Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Coffee house wimps: It was even worse than I suspected

Here's a lyric that Elizabeth kindly called my attention to in a comment:
Relationships I don't know why
They never work out and they make you cry
But the guy that says goodbye to you
Is out of his mind
You can read the whole song here. Like lots of pop songs, there is no context. The songwriter (his name is Griffin House) is speaking to someone but we don't know who. A single woman is a fair surmise; I don't think someone would say relationships never work out for you to someone you were in a relationship with.

As often is the case, Mr. House is telling us a lot more about this woman (and himself) than he perhaps realizes. He is telling us that this woman has repeatedly failed at relationships. Now, it's entirely possible that she's had the bad luck to be involved with a series of jerks. Then again, what does it say about her judgment that she hasn't learned to make better choices based on past experience?

The top-rated comment on the YouTube page for the song right now is, "This got to be the most lovely song in the world! <3" That's from Anna Teixeira who, if she looks anything like her photo, shouldn't have any trouble attracting relationship-minded guys. And then we get three or four very pathetic boys who wish they could be so eloquent, including Scott who hopes his ex will listen to the song and take him back. (Ooh, man of steel! If she happens to be reading this, Don't!) We finally get some healthy cynicism from Joseph Scott and Elizabeth Pound who think the song's lyrics are just a succession of pick up lines. Which they are.

I wish we could say they're bad pickup lines but House's success suggests otherwise.

Let's pick out the nice guy tropes

First up validating her feelings. That's what's going on in the verse above. Things have gone badly in all her relations, repeat, in ALL her relationships, but Griffin-boy is here to assure her that her feeling that it isn't her fault is valid. Why? Because she's "one of a kind", which, to be fair is also true of Karla Homolka and was true of Aileen Wuornos. Feeling better yet? Also because, according to Griffin, a guy would have to be crazy to dump her.

Second, is that old classic the covert contract. This support he's offering her isn't for free. There is a quid pro quo as the very next words out of his mouth are:
Well, I've been down and I need your help
I've been feelin' sorry for myself
Don't hesitate to boost my confidence
Does that sound like a guy a woman could count on? If you answered yes to that, you need to find a therapist right away.

Third, he offers his neediness. That's already clear from the previous verse but you have to keep reading to appreciate the appalling depths this man-boy sinks to:
Well, I've been lost and I need direction
I could use a little love protection
What do you say, honey? Come to my defense
Come to his defense? That was supposed to be what he was offering. Just words; that's all he has to offer.

Confession time

I mock now but there was a time in my life when I said things like that. I used to be a nice guy. I was very good at it. Women I had relationships told me I was very good at compliments. To be honest, I think I was a lot better than Griffin.

Of course, the compliments game is all a covert contract. Complements aren't complementary. They come with a price tag: You want more of this? Put out for it.

Why do we do things like that instead of working on ourselves? Why not develop real virtues and then let them speak for us?


  1. A+

    I think he's addressing a woman he just broke up with, that's how I interpret these lines:

    You always did kinda drive me crazy
    And it pissed me off 'cause I let it phase me
    But I never wanted my time with you to end

    Now I'm back in town for a day or two
    Well, mostly I came back just to see you
    And even now but I don't want to go

    So the guy who broke up with her who is out of his mind is the singer.

    I don't think this substantially changes any of your points, though.

    This song came up on Pandora and I was so disgusted by it that it was a pleasure to see it eviscerated properly.

    1. Yikes. If that is the case, I wonder what's his point? That he's dumped her and he's telling her she doesn't need to change but, by the way, she should make him feel better and he's in town for a couple of days so how about some sex too?

    2. I could be wrong, but that's how I read it. And with a total lack of self-awareness that this is bad behavior, too. I hate to think that this song has female fans.

    3. We make fun of men for the way their ability to think rationally goes out the window when they encounter a beautiful young woman flaunting her breasts. Meanwhile, we pretend not to notice that women do the exact same thing in the presence of celebrity, even minor celebrity. A lot of women will not only put up with but actually celebrate behaviour they would consider boorish in their boyfriend or husband if it comes from an aspiring popstar.