANTS EVERYWHERE!

I’ve said a lot about the zombies but what really got my heart racing and kept me breathing shallow and so excited that I wanted to scream like a fangirl in the cinema hall was the cure. When Brad Pitt sees that two dudes aren’t being totally overrun by a bunch of people with severe rabies, that just made me so intrigued to find the origin of their camouflage. HOW CAN YOU NOT? Finally, here’s a movie that totally trumps all other zombie movies in its efficiency in rationalizing a possible solution to the end of the massacres.

My dad didn’t quite like it. But whatever…and here’s a guy who doesn’t fall asleep at ‘Merlin‘ or ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’.

So let me reiterate the point being made here that to me – and I hope to others as well – the zombie apocalypse fad is way beyond the guns and legal murder of brainless people (a metaphor for our desires to rid the world of ignoramuses like Farah Abraham. Oh God why did I have to click on her YouTube channel?! I would have been better off not knowing at all. You will be better off not knowing so don’t do what I did.), it is about the one unique trait we all possess inside of us which is to support and help each other. The world would be overrun by ants right now if we didn’t possess compassion for the needy and the understanding that we will go nowhere without supporting each other. And this is a lesson learnt in all of these ‘nerdy’ games/books/comics/flicks/chicks that valor is our greatest weakness and strength, that even if you don’t believe in God, even if you have the freedom to be as evil and as corrupt as you want because it seems like fun, positivity and compassion will be the only things that will propel you towards inner peace and happiness. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what we understand.

Echo out.

Or, if you don’t believe in all this fairydust-positivity-moral-of-the-story-BS I’ve just told you, then consider this if it comes down to an apocalypse: Steve Carell on ‘Ellen’ said scaring is the one true way to finding out a person’s raw being. So, if you find yourself coinciding with a survivor(s) and you’re not sure if you can trust him/her, then just dump his ass on a herd and see if he either uses you as bait or helps a brother out. That’s my one advice.

For realz, Echo out.