Don't Kid Yourself: Macklemore's Edgy Politics Are Not Edgy
“Same Love” earned Macklemore a VMA for “Best Video With A Social Message” this weekend. I know “Same Love” is kinda old and I’ve already spent a lot of time slandering Seattle’s Finest Rapper with a Flock of Seagulls Haircut, but I can’t let this shit slide. “Same Love” is a toothless, front-running vote of confidence for gays from a straight white male whose opinion nobody asked for and which does nothing to help the cause.
Even though 2013 was a banner year for gay rights in the US, I am under no illusions about how hard it is to be openly gay. The Supreme Court enabled gay marriage by striking down a federal law prohibiting it, but that still means gay marriage has to pass at a state level. This is probably cold comfort to gay couples in, for example, the rapidly plummeting North Carolina. And while the law can, say, force hospitals to give same-sex partners the same visitation rights given to hetero spouses, they can’t do anything to make the experience less unpleasant should there be homophobic tendencies among the staff. Elsewhere on this great planet of ours, millions of people have to choose between being true to their sexuality and their safety. Shout out to Russia.
But that said, standing up for gay rights in America is hardly a risky position to take. It might have been a few decades ago, but at this point a vague “pro-gay” in 2013 is sort of like being “pro-integration” in the 80’s; it should be a given for anyone whose opinion is worth a damn. 2013 even saw the backwards-ass Republican party start to warm on gay rights. Senators Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Lisa Murkowski from Ohio, Illinois and Alaska respectively all proclaimed their support for gay marriage. Congratulations, Macklemore, you have the same edgy politics as a handful of moderate Republicans!
Worse yet, “Same Love” has little or no benefit for the gay community. It gives an unneeded voice to people who are more than capable of speaking for themselves. As (prominent queer rapper) Le1f said, “Do proceeds [from “Same Love”] go to any gay people? The HRC? Aids foundations? Or does the straight white man keep all the money?”
It does, however, benefit Macklemore as it allows him to better market himself towards his hoards of adoring fans who like him but don’t actually like rap. “Same Love” sets up an easy false dichotomy between his music and the caricature of hip-hop as offensive gangster shit. “See, Macklemore stands for something,” they say,” unlike all these other rappers who just objectify women and sell drugs!” These people would be hard-pressed to give any concrete examples.
In the words of the great and emphatic Meek Mill, there’s levels to this “doing good for society” shit. When Macklemore does a song about, I don’t know, the struggles of the transgender community, then maybe he’ll deserve an award for his message. Until then, let’s give that shit to Killer Mike.
Skinny Friedman is a DJ in Brooklyn. He's on Twitter — @skinny412