In Defense of Literally I Can’t

literallyheadI’m feeling nice this week. And what better way to celebrate than with the… music of Playz-N-Skillz. Please, click on the YouTube link to see Literally I Can’t, Mr. Skillzs’ latest music video. Then we can discuss it, with civil niceties and total cohesion. Go ahead.

Trust me.

OK< NOW WE”RE IN THIS TOGETHER! Don’t you go CHICKENSHIT on me now, ’cause YOU’RE PART OF THIS. DON”T YOU DARE!!! GET BACK EHRE RIHGT NOOW!!!! I NEEEEEEEEEED HELP WTH THIS!<>!<M#$t^&.

Shit.

Let’s see. How to defend this…

Literally, I... will try.

Literally, I… will try.

Let me first tell the tale of how I found it. After all, it’s a 2-week old rap video by someone named Playz-N-Skillz. Not typically my scene, being the type of guy who uses the term “my scene.”

Earlier this week, I was surfing the Huffington Post and came across an innocent enough article, titled Redfoo Defends The Most Offensive Song Of 2014.

“Who is this Redfoo,” I thought, “and why is he defending Magic!’s Rude?”

rude

Good in comparison.

Anywho, to Redfoo.

I had assumed this “Redfoo” was a cheap goop toy, like Play-Doh or Gak or Floam. Perhaps a cinnamon gum, or a Dollar store shampoo. Ketchup-based entrée? Ridiculous acronym? Redhead martial arts? Then I saw his picture.

Why couldn't it have been shampoo?

Why couldn’t it have been shampoo?

Recognize him? If not, you’ve somehow avoided LMFAO’s brief time in the sun. Or you don’t watch the Australian version of The X Factor, on which he’s inexplicably a judge. Well, inexplicably until I found out he’s a pretty successful record producer. And youngest son of Motown Record Company founder Berry Gordy, Jr.

Anyway, Redfoo is featured in Literally I Can’t, along with Lil Jon and Enertia McFly. Redfoo asserts he loves and respects all women, and that Literally I Can’t is simply a comical satire/ dance groove. Nothing controversial, he opines. Indeed, he defends it, making him my compatriot. Joy.

So let’s go through this. Relive the trauma.

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Foo.

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Foo.

The video begins with classical music and this not-at-all-alarming disclaimer:

The following is a satirical video based on Sororities/Fraternities and the cliche “Literally I Can’t”. This content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and it shall be taken as such.

You WILL take it as such.

We’re then introduced to a group of synchronized pearl-clad sorority girls walking into a frat party. Why? Who knows. They look prepared for semi-formal tennis. But like good hosts, the frat singers immediately offer refreshments. “Shot of vodka?,” they inquire. Instantly, literally rejected. “Tequila?,” they question. Unfortunately, the girls are literally unable to drink either. Allergies can be a bummer. Or maybe they can’t digest any liquids, you don’t know. But they cannot, literally.

There’s a third offer, which I think is “after party” but sounds like “apple bobbing.” Either option is literally rejected. A couple more incoherent offers come next, involving dancing and/or ferns. Or maybe friends, I’m not sure. Clearly frustrated, the gents go to a weird place.

“Girl on girl?,” they inquire.

Indeed.

How I felt. All those faces.

The base thumps and the literallys continue until we’re introduced to our poetic refrain. Lil Jon, pulling off his hat in clear grammatical frustration, exclaims the following verse to the heavens:

“Oh my God! Shut the f*** up!”

literallyicant

Though apparently, this entreaty convinces a few girls to twerk for Redfoo. How fortunate for the gents in attendance! Unfortunately, this also causes Redfoo to rap.

I said jump on the pole
I didn’t need your opinion
Gurrrrl I’m sippin’ on this drink
I’m tryna see what you got
Not tryna hear what you think

Well, that just seems rude. Why you gotta be… nevermind.

By now, head cheerleader girl is aghast. I’ll call her Heather. Heather merely wants to play ping-pong (sorta dressed for it), but the table is littered with red cups and booze. “Ew,” she utters, swatting away a beer-pong ball.

pong

Heather’s pink-haired compatriot is then pushed into an inflatable pool. Ew. But someone starts filming her for a porn site, so Pinky gets in the spirit! Another cheerleader appears to be apple bobbing in a paint closet, so she’s having a good time. But Heather is just such a prude. She even disses a constipated mascot. Cold.

Obviously, the only way to deal with this is to surround Heather, scream “Shut the f*** up!” as she probably soils herself, and banish her from the party.

"I love & respect women and feel they are the most powerful people on this planet!" - Redfoo

“I love & respect women and feel they are the most powerful people on this planet!” – Redfoo

But remember. This is art.

So does this work as satire? I don’t think so. What is it even satirizing? They’re just making fun of stuck-up sorority girls. And there’s certainly material there, but not while advertising a porn site and dismissing all female thought.

I’d go to my friend Redfoo, but he seems to misunderstand the complaints.

Well, our job here is done! The word “slut” isn’t there, so no misogyny!

But without Redfoo, I have to turn to YouTube commenters.

Aside from swears, insults and rage I’d prefer not to write, a few commenters say this song is about prudishness, that going to a party only to complain is simply “INCERDIBLY stupid.” I don’t think that typo helped his cause.

But what does that tell college girls? To loosen up and have fun, or to become loose and become my fun? I doubt I’m reaching here. Again:

I said jump on the pole
I didn’t need your opinion
Gurrrrl I’m sippin’ on this drink
I’m tryna see what you got
Not tryna hear what you think

Others say the song is just poking fun at a verbal cliché, the “Literally” crowd. And I might snigger like a snob when that’s misused, but that’s a pretty thin premise to satirize. Literally.

So what to defend? Well… um… they didn’t use the word “slut.”

"Told ya."

“Told ya.”

Aside from that, maybe the message is for sorority girls to stop going to frat parties. If you find it objectionable, just don’t go. With college date rape the way it is, perhaps that’s a good message, a safe message. Maybe this song could be some weird anti-frat anthem. But there’s a problem with that theory, and most interpretations I mentioned thus far.

Literally I Can’t is NOT aimed at college girls. This is music for frat boys at frat parties. And if you’re trying to fix frat boy society, you’ll need more than a song.

But maybe, this “satire” can show a symptom of that fratty entitlement to booty and booze. Maybe this’ll convince doubters that there’s a problem in our colleges. Because you can make fun of prudes and verbal clichés, but it’s easy to go too far. You can veer into disrespectful support very very quickly.

Literally I Can’t crosses that line, and even the makers know it. After all, Redfoo apologized for being offensive, vowing to be more mindful in the future. If this was the tipping point for Redfoo, maybe it can be for others as well.

Good job Redfoo, my dear compatriot. Maybe one day, I’ll defend you.

redfoofinal

Literally, I… could.

PS: The beat was stolen from these girls. Because this… this is art.

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