True Life: I’m obsessed with Lily Allen.
Seriously, she is so cool. Lily Allen’s music is ironic, witty, and hilarious. In conclusion, to me she’s a talented satirical songwriter.
In my last post, I critiqued Thought Catalog author Nicole Mullen’s article “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” for its racist themes. After some discussion of the piece, I realized that the author had tagged her article as “humor.”
That was news to me. See, the key with humor is that it has to be funny. When I read Mullen’s article, I believe she left out the funny. Maybe she tagged it in the category by mistake?
I would advise Mullen in the future to pay attention to someone like Lily Allen and take note. Satire is not easy, which is why I rarely write it. I’d rather accidentally be funny than try it and fail miserably.
Satire is written with absurdity. That’s why a satirical news website like The Onion is so successful.
Lilly Allen’s “Hard Out Here” works because it’s outrageous and in-your-face with its vulgarity. The song discusses the dangerous ways women are still viewed in society today. While the themes are deep and serious, her humor drives the point home that “it’s hard out here for a bitch.”
Allen’s vulgarity works because it’s ironic. She uses derogatory language to illustrate the negative ways in which women are often discussed in the media.
Her lyrics addressing the unhealthy and narrow expectations women face are humorous in the fact that they’re truthful despite the absurdity:
“If you’re not a size six, then you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight ’cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own.”
While sexism isn’t funny (it’s actually a bunch of BS, to be honest), Allen approached the topic with satire, and that allows for a different perspective and a new way for society to have dialogue about feminism and its importance today.
Could Mullen have taken a similar approach and possibly written a funny article? Maybe. But her attempt was lackluster in my opinion. I had no idea she was attempting satire. I simply thought it was some nut who truly believed that free speech is for racist rants.
I don’t think that we should limit ourselves with the topics we write about. Anyone can write something controversial if he or she wants to. Writing is a world in which we can explore and dig deep. It’s a way of understanding the world we live in.
However, when tackling hot button issues and current events that touch a nerve with people, a writer should show tact and have the right intentions before publishing a piece. Mullen seemed to fail in this regard. I believe that her attempt at a satirical piece was insensitive because her intentions were not clear. While she may have been attempting to make light of the racist chant scandal with the fraternity members in Oklahoma, it appeared to me as a racist intent. If I didn’t know she was writing satire, then I’m sure there were others who didn’t know, either.
This is the main problem I have with the articles Thought Catalog has been publishing as of late. It seems to have become a free-for-all and that the work is a bit sloppy. The articles published are not only questionable in quality, but also worrisome with their intent. While I used to see Thought Catalog as a website that had more upbeat articles, now it’s become a mash-up of unpredictable content with no consistency.
So, to Nicole Mullen, if you ever discover this post: