I’m not going to pretend to know much about Kiely Williams’ career. I know about 3LW and The Cheetah Girls, but I couldn’t name you any of their songs or tell you anything about them (aside from the fact that Cheetah Girls is a Disney concoction).
The only reason I even really know who she is, is because everyone was talking about the video for her single “Spectacular.” So being intrigued at the hot mess I was hearing about, I decided to watch.
I’m wondering if I should just have let this one go…because now I’m mad. Really mad.
Like a lot of pop music sung by female “singers”, “Spectacular” is a feminist’s nightmare. The song tells the story about one girl’s night on the town that turns into a sex romp she can barely remember. Perhaps she just drank way too much. Perhaps the man she met at the bar drugged her. It’s not really clear. However, the lyrics (which completely contradict themselves by talking about what she remembers then saying she blacked out) don’t really seem to see the gravity of the situation. Including whether or not her partner used a condom (“What he did to me last night felt so good. It must have been on drugs. I hope he used a rubber. Or I’ma be in trouble”). In the chorus, she sings “the sex was spectacular” about 100 times, (which doesn’t make any sense because if you were blacked out how would you know whether or not the sex was even that good?)
The video just adds to what is already an awful song. We see the pop singer getting ready to go out, then walking down the street in broad daylight, dressed in an outfit straight out of “Hookers R Us” (handcuffs included). She goes to a club (that is apparently open at noon), meets the guy, goes home with him and you can probably figure out the rest. This then jumps to her leaving his place in a hurry (while he lies bare assed in a way no man EVER would lie in a bed) after which she proceeds to do the “walk of shame” home. In between the storyline scenes, Miss Williams has a dance number that consists of her bumping and grinding a wall and a very large rock.
I want to also address Kiely Williams’ responses to criticism of her song and video. Somewhere there was mention of how she was just “acting” and that no one criticizes Lady Gaga or Beyonce for killing people in “Telephone.” In her little “Hey it’s me world” YouTube diary (called kielyTV), Kiely talks about how sometimes a song is just a song and it doesn’t always have a greater meaning. She also talks about how, while she still believes in girl power and following your dreams, she knows a lot of female 20-somethings who go out, get too drunk and go home with some guy whose name they don’t know or remember. In her coy, acting-school trained voice she says “It’s not my idea of a perfect Saturday night, no…but (head tilt) it does happen. A lot. Aaand maybe it’s something we all do need to talk about.” With a few more head tilts and small smirks, she finishes off by saying “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
There is so much here, I don’t even know where to begin.
Kiely Williams is a perfect example of how, while women may be able to vote, have a job and even (MAYBE) be openly sexually active, we have progressed very little. (Personally, I group most female pop singers into this category, so don’t feel bad Kiely). Why is it wrong that she was formerly a Cheetah Girl who is now acting like a “full grown woman”? Because, while she may have “grown up”, her audience has not. There will be pre-teen fans of her show who will be singing lyrics like “Last I remember I was face down. Ass up. Clothes off, broke off…” These girls will hear this song and, in dealing with their own budding sexualities, will think that not remembering sex means it must have been good. And it’s not just the women I’m concerned about.
A few months ago, when Beyonce and Lady Gaga’s video “Videophone” came out, I went on a Twitter rant. At some stage, I made the comment that, after this song, women couldn’t get mad at men for videotaping them dancing in a club, especially if the song was playing at the same time. Not saying that all men do this, but there are many who do. So with this video, my fear is that some men (especially young ones) will see this and think it’s OK to get a girl drunk and/or drug her till she blacks out. Just read some of the comments male fans have left on her response video.
Kiely’s lax and aloof response tells me that she either doesn’t know what this song means or more likely (since she knows so much about “girl power”), doesn’t care. However, I’m sure the victims of date rape do care. It’s hard enough to prove date rape, and with pop singers (purposefully or not) promoting it, it will make it harder for women to want to come forward. Also, the fact that in a time when abortion and HIV/AIDS are serious hot button issues, do you really want to be nonchalantly telling young people that you can’t remember if the guy used a condom? What do you think that says?
Kiely Williams doesn’t want us to shoot the messenger. However, that proves problematic when the messenger is the face that we are seeing singing and acting out the lyrics. She is not relaying something between two parties. She is recreating something that, for many women who have gone through it, is a traumatic experience. And she is using it to make a career.
Criticizing that is not shooting the messenger. It is voicing an opinion on a serious problem.