As an entertainment writer, my threshold for offensive content in music videos is pretty high. I’ve had a front-row seat to the extreme measures singers are willing to go to in an effort to create buzz about their video and to ensure that their thumbs-up count on YouTube is higher than their competitors’. So when two videos — released about the same time — are so offensive to me I barely know where to begin my commentary, you know a line has been crossed.
Play-N-Skillz, featuring Lil Jon, released the video for “Literally I Can’t,” which succinctly put, portrays women who don’t want to get drunk, sleep with frat boys or engage in “girl-on-girl” action as stuck-up and hateful. When offered vodka or sex or the opportunity to make out with each other for the amusement of the men in the crowd, the women respond with, “Literally, I can’t.” The men crowd around the women and tell them to “shut the f*** up.”
There’s a message for all the young girls in the audience: If you don’t want to get “crunk,” sleep with a bunch of drunk frat boys or make out with your friend while said drunk frat boys look on, you’ll be demonized and told to “shut the f*** up.”
Thanks, guys, for solidifying that rape culture is alive and well and being celebrated in pop music. Thanks for sinking another nail in the feminism coffin with the theme that women can sexually glorify men, or they can shut the f*** up, because the only reason they were invited to the party was for male entertainment.
Even though the “Literally I Can’t” video sinks a nail in feminism’s coffin, Nicki Minaj’s “Only” lowers it into the crowd where it will find its eternal resting place. “Only” offends on so many levels, perhaps the least of which is constant reference to “ass” and “titties.” Though it is just a lyric video, the words remind us that music videos have become a virtual and visual Hustler magazine, providing content that scratches the itch of male sexual fantasy.
Lyrics: Too far
While the women in “Literally I Can’t” cower when told to “shut the f*** up,” in real life the guy would get a knee to the junk, followed with a “You know why!” These lyrics, as presented in this video, are abusive and rapey.
When it comes to lyrics that go too far, Minaj wins again. The lyrics that we’re referring to are too offensive to print here, but we knew they went too far when Drake raps, “Ass on Houston, Texas, but the face look just like Claire Huxtable.” When you bring Claire Huxtable into your sexually explicit lyrics, you’ve gone too far.
Racial slurs and imagery
Minaj chose Nazi imagery as the background for “Only.” Beyond that, the N-word is used so many times it makes us cringe. To recap, Minaj’s song offends racial groups, women and more or less anyone who has the ability to hear.
Glorifying drive-by shootings
“Only” is not done offending you just yet. After several references to guns and gangs, the lyrics state, “If you mouth off, I blow your face off. I mean pop, pop, pop and then I take off.” Wow, talk about not leaving any stone unturned. I guess we can check the box next to “glorification of random violence.”
When it’s all said and done, the reason these videos make us insane with anger is because all this is done by music industry executives who want to sell music. The formula for that in today’s culture is to manipulate people with overly sensational and offensive content. If you offend and anger people, headlines will be created. You’ll trend on Facebook. You’ll show up in Google hot-trends. Ellen DeGeneres might parody your video. All of this leads to sales.
Before you lash out at me for writing an article that draws attention to these two horrendous videos, please note that I went out of my way to not post the videos in this feature. If you really want to watch them, you know how to go to YouTube and type in the name of the song. If you do that, please share your comments after you watch the videos. Are you OK with this kind of content? Are you offended? Did it make you insane with anger? Why — or more importantly — why not?