Back in 2011 I wrote this: “The Age of Irony is officially over and a new era, one mainly defined by the deep desire to honestly connect with someone before it’s too late, The Age of Earnestness, has begun.”
My basic idea then was that our art was starting to be about real human emotions and not just making people think you were bad-ass because you were cooler than feeling feelings. Since then, the pop music world has pretty much proven me wrong. Lana Del Ray, Chris Brown and Rihanna have all made careers out of singing about one thing while meaning god only knows what and probably the exact opposite of what they are saying. On the other end of the spectrum, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift are all raking it in with cliches about love that are so fun to sing along to, no one notices how horrible and misleading and destructive they are for America. Then of course there’s always the casual misogyny of Lil Wayne, Drake and Future (currently NINE on the Billboard Top 100, which means MANY MANY children are listening to this song…where are you now Tipper Gore??).
Enter: Macklemore. This guy. I mean, he’s a white hip hop guy from SEATTLE, the first nerdiest major city to be from after…nope, the first nerdiest major city to be from (I love people from Seattle so I can say that). He wears pinks shirts and bolo ties (see below). His haircut is patently ridiculous. But. Somehow, he owns the whole thing like a boss and ends up being dreamy beyond dreamy. He’s so f-ing earnest, every single one of his songs seems to be an anthem to honesty, kindness, fun, hope and love, and he’s my age, turning 30 in June, not a baby teeny bopper. He has critics, which I’ve previously discussed, because everyone has critics, but what I love about him is that even if he oversimplifies things like gay marriage or thrift shopping, his heart and his brain are in the right place. Also: this is pop music; it’s inherently simple. Yes, he is a straight white man so he can’t exactly speak to the gay experience, but he can speak to his experience! And yes, he most certainly comes from a bit of privilege (though he went to public high school in a city full of private schools so he couldn’t have been too extremely privileged), so when he sings about buying sweet clothes at a thrift shop, it’s not coming from a place of need but of joy in being different and finding magic. It’s about not selling out to the brands that have come to define hip hop, even if that definition is a backlash from the many hip hop artists who DID start out shopping second-hand because it was the only option.
The thing I love about Macklemore is that he is who is he is, honestly, un-apologetically and very enthusiastically. This is where we should be with feminism: Straight white boys were born straight white boys, just like the rest of us were born whatever we were born. They shouldn’t feel bad about who they are, guilty all the time about something they can’t change. They should have strong, positive role models too. We should ALL have models of straight, white boys like Macklemore.
If you aren’t convinced about what an awesome dude he is, watch this Tiny Desk Concert from December. I’ve already watched it about 20 times. So much crazy humanness. Macklemore! Go for the gold buddy! Win this one for all the little boys out there!