I hate it when out of touch people get book deals they don’t deserve.
People like to complain about hypersexuality when talking about modern media. I say that hypersexuality is the least of our problems.
Governor Mike Huckabee made his rounds in the media this week for trashing Beyoncé. During his recent appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote his book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy the former presidential candidate said that he takes issue with Beyoncé’s sexy songs and musical performances. Huckabee accused the megastar of being gratuitously vulgar and contributing to what he calls today’s “culture of crude.” He also went as far as criticizing President Obama for letting his children listen to her music.
Of course, my favorite part of the interview was when Huckabee oddly compared Beyoncé to an exotic dancer when talking about her influence on young women and girls:
Do you know any parent that has a daughter that says, ‘Honey, if you make really good grades, someday, when you’re 12 or 13, we’ll get you your own stripper pole!
I’ve heard so much bullshit criticism from older white people (conservative or not) about female artists who are outspoken about their sexuality that at this point I usually just tune it out and keep it moving. I’ve addressed this before so I generally don’t feel the need to return it. But when I sat down to listen to Huckabee’s Daily Show interview for the second time and then the third, I had the nagging feeling that people like Huckabee still need to be confronted. If powerful, older white men with massive political and media platforms don’t understand how women view, understand and create our own culture, chances are that they won’t understand our views on our country or on our nation’s policies, either.
Huckabee has complained that people are reacting to reporters’ and media personalities’ coverage of his ideas as opposes to the statements he made in the book itself. So like the trained journalist I am, I snagged the chapter from the book that everyone’s been buzzing about to see Huckabee’s writing for myself. To my surprise, I agreed with Huckabee’s overarching point that today’s celebrities are in engaging in an increasingly ridiculous, insignificant competition in exhibitionism for attention. I also agreed with Huckabee’s point that contemporary media’s preoccupation and saturation with sex has turned a rather mundane aspect of the human experience into a larger than life phenomenon. Sex is most interesting and titillating when you’re not the one having it, when you’re observing it from your seat in a theater, your couch, through the pages of a book, or if you’re lucky, the other side of the bed.
But the holes in his arguments are so absurd that I can’t even comprehend how his book hit the shelves. The saying, “stay in your lane” has never been more relevant.
Mike Huckabee complains that journalism doesn’t exist any more because editors don’t do their jobs and because no one checks their facts anymore. Then he cites the wrong year for Beyoncé’s Grammy performance as being 2013, not 2014. He also accuses Jay Z of exploiting his wife for performing the song. I’m guessing he doesn’t know that Beyoncé created her album featuring “Drunk in Love” with her own entertainment and management company? Where she manages herself? Does he know that Beyoncé had earned Jay Z’s worth two-fold according to the 2014 Forbes list?
The Beyoncé mistakes were a little amusing. Then I felt some kind of way when he only singled out women for engaging in crude culture without citing any male celebrities as examples. And when he criticized feminists for being absent in the conversation when the opposite has been true.
If Huckabee really wanted to make a statement about his frustration with pop culture as it stands, he would have written about the culture of distraction, not the culture of crude. New media or not, the human race has always had a fascination with sex over other facts of life. But my generation is unquestionably the most unfocused and self-absorbed group of adults we have ever seen. I don’t view this as a death sentence but I have come to accept this as an unfortunate truth for myself and my peers. It’s easy to forget about the terrors of the Boko Haram when everyone is blogging about Beyoncé’s sister throwing a tantrum in an elevator. It’s easy to forget about the war in Ukraine when everyone is staring at Amber Rose’s ass on Instagram. And it’s easy to forget that our own federal courts may completely absolve Darren Wilson from killing an innocent man out of racial malice when everyone is still tweeting about Obama’s famous joke from Tuesday’s State of the Union.
Any conversation is doomed when you start off with “back in my day” or “when I was growing up.” Critiquing artists for their depictions of deviance means considering their intentions, their perspectives and being honest about why their art resonates with you so much. It also means accounting for the radical ways that the women’s movement, the black power movement, the sexual revolution and the advancement of new media technology has changed the way we communicate-as well as what we find funny and compelling.