Can Buy Me Love

Shaker Aly sent me a link to this Sara Evans video for her song As If, which is not, as it turns out, about a valley girl sniffing derisively at someone ("As if!") but about a presumably adult woman who's "acting as if this blue sky's never gonna rain down on me" while begging her boyfriend to keep his thoughts to himself; "don't show me that you're someone else." Charming.

Anyway, the video is actually even worse:

For those who can't view the video, Aly explains: "The basic gist of the song is that Sara goes into a store and sees different 'models' of men. She buys one after another, always returning them, and the only thing that they're good for is cleaning/sex. I thought it was pretty derogatory towards both men and women, saying that the only thing a man is good for is cleaning/sex, and that the only thing a woman wants in a man is someone who cleans/sex. Because a personality is so last season." Heh.

As I've said once or twice or a thousand times before, sexism is nearly always insulting to both men and women, as it (at minimum) stereotypes one sex while making a rather nasty commentary about the others' preferences. This video is a perfect example of that. (And any possibility that the video was an ironic play on sexist swill like that Heineken ad is immediately undermined by the dreadful lyrics about ignoring men's flaws in favor of a false happiness.)

However, what I find particularly interesting about this video is the commoditization of partnership and love. Here, not only are men a commodity, but each archetype is its own brand, and people are to be consumed like iPhones or DVDs—and you simply need buy a product to take home, rather than choosing a person with whom to build a home.

That narrative is particularly intriguing because of its relationship to:

1. Undermining the sanctity of marriage: The theme of purchasing a partner is obviously antithetical to everything for which the Family Values crowd purports to stand. But despite the increasing regularity with which we see images of commodified love and/or partnership, nary a raised voice can be heard. Perhaps if Ms. Evans were looking to purchase a galpal, there'd be a murmur…

2. Consumption vs. citizenship: As we just discussed Wednesday (and many times before), the notion of national sacrifice has been obliterated by the nation of national shopping. Our primary responsibility is no longer to be good citizens, but to be good consumers. So while you're out buying tons o' crap to help save the world, why not get yourself a little something, like a husband?

Bleh. From just about every conceivable angle.

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