Have you noticed the blonde-versus-blonde smackdown on music video channels and radio stations over the past year? The current installment is “Stupid Girls” by Pink, who parodies Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and other Barbies, and calls out those wannabe celebs who worship them.
Yes, I know it’s an intra-tribal thing among young white women, but it’s instructive for Native girls and women, too. After all, we do live in the same world.
As Pink’s song encourages girls to be themselves and give up plastic role models, think Pocahontas (the fictional character, not the historical figure) and the mythical Cherokee princess and the cartoon butter maiden.
As she sings of the “stupid girls” who roll over and play dumb, strive to be size zero and long to be famous, think of the young women who are on some payrolls in Indian country for the convenience of politicians, and the girls who want to be just like them.
Some of the words to “Stupid Girls” go this way:
“Maybe if I act like that, that guy will call me back,
What a paparazzi girl, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl,
Baby if I act like that, flipping my blonde hair back,
Push up my bra like that, I don’t wanna be a stupid girl.”
Be aware, readers of faint heart, that “Stupid Girls” contains strong language, which won’t be reprinted here. Also beware of the video send-up, which has nearly as much grinding and writhing around as the people and activities it satirizes.
If you feel you may be offended by lowdown language or low-class images, don’t tune in to the audio or video versions. I’m not recommending the products; just commenting to Native women and girls on an aspect of popular culture.
Here’s a comment for the boys and men, too. Yes, it’s hypocritical for girls and women to dress or dance suggestively and then get mad at you for noticing.
Here’s something else for the boys and men. Suggestive dress or dancing is not necessarily a signal that a sexual advance is permissible or welcome, and is never a license for force. And even if you think “no” might mean “yes,” why take the chance of ruining a relationship, your career or your life?
Back to you, girls and women. Be clear and direct and think for yourself. Pink’s song mocks the girls who travel in packs and favors, “Outcasts and girls with ambition … What happened to the dreams of a girl president; She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent.”
In one poignant line, she asks: “Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?”
“Disasters all around,
Their only concern,
Will I **** up my hair?”
I started paying attention to spunky white ladies singing to ditzy ones in 2005, when I first heard Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.”
Actually, it took a while for me to understand the refrain, “I ain’t no hollaback girl.” I thought it was about the oil company with mega-overcharges on its government contracts in Iraq: “I ain’t no Halliburton.”
How advanced, I thought – a musical statement against war profiteering.
As I listened more closely, I thought I heard, “I ain’t no Holly Baxter.” Who is or was Holly Baxter? I conjured up an image of a 1950s television housewife/mom. That could be it – a statement about fictional perfection setting an artificial standard for normality.
No, the word “girl” is in the refrain.
Maybe I heard, “I ain’t Dan Hollenbeck, girl.” Is the song really about the CBS reporter who was a victim of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s political witch-hunting?
OK, so this is about my hearing, too, but that’s a subject for another day.
As I tried to catch the lyrics, I realized it wasn’t about any of those things. According to the Urban Dictionary, a “holla back girl” is:
“1. A girl willing to be treated like a doormat or booty call” or “2. Gwen Stefani use: A person who verbally postures (hollers back) in an argument and does not step up and fight.”
Stefani asserts that she will fight and is not a hollaback girl. She calls this her “attitude song.” Some of the lyrics go this way:
“A few times I’ve been around that track,
So, it’s not just gonna happen like that,
Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl,
I ain’t no hollaback girl.”
In the “Hollaback Girl” video, Stefani is dressed as a cheerleader, leading the squad in the call and response, complete with pom-poms and explicit words.
“I heard that you were talking ****,
And you didn’t think that I would hear it,
People hear you talking like that, getting everybody fired up,
So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack,
Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out,
That’s right, put your pom-poms down, getting everybody fired up.”
Both Pink and Stefani have their musical personas fighting and reaching for footballs, which is fine, if that’s the game you really want to play – but, ouch. And that’s different from men how?
I think there’s some confusion between equal opportunity, which is a worthy goal, and sameness, which is not. Women need to have an equal chance to run our world. But if women are to run it in the same way that’s brought us to the current state of affairs, why bother?
Nonetheless, I’m glad that these singer/songwriters are engaging in internal self-correction and girl-power empowerment. That can only help us all.
I’m out of space now, but next time I want to analyze the Oscar-winning song. If I’ve heard the lyrics correctly, it’s about the confessed felon and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. What’s its title? Oh, yes: “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”
Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, is president of the Morning Star Institute in Washington, D.C. and a columnist for Indian Country Today.