Friday Feature: Garfunkel and Oates

I love funny women – as everyone should.

I also have a weakness for really weird bands – a slightly more niche interest that keeps me squarely qualified as nerd enough to write for this blog. I was introduced to this nerdy genre by Lemon Demon, the one-man project of geek icon Neil Cicierega.  I’m also a huge fan of Wizard Rock (Harry and the Potters puts on the most punk rock show ever), and I routinely blast “Ira Glass” by nerdcore rapper Adam Warrock when I’m driving around in my Nissan Sentra.

My love for funny women and weird bands is united in the comedy super-duo, Garfunkel and Oates.  Ever since we heard their new song “The Loophole,” my friends and I can’t stop belting out the chorus at inappropriate moments – check out the video below to see what I mean (NSFW or those with delicate sensibilities – which applies to most of their songs).

Garfunkel and Oates, made up of Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome, sing songs that are both supremely clever and exuberantly immature.   Some are sharp social-political satire like “The Loophole,” “Save the Rich,” and “Sex With Ducks,” while others, like “Pregnant Women are Smug” and “I Would Never Have Sex With You” take off on the absurd banalities of everyday life.  Some are even surprisingly sweet, like “Silver Lining.”

It’s always great to see women being unapologetically crude, and doing it so well.  Growing up, girls are conditioned to be polite, sweet, and inoffensive.  While boys get to grow out of this “seen and not heard” period of childhood, women can get perpetually stuck there because of all the societal pressure to please others, especially to please men.  Garfunkel and Oates totally reject the expectation to be “ladylike,” and are freed to make some great feminist observations about sexuality and male-female relationships (in the midst of all the dick jokes).

If you’re already familiar with Garfunkel and Oates’ discography, the great news is that they have a new TV series coming out on IFC in 2014, with promises of new songs to come.  I can’t wait.

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How Miley Cyrus Gave Me Thicker Skin

I almost didn’t write this blog post.

I was actually scared off from writing it, because it’s such a polarizing issue, and I discovered in just about 3 seconds of google searching that you can get a shocking, overwhelming amount of hate for voicing your opinion on this.

I wanted to say something positive about Miley Cyrus.

Yeah, that’s it.

I just wanted to say something not negative about her recent music videos/performances.

It wasn’t even going to be entirely positive, either! Because there are some really good reasons to be displeased with some of her recent comments and performances. And also, I don’t really think she’s that big of a deal. So I wasn’t going to devote more than a couple of paragraphs to those musings.

Basically, it was gonna be something relatively lightweight about how after I watched her “Wrecking Ball” video on her VEVO channel, it auto-played this wicked old video of hers called “Fly on the Wall” from when she still had long curled brown Disney Channel hair and baby fat and her sexydancing was way awkward.

And when I saw them juxtaposed I was like, “WHOAH! Her sexy moves in the old video are much less resemblant of actual sex moves than in her more recent videos! Maybe she had only seen sex in movies or something when she filmed that first video, because she looks super awkward and kind of like she doesn’t know that isn’t what real sexy stuff looks like. Or maybe she’s just not self-confident enough at that point to let her real understanding of sexuality be revealed on-camera, because then people would’ve thought she was a slut and she actually cared about that then.”

That was the tack I was going to take. I mean there was probably still going to be some exploration of how the fact that her dancing now kind of admits that she’s got real-life sexual experience nowadays is what’s really upsetting people. (Because if her sexydancing wasn’t so realistic it wouldn’t be a big hoopla, I bet).

But when I write a blog post about someone I don’t feel like I know a lot about (and I know extremely little about Miley Cyrus), I try to do some research to make sure I’m not missing anything that everyone else knows that’ll come back to bite me in the butt.

So I did some googling on Miley Cyrus just to see what she had said about her “Wrecking Ball” video and what other people had said about it, for frame of reference.

And I was shocked.

I felt appalled, sickened, and wanted to curl up in a ball and pretend I hadn’t read the things people had said about her.

“DISGUSTING.”

“WHORE.”

“PITIFUL.”

“PROSTITUTE.”

“DUMB.”

“SLUT.”

And on and on.

All because she wore a bikini on-stage and danced like every high schooler at prom (or college student at a kegger) since 2001?

There are plenty of other reasons to have issues with Miley Cyrus and her performances.

There are racial implications of her use of twerking and women of color as dancers in her performances. She’s clearly not well educated about nor empathetic to people suffering from mental illness. She is not as good a dancer as Beyoncé or Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake. (Or, of course, plenty of famous people from before I was 13 years old, but I’m going to stick with what I know best).

But most of these commenters aren’t hating on Miley Cyrus for any of those completely serious and understandable reasons.

They think she’s “disgusting” because her performances have been so sexual recently — and because she seems to be doing it on purpose, and because she wants to.

It would be one thing if she said afterwards that she’d felt uncomfortable during the VMAs performance. That her manager had forced her to do it, but she’s a good girl and she didn’t want to, but she felt like she had to if she wanted to have a career, but now she’s wondering if it’s even worth it if that’s the price you have to pay for something as temporary as fame.

But that’s not what she’s saying.

Miley Cyrus wants to show how sexy she is. She wants to show that she likes sex. She wants to use that to get publicity. She wants to make money and be famous. She wants to have fun. She wants to do over-the-top things.

Why?

Because she can. Because she’s 20 years old, and 20-year-olds want to do crazy stuff! (I mean, what would you have done with all her money and fame when you were 20?)

And because she’s a human being with a sex drive. Because she doesn’t have a problem showing naked ambition.

(Pun not intended, but now that it’s on the page, I’mma embrace it).

Miley Cyrus doesn’t give a f*** what advice those people have for her. She isn’t a helpless little girl. She’s a smart, successful, savvy woman who is happy with her choices right now and when she isn’t, it looks like she can change ’em herself.

She doesn’t look like she needs rescuing from manipulative managers or music execs. She doesn’t need an intervention to rescue her from Hollywood.

She’s living her dream because she has made the money and the friends and the fame to let her do the type of crazy, id-driven stuff that lots of 20-year-olds want to do but usually can’t get away with.

Why should she pretend that she doesn’t want to party? Or be famous? Or have sex? Or make money?

These people whose comments are the most prevalent aren’t mad at Miley Cyrus for being a human who was gyrating on-stage or grabbing her crotch (because, you know, no one has ever done that on-stage before).

They’re mad that she refuses to be ashamed of it. They’re mad that their shaming can’t convince her that her desires need to be hidden and restrained and embarrassing. They’re mad because she’s a female human being who’s unashamed to be overtly, blatantly sexual — and unabashedly fame-seeking, to boot.

No one is saying things this hateful about Robin Thicke for portraying someone who enjoys having a half-naked woman rub up on him. The problem is with the woman who’d actually do it (and might even enjoy it).

She should be properly ashamed to ask for what she wants, just like these hostile critics are. Especially since she’s a woman, who shouldn’t be “overly ambitious” nor “overly sexual”.

Because I mean, WHAT WOULD HOLD SOCIETY TOGETHER IF WE DIDN’T HAVE SHAME???

/facepalm.

So I’mma go back into my internet comment-free life now, and just assume slut shaming is receding and that it’s OK for women to boldly pursue fame, fortune, sex and power.

And in the meantime, I am going to publish this post. Because yeah, it would really suck if all of those commenters from other corners of the internet came here and called me a whore-supporter or a slut or immoral or depraved. But if Miley Cyrus doesn’t let it get to her, then I don’t really need to, either.

In Ms. Cyrus’s words,

“It’s my mouth — I can say what I want to.”