There’s a lot that I could have written about given that San Diego Comic-Con is in full-swing, but lately I’ve been flooding the blog’s Facebook page with so much superhero-related stuff I think I can pass on it. Instead, I refer all of you to the following music video, which you should watch before reading further:
“Rude” is a song by Canadian reggae band MAGIC!, and given their place of origin I was surprised to see that the track hit the top of the charts in the States. That kind of airtime is going to get you a lot of attention, which in turn is going to lead to a variety of different responses.
Before moving forward with those, however, we should probably make sure we’re all on the same page.
Essentially this is three minutes and
forty-five seconds of frontman Nasri Atweh asking the father of the woman he’s in love with if he can marry her and being denied over and over. He then tells the aforementioned dad that his approval is not actually needed, and that he will “marry her anyway”. Alright, let’s move on.
The biggest response is probably from Benji Cowart, Christian-music songwriter and father of an 11-year-old girl. As someone who often listens to pop music with his children, he first heard the lyric I mentioned up above and immediately thought: “‘You know what? I need to write a response to that’ because the dads of the world are not being represented well.”
Cowart took to one of the most contemporary forms of self-expression and covered the song on YouTube, albeit with his own rewritten lyrics. Subtitled “(The Dad’s Side of the Story)”, at this writing the video has roughly 7.8 million views, and you can watch it for yourself below.
As might be expected, the cover underscores the singer’s responsibility as a father to protect his daughter, and in particular takes note of the asker’s “qualifications” as it were. He sings “You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life / well you gotta make more than burgers and fries.” In this scenario the prospective son-in-law is twenty-eight and living in his parent’s basement, which is . . . not great.
Two more responses to “Rude” come from ladies I generally like quite a bit. I enjoyed the first two seasons of Girls [though I haven’t seen the third] and really like basically everything about Ingrid Michaelson [even if my last blog post about her critiqued one of her music videos]. Their twitter exchange about the song is short and sweet-
Dunham’s original tweet garnered thousands of retweets and favourites, and, let’s be fair, is very likely a joke. While there may have been some general wonderment there she is a professional comedian whose job it is to find the humour in the everyday. Likewise Michaelson’s response is pretty on the nose, and probably meant to be funny as well. Dunham brings up a great point, though: that of consent.
I think it’s fair to say having watched the original music video that the daughter/woman in question is clearly in love with Atweh. That’s in addition to the fact that he asks the father for her hand in marriage because he “[knows]
that [he’s] an old-fashioned man”, and that he’s interested in being with her in a permanent relationship that will last “for the rest of [his] life”. All of which is predicated on the idea of her also wanting to be with him. It’s that consent, and I don’t want to be rude, which isn’t at all taken into account in Cowart’s version.
The last line of his chorus leads into what he’ll do “if you marry her anyway”, and last I checked that was the sort of decision that required two adult decisions. While the sentiment is present that “she deserves better” there’s nothing here to communicate that he trusts his daughter to take part in the decision. He’s essentially forbidding them from being together, and, well . . .
I have respect for the idea that we need to protect our children, but if they’re old enough to be proposed to I want to say that they should be able to make their own choices. The promise to do bodily harm to this anonymous suitor may be in jest, but the truth remains that it may not be necessary at all if the daughter isn’t interested.
In both perspectives the daughter’s voice is conspicuously absent, though in one it’s certainly heavily implied. The entire issue involves the patriarchal society we live in where male must give permission to another male in order to even begin to make a life changing decision with a female, and if anything the song has created a conversation that questions that. How important is it to have a father’s blessing before proposing? Do we now live in a world where it is less important than it was even twenty years ago?
Look, I like the song a fair amount, but now I like it more if anything.
Communicating love and commitment through music is as old as the stars, but this tune excavates a conflict not typically present in modern day pop culture. Cowart’s rendition is fine in providing more perspective, but what I would have valued far more is a female voice, either trying to convince her father that she can make her own choices or [and this is far more unlikely in this day and age] letting the guy know that she’ll marry him if her father approves.