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She Pop: The Search for the Misogyjam of '09, featuring 3OH!3 and Helen Keller Jokes

Ah, Rolling Stone. Twice a month, you arrive at my doorstep (yeah, I don't know either. My boyfriend bought concert tickets or something? And then it came for free? Rolling Stone: The Magazine So Relevant They Basically Have To Force You To Read It) and generously provide me with a new reason to fear for the future of the world and all those who live therein.

This week, for example, you brought me an article on groundbreaking misogycore "emo rappers"* 3OH!3. (It is not linked here, for it is not available on the Internet, potentially because the Internet itself cannot contain the horror that is a complimentary 3OH!3 profile.) It answers pretty much none of the questions you would have about 3OH!3: for example, why do they exist? How was this allowed to happen? Did no one intervene to stop it? THE SPELLING OF THE NAME, GOD, NO, WHY? However, it does perform one invaluable service: it confirms that I was not just imagining that vastly offensive "Helen Keller" song that I heard in the bodega that one time and was so grossly offended by that I spent hours Googling the lyrics in vain just so that I could yell about them more accurately. That song actually exists! Other people have heard it! And it is by 3OH!3. 

You know what? I am just going to announce, due to the mature perspective afforded by fall, that That One Helen Keller Song (AKA "Don't Trust Me") was the Misogynist Summer Jam of '09. It is very possibly even the Misogyjam of the Year! I mean, I heard it only once, in a bodega, and it STILL struck me as the worst thing I was ever likely to hear! And further study of the song only deepens its capacity to offend, horrify, and induce manic barfing sprees. Any accomplishment of this level, of course, deserves serious consideration. Therefore, I present to you: a poetic exegesis of "Don't Trust Me," by 3OH!3. Featuring a video! And the lyrics! Oh, you can THANK ME LATER.

 

1. MOVEMENT THE FIRST: ESTABLISHING THE SCENE. 

black dress, with the tights underneath,
i've got the breath of the last cigarette on my teeth.
and she's an actress, but she ain't got no need.
she's got money from parents in a trust fund back east.

tounges, always pressed to your cheeks.
while my tounge is on the inside of some other girl's teeth.
tell your boyfriend, if he says he's got beef,
that i'm a vegetarian, and i ain't fucking scared of him.

MEANING: A lady approacheth! But lo, her motives are suspect, for she doth have money. Tongues go into various places. Also, 3OH!3 will be ordering the veggie burger. 

 

2. MOVEMENT THE SECOND: ROMANTIC TENSION. 

she wants to touch me wahoo.
she wants to love me wahoo.
she'll never leave me wahoo, wahoo hoo hoo.

MEANING: Ladies go wild for the sweet taste of 3OH!3. Also, wahoo hoo hoo. (The meaning of these passages is still being debated by scholars.) 

 

3.  MOVEMENT THE THIRD: THE GENTLEMAN DOUBTS HER PURITY. 

don't trust a ho.
never trust a ho.
won't trust a ho.

MEANING: Ladies (or, "hos") are not to be trusted. Don't trust them! Do not trust them under any circumstances, or at any point in the future! 3OH!3 refuses to trust them, and recommends you take a similar course of action! I know: it took some serious close reading to uncover all this. As I said, you can thank me later!

 

4. MOVEMENT THE FOURTH: A CONFESSION OF VULNERABILITY. 

cause the ho won't trust me.

MEANING: Alack the day! Now we learn the true meaning of 3OH!3's refusal to trust the hoish gender; the hos themselves have initiated the disagreement, by refusing to "trust" the innocent members of 3OH!3 with their hopes and dreams. Had they only opened their hearts to 3OH!3, the cartoonish misogyny and appropriation in which 3OH!3 have been forced to engage could have been stopped in its tracks! For misogyny is always the fault of those at whom it is directed. Let this be a lesson to you, hos! Er, I mean, ladies! 

 

5. MOVEMENT THE FIFTH: THINGS GET REALLY STUPID. 

[blah blah blah] bruises cover your arms,

[blah blah blah] just another girl alone at the bar, [blah]

wahoo, wahoo hoo hoo [blah] ho [blah blah]...

shush girl, shut your lips,
do the helen keller and talk with your hips.
i said shush girl, shut your lips.
do the helen keller and talk with your hips.
i said shush girl, shut your lips.
do the helen keller and talk with your hips.

MEANING: Um, YUP. Here's where the song jumps the track, and transcends the bounds of normal, merely obnoxious misogyny to become truly groundbreaking. Helen Keller! Because she couldn't talk! You know, like a lady ought not to! In fact - and here is a little-known bit of history, for you - Helen Keller exclusively expressed herself through dancing and/or sleeping with the members of 3OH!3.

Oh, wait, except that none of this is true? Like, for example: Helen Keller could talk? And had a career as a public speaker, actually? And this is just some hugely ablist bullshit from dumb dudes who find that Helen Keller jokes add an exciting soupcon of bigotry to their otherwise fairly boring misogysong? And 3OH!3 actually doesn't know ANYTHING AT ALL? Yeah, sorry. 

I mean, I do not expect much from my pop music. It's unlikely, for example, that anyone would write and record a hit single entitled "Helen Keller's Socialist Politics, Feminism and Activism on Behalf of the Disabled Are Little-Known but Deserve More Attention," and I fully understand this and am willing to accept it. However, 3OH!3 have managed to take the general level of Dumb and one-up it with a level of ablism and gross misogyny that is surprising and line-crossing even in these, our jaded modern times. And for this, I think they deserve extra credit. Or, you know, to be avoided and regarded with pity, sorrow, and loathing! Either one works! 

 

* You know what? I'm not even going to touch the "emo hip-hop" thing. This genre of music - oh, yes! It is a genre! May I recommend to you the ear-breaking innovations of Attack! Attack!? - has gotten a lot of negative blowback, partly because it tends to be awful (I blame this on the "emo" part, obviously, not the "hip-hop," although the fact that the rapping is always terrifyingly arrhythmic does help somewhat) but also because it is pretty obviously not confined by traditional racial definitions of "white" or "black" music. (Although: emo rap? Pretty conclusively white, based on all my research.) And some people are legitimately concerned about issues of appropriation, and some people are just upset that white teenagers are making non-white music. Here's my theory: as a twenty-seven-year-old white person, I am just barely old enough to remember when rap and hip-hop were new and alien, and to have witnessed those weird parental conversations about how it was noise! Nothing but noise! And could never hope to equal Rock and Roll! I am also old enough to have witnessed the rise of "alternative" and "techno," as genres, and to regard "alternative," "techno," and "hip-hop" as genres with their own rules, aesthetics, and audiences. But, here is the thing: if you were any younger than me, you wouldn't remember that. I think the reason that things like "emo rap" or that weird techno breakdown in the Attack! Attack! song exist is that kids these days are just making music, and it sounds like all the music they've ever heard - pop, "alternative," techno, hip-hop, whatever. Our distinctions don't matter any more, and by insisting on them, we only reveal how alienated we are from The Kids Today and the way they listen to and understand music. Anyway, thus endeth the lecture about how all of us grown-ups really need to stop freaking out about "emo rap" because COME ON. Misogyny, though, we can still get upset about. Obviously.

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Comments

9 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Groooooossss!!!

I first heard it playing over the XM radio station that plays over the PA system in my gym, and I couldn't believe it was real. I distinctly remember that when they got to the Helen Keller part, the middle aged dude who was sharing the weight floor with me got a really disgusted look on his face, turned to me, and said something like "great song" with as much sarcasm as he could muster.

Scowl to grin -- good job!

I also found it disgusting, though I only heard it a few times. Your "interpretation," though, is hilarious, and I know that if I ever have the dubious fortune of hearing the song again, I'll be laughing with your words in my head.

Bleck

My husband loves this song and plays it in the car just to piss me off. Apparently it's cute when I get 'all riled up.' Being a dude, he doesn't get why it's offensive and stupid and horribly misogynistic. He just likes the beat. And the band is from Colorado, the state where we live, unfortunately. He makes Helen Keller jokes too. Ugh.

dumb songs are cool

I heard this song and immediately sent a mass text to friends/family of the "do the Helen Keller" line, in disbelief, and received equally disbelieving responses. No one could fathom the depravity of the song, in a bubble gum wrapper. This song was nominated for some sort of kids award/song award/MTV spectacle.

WTF? HOW?

The boys in 3oh!3 should be forced to go back to school, learn anything, and spend the rest of their lives apologizing for the song.

I wrote something similar on my blog about Shakira's She-Wolf masterpiece.

http://belljarmelissa.blogspot.com/2009/08/perils-of-she-wolf.html

Yeah, not okay.

Thanks for introducing me to something that kind of makes me want to fill my ears with peanut butter and then never leave my apartment again.

This.

There...are no words. WOW.

Thank you!!

Oh god, this fucking song. I, too, experienced the same confused disbelief upon hearing the Helen Keller line. The really messed up thing is that, on the radio, they bleep out the "ho" part of the lyrics, so people are singing along not even knowing what the song is saying. I would be willing to bet large numbers of people who bought the album did so without knowing about the "ho" line at all.

The "just another girl alone at the bar" line is just creepy. Does anyone else get the feeling the next line should be, "so when I abduct you no one will notice"? Yikes.

What's really ironic about the whole thing is, while the singer's blabbing about hos, HE'S going around hooking up with every girl in the bar, right in front of their boyfriends, then attacking the boyfriends for being upset, and attacking the girls for making out with him. Uh . . . WHAT? This really can't be said strongly enough: What a fucking moron. If a "ho" is someone who is down with promiscuity, he is the #1 ho in the situation. And if a "ho" just happens to be every female in existence, then he shouldn't trust a ho, because a ho (me, being female) will kick him in the testicles if I get the chance.

Self-fulfilling prophesy?

The worst part

The most obnoxious part of "Don't Trust Me" is that as abhorrent as the lyrics are, the chorus leaches into your brain like sewage and sticks there, making you want to bang your head against a wall repeatedly. (And as bad as it is, at least it's better than "Crank That"—don't even get me STARTED on "superman dat ho.") I love my friends dearly, but was I ever loath to forgive them for exposing me repeatedly to this monstrosity this past summer.

And hey, I'm 19 and I'm NOT too young to remember anti-rap conversations—I have Boomer parents and my dad still goes on anti-rap rants on a regular basis! Groan.

Oh, come on, it's not THAT

Oh, come on, it's not THAT bad. It's just a funny song! I'm a grown woman and even I love the song! Society doesn't suck because of bigotry, it sucks because of "political correctness".