“Two people unsubcribed from the Buffet today,” I told my husband flatly, “It doesn’t bode well that two people unsubcribed while we’re holding a contest that subscribers are automatically entered into.”
“It’s ‘Kiss with a Fist’,” my husband responded.
“What? You mean the music video from my blog post?”
“Yep, it probably offended them.”
“What?! Why on earth?”
“It’s the violence, it was a knee-jerk reaction,” he guessed.
And that’s when I realized that I must be incredibly stupid.
In my article I described Florence and the Machine’s song “Kiss with a Fist” as “channeling inner rage in just the cutest way”. I found Florence’s description of a mutually destructive relationship excellent. The brutal lyrics teamed up with perky rock and sing song melody was a highlight of the album for me.
And here’s why I’m stupid. Never. Never, ever. Not once while listening to the song, singing along with the song, dancing to the song. Not once did I think the lyrics were about a man and woman actually physically beating each other up. I really never did.
So, am I stupid? A bad feminist? A bad person?
According to Joanna McNaney in issue 46 of “Bitch” magazine I am probably all of the above. In her write up of the song she states, “Yeah, I know – songs don’t hurt people. But in just two minutes and four seconds, ‘Kiss with a Fist’ chips away at all the good that anti-domestic violence organizations try to do for the protection of women on a daily basis.” Later she says, “I realize that it’s possible that ‘Kiss with a Fist’ is supposed to be one big metaphor for a terrible relationship. But what comes across is a song that quite literally spells out that not only should abusive relationships be tolerated, they should be welcomed as an alternative to loneliness. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll stick with regular kisses and classic rock for the time being.”
First, I can’t help but poke at “Bitch” a little bit by pointing out that the woman in the song deals out just as much punishment as she takes. In terms of violence to violence, the woman is most assuredly equal, or possibly greater, than her partner. It’s silly to point out, since it never occurred to me until now that someone out there might have viewed this song as some sort of how-to manual for beating the crap out of someone, but alas, I couldn’t help myself.
That blurb aside, really? I mean, really? There are people out there who didn’t think the song was a metaphor? I’ll admit it; I can’t decide who the stupid one here is: me, blissfully ignoring a literal interpretation of a song, or them, somehow content to only acknowledge a literal interpretation of the song.
I own Body Count’s first album that features the song “Cop Killer”. I never thought Ice-T was saying, “Hey everyone, let’s all get guns and shoot some cops!” I thought he was expressing pent up outrage for a justice system that is particularly callous towards what happens in many low income urban areas. I own Nas’s “Untitled” album that features the song “Sly Fox”, which has Nas saying he’s going to get a hold of Fox News personalities and throw them off a roof. Again, never entertained the vaguest notion that Nas was literally going to hunt down Bill O’Reilly and kill him. And I own Florence and the Machine’s album “Lungs”, which has the song “Kiss with a Fist” and despite it’s litany of violent acts I never thought that Florence was in a physically violent relationship or thought that actual physical violence was an okay way to be in a relationship.
Maybe I am stupid; however, if the alternative view is smart, I’ll gladly be called an idiot.