White Privilege and Macklemore

ramou: Finding other people who aren’t on Macklemore’s dick has, so far, been my favorite part of 2013. #THAT SONG IS SOME PRIVILEGED BULLSHIT AND CAN SUCK MY TEAT
I rarely disagree with Ramou, but I have to take exception in this case. My beef is actually with the Spin article that is contained in her link. I read that piece yesterday and could not get behind his thesis at all.

I like Macklemore a bunch, but truthfully I don’t care for “Thrift Shop.” The song is an anomaly on his album and anyone who likes/dislikes the artist based on this single has a very incomplete understanding of his music. He made a silly radio-friendly single, which I guess you can fault him for if you want, but that’s standard practice in contemporary music.

“Thrift Shop” is tongue-in-cheek! Playful! The lyrics are too ridiculous (“I wear your granddad’s clothes/I look incredible”) for him not to be spoofing on hipster culture. Rather than being “above” hipsters, however, he’s essentially embodying hipster culture by both participating and mocking simultaneously. Yeah the young audience that propelled the song to #1 probably reads it as literal, but I’ve similarly known people who don’t pick up on the obvious oral sex references in Flo Rida’s “Whistle” - that’s just the mainstream’s relationship to pop music for you.

It’s important to discuss white privilege on the regular, but I wouldn’t make Macklemore a main target of these conversations. He’s an intelligent man who raps about white privilege in his songs (check out the lyrics to “Claiming the City” and “A Wake”). He’s not only aware, he ruminates on the topic. If Brandon Soderberg thinks that a white guy can’t rap about thrift stores because he doesn’t understand the associated hardships of shopping at Goodwill, then maybe he’d agree that a white, liberal-arts educated man shouldn’t be covering hip hop for Spin. (Nah, he probably wouldn’t. Ride the privilege that helped get you that gig, Soderberg!)

Ultimately, even if “Thrift Shop” isn’t too my personal taste, I like the fact that there is now an anthem for thrifting. I am all about second-hand economies (so much that I’ve been trying to mainstream the phrase “second-hand economies” for years) and would love it if this song inspired people to buy more used goods. Firsthand consumerism is a system that generally fuels the already rich and depletes the earth’s resources. I buy used whenever practical out of a sense of social responsibility and community. I’m not even going to pretend that I don’t also get a thrill out of finding cheap and/or ironic things like Macklemore’s song references, but if more people got the same high from dropping $2 on a secondhand treasure as they do from putting themselves in credit card debt on material goods, then I view that as a positive. Maybe that’s just the opinion of a white privileged hipster, but if it is, I’m going to own it.

1 comment:

KirstB said...

When I first heard this on the radio, honestly thought it was a jingle for the goodwill. (I was also just returning home, from the goodwill)