The Return of Patriarchy in Mainstream Culture?

Generally I don’t get involved in Hollywood much. I can think of a million things better to do than listen to the latest noise put out by the mainstream or watch the latest TV shows. It’s all so contrary to what I believe in and most of it is extremely offensive. However, I don’t live under a rock. I see what songs top the charts and what movies are released. I just don’t pay much attention to watch them or listen to them. But this morning a song was brought to my attention that I actually did want to listen to. I’d never really thought about it at all much until Jesse Powell pointed it out. When he pointed it out I dug into the song and actually listened to it closely and watched the videos closely. The song is called “The Man” by Aloe Blacc. Now this is just my opinion but I really do think this song is promoting patriarchy, and in a big way. Of course, it’s subtle. If you weren’t really looking for it you might just dismiss it as another catchy tune but looking deeper I think there’s more to it than that. And, hey, if I’m wrong I guess you can send me a nasty e-mail telling me how it is.

At the beginning of the official video we see a woman on a cell phone. She types in

“I’m “in the streets & feel like ‘startin’ a revolution’ with ‘my fam’ to ‘brand new old school’.”

Hmm. Ok, revolution. What kind of revolution? Again you’d have to pay close attention to get that. I think it becomes more obvious to those that are paying attention what kind of revolution here. This is obviously a song about men being men and being proud of being men. Although Aloe is a black man and the men he links arms with in the end of his official video are black, this is obviously not a song about racial pride. He is clearly speaking as a man and what he must do and who he is as a man. A black man wouldn’t tell a white man that he’ll be “the quick relief to all your stressin’.” Nor is this the kind of thing that a man would generally say to his mother or sister or male friend. No, he is obviously talking as a man to a woman. But this is obviously not just a love song between a man and a woman . This song is about standing up and being a man. It is obviously very anti-feminist and very anti-MRA. He’s not advocating for “pumping and dumping” women nor objectifying women. In the official video and official lyric video he is very well dressed in a suit and very presentable. He’s not in baggy pants sagging to his knees while he smokes dope with his homeboys while a bunch of women in short shorts jiggle their butts in your face while he’s rapping about how much p**** he’s getting. He’s respectful, a gentleman even. He never apologizes for being a man and having manly urges or needs yet he does state he takes responsibility. He states:

“I believe every lie that I ever told
paid for every heart that I ever stole
I played my cards and I didn’t fold.”

This is obviously signifying his pride as a man, that he’s not backing down from what he’s done as a man. He takes responsibility for what he has done as a man. He doesn’t just give up and fold. He doesn’t throw in the towel when the going gets tough because he’s a man, a member of the male sex in a different hierarchy than a woman and he is prideful of that and accepts the responsibilities that come along with that.

I think this is just amazing. I can’t really see any other way that this song can be interpreted. It’s clear he’s talking about being a man and taking charge as a man and as well taking responsibility as a man. In his video there are riots going on and it is clear that the rule of law and social order has collapsed. He states:

“Stand up now and face the sun
Won’t hide my tail or turn and run
It’s time to do what must be done
Be a king when kingdom comes”

In other words, once everything’s collapsed it’s time to be a man and put things back in order.

As well in the song he also states over and over “this is my world.” He also states “I’m a soldier standing on my feet. No surrender and I won’t retreat” and follows it up by stating again “this is my world.” This can obviously mean nothing other than it’s a man’s world meant for men to rule and lead and he is not going to back down from his duties and responsibilities nor his pride in being a man. He is obviously also singing about leading and caring for women (and possibly others who are under his care and protection and whom it is his duty to lead and guide) when he states:

“I got all the answers to your questions
I’ll be the teacher you could be the lesson
I’ll be the preacher you be the confession
I’ll be the quick relief to all your stressin'”

This is followed again by him stating that “this is my world.” He’s obviously speaking as a man to a woman, putting himself in the dominant position by telling her he has what she needs and he’s in charge because “this is my world”. What I get out of this is that he’s telling her not to worry about anything, that’s he’s going to lead her, guide her and protect her. She doesn’t have anything to worry about because he’s in charge and giving her what she needs. In the background we see men toasting to what he is saying. Again, I can’t see how this could this could mean anything else.

Also another thing to notice, although it is subtle, is that when he is walking into what appears to be an official government building there is not a woman to be seen. Men are standing in order when he walks by and there is men (not women) in the background in suits with briefcases going about their business. Women are obviously an important part of this but they are not at the forefront of what’s going on like the men. He is walking past men in uniform, he links arms with men (not men and women) at the end and even all the photographers and reporters around him are men as well. We even see men getting ready for a fight (boxing match obviously) walk by him as he’s walking and singing down a hallway. I hardly think this to be a coincidence. This is obviously a subtle message promoting patriarchy. He stands tall and proud throughout the whole thing. He doesn’t appear to ever lose his composure or be unsure of his place in life in the song or video nor does he appear the child-man that is so common in the mainstream today.

I think this song is a subtle beginning to much larger cultural change going on, a way of brining patriarchy into the mainstream. He states over and over that he’s “the man” and not only does he know it but he wants everyone else to know it as well. He shouts it out that he is “the man” over and over and makes no apologies for it. He wants to be recognized as a man who takes responsibility, who is in charge and who does what needs to be done, to “be a king when kingdom comes.” It’s not easy but he “won’t hide my tail or turn and run” because “It’s time to do what must be done.” More than likely this is a subtle message for men to take charge and put things back in order and be responsible because everything is falling apart and it’s time for the disorder to come to an end.

Again this is my take on this but I don’t know how else this song and the messages from the official videos can be interpreted. Hopefully it is a sign, the beginning of what is to come.

More sources for traditional gender roles in mainstream culture:

The Long Way Home