Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Song Lyric Some Days: Consent, One Direction, And the "Best Song Ever"

Announcing a new series!  Some days (I was going to have it be once a week and on a Saturday or Sunday, for alliterative purposes, but that is just not a reality in my life right now) I will overanalyze song lyrics.  Because really, I always have to be overanalyzing something.

Today's subject- One Direction's Best Song Ever.

What fascinates me is not that One Direction has used the such a gimmicky title.  (It turns out to be them singing ABOUT the best song ever, not suggesting that they have actually created it. And thank goodness, because I know having hair that gorgeous takes a lot of product, but if they think "Best Song Ever" is the best song ever, I might have to tell Harry to lay off the hairspray.)

I also only have the most tangential interest in the idea that he (whoever the general male subject of this song is, as there are lots of dudes singing it) and the lady subject of the song (One Direction songs always have a lady subject) danced all night to the best song ever, meaning that this song literally lasted all night.

No, what I am most interested in is this fascinating exchange that happens between this dude and this lady at about 1:25.

"I said, 'Can I take you home with me?' She said, 'Never in your wildest dreams.'"

This exchange happens directly after him talking about HER kissing HIM ("but she kissed me like she meant it") and just before he goes back into the chorus to say "And we danced all night to the best song ever!" 

Now, there are an awful lot of "no means yes" issues in popular culture, and this could just be an example of that.  They are dancing, presumably at a club or party.  For many people my age, the only goal here is to hook up, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, just a thing that not everybody wants.  (Rihanna sums up my personal attitude about this in the song "Who's that Chick,"- "I just want to dance, I don't really care.")  So it could be that this One Direction conglomerate dude hears "I will literally never go home with you in your wildest dreams" and thinks this actually means "I will probably change my mind about this once I dance with you."  And that is a big problem.

But I don't believe that is true because the lyrics suggest otherwise (there is no part about them going home, just about the fact that he won't forget her), because I am an idealist, and because One Direction has an large fan base of like, 8-year-olds, so I feel like if they are going to talk about anyone going home with anyone, they'd better do it in the nicest, most consensual way possible.   

Instead, I believe One Direction has hit upon several revolutionary new ideas, at least for popular culture:
1) No means no.
2) No does not mean "I hate you/ I don't find you attractive/ I am a prude/ I am no fun/ We can't do this other thing/ etc"

These two people seemed to have a really fun night together (after all, they were dancing to the best song ever), and everything they did was totally consensual.  This 1D dude didn't seem to find it a given that because this bold girl had kissed him at this party or club she would go home with him.  When she didn't want to, he was all like, "That's cool." He didn't get all upset that her behavior could be perceived as in conflict with her future desires.*

Now, if all this 1D dude wanted was to hook up, that would have been fine too, and once he found out that she wasn't on the same page, he could have politely moved on and tried to find someone with the same goals, the way that you do after making some small talk with someone, essentially.

However, I really like the idea that they still had a fun night together because I think that is something that is really undervalued in day to day life, in movies, everywhere.  If you don't have sex, you didn't make the goal; you didn't have any fun.  And furthermore, if that is not your goal for whatever reason, you certainly have no business being in this place that facilitates that goal.

That's silly.  Some people just want to dance all night to the best song ever.  And if a cute One Direction dude wants to join them and they are cool with that, then it might just make a night they'll never forget.  ...Even if he has evidently forgotten all the words to the song that he considers the best one. Ever.

In conclusion, 1D has created a pretty darn feminist, consent-happy club song.  And I love that message (or at least my idealistic interpretation of it).  This is very much unlike their song "What Makes You Beautiful"... but that is a whole other blog post.  Perhaps a whole other series of blog posts.  Coming at you in the eventual future!

*Which, by the way, they are not.  This is an extension of the whole victim-blaming thing.  Obviously, no way that a woman "acts" or dresses or dances or whatever ever means she is "asking for it."  Beyond that even, gender relations (particular to club/party culture in the U.S. especially) often require women to police their own behavior, which stops them from doing things they are comfortable with and might really enjoy in order to protect them from having to do something they would be uncomfortable with.  For example, "I won't dance that way because then he'll think I want to dance that way with him." Or "I won't dance that way with him because then he'll think I want to go further."  If consent worked like it should, these ladies would have a lot more choices, and I hope we get there someday, even at parties and in clubs.  For now, being a woman in a club- depending on the club- nearly automatically signals you as a possible hookup or even a sex object.  And that is just not fair if you like to dance in peace and are "not here for [their] entertainment." Gotta love Pink.  But seriously, "keep your drink, just give me the money. It's just you and your hand tonight." Creeper.