Why I don’t like One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” a feminist perspective.

The other day my sister asked me why I felt the need to break my arm lunging to change the radio station when What Makes You Beautiful came on. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. It’s wasn’t just because they were a boy band, or because I had already heard the song enough times to fill a lifetime, or because I’m just not into this particular type of music, but something else. I figured out why. It’s the lyrics.

I’m only going to put in about half of the song. I think that’ll be enough. The song is about this guy singing to this girl about how beautiful she is.

You’re insecure
Don’t know what for
You’re turning heads when you walk through the door
Don’t need make up
To cover up
Being the way that you are is enough

Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

Let’s start here, focusing on the first few lines. You’re insecure/Don’t know what for. I do. She’s insecure because she’s been bombarded with media and images of beautiful, perfect, unattainable women; women from television shows and movies and billboards and magazines, and she feels like she doesn’t compare. She can’t compare. She’s in high school (presumably). Those years can be the shittiest in life. Her breasts aren’t big enough, her lips are plump enough, her eyebrows aren’t waxed enough, her butt is too small or too big. When she looks in the mirror she doesn’t see the beautiful young lady she is, she sees the love handles on her hips, and the gap in her teeth, and her eyes are too far apart, and her scrawny legs. She doesn’t see the girl you see, because women aren’t supposed to. To know you are beautiful is to be full of yourself, or too confident, stuck up, conceited.

But also, perhaps she is insecure not about her beauty, or her weight, but we can conceive that perhaps she feels inadequate for other reasons, such as she doesn’t have as many friends as she would like, she doesn’t feel smart enough, she hasn’t been to a party, she secretly doesn’t want to drive, or rebel, like all of her other friends do and so in that way she feels like she is an outsider, etc. There are other reasons to be insecure besides beauty.

[Chorus]

Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
But when you smile at the ground it aint hard to tell
You don’t know
Oh Oh
You don’t know you’re beautiful

Let’s be honest here, she could be faking that hair flip and coy glance downwards. Whoever this little girl out there is, no offense to you, but it is a possibility.

If only you saw what I can see
You’ll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe
You don’t know
Oh oh
You don’t know you’re beautiful
Oh oh
That what makes you beautiful

But wait, a minute ago you were saying how she shouldn’t be insecure, but it is that insecurity that you like? That’s what makes her beautiful? That is exactly what I just said up above in my very first paragraph. Girls aren’t supposed to be confident. They’re not supposed to know they’re beautiful. We like them insecure. We like them anxious. It makes girls “cute” and “delicate” or some other bullshit like that.

So c-come on
You got it wrong
To prove I’m right I put it in a so-o-ong
I don’t know why
You’re being shy
And turn away when I look into your eyes

Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

Well, I just told you why. Or maybe she’s just shy. Maybe she likes you and is embarrassed. Maybe she grew up in a family that never taught her the skills to look people dead in the eye when they talk.

There’s basically no new lyrics after this point in the song. It just repeats itself a few times before ultimately coming to a final and complete end.

I just don’t really understand the song. Yeah, boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl is beautiful, boy sings about girl…. but then he sings about her beauty, she doesn’t realize her own beauty, that’s why he likes her, and then he wants her to own her beauty? The logic doesn’t quite follow.

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Morgan Freeman’s take on the Conneticut Shooting, Shrimp Tacos, and Fox News

“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

And he’s right. On so the day of the shooting, plus the day after, so many of my friends of Facebook lamented the horrible tragedy that is this devastating shooting, but then they also pointed fingers towards gun control. Gun control is not the problem here. People who want guns will get guns, whether or not it is illegal. The problem here is how we are treating these tragedies. With fame and almost glory. (Not the kind of glory as we would like, but they’re infamous monsters whose names will be remembered, maybe forever.)

And Fox News didn’t even get it right. Once they heard a name that could possibly be the shooter, they went online and got a profile picture off of Facebook and spread it all across the news. It was this guy, Ryan Lanza:

Ryan Lanza

But he didn’t do it. He wasn’t even close. It was this guy’s brother who was the suspect, but this is not the right Ryan Lanza, just a guy with the same name.

We are spending too much time pointing fingers: it’s society’s fault, it’s the violent media’s fault, it’s violent video games... Pointing fingers doesn’t help anybody. We need to start trying to increase the good, try to increase understanding, awareness, and help.

We need to stop listening to the news. Especially Fox News. Seriously, it’s worthless. It’s become sensationalist and dumbed down. They don’t tell you what’s happening on in the world. They laugh and make jokes and tell you how to make Cheesy Potatoes or Shrimp Salsa Tacos. Fox wants to entertain you, not inform you. A recent study was done and showed that the viewership of Fox News had an average IQ ten points below the national average.

And they went online and plastered an innocent man’s face all over the nation as being a killer, apparently without any sort of research or fact checking.

Let’s substitute human reason for shrimp tacos and Facebook slaughters.

Let’s try to build understanding of the world around us.

Let’s try to support research rather than point fingers and glorify killers.

But let’s now have a moment of silence for all of those who died needlessly, whose names we don’t remember, whose faces we never knew.

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And then let’s try and love one another rather than fester and hate.
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