It’s become the most boring kind of cliché at this point; but 2020 has been a hell of a strange year, right?
We’ve had Australia going up in flames, civil society tearing itself apart, and there’s the small matter of a global pandemic still in the works… And it’s only August.
As Green Day put it, wake me up when September ends – if we’re all still here.
None of this even compares to the odd thought that went through my mind when I sat down to brainstorm ideas for this column – having already covered the big topic I wanted to address earlier this week. I found myself scouring the internet for subjects and discovered something that is entirely in my wheelhouse. It concerns the rapper Cardi-B and the ire her new song has provoked in the very much not-rapper, and conservative US radio host, Ben Shapiro.
Christ alive! I thought, I guess this is where we are now!
Cardi-B, with fellow musician Megan Three Stallion, has released a song called WAP which, I’m given to understand, stands for “wet-ass pussy”. Mr Shapiro, upon hearing the tune, proceeded to run, like Wile E. Coyote, straight into a trap that appeared to be set for him by a pair of Roadrunners. In a moment of internet broadcasting that made audiences wish scientists were working on a cure for cringe as hard as they’re working on cancer, The Daily Wire host then read out the lyrics of Cardi-B’s song, which include, “Put this pussy right in your face, Swipe your nose like a credit card”, “”I want you to park that big Mack truck right in this little garage”, and “Now get your boots and your coat for this wet-ass pussy”. Hilarity, dear reader, ensued.
The former Breitbart man then launched into a discussion, apparently seriously, of the… medical implications of an overly wet vagina. He had, also apparently seriously, had a conversation with his wife, who is a doctor (which you would know if you had ever heard him speak for more than three seconds), and had identified the medical maladies and issues that could lead to a trouser geyser, pant pool, or fanny flood of this nature. Seemingly, Dr Shapiro had told Mr Shapiro that this kind of dampness only occurs when there is a serious medical issue at hand. One can only imagine the patronising nature of that conversation.
Not being an expert in Cardi-B’s work, by any stretch of the imagination, I can tell you that my view of her song is that, in addition to the other suggestions for the use of that particular muscle contained within the song, it is very tongue-in-cheek.
The lyrics, dancing, colour scheme and direction of the video, and the exaggerated editing, all point to a comedy, jokey, filthy just for the sheer fun of it, kind of song with, if you insist on reading too deeply into it, a theme of women’s sexual empowerment running through it.
It’s no masterwork, but it’s pretty good, catchy, and worth a listen for the shock value alone.
Mr Shapiro, never one to miss a political point, chose to look at the thematic content differently.
He took this one silly little ditty and saw, underneath the OTT lyrics and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory aesthetic, a statement about what feminists want the world to be. He used the song to critique the feminist viewpoint, arguing that they no longer want to be taken seriously and just want to live in an atmosphere of sexual hedonism. It was, even when viewed as charitably as possible, a bit of a stretch.
The point that I wish to make out of this whole embarrassing debacle is those with socially conservative views (of which I’m increasingly less associated these days) really should know when to fight and when to leave it.
When you go afterclearly humorous and unserious songs, like WAP, you come across as the spiritual successors to those who stood against Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax and other such edgy and sexually explicit songs. You look like boring, dull, sticks in the mud, and you should really stop it.
Learn from Ben Shapiro’s humiliation and do better; like sticking to strong subjects such as the breakdown of the family, increased state intrusion in private life, and generations of hopeless unemployment.
Moreover, every time a conservative gets his (let’s face it, it’s pretty much always ‘his) tighty-whities in a bunch over a risqué song or comedian, both of which I believe to be represented by Cardi-B, the case that our broad political coalition has built in favour of free speech, free expression, and, in Mr Shapiro’s own sentiments, facts not caring about your feelings, has another crucial supporting beam kicked away. It’s too precious a fight to lose over a deliberately tasteless song.
WAP, and Cardi-B work more generally, aren’t to everyone’s taste, she doesn’t exactly feature in my top Spotify artists either, but her freedom of expression is as important as anyone else’s. For that reason, and that reason alone, we should defend her right to be as obscene, provocative, tacky, and gaudy as she damn well likes. Because doing so ensures that we all have the right to do the same – and that’s what really matters.