Pink’s New Song Is Confusing
On queer celebrity allyship, and the ambiguity of art.
A promotional pic for Pink's newest single
We are long-time fans of Pink. Her punk rock attitude, ripped abs and ability to belt out a banger have long impressed and aroused us. As such, we really wanted to love her new song. Especially because the buzz cut she currently sports is lesbian AF.
However, Pink’s new single and music video, “What About Us,” is rubbing us the wrong way. It seems to attempt to emanate a kind of queer, punk, protest aesthetic, but the lack of clarification about who and what is actually being protested means that once again, queer protest is being utilized as more of a capitalist marketing ploy than as a politically potent activist form. The music video is kind of like the pop song equivalent of Kendall Jenner Pepsi fiasco. Take a look for yourself here:
The general premise of the song is that an unnamed collective of people – but presumably represented by the androgynous, queer youths and their pals dancing with Pink in the film clip – are disappointed in someone who made them a lot of promises and then proceeded to break them. You could argue that she's just singing about a general feeling of political disenfranchisement amongst young people, but the amount of undercuts and homo-erotic interpretative dance seems to skew the demographic.
Lines from the song include, “We are billions of beautiful hearts and you sold us down the river too far,” “What about us, what about all the times you said you had the answers?” and “Then you fooled us, enough is enough.”
In making this the premise, Pink seems to be aligning herself with a collective of queer and/or queer friendly voters who are now realizing that President Trump does not actually have their best interests at heart.
This is a strange move, because obviously anyone with eyes and ears could have told you that Trump was no good for the LGBTQ community from the beginning of his candidacy, if not before. Pink herself Tweeted back in January that there are “no words” for Trump and that he is a “shameful person.”
There aren't words for this shameful person. https://t.co/ow7R7iEI1E— P!nk (@Pink) January 29, 2017
It seems that in aligning herself with a queer aesthetic but then singing about being “fooled,” Pink is trying to have her cake and eat it too. She is playing up to LGBTQ audiences, and then also to the folks at home who are only just now beginning to feel disenfranchised for various reasons, as Trump breaks promise after promise in every field—not just identity politics.
The thing is, the two can’t co-exist. Pop stars, and the rest of us, have to stop excusing Trump, and those who voted for him because they “thought he might be alright.”
This Tweet dialogue pretty much sums it up:
Can someone please publish a story like:— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 20, 2017
I Didn't Vote for Trump Because he Sucks and It Was Fucking Obvious From Day One https://t.co/BqzN9DsxUm
We'd love your thoughts on this one, readers. Pink has spoken openly before about her support for LGBTQ rights, and for same-sex marriage. So if she's going to write songs about political disappointment, should she put her money where her mouth is, and write a song that explicitly denounces the president who has already done,—and was always going to do—so much to harm the LGBTQ community? Or is this kind of ambiguous sense of political dismay enough? What do we need from our celebrity musician allies?