Lily Allen’s comeback video purports to condemn the misogyny of the music industry. Why, then, is it full of twerking dancers and sexual innuendo?
Now that the comedian Russell Brand has revolution covered and the rock star Bono has cornered saving the planet, Allen is taking on sexism. Her latest pop ditty and accompanying video take a swipe at the misogyny inherent in the music business and parody every sexist prototype that the MTV music channel has created.
Hard out Here is a veritable mash-up of pop reference: the hassle the singer Lady Gaga has had over weight loss; the rap group Three 6 Mafia’s hit It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp; Rihanna’s pornographic video Pour It Up, in which she croons about “strip clubs and dollar bills” while humping a throne in a G-string.
It winks at Miley Cyrus’s outrageous Wrecking Ball video, in which the former Disney star appeared twerking (gyrating suggestively) and naked, licking a sledgehammer. And it takes a swipe at the R&B star Robin Thicke’s anthem Blurred Lines.
Hard out Here turns — or intends to turn — every trope on its head. In the music video Allen is castigated as a lazy slob by a middle-aged male manager who wants her to twerk and lick a banana on screen So far, so feminist. At least she says that was her intention. But have you seen the full video?
It features girls in thong leotards grinding against car bumpers, twerking their behinds in slow motion, simulating oral sex on champagne bottles before pouring the frothing contents over their breasts. There are phalanxes of girl dancers dressed like hookers on all fours, jerking in their black G-strings and grinding against a Rolls-Royce while Allen rains dollar bills down on them.
It is ironic, apparently. Take that, sexism! Ha! Nothing sticks it to the patriarchy like a close-up shot of a crotch.
Compare Katy Perry’s candyfest California Gurls, which she performs with Snoop Dogg, giggling through a parody of girlishness, or Rihanna gleefully grinding alongside her dancers in a show of sexy solidarity in Pour It Up, with Allen telling us she “Don’t need to shake my arse for you / ’Cause I’ve got a brain”, before hiring lots of girls to be in her video to do just that.
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