Tag Archives: sexuality

The Lighthouse Analysis: VIII. Mythology- Odysseus

27 Aug

There are many references to mythology in The Lighthouse movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re themes of the movie, because none of them are carried out in an entire story arc.

The Lighthouse does not follow or retell the Odyssey. There are, however, many references to that text that I will highlight below:

Homer portrayed Odysseus as a man of outstanding wisdom and shrewdness, eloquence, resourcefulnesscourage, and endurance.  In the Odyssey Odysseus has many opportunities to display his talent for ruses and deceptions, but at the same time his courage, loyalty, and magnanimity are constantly attested (3). 

Younger fancies himself hard-working and resourceful. Actually, it’s more than fancies, that’s how he sees himself (though others do not). Younger can’t take this unfair (in his mind) criticism of his work, which clashes with his own self image, and allows the logging foreman to die without intervening. Then he steals his logging foreman’s identity to get a job, which is deceptive. More central to the story, is the fact the whole premise is that Younger is deceiving himself. The fact that Younger is the only one in the lighthouse, yet the audience sees a story of two men, is the primary ruse. Younger, in an effort to evade responsibility for his murderous behavior, separates the side of himself he blames for impulsive, immoral behavior–his Id, or as the audience comes to know him–Older.

Odysseus was deeply involved in the war of Troy since he was one of the commanders of the forces. With his skills in oratory and his smart ideas, he was a critical figure in the victory of the Greeks (4).

This speaks to Younger’s mindset as well. The movie references this characteristic of oratory skills in the dialogue throughout. Older talks in a poetic manner. This is because of Younger’s dreamy, unrealistic, fanciful notions of what a lighthouse wiki is supposed to be like. Since Older is a figment of Younger’s mind, he embodies all those storybook characteristics to a T.

Bear with me on the following formatting here, the mythology description tells each stop of the journey one after another, but I want to make my comparisons to the Lighthouse film after each:

Books VI–XIII describe Odysseus’ wanderings between Troy and Ithaca:

The call-backs to the Odyssy in this movie are not a direct relation to the story, like I said, but there are little things that are similar in Homer’s story and in this film. The fact that Younger has drifted from job to job is similar to Odysseus wandering all around having adventures.

He first comes to the land of the Lotus-Eaters and only with difficulty rescues some of his companions from their lōtos-induced lethargy;

Odysseus’ first stop at the Lotus-eaters talks of lethargy. This is shown in the movie as Younger getting barked at during his logging job for going slowly, and also when he first came to the lighthouse. The bad notes in the logbook about Younger’s lazy work ethic are why he murdered the senior wiki.

he encounters and blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops, a son of Poseidon, escaping from his cave by clinging to the belly of a ram;

Cyclops comes up in the movie with the one-eyed bird and one-eyed decapitated head–possibly a call-back to cyclops with the one eye.

Among other things Poseidon controls the sea and carries a sort of fish spear called a trident (which is an extension of God’s own power (7)). Obviously, the power of the sea is symbolized throughout the Lighthouse movie with the isolation and the waves and the storm. God or ultimate knowledge is also referenced with Older’s dominance of the lighthouse light and the ending where Younger looks into the light and whatever he sees is enthralling, but also too much to handle.

he loses 11 of his 12 ships to the cannibalistic Laistrygones and reaches the island of the enchantress Circe, where he has to rescue some of his companions whom she had turned into swine.

Older destroys the boat toward the end when Younger wants to chance getting struck across rocks in the storm sort of like Odysseus’ larger loss of ships to the cannibals. The Lighthouse does not show cannibalism, but it does show a similar, desperate rationing of food, and last resort consumption of alcohol, than pure ethanol for lack of clean drinking water.

Lastly, swine could also be pictured between Odysseus’ adventure and the Lighthouse looking at the interior condition of the lighthouse deteriorate-they are living like pigs.

Next Odysseus visits the Land of Departed Spirits, where he speaks to the spirit of Agamemnon and learns from the Theban seer Tiresias how he can expiate Poseidon’s wrath.

At first, Younger tries to escape accountability (which can be seen loosely as atonement) for his hand in killing two people. His delusional mind separates the impulsive, more animalistic, Id side of his personality. While he is acting the hypervigilant super-ego side that is overly concerned with social norms. Failing this, and with reality knocking ever louder as the movie progresses, Younger looks to the lighthouse light for divine intervention and knowledge.

The next stop of Odysseus and his crew was the island of the cyclops, Polyphemus. Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon and the nymph Thoosa. He was a one-eyed giant. In Homer’s Odyssey, Polyphemus traps the voyagers in his cave and closes the entrance with a gigantic boulder. To escape from the cave, Odysseus made his men sharpen a spike so that they could attack the cyclops in his single eye. When Polyphemus returned, Odysseus used his superb oratory skills and talked to Polyphemus for long hours while the cyclops drank wine. Polyphemus ended up drunk, and Odysseus’ men used this chance to attack his eye with the spike, thus blinding him (4).

The theme of being trapped is, throughout the movie, emphasized. The first scene showing just how far, and how endless the water is around the lighthouse let’s the audience know any people on the lighthouse are truly alone. And when their relief crew does not show up, it shows the wikis are trapped-there is no way off the island. The storm just emphasizes what we already knew–the men are stuck. Not even the small boat can help them off the island, as it would be crushed on the rocks nearly immediately.

Another similarity to Odysseus, strongly alluded to throughout the movie is the speech. Like Odysseus’ superb speaking skills, Older speaks in poetry. The language is like an old English novel, not a modern day blue collar worker.

Further similarities to this part of Odysseus’ journey are brought up in the movie. The one-eyed bird/one-eyed decapitated head references cyclops pretty directly in The Lighthouse. Some scholars theorize that the cyclopes also symbolizes the sun and solar power. The cyclops Polyphemus was the son of Zeus. And for the ancient Greeks, the sun was the eye of Zeus. Thus the cyclops embodied the power of the sun and the aspect of their god Zeus that was fire and light (9). Now we’re heating up! The Lighthouse itself with it’s bright light (an eye, maybe?) that allows people to live, or if the light goes off-die at sea. It’s very similar to the God Zeus having the power to help people live (with light and fire) or kill people off. Aside from showing the power and divinity in the light both stories are talking about divinity.

Their next stop was the island of Aeolus, the god of the winds (4). AIOLOS (Aeolus) was the divine keeper of the winds and king of the mythical, floating island of Aiolia (Aeolia). He kept the violent Storm-Winds locked safely away inside the cavernous interior of his isle, releasing them only at the command of greatest gods to wreak devastation upon the world (10). Aeolus, master of the winds, wanted to help Odysseus on his journey and gave him a bag which contained all the winds except the West Wind. In other words, only the wind he needed was allowed to blow, while all the winds that would hinder his journey were bagged up. Odysseus’ men did not know what was inside the bag and thought that the god had given Odysseus a great treasure that the king was keeping to himself. They departed the island of the god and sailed until they were in sight of Ithaca. When Odysseus was asleep, his men looked for the bag and opened it just as they were nearing Ithaca’s shores. Unfortunately, the winds were unleashed and took the ships far away from their home. With this, they arrived in the land of the Lastregonyan, a race of cannibal giants that destroyed all their ships but one and killed almost all Odysseus’ men. Only Odysseus’ ship and its crew survived this attack (4).

Aeolus, who is son of Poseidon (God of the sea), gifts Odysseus friendly wind. Due to ignorance and greed, Odysseus’ crew open the bag containing all the unfavorable winds and the ships are taken further from home instead. Then, the group faces cannibal giants that destroy their ships, condemning them to death and further time out at sea for Odysseus. Similarly, in the Lighthouse, Younger kills the senior wiki and hides him in the water tank instead of just listening to his criticisms and tightening up his work ethic. Then, checking the water tank Younger sees the dead, but his delusional mind makes it a bird, rather than the man. When another gull flies toward this scene, threatening to ruin Younger’s delusion with reality, Younger kills the bird violently. It’s an ignorant move because the truth and reality are inevitable–the drinking water is tarnished. In the movie, the same shift in winds that Odysseus and his men go through is spotlighted after an ignorant act. The arrow points North and the isolation on the lighthouse island becomes more sinister. Younger and Older will not be going home any time soon. The giant cannibal in the Lighthouse is Younger’s delusional mind itself, because he is more and more hedonistic and dangerous the longer he is out there.

Odysseus and his remaining men next stopped at the island of the enchantress Circe, who would cause more trouble for the voyagers. Circe offered a feast for the voyagers, but the food and drink she gave them had drugs and turned them into animals. Odysseus was not among the group who attended the feast, and one of the men who escaped, found him and told him what had happened (4).

This part of Odysseus’ journey is shown in the Lighthouse with the drinking, loss of food, and the ethanol. As a direct consequence of Younger’s murder, the food and beverage literally turn the situation untenable. Drinking alcohol, then ethanol turn the men at the lighthouse into animals-their behavior increasingly debaucherous.

As a sidenote, Younger’s delusion turns man into bird so Odysseus is referenced in that way also.

Odysseus then encounters the SirensScylla and Charybdis, [we already talked about sirens, don’t forget] and the Cattle of the Sun. One of Tiresias’ instructions to Odysseus and his men had been to avoid eating eat the sacred cattle of Helios, the sun god. However, after spending a month in Thrinacia due to bad weather and running out of food, his men could not bear it anymore and hunted down the cattle. When the weather cleared, they left the land but Helios was angry at their actions. In revenge for killing his cattle, Helios asks Zeus to punish or he would no longer shine the sun over the world. Zeus complies and makes the ship capsize. Odysseus loses all his men, becoming the only survivor (4).

see source (8).

The Lighthouse strongly asserts the story of the sun-cattle through the plot. Running out of food because Younger didn’t listen. He didn’t listen to the logging foreman before. He didn’t listen to the senior wiki. And he didn’t listen to Older about rationing. Younger refuses to listen and change his behavior like Odysseus’ crew do not listen or mind about eating the sun cattle. And in both stories rules of honor and piety are alluded to. The Gods/divine power are displeased with the hedonistic acts, and both Younger and Odysseus’ crew are doomed afterwards. In both stories divine power takes away the sun/light as punishment. In both stories boats are lost and the sea is harsh.

After the ship capsized, the tides washed Odysseus ashore onto the island of the nymph Calypso. The nymph fell in love with Odysseus and kept him captive for seven years. She offered him immortality and eternal youth, but the king refused her because he wanted to return to Penelope in Ithaca. Years later, Calypso decided to let Odysseus go with a raft. However, the king once again suffered the wrath of Poseidon, who sent a storm that destroyed the raft and left Odysseus in the middle of the sea (4).

Women and sexuality feature strongly in The Lighthouse film. The men both hunger for sexual attention from women, and fear it’s power over them. Older speaks with sadness of a wife at home who couldn’t stand his long absences. The two masturbate, but also can’t conquer the siren/mermaid or the fishy entity around the light of the lighthouse. Even the figurine fails to get Younger off toward the end of the movie. To the men, women are desirable and chaotic, sexy but wild. In that way, women are also compared to nature, which cannot be tamed or mastered. In this setting of powerlessness over the wildness of nature (or on a smaller scale, women) Younger gives himself a type of immortality. As long as his mind separates out the scapegoat Id, he is innocent of any crimes. He may be captive on the lighthouse with his victim, but his mind walled off his action and he is free to pursue power of knowledge through mermaids and the light.

After almost nine years, Odysseus finally leaves Calypso and at last arrives in Ithaca. Odysseus proves his identity—with the aid of Athena—by accomplishing Penelope’s test of stringing and shooting with his old bow. He then, with the help of Telemachus and two slaves, slays Penelope’s suitors. Penelope still does not believe him and gives him one further test. But at last she knows it is he and accepts him as her long-lost husband and the king of Ithaca (3).

Though The Lighthouse does not mirror this plot point in Odysseus’ travels, the movie does center on identity. Through the film there are many questions that are (subliminally) brought up that need considering: Whose perspective are we viewing the plot through? What is identity? Is identity only the sum of all parts (Id + ego+ super-ego) or does each part individually hold up when separated? Is one portion of our identity fully responsible for transgressions while another is completely innocent and pure? Which part of identity has the most power? Knowledge? Divinity? What is real and what is a delusion? And does that matter to the story?

More directly, The Lighthouse has Younger assuming his boss’ identity and using that name. Older goes by a nickname. Toward the end secrets and identities are revealed, which also spells out the fact that these are actually the same person. Tommy and Thomas Wake-both are named Tom. This is the movie taking pains to show the audience what has happened. So we don’t have tests of identity per say, but the whole movie IS the test.

Sources:

1) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Siren-Greek-mythology

2) https://symbolsage.com/sirens-greek-mythology/

3) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Odysseus

4) https://symbolsage.com/odysseus-trojan-war-hero/

5) https://www.britannica.com/topic/Prometheus-Greek-god

6) https://symbolsage.com/prometheus-greek-mythology/

7) https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Trident_of_Poseidon

8) https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-odyssey/book-12

9) https://www.uniguide.com/cyclopes

10) https://www.theoi.com/Titan/Aiolos.html#:~:text=AIOLOS%20(Aeolus)%20was%

20the%20divine,wreak%20devastation%20upon%20the%20world.

Reputation Re-listen: 3rd Lens

23 Jan

1st lense: Public persona. Straight. Thought it was bad. The BF stuff was OTT. As such, the rest of this analysis is from the perspective that Oat Milk is a beard (Grammygate).
2nd lense: Kaylor. Eyes opened, everything made better sense. It’s a WLW love story.
3rd lense: in light of Karlie baby. Post FolkMore.
It’s all of those. Taylor was layering meanings into songs (for plausible deniability) before she admitted it in folklore.

I included lyrical analysis in this, but not quotes from Taylor outside of her songs. When marketing an album to the general public she tends to be an unreliable narrator, and cherry-picking takes away from the credibility of these conclusions. The truth is (buried) in her lyrics.

Call It What You Want (pertinent lines and [brackets show my words]):

My castle crumbled overnight I brought a knife to a gunfight They took the crown, but it’s alright [Snakegate] All the liars are calling me one [KimYe] Nobody’s heard from me for months [Reputation black-out] I’m doing better than I ever was, ’cause My baby’s fit like a daydream [Victoria’s Secret Angel, Karlie] High above the whole scene [tall, and also out of the KimYe drama] Windows boarded up after the storm [during reputation black-out, Kaylor went underground together] He built a fire [Karlie] just to keep me warm All the drama queens taking swings [Karda$hians] All the jokers dressin’ up as kings [Kanye] They fade to nothing when I look at him I’m laughing with my lover, making forts under covers

Taylor is in love with Karlie. She says they don’t have to label it if that doesn’t work for Karlie:

(Call it what you want, call it what you want, call it) So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to Call it what you want, yeah Call it what you want To [said fast it even sounds like Karlie’s name in here]

Taylor writes a lot about the sexual chemistry of Kaylor:

Don’t Blame Me

I’ve been breakin’ hearts a long time, and [Taylor’s serial-dater reputation] Toyin’ with them older guys [Jake G, John M, Tom H…] Just to play things for me to use [beards]

Something happened for the first time, in The darkest little paradise Shakin, pacin’, I just need you I get so high, oh Every time, yeah every time you’re lovin’ me You’re lovin’ me Oh, Lord, save me, my drug is my baby I’d be usin’ for the rest of my life [Lesbian sex.]

My name is whatever you decide [Karlie misspells Taylor’s name in the sand during the Big Sur trip] And I’m just gonna call you mine Halo, hiding my obsession [VS Angel and also Taylor Swift the wholesome/straight brand] I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy [a daisy on the dashboard identical to the pic on the liner notes; also Ivy from Evermore calls back to this]

I rearranged the lyrics of So It Goes:

Met you in a bar [Delicate? or the 2014 Met Gala?] All eyes on me, your illusionist [Taylor is not what she seems] All eyes on us [Guests, media, the public?] See you in the dark All eyes on you, my magician [magical but twists the truth does tricks to obscure] All eyes on us You make everyone disappear, and [Taylor only has eyes for Karlie]

Cut me into pieces Gold cage, hostage to my feelings

[Taylor is in love, yet still in her metaphorical cage. She has to hide this love from the public for the sake of her career. She’s also in the cage because her love, Karlie, is committed to someone else (Jo$h).]

Back against the wall [no options] Trippin’, trip-trippin’ when you’re gone [Karlie goes back to Jo$h] ‘Cause we breakdown a little I’m so chill, but you make me jealous [Taylor doesn’t want to share Karlie] But I got your heart Skippin’, skip-skippin’ when I’m gone [Both of them feel love, not just Taylor]

[There’s a lot of outside factors standing between Taylor and Karlie, and making their relationship complicated and messy.]

But when you get me alone, it’s so simple ‘Cause baby, I know what you know We can feel it And all the pieces fall Right into place Getting caught up in a moment Lipstick on your face So it goes I make all your gray days clear and Wear you like a necklace [lesbian sex graphic reference] But when I get you alone, it’s so simple ‘Cause baby, I know what you know We can feel it You know I’m not a bad girl [Commenting on public stigma of gays] But I do bad things with you [Sexually-speaking] So it goes Come here, dressed in black now So, so, so it goes Scratches down your back now So, so, so it goes

[sex, sex, sex is so passionate and great and makes all the public image and commitments to others momentarily disappear]

I’m yours to keep [Karlie could choose Taylor] And I’m yours to lose [will Karlie choose Jo$h?] You did a number on me [Staying committed to Jo$h while seeing Taylor] But honestly, baby, who’s counting? I did a number on you [bearding, anxious about their relationship] But honestly, baby, who’s counting? [Proceeds to count. Maybe saying resentments are building up on both sides]

End game through this 3rd lens seems less like couple goals as I had previously interpreted it, and more like begging Karlie to choose her (over Jo$h):

Big reputation, big reputation Ooh you and me we got big reputations [obv Taylor and Karlie individually and together]

I don’t wanna touch you (I don’t wanna be) Just anther ex-love (you don’t wanna see) I don’t wanna miss you (I don’t wanna miss you) [When Karlie goes back to Jo$h] Like the other girls do I don’t wanna hurt you (I just wanna be) Drinkin’ on a beach with (you all over me And I can’t let you go, your hand print’s on my soul [Taylor is deeply in love with Karlie] It’s like your eyes are liquor, it’s like your body is gold [Karlie] You’ve been calling my bluff on all my usual tricks So here’s the truth from my red lips I wanna be your end game I wanna be your first string I wanna be your A Team I wanna be your endgame, endgame

[This screams, please pick me overJo$h]

Delicate under the 3rd lens seems less like a nervous 1st date and more like anxiety that Karlie is a flight risk.

We can’t make any promises Now can we, babe Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate (Delicate) Is it cool that I said all that? Is it too soon to do this yet? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate

[Taylor is full of anxiety, not wanting to scare Karlie away, not wanting to push boundaries.]

Third floor on the West Side, me and you [Kaylor sex] Handsome, you’re a mansion with a view [Karlie] Do the girls back home touch you like I do? Long night with your hands up in my hair Echoes of your footsteps on the stairs Stay here, honey, I don't want to share [with Jo$h] 'Cause I like you Sometimes I wonder; when you sleep Are you ever dreaming of me? [vs. Jo$h] Sometimes when I look into your eyes I pretend you're mine, all the damn time 'Cause I like you

Dress is the Met Gala (2014 or 2016?). Things were sexy, there was attraction, they had undeniable chemistry.

Wildest Dreams is looking backward at the Big Sur trip Kaylor took after they met. So looking about here in the timeline. They were in love.

I believe Taylor was writing songs that went on the Lover album and was interrupted by KimYe/Snakegate. That's why some of the Lover tracks fit chronologically between Reputation tracks.

A stressor to Kaylor is election season ramping up. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak King [Taylor doesn't want her brand associated with Ku$hners/Trump. Thus she could not be open that her and Karlie are in a romantic/sexual relationship (even though she feels so much for Karlie).]

Getaway car

1st lens: Leaving Calvin (Tom?!) for Joe. Makes no sense. Too many people and an inconsistent timeline.
2nd lens: leaving beards for true love Karlie. Occasional lines don't make sense- did Taylor switch perspectives within the lyrics?
3rd lens: ditching Jo$h to have Kaylor sex. And lines like:

No, nothing good starts in a getaway car [Kaylor is doomed]
He [not Calvin, not beards. Jo$h] poisoned the well, [Jo$h was working against Kaylor, he was doing his best to thwart Taylor and persuade Karlie to stay with him] I was lying to myself [That she was hetero/bi (she's not), that she could handle a casual relationship, and that Karlie would leave Jo$h forever to be with her]. I knew it from the first Old Fashioned, we were cursed
We were flyin', but we'd never get far
There were sirens in the beat of your heart [this trist is exciting but problematic. Both for the public finding out about WLW. But also bc TS is seriously in love and that will cause problems.]

*This stanza:

It was the great escape, the prison break

Both from the Met gala (a bit confusing bc Kaylor went at least twice-2014 and 2016 I think) but also Taylor from comp-het. Now she realizes she's lesbian. I say that because Taylor already knew she liked women. She dated Diana. And I'm assuming it wasn't just a Kaylor sex, 'I am sexually attracted to women' epiphany, because Swiftgron lasted awhile and I'm assuming they were sexual. But there is some sort of revelation Taylor has in this part of the song. A change has taken place, and something is different about Taylor compared to before.

The light of freedom on my face

A change has taken place within Taylor, and it's evident to observers. Even though Taylor previously dated Diana, she has this "prison break" moment where she realizes she wasn't bisexual after all. I wonder if Taylor had previously felt like her dalliances with women were just about sex. She may not have taken them as seriously, and still thought she would end up with a guy (compulsory heterosexuality). But in this Getaway Car prison break, she sees in her negative reaction to Karlie's commitment to Jo$h (and perceived indifference to Kaylor) that her (Taylor's) love is different. She realizes she is serious about wanting a relationship, not just having funsy sex.

But you weren't thinking [Karlie wasn't thinking of more then sex, and especially not considering the long term implications of a lesbian relationship] And I was just drinking Well, he [Not any beard, Jo$h] was running after us, I was screaming, "Go, go, go!" But with three of us, honey, it's a sideshow And a circus ain't a love story [There are Jo$h, Karlie, and Taylor involved.]

I knew it from the first Old Fashioned, we [Kaylor] were cursed It hit you [Karlie]  like a shotgun [not romantic, deadly]  shot to the heart We were jet-set, Bonnie and Clyde (oh, oh) [the sneaking and sexing was fun and exciting]

Until I switched to the other side, [Taylor tells again of a revelation. She has the realization that she is not bisexual just wanting a friends w/benefits, or casually playing, but that she's actually full-lesbian with serious feelings] to the other si-i-i-i-ide [She emphasizes there is a change.]

There were sirens in the beat of your [Karlie- it's all fun and games until Taylor falls in love]  heart (should've known) [that Karlie didn't want that lesbian life] Should've known I'd be the first to leave

Taylor tells us that she broke up with Karlie. She thought Karlie wasn't taking Kaylor seriously because she remained committed to Jo$h. Taylor tells us she was angry that her conveying a true love was received with anxiety by Karlie. And also, Taylor couldn't be outed by the relationship for her public image. And thirdly, she didn't want to be associated with Ku$hners and Trump.


Cruel Summer cements this.
Shape of your body is new. [Taylor with a woman. Taylor's lesbian status is new to her.] Blue. [Taylor is depressed about the implications of being gay. But also...] It's cool, that's what I tell 'em No rules in breakable heaven [She's also depressed that it's a casual sex thing with Karlie despite agreeing to those terms .] I'm drunk in the back of the car [getaway car?] And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar (oh) Said I'm fine, but it wasn't true [what this song is about] I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you And I snuck in through the garden gate [but Taylor can't get enough of Karlie] Every night that summer just to seal my fate (oh) [sex] And I screamed for whatever it's worth "I love you, " ain't that the worst thing you ever heard? [Because this isn't what Karlie wants (remember the shotgun to the heart)] He looks up grinning like a devil [kissgate, or Jo$h wins bc if they're outed Kaylor falls apart]

After this realization of being a lesbian, Taylor shuts Kaylor down bc of internalized homophobia, fear, and all the outside factors making Kaylor overly complicated.

Tolerate It [(song on folklore that could be looking back) parent and industry homophobia]

The Archer [worried about losing fans and career if she comes out]

Even though Daylight is the last track of the next album (Lover) I think it belongs here in the sequence of events. In the song, Taylor comes to terms with her sexuality.  I'm about to trade Daylight lyrics in what I believe to be a Chronological way:

Clearing the air, I breathed in the smoke [kissgate] I've been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night [realization she knew she liked girls since she was 7, but was in the closet and also comp-het and bearding. Now she knows she's a lesbian.] My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in [internalized homophobia]

[Taylor comes to accept her sexuality] Like daylight It's golden like daylight You gotta step into the daylight and let it go Just let it go, let it go [Let fear and homophobia go] Maybe you ran with the wolves [Ku$hners] and refused to settle down [with Taylor under the condition that they could never have a public family bc of Taylor's image] Maybe I've stormed out of every single room in this town [Taylor is upset her and Karlie can't have real Love]

[Despite all the outside factors, Taylor cannot just leave Karlie]
I don't wanna look at anything else now that I saw you (I can never look away) I don't wanna think of anything else now that I thought of you And now I see daylight, I only see daylight And I can still see it all (In my mind) All of you, all of me (Intertwined) I once believed love would be (Black and white) [Male female love] But it's golden (Golden) And I can still see it all (In my head) Back and forth from New York (Singing in your bed) I once believed love would be (Burning red) [Passionate, sex/fighting, bisexual?] But it's golden Like daylight, like daylight

This Love Happened around this point but looking back to the Wildest Dreams times. Folkmore has call-backs to this song.

Death by a Thousand Cuts is the next part of the Kaylor story.

Trying to find a part of me that you didn't touch [so much sex, but also touched heart] Gave up on me like I was a bad drug [Karlie wants a public family and didn't want some covert hidden closeted one] Now I'm searching for signs in a haunted club Our songs, our films, united we stand Our country, guess it was a lawless land [call back to Miss Americana and the Heartbreak King where she describes GOP winning the 2016 election. This also explains 1 reason why in the Getaway Car Taylor was unwilling to publicly be out with Karlie. Taylor didn't want to be associated with Ku$hners/Trump.] Quiet my fears with the touch of your hand [Fears of a public family with Karlie are gone.]

Taylor is regretful and heartbroken she left Karlie:

get drunk but it's not enough 'Cause you're not my baby I look through the windows of this love Even though we boarded them up [Kaylor broke up] Chandelier's still flickering here [Taylor still loves Karlie] 'Cause I can't pretend it's ok when it's not [being without Karlie] No, it's not It's death by a thousand cuts Trying to find a part of me that you didn't touch My body, my love My trust But it [The sex. Taylor's trust.] wasn't enough, it wasn't enough, no,

Taylor is very depressed without Karlie. And she's re-thinking her reasons for breaking up with her.

Then is Cornelia Street:
Back when we were card sharks, playing games I thought you were leading me on [Taylor broke-up with Karlie after Getaway car because she thought Karlie wasn't taking their WLW thing more seriously. Karlie kept going back to Jo$h] I packed my bags, left Cornelia Street Before you even knew I was gone [getaway car]

But then you [Karlie] called, showed your hand [told Taylor Jo$h and her weren't real. Just a cover and means to have a public family] I turned around before I hit the tunnel Sat on the roof, you and I [Kaylor]

[Kaylor is back on]

I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends [but Taylor's afraid it's tenuous] I'd never walk Cornelia Street again That's the kind of heartbreak time could never mend [folkmore confirms this] I'd never walk Cornelia Street again


In paper Rings (through the 3rd lens)
The wine is cold Like the shoulder that I gave you in the street Cat and mouse for a month or two or three [after the 1st break-up there was still an attraction between Kaylor] Now I wake up in the night and watch you breathe [Cornelia Street told us Kaylor got back together after Karlie told Taylor Jo$h is not a real relationship. Then they sat on the roof together. Taylor looks back to Getaway car where she couldn't give Karlie that family life. But 2-3 months later here Taylor is watching Karlie sleep.] I want to drive away with you [Big Sur and also living happily ever after] I want your complications too [Jo$h situation. So Taylor says she'll accept Kaylor as it is. Karlie will still be entangled with the Ku$hners, but Taylor would rather accept that then not have Karlie at all.]

And Taylor suggests a solution that would work for Kaylor. She suggests:

I like shiny things, but I'd marry you with paper [Kaylor marriage is not socially legitimate but paper rings is Karlie's "marriage" to Jo$h (you showed your hand)] rings Uh huh, that's right Darling, [Karlie] you're the one I want, and I hate accidents except when we went from friends to this Uh huh, that's right Darling, you're the one I want In paper rings, in picture frames [Polaroid], in dirty dreams You're the one I want


Lover song:

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand? With every guitar string scar on my hand I take this magnetic force of a man [Karlie] to be my lover [committed lesbian partner, but socially illegitimate] My heart's been borrowed [beards] and yours has been blue [Taylor hurt her with the 1st break-up] All's well that ends well to end up with you Swear to be overdramatic and true to my lover And you'll save all your dirtiest jokes for me And at every table, I'll save you a seat, lover

Yet there's still some uncertainty and instability:

Have I known you 20 seconds or 20 years? [Mercurial soulmate] Can I go where you go? Can we always be this close forever and ever? [Taylor is still not sure that Karlie won't up and leave her permanently for Jo$h (and it's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy given what we learn in folkmore). And ah, take me out, and take me home

In Afterglow Taylor says:
This ultraviolet morning light below [Karlie marrying Jo$h while Taylor was in Australia. When Karlie got "married"  Taylor flips out  But it's not real.  She got jealous and forgot paper rings. Jo$h and Karlie have some sort of agreement on paper, a fake marriage. And in Paper Rings Taylor said she accepted that.]

Taylor broke up with Karlie a second time.

But in this song she takes responsibility for their demise, and is regretful for her blow-up. Taylor wants Karlie back.

Fighting with a true love is boxing with no gloves [Bad Blood] Chemistry 'til it blows up, 'til there's no us Why'd I have to break what I love so much? It's on your [Karlie's] face, and I'm [Taylor for thinking the marriage was real] to blame, I need to say Hey It's all me in my head [jealousy for the Jo$h situation] I'm the one who burned us down But it's not what I meant I'm [Taylor] sorry that I hurt you [Karlie] I don't wanna do, I don't wanna do this to you I don't wanna lose, I don't wanna lose this with you I need to say, hey It's all me, just don't go Meet me in the afterglow Tell me that you're still mine Tell me that we'll be just fine Even when I lose my mind I need to say Tell me that it's not my fault Tell me that I'm all you want Even when I break your heart

So that is what I think Taylor is telling us through her music. I've just rearranged it in a way I think is more linear to the actual Kaylor timeline. Also, this is not supposed to be all-inclusive. It does not include every song, nor every bit of the Kaylor relationship (I mean, this is already too long). I largely omitted a lot of their happy times, and other things. But this chunk includes some Kaylor happy times, sexy times, strife, and 2 break ups.

After this part I do think Karlie gave Taylor another chance after the paper rings break-up. The first part of the Lover era was all rainbows and butterflies and a possible coming out. But the latter half was dark and depressing. So they might have broken up in the middle of the era? I think the masters heist caused Taylor to delay a coming out publicly another time. It was just another blow and let down to Karlie in a series of promises (Coney Island) and probably Karlie thought time was running out for her to have a child. She couldn't delay a family life much longer.

After that even Kaylor had to be 'on' for a bit because prior to the surprise drop folklore, Karlie was in a cardigan and amongst trees. Karlie HAD to know. And nobody else did, and there was a bit of hope in folklore. So I don't know what occurred between sad-Lover era and folklore, but something gave Taylor hope. I think it ended for good (4th? break-up was final) because Evermore was all super-sad.

WAP Grammys 2021 Performance is Not Empowerment or Feminism–It’s Misogyny

16 Mar

Visibility is imperative. Pushing norms is progress. But disguising the objectification of women for the male gaze as empowered feminism is super-problematic, and that’s what is happening here. Cardi b and Meghan Thee Stallion’s Grammys 2021 performance was supposed to push boundaries, and shock. And it did! Madonna pushed boundaries of female sexuality with her cones and simulated sex scene prior to this. But I see the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke twirking on all the negative YouTube videos for ‘top 10 cringe moments’, ‘celebs that are problematic’, ‘people who got cancelled’, etc, etc… And let’s not forget how Janet Jackson was ENDED over a fraction of a sec of nipple pasty action at the Superbowl. Can you say, double standard?!

Anyway, I keep seeing a lot of arguments for the merits of this song/performance because it matches what men do. Men have scantily-clad women on their videos, demean women as “bitches” (and far worse) in their lyrics, talk about sexual acts in explicit detail, and are “pimps” when they rack up the number of women they conquer. So people are arguing it’s cool that now women can do that too.

Except here’s the thing:

Feminism isn’t doing whatever you want or being as disgusting as men, it is breaking away from objectification, truly empowering the individual self and collective group of women.

Joining in on objectification of women is not empowerment!

em·pow·er·ment (N)- Authority or power given to someone to do something. “individuals are given empowerment to create their own dwellings” the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.

This performance isn’t about women owning their bodies, sexuality, or controlling the narrative. This is women selling their image in a package that men like in order to make money and gain fame in the small niche that female rap artists have carved out.

Women in this patriarchal society have to fit in a box–the Madonna/whore dichotomy. Women in music, already in that narrow box of patriarchy, have to fit into an even smaller box of being a role model to girls while having sexual appeal for the general public. The rap category is an even teenier box a couple of select women have to fit in to keep going. In the end, the box is so small and limited, there is no space left.

People online are praising the performance as visible female sexuality, black women owning their own bodies, and empowerment. Which, I agree might be present (though in this writing, I’ll argue it’s in diluted form). I felt the performance was harmful to women’s progress. What I don’t want to do is add the the terrible narrative that black women’s sexuality is wild/animalistic/scary/out of control that colonialism, racism, sexism, and patriarchy has painted it. I find the performance harmful because it is misogyny in feminist clothing, to borrow the sheep expression.

I know there’s a whole song, and the music video that goes with it. I don’t know much about either so my critiques are based solely on the following video of the 2021 Grammy performance:

My racap of the action:

-A stripper pole-references the men’s domain of the strip club where women take off clothes and dance suggestively for men’s entertainment.
-Cardi B backs up and puts her butt-crack on the pole. Side-note: Butt implants are for men. A women can die getting plastic surgery to enhance her body. Her clothes will fit differently. She will have to move differently, walk differently, lay down differently than she did before putting plastic in her butt. And she may have complications later. Leaking, autoimmune issues, cancer… This is not for a woman’s pleasure–women’s butts are not an erroneous zone, or secondary sex characteristic. A big butt is for men’s pleasure.
-In case the viewer couldn’t put it together, a giant, clear plastic stripper platform shoe flanks the stage. The type of shoe men like to look at, but women have trouble walking effectively in, and certainly running from danger is out of the question in such a shoe. It shows the power dynamic–females are weakened by such a shoe but men get pleasure from them wearing the shoe. Men are in power here. The women are just props for them to use to achieve sexual gratification.
-Other suggestive moves that drive home this is a performance to cater to men’s sexual desire: Splay legs, she grabs/rubs her puss, gyrating hips and doing suggestive humping dance moves. Cardi B elevates and licks her own leg. Countless squats split legged. Laying with legs far apart on the bed. Crawling on the bed. Split legged humping. Laying on her back with split legs. The two women crawl toward each other on bed. They scissor their legs together. [Pet-peeve] this is NOT a thing! I mean, it might technically exist in the way the pile-driver is a thing, but not used in real life, it’s only for porn. This scissoring maneuver is performative and it’s is ignorant/Lesbphobic. As a matter of fact, if two out, butch lesbians did the same move, I’ll bet the reaction would be totally different. Then to finish the show, more split legs.

Here’s the test to know if it’s empowering feminism or if it’s misogyny:

a) if this is two women owning their own bodies, displaying confidence and empowerment

OR

b) this is a sexually suggestive performance for the male gaze

In the above video and descriptive paragraph, trade out the women for men.

Have you seen men doing a similar performance before? Does it seem like the same type of performance? Would it garner the same reaction?

I’d say fail.

You do not/would not see two men: Dancing on a pole. Licking their own leg. Crawling toward another man on a giant bed. Or scissoring legs together with another man…

This is not women owning their sexuality. This is objectifying & commodifying women for the male gaze.

Research by Calogero has shown that the male gaze can have detrimental effects on women’s self-esteem and self-objectification, leading to increased body shame and a worsened mental state. The male gaze creates a power imbalance. It supports a patriarchal status quo, perpetuating women’s real-life sexual objectification.

So that’s why I don’t like it. I’m not even going to mention being role model for girls, b/c the conservatives always trot out “save the children!” to shame women. But I will say it would be nice if society was better at recognizing misogyny. I can understand why it’s difficult because it’s ubiquitous and pervasive. But we need to educate ourselves a lot better, because things are still BAD for women. And I would love to see women being successful by truly own their own bodies and sexuality in an empowering way. I hope it happens.

But this was not it.