The Internet exploded yesterday when British pop star Lily Allen released the music video for her long-awaited comeback single “Hard Out Here,” which is basically one massive middle finger to the music industry.
In brief: Allen utilizes half-naked black women twerking to make a commentary about how it’s wrong for white folks to appropriate black culture for their own financial gain. She pokes fun at Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s love of spelling things with balloons, spelling out instead, “Lily Allen has a saggy p—y.” (Yes, really.)
And then there’s the lyrics, which are a direct dig at the music industry’s impossible physical standards for female artists: “You should probably lose some weight, ‘cuz we can’t see your bones/You should probably fix your face, or you’ll end up on your own.”
But amongst all the hubbub surrounding the video, not many folks have pointed out something a little more obvious: the video, while it has a genuine and awesome sentiment at heart, is a bit misguided in its delivery of that message. It’s not as rebellious and counter-culture as everyone thinks it is—and here’s five reasons why.
1. Allen uses the exact same product placement everyone else does.
Recognize this phallic symbol? It’s that Beats by Dr. Dre speaker that’s in virtually every single music video ever made after the year 2012. (And yes, Miley has pushed it as well.) Allen may want to stick it to her record label execs, but if they say to put a product in her video, clearly she’s still gonna do it.
2. There’s so much gratuitous T and A.
We get it, Lily, the music industry pressures women to strip down and shake their rumps for the camera. It would only have taken one or two scenes for you to make that point, and yet, the entire video is laden with half-naked ladies twerking. This seems to err a little more on the side of participating in the mass culture, not opposing it.
3. On that note, all the nudity is demonstrated by women of color.
Further to that point, if Lily wanted to make a point about the propensity of women in the music industry getting naked, why didn’t she do it herself? Instead, she hired a gaggle of gorgeous black women to wear their bras, panties, and thong-cut leotards while strutting their stuff. Sorry, Lily, but it’s not really fair to critique Miley for doing something and then do the exact same thing times 100.
4. Why is Lily so covered up?
Furthermore, if Lily wants to make commentary about the insane body standards female musicians are held up to, why is she showing so little skin? If she thinks her totally-normal-sized body should really be accepted as it is and for what it is, then why not make that point by shaking all her curves out in the open? We suspect her record company had something to do with her modest wardrobe choices.
5. She still looks really made-over.
What would be truly counter-culture is if Lily presented this song and its rebellious lyrics without having a perfectly made-up face and lacquered ‘do. Allen looks stunning in this video, no less so than Miley or any of the other girls she’s critiquing. If she hates the double standard of the music industry so much, why bother looking so nice? We think that would have made her point much more legitimate.