Yesterday I happened to come across a video of a song that was performed at the Academy Awards a day or two ago called “I Saw Your Boobs”. And it made me really angry. You might ask why someone who writes about health, food as medicine, nutrition and emotional healing, wants to write about a song that was meant to be a piece of comedy related to an industry that I have nothing to do with – however I see this so called “light-hearted” sketch as having much broader repercussion, as a statement about women.
Now you might say that I’ve just lost my sense of humour. Maybe in this instance that is true, but I know I normally have a fantastic sense of humour – sometimes it’s pretty way out there and I find humour in many varied situations – so I honestly don’t think it’s that simple. This song triggered in me a whole cascade of thoughts that I want to share here. At the very least it will be food for thought for some who may have just had a laugh and moved on!
For those who haven’t seen it or heard about it, the host of the award show sang a song (above) about actresses and the movies they have been in where they showed their boobs. This disturbed me on so many levels. Being in the natural health industry, and interested in so many more interesting subjects than what is going on in Hollywood (as with most of my readers) – movie stars and their lives don’t really rate much of mention on my radar. But I can’t disregard the fact that Hollywood has a huge influence over our modern culture. What happens in Hollywood, the themes, the direction of the latest movies, what gets the most press, what wins awards – is all determined by mainly powerful, rich, white men in a capitalist society, manipulating the world into seeing their version of reality. To my way of thinking, it is a pretty sick and twisted version that is most often represented.
Not only do we have “sex and violence” used in the same sentence as issues of equal importance when it comes to rating movies and determining what will be too “damaging” for young eyes, when we do see sexuality on screen it is very rarely infused with anything resembling a higher level of love, awareness and spirituality. This bastardised form of sex that is promoted in Hollywood, shows the depth of disengagement people have from their bodies, and has twisted healthy sexuality into something that is often depraved. We see that acted out in our culture on a regular basis.
With the Academy Awards being watched by millions of viewers as the industry is showcased around the world, this sort of humour cannot be written off as simply a bad taste joke. A lot of behind the scenes thought would have gone into it, the segment would have to have been approved, and there would be much more to the psychology of using that song than most people would be aware of. This is big business and a multi-billion dollar industry, nothing would be left to chance.
The song reduced the actresses to boobs. Infantile, shallow, degrading, reductionist. As if the women being sung about had no more value than their breasts. For sure, these women are not doing brain surgery and saving lives everyday, but they are living their passion in life, they are brilliant at what they do, they bring in billions of dollars to their industry, they take roles that highlight important topics like domestic violence, mental illness, endurance and love in all it’s many facets – and they are philanthropic, doing more for charity and good causes than most. So to objectify these women and make up a song about them showing their boobs on film, is to reduce these women to nothing more than one body part. It doesn’t hold them up as creative, inspiring, intelligent individuals, but reduces them to just their boobs.
The flow-on effect of this is a culture that continually makes it OK to objectify women. To value them on their looks alone. I can’t tell you how many women I have seen in clinic who hate their body, who diet, starve, binge and punish themselves for not looking a certain way. They may be unwell, they may have huge stresses and suffering in their lives, but it is the way they look that consumes them. Where does this idea come from? And who is perpetuating it?
Humour is essential in this life, but for me, humour that is representative of an insidious theme of devaluing people, is not funny at all. In Patricia Evan’s book The Verbally Abusive Relationship, one of the characteristics and categories of verbal abuse is termed “Verbal Abuse Disguised as Jokes”. She states “Abuse disguised as a joke is a category of verbal abuse which all of the women I interviewed experienced… This kind of abuse is not done in jest. It cuts to the quick, touches the most sensitive areas, and leaves the abuser with a look of triumph. This abuse never seems funny because it isn’t funny. Disparaging comments disguised as jokes often refer to the feminine nature of the partner, to her intellectual abilities, or to her competency.”
I’m not trying to say that the song is “abusive”, however the parallels are there. Abuse themed “as a joke” is pervasive in our society and is used as a common way to denigrate others.
Seeing as the host of the awards also made jokes about domestic violence, it normalises these topics in the eyes of the general public. Domestic violence and reducing talented women to nothing more than breasts, becomes funny and “normal”. Does anyone else not see the deeper ramifications of normalising these behaviours and attitudes? Am I the only one that found this song to be representative of something greater than it appeared to be? What were your thoughts when you heard it? Just a laugh and that it meant very little, or did you see something more in it? I would love to hear your thoughts!