A couple weeks ago, someone found our blog by searching for “virtually everything a woman does is empowering,” which is a quotation from an episode of the Simpsons I wrote about. I joked with Ramona that we should make that the new sub-title of The Double R Diner. I was kidding on the square.
Because I feel like at least half the reason I started this blog was to give me a space to write myself into an intellectual or feminist justification for fluffy bits of pop culture that I just… like.
Like Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock.” I want to write a lengthy piece about how the lyrics are empowering because they do not define the parameters of her prettiness and can thus be embraced by every woman. And how the video reinforces this by showing changing standards of beauty, and by acknowledging the transformative nature of beauty performance by putting Keri into all of those roles, with the added bonus of simultaneously celebrating famous women of color from Josephine Baker to Diana Ross to T-Boz (which, I know “Waterfalls” and “Creep” were great songs and everything, but isn’t her inclusion either hugely complimentary to T-Boz or hugely dismissive of the 1990s?)
But I can’t ignore the sexist crap in there, like the heteronormative and patriarchal notion that Keri MUST be pretty because dudes think she is. Or how the song paints women as in endless bitter competition to be fairest of them all. And are those the Andrews Sisters? Is it a better racial message that Keri emulates white beauty role models from history as well, or should she have gone with Lena Horne for the 1940s?
I don’t know! I’m on cold medicine! The bottom line is I really like this song, and I think the video is super cool, and it would be great if it were feminist, but I like it even if it isn’t.