Us Against Them Is Not-So Dead and Gone

I haven’t been posting lately, for which I apologize. I’ve been a tired little girl, falling asleep at nine or ten o’clock every day, meaning I have traded in my blogging me time for listening-to-the-radio-in-the-car-on-my-way-home-from-work me time. And I have to say I’ve enjoyed being in-the-know about what’s out there in the land of pop music. Because let’s be honest, I love the same music as most 14 year old girls.

In fact when I found out about the Kelly Clarkson leak this morning, I promptly found four of her demos and gave it a good listen. Sigh. Though I’m not an American Idol fan, I do have to say that I loves me some KC. Her new stuff is pretty good. In fact, I have to say, my life would suck without her.

Another one of my recent favorites has to be the Justin Timberlake T.I. collaboration in the form of Dead and Gone. I’ve been in love with J.T. since I was in sixth or seventh grade. I’m talking pre No Strings Attached – in fact, I’m talking self-titled NSYNC albums here. Remember the time they covered Sailing? I was there for that. And I still love him just as much as ever (rejoicing in the fact that he ditched the highlighted ‘fro, and wondering why the hell he’s dating Jessica Biel, who is not that attractive, and annoyed the crap out of me as a middle school follower of Seventh Heaven – not to mention her ugly dress at the Oscars last night. . . yea, I said it

Anyway – Holy tangent! – I have to say I think J.T.’s career is truly amazing. People who used to make fun of his boy bandhood have been coming out of the woodwork to collaborate with him in the last few years. He went from singing Bye Bye Bye to working with artists like T.I., and a myriad of other people. The boy has legit street cred (Hi, did you see him in Alpha Dog?). And I think it’s truly amazing that he has been able to successfully shift his image from “The Cute One” in a late-90’s pop group known for their TRL-style choreography to the guy he is now.

And I love the song Dead and Gone. I really do. But I actually watched the video today (check it out below), and I have some real problems with it. In the song, they talk about how ridiculous it is to pit one person against another, and the problems it can cause. I took this as a positive message. “Stop othering. No more us-and-them. Quit that stupid duality crap.” I mean, that’s what they’re saying, right?

Then, when you watch the video, and they’re doing the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing them for throwing the Bible in it. I think it’s actually pretty fitting and appropriate here. BUT the use of the words GOOD and EVIL sets up a binary that does more harm than the song could ever hope to do good. Unfortunately, our last presidential administration used this duality to shape the stark contrast between America (GOOD) and terrorists (EVIL), who were usually visually different than the American (mostly white) victims of these terrorists (usually of middle eastern descent). It helped inspire hate crimes (remember all the mosque attacks?) and fuel race-related hatred that had nothing to do with the issue at hand.

The song by T.I. talks about how ridiculous it is to shoot people “for red, or for blue, or for blow I guess.” Which (I take) to mean “Who the hell cares about Bloods/Crips, my gang/your gang oppositions? It’s as ridiculous as shooting someone over drugs and money.” He’s trying to steer people away from taking sides and from pitting one against the other. Then he completely negates all that by throwing in the words GOOD and EVIL, which have so many connotations in our society.

I thought this was a really good song – really well written, until I saw the video and realized it’s actually fostering the very ideas and separation that it’s condemning. Thumbs down to the overzealous producers who screwed this one up.

Dead And Gone (Feat. Justin Timberlake) – T.I.

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