Skip to content

Tyler, The Creator, Creates 43-Year-Old “Joke”

Hey! Do you know who Tyler, the Creator is? No? Good for you. I wish I’d never heard of the little discharge-wad. But for those of unfamiliar: Consider all the [TRIGGER WARNINGS] that I basically don’t use a lot to be in full effect, and then think Eminem. And then do whatever it takes to stop you from thinking about Eminem — I like to punch a pillow! — and then understand that Tyler, the Creator of Odd Future is just the culture’s latest excuse to get all het up about how “provocative” and “edgy” it is to rap about how much you like to rape ladies (because that is a totally unpopular activity, not at all common in society today), and also, say “faggot” a lot (also uncommon, and without consequence), and also, o his genius! O, his technical mastery! O, he will save music from itself! Which might be true. I dunno. I was distracted by all the raping.

But, long story short, many of the critiques you will read of the Odd Future are summed up in this post from Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara:

When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses? While an artist who can barely get a sentence fragment out without using homophobic slurs is celebrated on the cover of every magazine, blog and newspaper, I’m disheartened that any self-respecting human being could stand in support with a message so vile.

As journalists and colleagues defend, excuse and congratulate ‘Tyler, the Creator,’ I find it impossible not to comment. In any other industry would I be expected to tolerate, overlook and find deeper meaning in this kid’s sickening rhetoric? Why should I care about this music or its “brilliance” when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?

It is not the best call-out of Tyler that you will ever read; nor is it the most nuanced. (The Oppression Olympics thing going on in the second sentence is like, OOF.) But it is the most prominent, and the one which put the most pressure on Tyler. The one to which he would be EXPECTED to respond, basically.

And respond he did!

If Tegan And Sara Need Some Hard Dick, Hit Me Up,” Tweeted Tyler, the Creator.

Now: There are a few things I would like you to do with this Tweet. For one, I would like you to listen to it. No, really: Hold your ear up to the computer monitor. Turn the volume up as far as it can go. You got speakers? Plug those in, too. Really zone in. Squeeze your eyes shut. Click through to the original, and listen to that!

Now: Does this Tweet, as far as you can tell, make ANY MUSIC AT ALL? No? Phew! I thought I was alone, in not hearing music when I looked at this delightful Tweet from Tyler, the Creator!

And this means a few things. For example: That the “it’s all about the music” pose is a fucking lie. That all of the boys who are snickering at this, and/or applauding it (and oh, yes, there were plenty) are not enjoying the “music.” They’re enjoying the misogyny. They’re enjoying the suggestion that uppity women should have a dick shoved in them to shut them up. They’re enjoying the misogyny. Because this shit ain’t music. It’s a fucking Tweet. Tweets, it’s my understanding, are distinctively unmusical. And furthermore: That Tyler’s delightful “humor” is not the point. Because this shit ain’t delightful “humor.” It’s not unpredictable. It’s not innovative. It’s not, under any circumstances, edgy. Because I was looking through Ye Olde Ellen Willis archives last night, and look what I found:

In January 1968, Ellen Willis went to Washington to take part in a demonstration against the Vietnam war and for black liberation, which was staged to coincide with Richard Nixon’s inaugural as president. At the demonstration, women in the group had asked to make a statement about their subordinate position within the New Left and on behalf of their own liberation. When they tried to make what they described at a “moderate, pro-movement statement,” Willis reports, men in the audience “booed, laughed, cat-called and yelled enlightened remarks like ‘Take her off the stage and fuck her.’”

So, yeah. Tyler, the Creator: On the cutting edge of humor! In 1968. But this isn’t humor: Humor has an element of surprise at the core of it. This surprises no-one. This is just hatred, following the same script that hatred always has. Although, to be fair, Tegan and Sara Quin are lesbians. And I don’t think I’ve heard anyone suggest that lesbians could be straightened out with a good deep-dicking before! That is some for-real innovative shit, right there.

And that’s how this became The Week I Finally Lost My Shit About Odd Future. Because another thing I did, which I had been trying to avoid before, was to read some accounts of their live shows. One of the defenses of Odd Future, you see, is that it is “all an act,” and that they are “sweet kids” outside of their lyrics. You want to read about some shit that is definitively not their lyrics?

Tyler bounded into the crowd and everyone surged towards him, camera phones aloft. He returned to the stage as Syd killed the track, and announced that near the bar, he’d “bumped into a bitch and she got mad.”

“Bitch is a stripper!” he yelled, and lots of people cheered and laughed at the prospect of the bitch being a stripper. “Why come to an Odd Future show if you gon’ get mad?” he asked. “Pussy musta got like five licks. Bitch is a fuckin’ stripper, yo. You can go home if you don’t like it.”

AND!

Just after two in the morning, a blonde girl surfed her way onstage and kissed Tyler, who announced, “I might legit have herpes.” The crowd laughed and started a “show your titties” chant, and she refused, looking bashful. “Then get the fuck off the stage!” Tyler yelled.

AND! From the NEW FUCKING YORKER!

A young female fan took the stage, and the crowd called for her to get naked, until she protested that she had a boyfriend, at which point the crowd chanted, “Slut! Slut! Slut!”

And I didn’t know about it until this week. You know why I didn’t know about it? Because we were “discussing” “the” “music.” Because we were talking about “lyrical provocations.” Because we were phrasing shit in the very discreet and nuanced and sophisticated the way the New Yorker does — “[Earl], like Tyler, thinks sex and violence are funny, especially in combination” — instead of saying “these guys get on stage to talk about beating women up, raping them, and occasionally mutilating their clits with broken glass, and they think that’s okay and any woman who objects, especially if she’s a lesbian, should have a dick shoved in her.”

Because real-live girls were getting harassed, hurt, told that they only had value to the extent that everyone could see their fucking tits, told that they were just a pair of tits to jerk off on or a hole to fuck, unless they don’t want to fuck, in which case fuck ‘em anyway, and bitch DON’T get fucking mad when I hurt you, FUCK YOU BITCH, your body is there for me to do what I want with, and the dudes? The white male blogger music dudes who were covering this? Who were hyping Odd Future and Tyler, the Creator? Who are hyping them still? It was happening IN FUCKING FRONT OF THEM. And it didn’t matter. It didn’t stop them for a fucking second.

It didn’t fucking matter. They didn’t think to factor it in. In point of fact, what much of the criticism about Odd Future has focused on is the idea that their live shows are the best part of what they do; the great, punk-rock, incendiary EXPERIENCE of Odd Future, is what gets discussed. And there are real girls getting harassed, IN FUCKING FRONT OF the white dudes who are writing paeans to and defenses of Odd Future, in front of the dudes who are praising Odd Future shows. And we need to be sophisticated. We need to talk “about” “the” “music.” We need to worry about whether we sound “screechy” or like “scolds,” don’t get too upset, don’t lose your shit, don’t act like this is some kind of litmus test for whether or not you can even vaguely respect a dude as a person. Well, dudes, I have a remarkable new theory for you: When it’s YOUR ass on the line, then YOU can tell ME how upset to fucking be about it, and how I should phrase that. Seriously. When Tyler is using you as a synonym for “worthless,” when Tyler wants to shove broken glass up your asshole, ring me up, and tell me how much I should care. I’ll listen, all you want, when you’re talking about the “sophistication” we should maintain in re: discussing whether or not your asshole deserves to have broken glass shoved up it. In the meantime?

Fuck “sophistication.” Fuck “distance” Fuck “irony.” And fuck Odd Future.

54 Comments

  1. Mike wrote:

    Oppression Olympics notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine a performer who threw around “kike” as often as this guy uses “faggot” performing for any venues without a swastika. Or a white performer said “I just say ‘nig***’ and use ‘black’ as an adjective to describe stupid shit” as he described using “fag***” and “gay.”

    I have absolutely no idea why this guy is allowed on TV.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Sady wrote:

    @Mike: Yeah, but openly racist performers become successful all the time. Jeff Dunham, for example. They don’t get the same crowd that Odd Future does. but they get a crowd. So it’s silly to be all, “if he were a WHITE RACIST DUDE, then NO-ONE would support him!” Because people would, and we know that.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  3. Mary Ruth wrote:

    I hadn’t heard the accounts of the shows before. Wow. Just when I thought my dislike for them had maxed out at the Hit Me Up For Some Hard Dick tweet – and the fact that he still received support for that, from individuals to MTV, of course – it reached new levels. The music = no longer relevant at all.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  4. Tawny wrote:

    this makes it all the weirder to me that I first heard of this fucker through jill filipovic’s tumblr.

    he has never existed for me outside the feminist blogosphere.

    ugh i want to punch him in the face so hard.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Permalink
  5. Hayley B wrote:

    THANK YOU. thank you thank you thank you. that’s all. just thank you.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  6. Kybard wrote:

    (I wrote a post like this one a few minutes ago, but my Internet went crazy and possibly ate it. I’ll try to re-articulate:)

    I listened to one of Tyler’s solo songs, and something about it that really reminded me of Eminem was the musical aesthetic: dark and flirting with horror-core, but really just a mainstream-ready kind of edgy and disturbing. In other words: genuine anger and vitriol infused in the music itself, providing no contrast or ballast to the awful lyrical content, just plowing forward senselessly like a hateful misogynist freight train.

    It was alarming and arresting when I started listening to the song, but it quickly became grating and ultimately infuriating, like the song (and artist, and group) was trying to earn something it didn’t deserve. It’s (musically, anyway) like if Nickelback played a live show accompanied by a symphony orchestra.

    Anyway: thank you thank you thank you for the first damn thing I’ve read about OF that combines intelligent articulation with the proper degree of anger, not just at the band but at the awful faux-intellectual rationalization that surrounds them. I know this shit isn’t anything new, but it still deserves to get shouted down with all due outrage.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink
  7. Aliaras wrote:

    Man, I was going to write something here about how it’s not just the music, most people have a public character too — Lady Gaga, Stephen Colbert spring instantly to mind — but you know what? It doesn’t even matter, because if all this is a “character” for a “joke” it’s really, really not funny. And also dangerous, because that shit is really scary. This is an artist where if someone in my friends group said they loved him, I would have a harder time being alone with that person. Because shit, man.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:04 am | Permalink
  8. Opal wrote:

    Eminem has said some things for shock value, but I’ve never heard of him encouraging the kind of vitriol that this little douchebag uses against women. Someone needs to kick him in the ‘nads, so hard. It is downright sickening that he can get an audience. Sadly, we have not come a long way, Baby. In fact in some ways I think the misogyny is at an all time high. Women are now, more than ever before, expected to be little more than eye candy. If a woman stands up for herself, she “deserves” the backlash that comes to her.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink
  9. IDK wrote:

    Agreed on the point that Sarah Quinn’s response is not the best. The idea that Tyler is getting away with saying all kinds of rapey things because he’s black, and people are scared of seeming racist, is really stupid. Newsflash: most people don’t have a problem seeming racist. Whatever.

    Here is my issue: I can’t bring myself to really disagree with any parts of this post but…I still like them. The lyrics, the behavior, all of it is problematic. Beyond that…it is bad. But what now? What do we do with Tyler and with Odd Future? What are we asking for? For these hip young white indie music bloggers to say that this shit is fucked up? I don’t think you’d be hard pressed to get people to admit that. Your problem seems to be that they won’t outright condemn all artistic production that comes from Odd Future and discard all praise. What is your prescription for moving forward? I’m a mid 20s woman of color in college studying feminist theory. I am, in fact, one of these people with their “asses on the line.” I grew up on Eminem. I like Odd Future. I don’t know. I can’t bring myself to defend them but I also like them! FEMINIST CRISIS. HALP.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 1:02 am | Permalink
  10. rhizombie wrote:

    Exactly what I wanted to say/needed to be said. Thank you.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink
  11. Emmitt wrote:

    I really, really have a problem with Sara saying that the reason Tyler is getting away with this is because he’s black. I mean, I have a problem with the music too but come the fuck on. That’s the same sort of shit I have to deal with from privileged assholes that suggest I only got into college because of affirmative action and it only causes a weird feeling of nausea and anger to hear it from someone I admire and whose music I enjoy.

    Now that I got that out of the way, on to Tyler. For one, he’s not nearly as shocking and as edgy as he probably thinks he’s being. This is nowhere near the level of, say, Whitehouse. That he rationalizes everything by stating “Oh, it’s just a persona” gives the fans the in they need to dismiss it as shock value or a gimmick and therefore, not serious. That willingness to dismiss everything sort of counters the edgy content and actually makes it worse because he’s not using shock value to make a point, like Bunuel, he’s really using it as a promotional gimmick. He’s selling misogyny and homophobia.

    Which is too bad because when he’s not rapping about raping and mutilating women, he can actually come up with some clever and interesting statements on race, among other things. The raps about rape are nowhere near as interesting as his daddy issues.

    For what it’s worth, Tyler and fellow collective member Earl are the ones who like to rap about rape. It’s too bad because the rest of the members are actually very good in their own rights (Domo Genesis’ Rolling Papers moved it’s way up from my iTunes and is now an mp3 player staple) but they’ve been overshadowed due to a clumsy and stupid obsession with misogyny.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:26 am | Permalink
  12. Ennu wrote:

    This post just made me realize how much I’ve missed your posts on Tiger Beatdown.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  13. click wrote:

    I agree with IDK; I’m a feminist, lesbian, nonwhite woman who has been raped and I really like Tyler. To me, the rape lyrics of songs like “She”, “VCR”, and “Assmilk” are profoundly self-mocking. The rapists are clearly pathetic, impotent losers. Accusing him of promoting misogyny is a false oversimplification.

    I watched videos of the New York show that was covered in The Awl and it seemed that he felt real contempt for the women who clambered awkwardly on stage to try to dance sexily for attention. If a girl chooses, in her five seconds on stage with Tyler, to use her sexuality and kiss him, why is it wrong for him to laugh at her for being a cliched groupie, to draw out the joke and make her uncomfortable as she did him?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 3:27 am | Permalink
  14. Meg wrote:

    @IDK

    Here’s a prescription moving forward.

    If it’s all such a lyrical and genre-specific pisstake, how about we not have women being humiliated at their fucking concerts? That’s indefensible. Calling someone a slut for refusing to get nekkid at a concert? WTF?

    The problem with OF’s message is that it invites some audiences to admire the music more than others – because those audiences aren’t affected by the social issues raised and even would like to reinforce them. This creates a fucked-up music-listening hierarchy.

    Yes, some people *are* affected and still like ‘em anyway. This might be identity related: those people would rather like the music than lose a part of their identity in eschewing it. Or they just like the music – it is that good.

    But because we live in male dominated music scene, women’s views count less than men’s, so it’s more accepted for this shit to continue and to be muted by white male reviewers, who perfunctorily note it, but then go on to rave about “musical transcendence”, missing the fact that they are privileged in being able to enjoy it!

    It is toned down in reviews. It is ignored because we live in a rape culture. Reviewers don’t have the critical faculty to call it out as being detrimental to whatever musical brilliance exists by ignoring the fact that not everyone can enjoy it, and that in itself is fucked up. If they can enjoy it, but women can’t, and they don’t care, well, that’s the problem of patriarchy right fucking there.

    Some audiences cannot listen. The lyrics do not allow them to. The actions in concert cannot allow them to. So let’s not pretend that OF can be removed from social complications via musical brilliance.

    What mostly pisses me off is that in hipsterland, if you’re offended, you ‘aren’t cool’, or you ‘don’t get it’. But people fucking get it, alright, without needing to be anti-rap.

    Which brings me to the next point raised by hipsters looking to conflate endemic social issues with one’s good or bad taste in music: there is a clash of genres going on here, where it’s assumed that people who hate rap always hated rap, and now are making Tyler the face of misogyny when he’s not the first one to do it.

    That’s merely supporting the status quo kinda argument of “This shit has always happened in rap, so therefore you should shut up about it because it will continue to happen.”

    I would like Tyler and co more if they at least treated everyone with equal despicableness. They are coming from a fucked up place that is identifiable and even attractive to their fans, but make no mistake – that fucked up place has a hierarchy, and women are at the bottom of it.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 3:54 am | Permalink
  15. Becca wrote:

    So. I have a problem. I agree with you a thousand percent, I find that tweet infuriating, there is no excuse for that sort of thing. But.

    I like his music? What do I do? I mean, he’s no Nas or even a Kanye, but I enjoy the hip-hop that the dude turns out. This is a constant problem for me, being an intense hip hop head, and this is a genuine question. How can I reconcile my ethical abhorrence of the attitude, misogyny, and lyrics with my genuine, if uncomfortable, enjoyment of the music?

    I’ve had a similar problem with some of the punk rock that I like. Do I just stop listening? I already don’t pay money for shit when it gets that bad, but. But.

    This may be absurd, but part of me gets angry at artists like Tyler when they do shit like this less for the fact of the misogyny and more for the fact that they are getting it in /my/ hip hop. Being a female punk rock/hip hop fan is hard enough; why do they have to make me have ethical qualms about enjoying the music and aesthetic that I like?

    Anyone got any advice how to negotiate this?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 4:29 am | Permalink
  16. Pinkie G wrote:

    IDK, don’t we all make rationalizations about our preferences? I think it’s great just to acknowledge that something you like might be problematic.

    I mean, if you’re asking “how can I live with this?” then there is no answer besides, you know, whether or not you can. It’s totally up to you.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 4:30 am | Permalink
  17. Becca wrote:

    I guess my concern is that I feel like I’m implicitly supporting his ideology by enjoying his music.

    More than that, I feel complicit in the repugnant shit that Sady was talking about — the “it’s about the music/don’t be so preachy/it’s all a guise” sort of stuff that menfolk always say.

    Being critical of the things you love is great, true, but there is no way to put a disclaimer on the beats blasting out your car, you know what I mean?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 4:47 am | Permalink
  18. Pinkie G wrote:

    I get you, I do. I can no longer enjoy Polanski movies, for example. But that has not yet extended into me not being able to enjoy Johnny Depp movies, even though it guts me to know that he has worked with the old fart.

    Point is, either you ARE able to enjoy it, be it without apology or in secret where you don’t have to justify it to anyone but yourself, or you aren’t.

    Either you can listen to the music without it nagging at you or you can’t, and whether that means you should quit listening, well, that’s up to you, right?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 5:33 am | Permalink
  19. Jane wrote:

    Here’s what bothers me, I’m not going to pretend Tyler’s music isn’t messed up, because it is. But it strikes me that when bloggers call out rappers, and only rappers, it becomes an issue of scary black men and not an issue of men in general. When Tegan and Sara say that people refuse to call him out because he is black and that his blackness is somehow a pass to say and do whatever he likes it seems like over compensation and weak justification for calling him out because he’s black. We saw the same thing when Kanye’s video for Monster came out, a thousand bloggers upset over the dead white women in his video which leaves me to wonder if there would have been the same kind of outcry had those women been black. The focus on rap music by so many (white) female bloggers leaves me, as a black woman, cold and disgusted. Rap is not the only genre that relies on misogynist tropes, but it is the only one dominated by black men and seems to be the only one anyone ever talks about.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 5:37 am | Permalink
  20. Gnatalby wrote:

    @Click:

    I watched videos of the New York show that was covered in The Awl and it seemed that he felt real contempt for the women who clambered awkwardly on stage to try to dance sexily for attention. If a girl chooses, in her five seconds on stage with Tyler, to use her sexuality and kiss him, why is it wrong for him to laugh at her for being a cliched groupie, to draw out the joke and make her uncomfortable as she did him?

    Oh phew, it was real contempt! For a minute I was worried Tyler was only faking his contempt, but as long as he genuinely hates ladies, it’s fine!

    Also, she was asking for it, that is a brand new argument about why women deserve to be assaulted and harassed!

    Seriously, do you think there are a lot of options for how women are meant to behave at an Odd Future show? Is there something you think a woman can do to avoid contempt? What place in the Odd Future universe do women have other than “using their sexuality?” (And don’t think I didn’t notice that you pointed out how bad she is at “awkwardly” wielding it. I guess we’d have no problem if this woman were a better sexual object.)

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  21. BMICHAEL wrote:

    @JANE

    To be fair (we do want to be fair, right?) I do not see the charge to laud (or necessarily to excoriate) OF led by white women. And I don’t see white women writing about rap music at the volume you do: Maybe you could suggest some writers for me to follow?

    The most notable OF pieces (to me…) have been all by white guys: John Caramanica (x2 in the NYT); Andrew Nosnitsky (Billboard cover story); and Sean Fennessey’s October 2010 piece in Pitchfork, which served as a primer for much of the Internet’s OF knowledge.

    Now. Looking at what’s at hand, could it be that white women feel the need to write about things they normally wouldn’t simply because OF specifically targets them, specifically threatens (not in the vague “I feel threatened” manner, but in the “I will murder you” threaten manner), and specifically does violence to them? I mean, Emma Carmichael (author of the OF concert account on The Awl) writes for Deadspin–I’m pretty sure she’s familiar with rape culture and bro culture and multi-racial culture.

    I’m pretty sure that rape culture is looked at on this blog in the guise of many genres, most popularly the one white girls are supposed to like: radio pop/rock. It seems like you’re suggesting that white writers just stick to white music and black writers stick to black music? Because that seems fairly pernicious and atavistic.

    @Commenters Who Like Odd Future But Don’t Necessarily Want To

    I think this is one of the cultural high points where we get to examine the assumptions about everything, and really figure out where we stand on it all. I mean, the misogyny of a Led Zeppelin is fairly ossified; it feels kind of tame or at least historically distanced. The violent commentary of an NWA seems downright quaint (maybe) compared to the over-the-top gore that musicians of all races and genres strive to cram in their music. OF isn’t the only band or the most interesting band (necessarily) to have violent lyrics; but they’re the ones who are advancing the conversation at the moment. I’ve written a lot about OF, mostly to try to figure out why people like them, why I’ve liked them, and what it all means. It seems like a good idea to get something down or think about it, too.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink
  22. Alyx wrote:

    @BMichael – Back in February (after their Jimmy Fallon appearance), I wrote a feminist critique of Odd Future and the horrifying equivocations for rape, misogyny, and homophobia that their hipster fanbase is making. It makes allowances for the group’s talent, but decries their supposed subversiveness as plain ol’ retrograde, reactionary, agit-prop bullshit. It also gets upset at hipster dudes using the word “motif” to describe Tyler’s proclivity for rhyming about raping women in basements. In it, I also mention (however clumsily) of Syd, the collective’s queer, cis female DJ and beatmaker who I think is getting completely overlooked in this conversation. I got a lot of traction from the piece, including much hate trolling that I refused to publish. Check it out:

    http://feministmusicgeek.com/2011/02/25/odd-future-syd/

    In addition to my piece and the Emma Carmichael essay Sady quotes from above, I’d also recommend checking out Laina Dawes’ brief post on the group (along with her larger body of work):

    http://www.lainad.typepad.com/

    Dawes and Jaime Lowe also recently discussed the group on WNYC:

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/articles/web-extras/2011/may/13/soundcheck-smackdown-odd-future/

    David Cho wrote a really good piece about the group, misogyny, and the Internet for the Hairpin too:

    http://thehairpin.com/2011/03/odd-future-hip-hop-misogyny-and-the-internet

    In short, women are joining in on the Odd Future conversation and I anticipate that they will continue to do so–especially if this group gets as big as Kanye.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  23. blondie wrote:

    I never thought anyone got away with anything “just because they are black.” I don’t buy that part.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  24. smadin wrote:

    It also seems maybe a little odd to come to the blog that ran LADYPALOOZA, to talk about how the people criticizing OF give white Dude Music a pass on its misogyny?

    In a remarkably serendipitous bit of timing, the reliably awesome John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats linked just a few minutes ago on Twitter to this great post on being a female metal fan. I’d like to call particular attention to this graf, from near the end:

    There are no quick fixes for the misogyny that’s been rampant in the metal scene since Ozzy sang “Evil Woman”. Partly, that’s because the sexism in metal mirrors (and distills) the sexism in larger society. To get past it, we have to consciously choose to transcend thousands of years of cultural and DNA programming[*].

    (And speaking as someone who attended Woodstock ’99, where the kind of behavior Carmichael describes from the OF show was widespread both on the stages and throughout the grounds, I hope I am never slow to point out, in any discussions I’m in, that violence and misogyny are far from the exclusive purview of any single genre.)

    I have other thoughts about the whole liking-things-that-have-content-you’re-not-comfortable-liking thing, but they’re inchoate enough right now (and this comment is already long enough) that I won’t inflict them on y’all.

    * (I also want to note that I disagree with the DNA bit there; we don’t need to get all evo-psych-y to explain institutionalized misogyny.)

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  25. Michelle wrote:

    thank you for writing this. thank you.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  26. Amz wrote:

    Who is Odd Future? Not that I’ll ever find out, now.

    Maybe I’ll just continue listening to smart, funny, nuanced, socially critical and even feminist hip hop already out there. Ignorance is bliss? God-Des and She, anyone?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  27. joey wrote:

    @Sady great post!
    @MEG Great explanation for this. It’s like when those same reviewers go to a Le Tigre show, it’s all about how strange the fans are…but ziltch on that when it comes to hetero performers.
    @Bmichael I too would love some better music reviewers to follow.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  28. Emily Manuel wrote:

    Alex MacPherson wrote a good piece at the guardian about Odd Future’s misogyny and homophobia and he said something quite on point:

    “truly brave trailblazing entails trolling your own core demographic, not outsider strawmen who have no time for you anyway.”

    Which I think is a good measure for any kind of “provocative” art, really.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  29. Taylor wrote:

    Honestly, I don’t think the problem is that OF or their fans literally want to see women raped and tortured, otherwise they’d go out and do it (perhaps time will tell on that one), I think the problem is that people just don’t give a shit. People are desensitized and don’t give a shit and try to find a way to justify their not giving a shit by saying it’s edgy or they’re playing the villain or whatever the fuck.

    But here’s the better question – why? The Rape in Gaspar Noe’s “Irreversible,” for example, or the rape on “Mad Men” are shocking and horrible, and they also have purpose. If OF are being purposefully provocative, what they don’t really get at is the purpose. Maybe because there isn’t one, and if there isn’t a purpose, then it’s just plain being a dick.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  30. Sady wrote:

    @click: Uh, really? “If a girl chooses to use her sexuality, why is it wrong to publicly humiliate her and demand she show her tits, because really, she was being a slut and had it coming to her?” That’s the rationalization we’re going with? That it’s okay because he had “real contempt” for her? I can’t make you dislike the music. But if you could avoid the sexist cliches, that might be fun.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  31. Kathy wrote:

    @Meg
    Reviewers don’t have the critical faculty to call it out as being detrimental to whatever musical brilliance exists by ignoring the fact that not everyone can enjoy it, and that in itself is fucked up. If they can enjoy it, but women can’t, and they don’t care, well, that’s the problem of patriarchy right fucking there.

    This. One-thousand times over.

    I spent the brunt of my teens and twenties among male music fans, and that pretty much encapsulates their inability to really see the misogyny in some of the most cherished artists: it doesn’t effect them, so it must not exist.

    Tyler the Creator’s music right now is on a lot of critics’ radar, and his misogyny and homophobia is blatant rather than overt. It’s easy, now, to use it springboard for a larger discussion — and that’s a good thing — but it needs to be ongoing, I think.

    It’s unfortunate that Sara Quin’s original post wasn’t more nuanced — I take it as more a visceral response than anything — because she gets a lot right by taking not only his lyrics, but his critics who support him to task, instead of just calling out hip hop as whole, or demand his music be banned like lot of people do (*cough* Ashley Judd *cough*).

    To add to the list of women who’ve written about hip hop, Tricia Rose’s two books, Black Noise and The Hip Hop Wars, are good starting points.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  32. samanthab wrote:

    Taylor, except that rape is tolerated by society as a means to control women. OF’s rape imagery tells men that women are property regardless of whether those men rape or not.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink
  33. smadin wrote:

    Taylor,

    Honestly, I don’t think the problem is that OF or their fans literally want to see women raped and tortured

    Oh good! I’m glad that’s cleared up. Since that’s exactly what Sady’s post clearly shows she did think they literally wanted, I guess we can all go home now.

    I mean, I’m sorry (a bit, anyway) for the sarcasm, but…seriously, come on. None of this is about what OF, or individual members of OF, or their respective fans, “really” literally think and feel and want in their secret heart of hearts; it’s about what they say and do, and what effects the things they say and do have.

    Kathy,
    This is sort of a whole other thing (but sort of not) — but I followed the Ashley-Judd-vs.-Hip-Hop thing while it was happening, and Judd, while there were problems with how she phrased her criticisms, didn’t really condemn hip hop as a whole, and certainly didn’t call for anything to be banned. And importantly, she was subsequently pretty open to having a dialogue with people who took issue with what she’d written.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink
  34. BMICAHEL wrote:

    @ALYX

    Great links. Thanks a lot.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink
  35. alex wrote:

    Becca – I think it’s completely acceptable to be able to appreciate art while understanding that the person who made it did an awful thing or holds horrible beliefs. I think anything less is an oversimplification. People are complicated. There are so many artists who have serious problems, or who have done something unforgivable. But I can still view their art as something separate from them, something that I can appreciate on its own, while still not forgiving those actions. Bad people can create amazing art, and I think its okay to admit that and to appreciate what we like and to disapprove of what we don’t.

    For example, if we try to fit everything into one box, we might do what Click has done in the comments, which is to attempt to fit a horrible thing into the “good” box. A nuanced approach can prevent that sort of excuse-making and those attempts to justify one’s own beliefs. I think it’s ok to say there’s just no reconciliation to be had and to have our opinions anyway.

    Really, Click — She deserved to be harassed because she’s a sexual being and she’s onstage? THAT’S your argument? Really disgusting.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  36. orestes wrote:

    ohohoho yes, the belly laughs, they come thick and fast. misogyny AND homophobia? truly we are dealing with the bleeding edge of RIGHT FUCKING NOW here.

    this is exactly the same as when i go to my local stand-up comedy night, which turns up some gems but often proves to be a rich seam of bullshit. it reminds me of the comedians who, because they are not funny, rely heavilly on the old rape and paedophilia jokes. oh the irony! oh the edginess! oh fuck off. the comedian then gets to do his (invariably, his) “what? it’s just a joke! you people just aren’t edgy enough!” schtick despite the fact that they are basically just reinforcing the status quo through third-rate family guy cast off jokes from like 5 years ago.

    no time for this bullshit or anyone who apologises for it.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  37. Travis wrote:

    If this Tyler Comma guy is really so good, someone should take him aside and say “Hey, you’ve really got something great here. Don’t go ruining it by being a mysogynist asshole”.

    I don’t think you can be virulently sexist and homophobic and really remain relevant for long. Of course this shit just ISN’T GOING AWAY, we all know that, but it’s like Sady said: this isn’t new. They aren’t covering any new ground discussing how awesome it is to treat women badly and to hold homosexuals in contempt. Kanye West’s opinions are controversial and interesting (being anti-higher education, etc.), AND he’s a talented musician.

    Isn’t this what happened to Eminem? I’m a not a Music Guy, but his stock has dropped quite a bit since the nineties, right? I think that’s why–he stopped being really relevant. We’ve heard everything he has to say. Seems like OF is doing the same, retreading the old easy ground, and someone–some mentor in the hip hop/punk rock community–needs to tell them not to waste their talent.

    I might be totally off base with my take on Eminem’s career and whatnot, but like I said I’m not a Music Guy. I’m in the video games biz, and I hope TO GOD to see a discussion like this about our colossal mound of shit (and the colossal mounds of shit who make that shit) sometime soon.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  38. gogo wrote:

    First time I’ve heard of this band or person, and glad of it. Now I know enough to actively avoid it.

    Maybe this music is meant to be the soundtrack for rape. Crank up the volume and do yer thing with some asswipe encouraging dispicable behavior in the background. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  39. KittyWrangler wrote:

    @Jane: I agree that the ‘scary black man’ phenomenon is problematic. In addition I also thought the scariness about Eminem when he first got popular was his whiteness. Bigshot white community leaders had been upset when black musicians rapped about misogynist and homophobic things but when a white rapper did, and those leaders’ white children got into his music, misogyny and violence were suddenly a *big deal*. Whenever someone accuses somebody else of “using” their minority status I get the feeling that the accuser is super-jealous of being able to misbehave and “get away” with it or get a chance to play the [whatever] card. Way to miss the big picture, hypothetical accuser! I considered, unsuccessfully, what white musicians might have been overlooked when calling people out and realized most of the exposure I have to pop music is actually FROM people being called out! Um, maybe I should get out more…

    @becca: Urm, yeah that’s a problem. I wrote a post a few months ago about how to approach art made by someone who did something despicable:

    http://cianapullen.blogspot.com/2010/10/when-bad-people-make-good-art.html

    basically, I think you should plunder the music for what you like; use Tyler for his music. I think we should take pleasure where we can. Just be careful of de-sensitizing yourself?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink
  40. LilithXIV wrote:

    Really great post, Sady. This really opened my eyes to something, though I bet.. like usual I’m years behind everyone else realizing it. Recently I saw a comment to a feminist blog that hit one of the bingo spots, specifically the ‘you bitches need to get laid’ variety.

    The usual assumption would be that sex calms you or something reading this post and stuff like ‘take her off the stage and fuck her’ makes me think that assumption isn’t true has made me think of it in a really different way.

    Woman says something some dude doesn’t like? Shove something in her mouth or suggest the women ‘need to get laid’.. in other words need a something shoved in them. These kinds of ‘suggestions’ reduce the women to sex objects, which is already hateful and proves the need for Feminists even more… but it goes further right? Feminists get uppity? They obviously ‘don’t have a man’.. the implication, as Sady phrased, that they too need a ‘deep dicking’ to shut them up and make them passive. Ihis sounds less like a ‘suggestion’ for sex and more like rape.. like those dudes are suggesting women need to get some ‘sex’ forced on them, as some kind of punishment or a treatment when they feel women have made them uncomfortable or criticize them. How and why would sex quiet them down? Perhaps what those dudes are really saying, whether intentional or not, is that they think those women should be ‘taken down a notch’. Like they’re framing rape as something to ‘fix’ women.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
  41. Emmitt wrote:

    @Kittywrangler

    Chiming in to say that yeah, the whole idea of the scary black man is why I usually have to hold my breath when reading critiques of rap by white (male or female) writers. Like Ashley Judd may have had a point about misogyny and hip hop but her singling out rap (she mentions that many performers supported the YouthAIDS project but goes on to name P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg) and not putting it into the context of a dominant culture is the same old song and dance about how hip hop exists in a vacuum and how sexism and rape are black guy things. Then there’s the whole issue about how music which features black-on-black violence is a-okay but once you throw a white person into the equation, we’ve got trouble.

    Thankfully the majority of pieces on Odd Future I’ve come across don’t fall into these traps.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 1:26 am | Permalink
  42. Billy NoHands wrote:

    I think the film “Chasing Amy” touched on the concept of turning from lesbianism due to “deep dicking” (a Ben Affleck line).
    Does this officially reduce his innovation level to zero?

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 5:18 am | Permalink
  43. Dom Chee wrote:

    In effect, I have seen the light. merci

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink
  44. BMICAHEL wrote:

    @Travis

    Eminem really peaked in the early 2ks, and his latest album, Recovery, from 2010, sold 5.7 million, stayed on the top of the Billboard 200 forever, and won a Grammy for best rap album. So yea. Eminem is actually still very relevant.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink
  45. Stacy wrote:

    You know rape culture exists when you go to a feminist website, read a feminist post about men who make jokes about raping and mutilating women, and then read serious commenters who identify themselves as feminists and then call a woman who kissed a musician a slut who deserved what she got. And by the way, their music is super good and what do I do? What do you do? You don’t fucking listen to/support men who treat women like holes to be raped. You go on your feminist self-examination journey to understand how you became convinced any other response is even possible.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  46. MisukoB wrote:

    What a fucking failbag. The amount of misogyny and homophobia, the lyrics that promote rape and violence against women is just fucking sickening to see.

    And I don’t understand how fuckery like that continues to be seen as “edgy” and so completely accepted and tolerated in society. But it doesn’t surprise me, bigotry like that is mainstream. And the amount of people defending it are many.

    And another thing that is tiresome to see is the “he ain’t talking about me” excuse. Yes, yes he is.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 4:38 am | Permalink
  47. Dom wrote:

    Hate to tell you this, Tyler, but dildos work better than your hard dick ever will. Even for straight girls. Boo hoo.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  48. Miss Jane wrote:

    Well said! This is yet another excuse to be an asshole for any man who hasn’t sorted his shit out. The review of the album on the Guardian website started “Moral qualms aside..” and stated the question of whether someone’s skill/talent is an excuse for peddling hate. Taking this to its logical conclusion, here is my review of Hitler based on the “but he was really good at what he did” line:

    “Moral qualms aside, Hitler’s body of work is impressive. He was a great politician, unifying a nation and accomplishing remarkable feats of administration and social engineering that any politician would envy. He continues to cause moral outrage, but there’s no doubt he achieved a great deal in his time in office.

    We know he was a troubled young man and early experiences may have contributed to his ideology, which had a significant impact on a lot of people. Many find his views completely unacceptable, although he also has many supporters. Although unpalatable to many, there is no doubting he was skilled at implementing large-scale projects which remain a study in the art of politics and public persuasion. Any politician will tell you how hard it is to get legislation enacted, it takes a certain kind of individual to elevate themselves to that level and that is something to be admired. Moral qualms aside, of course.”

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  49. Sarah wrote:

    I’ve listened to Tyler’s first album, and Earl’s too, and enjoyed both of them. It was quite upsetting to read the description of the misogyny at Odd Future’s shows. But I do not feel guilty/bad feminist for enjoying their music. It feels much the same as getting a thrill out of a horror flick. Actually what their music reminds me of a lot is the Chapmnan Brothers- http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.artfacts.net/exhibpics/14827.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.artfacts.net/en/exhibition/chapman-brothers-retrospective-14827/overview.html&usg=__3FOJKlXZ51EmZ4O0uGCk_yOgNZc=&h=337&w=250&sz=47&hl=en&start=13&zoom=1&tbnid=A38ODpVtoU44UM:&tbnh=119&tbnw=88&ei=dGDeTcapBMGk8QPXvrSDCg&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dthe%2Bchapman%2Bbrothers%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D1024%26bih%3D568%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&biw=1024&bih=568 The violence is grotesque and desensitized- cartoonish. Yeah it’s disturbing, but isn’t society disturbed? The music seems to be a crude response to this. The most interesting parts for me are the bits about Tyler’s father- also the low self-esteem that he describes, which seems to contrast with mainstream-rap-egotism, and makes the music somehow more dangerous than 50 Cent, for instance, for it’s vulnerability/harshness. It’s the kind of music that in post-Colombine America is gonna cause consternation- and Tyler responds to this with the skit throughout ‘Bastard’ where he converses with a shrink. These records are made by teenagers- it’s not surprising that they’re not as mature as (adult) critics would like them to be. But the wordplay is pleasing and the beats are hot (and produced by a woman- too bad she is overlooked by the media on this)- this music is not a political statement- also, doesn’t art of all forms exist not only to create beauty but to exorcise all the perversity inside you- what about ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana- is this mysoginistic (I’m sure some would interpret it to be)? or an expression of worthlessness and pain? Art/violence have a natural history. Surely for someone to have an outlet for their vitriol is better than not- and less ‘dangerous.’

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink
  50. Sarah wrote:

    Whoah apologies for the essay

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  51. MisukoB wrote:

    Sarah:

    Well you could justify everything that is misogynistic and homophobic by calling it art, or just an expression, or humor, or whatever.

    But that does not change the misogyny and homophobia, it does not really change the message. Considering the word we live in it does nothing but add to the problems for women and gay people.

    You could use exactly the same excuse for any bigotry. A chauvinist guy could get away with anything that way. It would not matter if he say that women are all bitches and hoes, just T&A, and that we all deserve to be raped. The same excuse can be used in his defense. Like you are doing now. I am fucking tired of dudebros getting away with spreading misogyny and not getting challenged because there are people who enjoys his machismo and misogyny.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
  52. MisukoB wrote:

    And also, a lot more people see movies as fiction while music as more of an expression of the artist. And when an artist constantly or often use misogynistic and homophobic language in their music, it does say something of the artist themselves.

    Does this excuse movies? No of course not. Sexism, gender norms, homophobia, racism, etc, in movies all help reinforce all that.

    And since misogyny and homophobia in music is so fucking mainstream already it makes it even more of a problem.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink
  53. E wrote:

    Thank you for this post.

    For weeks now, I’ve been watching people I know react to Odd Future. And I’ve been pretty confused, because people who I know have great taste in music have been losing their shit. And I’m confused, because all I hear is some

    Monday, June 6, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink
  54. Mathme wrote:

    Wow, I just heard about this guy– I feel so out of the loop; something like this would normally have blipped somewhere on my radar (not in a “Hey, this is awesome!” way or anything) and he sounds really awful.

    I almost wonder if what some of the enlightened bloggers are doing by praising this guy is, basically, covering their asses. On the one hand, they don’t want to be like the up-tight prudes who were shocked and horrified about Elvis, Prince, etc. but at the same time, they can’t just flatly praise lyrics and on stage behavior like what you document here. So they come up with some convoluted, high-minded evaluation that ends up as a defensible decision if/when something blows up in their faces relating to this music. Also, many probably don’t want to be the ones who “don’t get it.”

    What this made me think of, though, are some ostensibly homophobic songs by Sloppy Seconds, specifically “Why Don’t Lesbians Love Me?” and “I Don’t Want to be a Homosexual.” They are actually funny songs in that they turn the homophobia and sexism around on the singer’s lack of understanding of what a lesbian is or end up with him worried that he might be latently gay because he wrote a whole song about how he doesn’t want to be gay. They’re both deceptively clever and, I think, really undermine this stuff that is indistinguishable from hate save for the critics who are “smart” enough to “see through” it. If someone offered me the music of Johnny Rebel and told me that it was ironic and all an act in the same way that Odd Future’s music is and critics touted it as such, would I or anyone be able to tell the difference?

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink