Hi, again, Matt,
Forgive me, I’m not on Medium often enough, and I understand this response is grossly tardy in the realm of the Internet.
Thanks for hearing me out too. As Alan Watts said, ‘If I have no one to argue with, then I don’t know what I think.’
1. I think you (and not just you but many people) are downplaying context and linguistic intent. I’m not saying that everyone isn’t entitled to their own experience, but to say words are inherently offensive is about as naive as you believe Tyler’s logic to be. At the end of the day, words and language are completely abstract — i.e. dead symbols that we imbue with our own interpretations — and their meanings are anything but inherent. Language/words are not static, and as history and cultural context has shown us, words and their meanings change over the course of time, and even entertain multiple meanings. Using words out of context disrupts their implied/culturally conditioned meaning, and, as comedians from Lenny Bruce to Donald Glover have pointed out, probably should happen more often as to diminish their taboo/shock value/ultimate pain of others. The genie’s power, after all, is in its confinement.
2/3. To answer your (hypothetical) question: yes, I would still feel the same on your perspective, and also the same about “Georgie Porgy” and “Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down,” just like I feel the same way about “Rape Me,” or “Polly,” or the controversial work of JT Leroy, or Kathy Acker, or Kanye’s recent “Famous” video (despite it making Lena Dunham feel ‘unsafe’), or any artistic expression that’s made anyone feel anything perceived as negative. Most art goes to dark, dangerous, and yes unsafe places, otherwise we wouldn’t have most art, and again, taking lyrics or images at face value is not the responsibility of the artist. Their responsibility is producing art. Portrayal is not automatically indicative of endorsement. From your response, you seem to grasp this, but the article did not reflect that.
4–7. If you were taking a neutral stance in this instance, then it wasn’t clear, and the reason I included Syd’s quote defending the group was because you did not. I feel the nuance of a lesbian artist unaffected by homophobic words (much to the chagrin of her finger-pointing peers) is important enough to highlight, and something that shouldn’t be shamed. If you were aiming to discuss Tyler’s ‘intelligence and talent,’ that wasn’t clear either — it’s still unclear how you find him intelligent and talented — but you took more than a few instances pointing out his ‘flawed logic’ or ‘naive’ reasoning.
“To see the beauty in their search for freedom is to go beyond the surface, and in the case of Odd Future, it was often hideous. Although I almost always recommend going deeper with any group or topic to find something profound or beautiful, Odd Future is one of the rare cases where I absolutely understand why someone would refuse to do so.”
For me, this sentence solidified an obvious bias in the article that, for a second, shined a light on the ‘nobility behind Tyler’s actions’ as ‘coming from a hopeful place that champions freedom from the labels that society forces on us’ (which I hoped would be a bigger focal point), but ultimately spent the majority of real estate denigrating the use of his language — and less so on the ideas behind it. Which I understand, because it’s not fun to put yourself on the chopping block — not being PC, after all, can lose you friends, as deliciously ironic as that is — but my initial response came from me feeling that there are already plenty pearl-clutching think pieces and party line-towing as is.