Thursday, January 1, 2009

Kate Rails Against Pop Culture

So yesterday I bought a new song on iTunes. I was looking for something in the category of good music to play at the gym, and there, at the top of the most purchased songs list, was "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa. Now, right there we have some red flags. Lady GaGa? Seriously? Wtf kind of name is that? Furthermore, I suspected that this song was the one that came on the radio about once every fifteen minutes when I was home and that I immediately switched stations to avoid.

But the 30-second sample on iTunes was so catchy-- lots of profound lyrics like "just dance" and "spin that record, babe" and the ever-popular "daa daa doo doo." And I started speculating about the reason for the exhortation to "just dance." I decided that it was something girl power-y. Yeah, sure. I can do triceps dips to that. Click! Song bought. Excellent.

It was at this point that I listened to the first verse.

Holy shit.

Here are the highlights, along with my comments in parentheses.

I've had a little bit too much (well, okay)
...Can't find a drink, oh man (ah, the cruel irony of being too wasted to obtain additional booze)
Where are my keys? I lost my phone (umm... little bit too much?)
I love this record, baby, but I can't see straight anymore (ibid)
What's the name of this club? I can't remember, but it's all right

So, we are maybe a minute into the song and we have a girl who is blackout and can't find her stuff. Call me crazy, but that's bad. Especially when you consider that the solution to this situation is not call it a night and pound some water. Nope. What does our heroine decide to do? Just dance! Because apparently she got trashed on Red Bull and vodka.

In general, I am not particularly offended by glamorizations of drinking. I mean, last night was New Year's Eve; obviously I spent part of the night sitting around drinking champagne. But promoting--nay, celebrating-- the practice of getting wasted to the point of being unable to function is not okay for several reasons. There are the obvious health implications. And there are the nearly-as-obvious safety implications of young women getting out-of-control trashed. Nor can we ignore the extent to which drunk people think they're very talented dancers and the toll that belief takes on all of us. Moral of the story: we are reminded, once again, that pop stars are probably not the models for our behavior.

And, yes, I continue to listen to that song at the gym. It's just so frickin catchy. I am appropriately ashamed.

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