Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Radio Wednesday: "The Joke" - Brandi Carlile

If you've been reading this here blog for awhile, it's no secret that our current political situation is distressing to me. I want to be optimistic, but some days it's hard. I am sustained largely by family, friends, working out, eating well, writing, caffeine, vodka, satisfyingly resonant political pieces, pop culture, and music.

Brandi Carlile's latest album, By the Way, I Forgive You is a poignant work of art for this political moment. I was casually listening to the album in the car when I was struck by the lyrics to one of the stand-out songs, "The Joke":
You get discouraged, don't you, girl?
It's your brother's world for a while longer
We gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you're looking tired, but you don't look scared
The first two lines are almost certainly about the 2016 election and, as I was listening, I felt a sense of deep sadness, followed by a validation that I feel has largely been missing in mainstream punditry.

While the mainstream press has spent the last year and a half obsessing about Trump voters in general, and angry white men in particular, the meaning and impact of Hillary Clinton's loss to a misogynistic predator, for the girls living through this political moment has been explored much less. That is a failing, and it's one I think about often.

In my political writing, I think one of my biggest goals is to provide validation for posterity and anyone who may stumble across my posts, that we've been enduring some massive, fucked-up gaslighting about the pain many girls and women have experienced. Far too often, people like me are denigrated as "Hillary cultists" when the reality is that we simply, subversively refuse to hate women in a profoundly misogynistic society.

In the next verse, Carlile expresses an optimism that I don't always feel and that we, of course, are not assured.
Let 'em laugh while they can
Let 'em spin, let 'em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends
And the joke's on them
I will never stop hoping, at least.

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