Monday, February 4, 2013

The Problem With Power Booty

First, let me reassure you that I know that there are people all over the world who are starving. And that this may, on first glance, seem like a frivolous commentary on our equally frivolous culture (we can warm our asses on our car seats for godssake), but somewhere in here is a bigger issue. A grander scale that needs investigating. I should preface this by saying I don't have all the answers. If I did, this blog would be history.

The Halftime Show. Yes, I'll start there. I promised my darling, yet brutally over-tired children that they could watch Beyonce perform before they brushed their teeth and hit the sheets. I sat down with them, but not too close because Lucian's breath smelled oddly of hot dogs, although he doesn't even like/eat hot dogs. It's one of those mysteries I have no desire to solve. Anyway, back to halftime. There is the bodacious Beyonce with her long Rapunzel-esque locks, surrounded by leather bedecked dancers and a ring of actual flame (from propane tanks, as Lucian noted). We watched her sing and swing and widen her eyes so big I thought, for a moment, that I was watching some kind of vaudeville throw back and not a decadant American diva. Actually, to be honest, there wasn't much singing. More booty-shaking and hip grinding than anything else. My son left the room, saying the dance was "disgusting" and he didn't want to watch a bunch of women "in bathing suits, doing that weird dance." My more pop-savvy daughter stared on in disbelief.

"I'm really going to have to rethink how I feel about Beyonce," was her hesitant response.

It sounds like a scene from the Flanders' household. You know, the Evangelical neighbors of the debauched Simpsons? But, sadly, we are not the Flanders. And this halftime show was no joke. I am not a conservative woman, not by any stretch of any leotard or bustier. Basically, I follow the French (as in 1920s French, not the current terrifying conservative, racist, anti-immigration French government) line of thinking. Topless beach, no problem. Sex orgies, sure if that's your thing, girl power, black power -- yes, yes, yes -- all cool. But I couldn't shake the feeling, as I was watching all that leather and, well, lace, bopping around, that we (and Beyonce) have hit a strange low in our collective culture. She really didn't sing that much, and the real flames didn't fool me. And the set list, utterly confusing (at least the five minutes she did sing). My daughter and I felt a little glimmer of hope when she started singing "Independent Woman (or is it Women?)." That's a song we got. She sang the refrain, we rocked out for about five seconds, high on the empowerment (The shoes on my feet, I bought 'em, the rock I'm rockin'...yeah, that's right). But not two minutes later, she sings, while bouncing (everything) in a Playboy meets Tron unitard, "If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it..."

But wait a minute...I thought you were independent and you could buy your own ring. No problem, right?

Anna turned to me, her brows knitted together. "I don't get it," she said, and left the room. A little disappointed it seems.

Me neither, babe. I don't get it anymore. Why weren't the Rolling Stones half-naked (blech!) when they performed the halftime? Or at least wearing jock straps or some ridiculous outfit? Because people would've gone ballistic at how weird and disgusting and pandering it was. But yet Madonna sports a friggin' Cuban bathing suit, Beyonce wears lingerie (mind you, this is the same woman who was the epitome of class at the presidential inauguration, the same woman who rocked the national anthem dressed to the nines) and all of us are standing around scratching our heads.

My conclusion, the message is simple: Be what they want you to be when they want you to be it. More bang for the buck.

The problem, we don't know what any of our leaders and role models and celebrities stand for anymore. It's a minute by minute, candle in the wind, fake it 'til you make it (or make money) kinda thing. Very few people seem to start solid and stay solid. I can't imagine not knowing where Nina Simone stood on segregation. Or wondering what George Carlin thought about the human race as a whole. Ha. It all seems so impermanent.

And frankly, unsexy. Yeah, you heard me. I know sexy can sell anything. And there's nothing sexier than Aretha Franklin singing "Ave Maria" in a blood red ball gown, every word weighted and every note beautiful. And let's not forget a few of those words, about the Virgin herself, "Tis thou canst save amid despair."

Thou. Amid despair. No need for fishnets or flamethrowers. Thou. A poverty-stricken, pregnant, unmarried mother. That's as real as it gets. I'm not saying you should go out and start preaching the gospel, but for us, for us women especially, it's essential to make the message clear, strong, and pretty goddamn eternal for all those little eyes that are looking up and wondering when someone else is gonna put a ring on their finger and make them worth something.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you Nichole. I don't think anyone has all the answers to all of our problems. We have to come up with our own solutions to all of our problems. Happy early birthday (for next week).

    Jon Swartz