Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Interpreting Top 40 Hits

CarrieUnderwood_chat.jpgMy kids, now 10 and 13, love to listen to our local top-40 hit radio station. Justin Timberlake, Fergie, and other pop music stars are suddenly characters in our lives, as vivid as any people we know in reality.
I’m trying to strike that balance between being a mom who is somewhat cool but not trying too hard to be cool. (As the great Marge Simpson once said in a Simpson’s episode: “Do the kids at school still say ‘cool’?” Bart responds, somewhat disgusted, “Yes, Mom.”)
Pop culture is teaching material. Better to just use it than avoid it altogether. And we had a real doozie of a teaching moment yesterday as we listened to Carrie Underwood’s extremely popular country-and-western ballad of revenge, “Before He Cheats.” Here are the lyrics:

Right now he’s probably slow dancing with a bleach blonde tramp,
and she’s probably getting frisky…
right now, he’s probably buying her some fruity little drink cause she can’t shoot whiskey…

Right now, he’s probably up behind her with a pool-stick, showing her how to shoot a combo…
And he don’t know…

That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up four-wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats…
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,
slashed a hole in all four tires…
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.

I turned the volume down and said: “Do you hear what this woman is doing? She destroying her old boyfriend’s car.”
“Yeah, but he cheated on her,” said my 10-year-old in a matter of fact tone that appalled me.
“It’s revenge. She’s sick. She could get in trouble. She’s breaking the law. Instead of moving on and finding someone else…”
“Oh, Mom,” said the13-year-old in a yawn from the car’s backseat, stretching his growing arms. (The new teen seems always sleepy, in a process of waking up to whatever’s going on around him.)
“Revenge is wrong. She’s stuck. She’s looking back instead of moving on. She needs help. Can you imagine how her next boyfriend is going to react when she tells him that she destroyed her last boyfriend’s car?”
“Well, maybe he won’t cheat on her.”
“Heh, he should go flying away in another direction, away from her!”
“Mom, it’s just a song!”
I’m so glad I spoke up. Kids need us to interpret this stuff for them.
I’ve noticed this theme of feminist revenge on talk radio shows as well. Gone are the days, I guess, when a woman realized her beau was untrue, and just cried about it.
Have you noticed this theme of revenge, of giving people what they’re due, elsewhere? I know studies show that young women have indeed become more socially destructive, as apt to destroy property now as themselves. The old rule of thumb used to be: men destroy property, women hurt themselves.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 5:07 pm

To you all:
Like you say to use it to your benefit. What we incorporate in our life, goes inTo our children’s lives and grandchildren( futher generations.
For it is easy to avoid such destory of one’s life. Just to read it istruly offense and when I heard it, it was very saddening.
I must also remember that, I did this before and had to learn to apprecite to life lessons that was offer at the time. All those life lessons was teach me and once I learn them. It enhances me: to get back my self-respect, my dignity and my intergrity that I so free gave away.
Now I have learn to trly honor myself. that it is a priviledge to live this life’s journey and that all it is a “life journey” that was given to me, as the Greatest Gift. I deserve because I am truly worthy of it.
I live a life that that was very hard core. That it was suppose to be this way-“my way”. That was about me and didn’t care what you thought.
I would let you know that I did not like you. The love of intimation.
For me just to tyoe this really feel hurtful but to undrstand the pain and misery I was carrying. How I learn to “learn go” and finally learn to “let GOD”.
You know ,what is so funny is that I thought I understood him.
Well, I better finish up I have many things to do for school in fall.
I just want to say is that I wake up so gratiful, it it not just a word, but a feeling. Thsi does not say that easy is peachy but is sure is alot easier. Now affect those around me with “The Lightness” especially, My children, who I have the priviledge to show how not have to carry misery and pain that I passed on and some of their’s that they created theirself.
May the Creator watch you all. And if you read this The Creator Send it especially to you to undrstand. This life Is The Greatest Gift given to you. Enjoy it -live it in “a good way”. A-ho.

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posted June 15, 2007 at 6:06 pm

To be honest, I do like this song. Everyone enjoys a good revenge song. Yes, we’ve got base natures. It’s okay to indulge every once in awhile. We’re not angels.
What’s important is for you to teach your kids BEFOREHAND that this behavior is unnacceptable. I would never EVER dream of destroying a cheating ex’s car because I know that it’s wrong and illegal. So I wouldn’t worry too much about the song unless you think your kids are already prone to immoral behavior. Like your kid said, “It’s just a song”.
Gone are the days, I guess, when a woman realized her beau was untrue, and just cried about it.
This could be a reaction against those old songs where the girl’s beau was untrue and ALL SHE EVER DOES is cry about it: “Boo-hoo, my love cheated on me, just come back to me and it’ll all be okay again, I’m lost without you because I’ve built my entire sense of identity around you, I STILL LOVE YOU, YOU CHEATING BASTARD!!!!!11!!!oneoneeleventy”.
Also, it’s not, shall we say, in style to cry nowadays. Girly weakness, don’tchaknow. Not too many respect the power or magnitude of tears, from either gender.
Neither attitude is particularly healthy. But if your kids understand “beau cheats -> you probably cry -> you move on”, you don’t have to worry about them indulging in a devilish song or two every now and then.

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evolution's weird sense of humor . . .

posted June 16, 2007 at 8:49 am

. . . as much as i like to incorporate “leave them to Life and let Her sort it out” i can’t help but wonder if this isn’t some sort of evolutionary breakthru for women to take charge more, to sit back less claiming Victim Status, and as a sort of byproduct make men take responsibility for their own evolution to grow beyond the “f*ck it or kill” mentality driven by testosterone for so long. when i heard that carrie underwood song i had much the same reaction as you did, followed by a “i can’t freakin believe they put that on the radio”. but then it struck me as a woman seriously deciding not to take any more crap from this dude. and i didn’t see it as they’d broken up. but of course the woman in the song and the women who hear and relate to it then have to live with the violence they’ve stirred up. maybe it’s their turn to experience the torture of “f*ck it or kill it”. and i know you do the Integral KW dance so there is “rightness” in even this aspect of humaness . . . apparently evolution usually ain’t pretty . . :)

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posted June 16, 2007 at 2:08 pm

CM, you had better not listen to “Goodbye Earl” by The Dixie Chicks.

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posted June 17, 2007 at 6:14 am

what I find interesting is not that it’s about cheating, but it’s about PRESUMED cheating. Based on the lyrics, the woman does not even know if that is what is happening (aka “probably” doing this and “probably” doing that). So not only is this revenge, it’s revenge for something that may not have even taken place in the first place (in the song anyway). I find that disgusting, and too common these days. We presume actions and motives, without bothering to check on the facts in things. No meditation or thought required. For the record, I listened to the song all the way through once and found it distateful. This has nothing to do with feminism or culture or music at all. And what’s being sung about certainly isn’t in line with any kind of religious ethic at all.

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posted June 18, 2007 at 12:00 am

Here’s the song’s music video.

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Iris Alantiel

posted June 18, 2007 at 9:23 am

Girlish weakness is one thing. Violating another person’s property is another. I remember a similar song coming out when I was a teen – “Hit ‘Em Up Style” by Blu Cantrell. At the time I loved the idea of getting revenge on an unfaithful boyfriend by shopping with his credit cards. But now I look back and think, “Wouldn’t it be smarter to just leave him?” Same deal for Carrie Underwood.
This is not Girl Power. It’s not all that different from crying on because he left her. Either way, she’s still making a decision to stay tied to the man instead of becoming free. Feminism isn’t empowering to women when it becomes about being angry at men instead of being strong as a female.

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Josh Hosler

posted June 18, 2007 at 9:33 am

I actually love “Before He Cheats.” But I love it at age 34, with an obvious acknowledgement of a guilty pleasure. It’s a revenge fantasy — not a news report. Music can help us express what we’d LIKE to do, helping us channel our energy so we don’t actually DO it.
To paraphrase Different_But_Equal, above: If you’re a good parent, you won’t have to worry about your child ever committing a copycat crime based on this song. But actually, I’m surprised I haven’t yet heard a news story about that very thing happening. It’s only a matter of time.
But just because some idiot might take the song literally, does that mean the song shouldn’t exist?

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Josh Hosler

posted June 18, 2007 at 9:34 am

I would like to add to my previous post that the way many Christians interpret the Book of Revelation is ALSO a revenge fantasy, and it’s far less appropriate to Christian living than “Before He Cheats.”

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Rhoda Friend

posted June 18, 2007 at 9:41 am

Feminism is much more than “anger at men.” It is, in fact, being strong as women and recognizing that women are just as valuable and have the same rights and privileges that men do. Having the right to make the same wage for the same work, not being left home alone while men do the living and have all the fun (doing things like white water rafting, for example.) Destroying someone’s property isn’t right, but this song should not be confused with feminism.
I am a feminist, and I’ve had a a boyfriend and a husband cheat on me. That’s what boundaries are for. My philosophy: If that woman is more attractive to you that I am, be with her. Because you sure as H*ll won’t be with me anymore. And then I moved on from both of them. Split from the boyfriend, left the husband, and then built a life I’m proud to have lived. I didn’t have to sit home crying and take them back no matter what. I didn’t have to take revenge. I do have the right to set boundaries and leave them if I so choose. THAT’S feminism.

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Different But Equal

posted June 18, 2007 at 11:30 am

Rhoda Friend:
Preach it!
chris: I took it to mean that she KNOWS he’s been cheating, and now she’s speculating as to what EXACTLY he’s doign right at this moment.

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posted June 18, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I personally think that most of you on this message board do not give your kids a lot of credit for being able to interpret right from wrong.
Your making to much of the song.
My daughter and I both love this song…Let me ask you this : Have you ever been cheated on? If not then you really don’t know how it feels to be hurt that way. I personally dont want my daughter to take being cheated on. It is an empowering song. Letting a woman or girl know she don’t have to take that garbage from no man on earth. It is not really telling her to go and do the same thing to the guys truck. But trust me if you could alot of the hurt would be over with. However, don’t teach your daughters or sons that it is okay to be walked all over. People get mad and angry that is just part of everday life, it doesn’t really mean to go do what she said to some dorks truck. You guys get a grip…Trust what you have taught your kids, they haven’t given you any reason not to believe they will not do the right thing.

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posted June 19, 2007 at 11:04 am

I have read most of the posts and I think the song is ok. I am of the belief that if you have not walked in the other persons shoes and lived their life, you don’t know what you’d do. I was in a long term relationship with an unfaithful partner and the feelings of revenge and anger are there. Not only that, when she does not know for sure what is going on, yes, she should get her facts straight first before she reacts. I have two daughters and I would strongly advise them to get out of a relationship with someone that cheats (if they even know it’s going on). I don’t know about the woman power part or even the religious aspects, but I do know what it feels like and I can tell you, I’d rather write a song about it than do to that person just what I wanted to do. Just like in any relationship, when you betray that persons trust, it’s not going to make the person feel good and those involve very unpleasant emotions and if she vents it in a song, that’s better than really going thru with it.

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posted June 19, 2007 at 11:28 am

Pacific123 I cant stop laughing! But I totally agree with Iris. I have been trying to remember a great quote about revenge but I cant come up with one. I know that it is well researched that revenge never makes a person feel better in the long run and just fed the hate and anger. Ever see the “War of the Roses?” It can and does get that ugly. Be the better person and get a new life! We do need to discuss these things with our kids unless we want pop culture to be the only wisdom they hear.

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Anonymous Also

posted June 19, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Rhoda Friend is absolutely right.
If a guy or girl is cheating on you, it’s because guess what??
They would cheat on whomever they were with. Sure, you just happened to be the one they were with at the time, and yes, it’s very painful and humiliating, but you know, if they wanted to be with you in the first place, they wouldn’t have done it.
Build your own life, set your own boundaries, and be done with it.

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Nooks & Crannies

posted June 29, 2007 at 2:32 am

Y’know, we can watch Britney feel herself up, and watch Justin b**** about his girlfriend, but as soon as someone finds the clues that she’s been cheated on and fire blazes in her eyes (Just like in “The Thunder Rolls”) so she takes matters into her own hands, we veiw this as untasteful. Yes, you were right in using this as a molding tool for your kids, to apply it to everyday life… I think What I’m trying to say is Most artists are exactly that, artists. Painting a picture, telling a story… Art imitates life and vise versa, but some producer probably read that song, heard the tune, and said, “yeah, we can do something with this!” Carrie Underwood didn’t really stretch 2 far from her country roots with this one, shades of Reba and the Judds, tellin’ a good story at the nowadays hoedown. Just relax, trust your kids’ judgement, and change the channel if you don’t want it to reach your or your children’s ears.

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