Pop Culture

Stop Expecting Pop Stars To Be Role Models For Your Kids

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dear-future-husbandExactly when did we start expecting music stars to be role models for our children? Seriously, does anyone know when this happened? It certainly wasn’t the case when I was growing up, and I have a really hard time sympathizing with parents who become outraged when adult artists don’t act like perfect role models for their kids. Guess what? That’s not their job. Their job is to write and perform a catchy tune that we all want to dance to. That’s it.

Meghan Trainor came out with a new video for her song “Future Husband” and the mom blogosphere is in an uproar. “I’m not letting my kids watch this!” Okay, don’t.

When I was in sixth grade I was dressing up like Madonna. I would have killed for a “boy-toy” belt, even though I had no idea what it meant at the time. I was watching her writhe around on stage during the MTV Video Music awards singing “Like A Virgin.” My mom was watching, too. There was no outrage. Because somehow, we used to have a firm grasp of the fact that performers were performers — not babysitters or role models. Rockstars were meant to live fantastic lives and have a ton of money and a lot of sex and we all understood that somehow. We weren’t holding them up to the same standard of morality we do today.

As an adult, when I see a 21-year-old woman like Trainor scrubbing a floor in a 50’s housewife get-up, singing words like:

You got that 9 to 5

But, baby, so do I
So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies
I never learned to cook

But I can write a hook

I don’t get outraged, I just understand that Trainor probably likes this retro aesthetic in her videos; her first big hit, “All About That Bass,” was shot in similar style. It makes some stylistic and creative sense to me that she would go for the look of the 50’s housewife when singing a song titled “Dear Future Husband.” But the uproar is over lines like these:

Take me on a date
I deserve it, babe

And don’t forget the flowers every anniversary
‘Cause if you’ll treat me right
I’ll be the perfect wife

and these:

After every fight
Just apologize
And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right
Even if I was wrong
You know I’m never wrong
Why disagree?

Here’s one critique of the song, from The State Press:

But respect isn’t gendered. It’s not a man’s job to open doors for women or a woman’s role to always be right in arguments. Instead of calling on her future husband to perform basic acts of human decency in exchange for kisses, Trainor could write her song to meet modern-day standards of gender equality.

I’m not discounting the importance of the social responsibility that celebrities have. But do we need every song written by a woman to be a feminist anthem? I’m going to go ahead and say, “no.” The character in Trainor’s song has a job and wants to be bought flowers and win every fight. Big whoop. This describes a lot of people I know — male and female.

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