For some reason, our generation is incredibly sensitive and easily offended. Whenever someone utters a simple, harmless comment, we habitually glue our hands to our ears and stomp our feet in protest. It's no secret that our culture has its fair share of problems. From racism, to sexism, to homophobia, there are cultural issues deserving of our attention, but we've fallen into the trap of focusing our precious energy on trivial offenses.
I'm always finding these overreactions blasted all over social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, which, unfortunately, make it very easy for people to start controversy over nothing. Just yesterday as I began browsing my Facebook newsfeed, I was greeted by a four-paragraph-long status, complete with curses and capital letters, ranting about how offensive a post on lesbian celebrities is.
The girl's argument is that some of the celebrities on the list are bisexual, not lesbian (I'm not convinced all of them like girls, anyway). The misinformation could be annoying, sure, but it's not worth getting worked up over, and it's a huge stretch to label the post as offensive if you're not the actual celebrity.
Our penchant for labeling things offensive largely manifests itself in the music industry, as well. The most recent attack was on singer-songwriter Lorde. Lorde rose to fame in 2013 with the international release of her single, "Royals." The single and subsequent album Pure Heroine received acclaim within the United States, and the singer welcomed a few million more fans. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Lorde explains the inspiration for "Royals," saying, "I've always been fascinated with aristocracy. I'm really interested in the Ivy Leagues, the final clubs, all the really old-money families, the concept of old money."
She goes on to talk about her infatuation with the similar fantasies portrayed in pop culture and pop music, which she says was predominantly rap music when she was growing up. Her interest is apparent in the "Royals" lyrics, highlighting the extravagance often shown throughout pop culture:
"But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom. Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room, We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams. But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece. Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair"
Not everyone enjoyed the song. In October, feministing.com published a blog post criticizing the lyrics and writing off the entire song as "deeply racist." The post went viral and sparked numerous articles debating the case of possible racism in Lorde's hit. Since there have already been some solid, obvious arguments in support of "Royals," I won't bore you with my personal opinion on why the song isn't racist. What's important to note here is the way someone could take offense to something as harmless as "Royals" so easily, especially since Lorde was merely mimicking what she has been exposed to within pop culture.
Another 2013 hit, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," garnered a lot of attention for controversial lyrics and the accompanying music video that has been called "misogynistic" and "rapey" by critics and fans alike. In a post in the Chicago Tribune, Timothy Villareal calls out the singer for his disrespect of women:
"Thicke's own male gender construction has… been formed by proto-rapism: a state of erotic consciousness in which another person's sexual subjugation — their designation as a sexual servant — is a key component of sexual arousal itself," Villareal wrote.
Others, such as Elite Daily staff, have accused the song of perpetuating rape culture, and some, including faculty at the University of Edinburg, have even gone as far as to ban the song for condoning rape. While I agree that the original NSFW music video (banned from YouTube but still available on VEVO) is over-the-top, albeit sexy, the song's lyrics are hardly offensive, let alone rapey.
The lyrics can actually be considered complimentary. Picture this: You slip on a tight dress and go out to a club with your girlfriends. You dance and grind throughout the night, and some guy starts telling you how sexy you are and how he feels lucky to be with you. The attention makes you feel good about yourself, doesn't it?
But more importantly, "Blurred Lines" sounds like millions of other songs popularized in the media in the past few decades. The song is about sex, something that has been prevalent in every music genre and in most hit songs for decades. So, why now blast Thicke for conventional lyrics that have been sung and enjoyed a million times before?
Thicke was criticized once again later that summer, but this time, it was connected to another celebrity. For years, Miley Cyrus has been in the media for doing everything from wearing skimpy outfits to smoking salvia, but 2013 was undeniably the year of Miley, for better or for worse. The peak of the singer's media glory probably came in late August, when she performed "We Can't Stop" and joined Thicke to sing "Blurred Lines" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
If you're forgetting the performance (although, how could you really forget something like that?), here are the highlights: Miley wore what was most likely the skimpiest outfit she owns, twerked and grinded on Thicke, and pretended a foam finger was a penis. Everyone lost it.
Who really cares if a celebrity dances provocatively on stage? She didn't hurt anyone; she was just having fun and getting more publicity for herself. While Miley was flying high on media attention, everyone was wasting their own time criticizing her.
I could keep listing petty things Gen-Y gets offended over, but that would be never-ending. I've been trying to think about why and when our generation became such complainers. Here are a few reasons I came up with:
1) We're bored. Working a nine-to-five job isn't enough for us to occupy ourselves, so we need something else to do and pick whatever we see first to offer our opinion on;
2) We're assh*les. We get pleasure out of hurting other people and don't feel entirely satisfied until we tear someone else down;
3) We're stupid. We just like to repeat what we hear from our parents or our favorite celebrities, even if we don't understand or know what they're talking about. We never actually learned the meaning of the words racist, sexist, homophobic, discriminatory, etc., so tossing them around seems totally acceptable to us;
4) We're lazy. We don't give ourselves enough time to debate different sides of an argument, so we start shaming other people for being offensive when they probably weren't or didn't realize they were.
Whatever the reason, this defensive habit says a lot about Millennials. In a time when everything is accessible on the Internet and our thoughts are posted with the click of a button, oftentimes we don't take the time to think things through.