Broken Narratives

“You love and you leave,
Yeah you lie and deceive,
How do you sleep at night?
Say you’re just having fun,
We don’t think we’re the one,
What you’re doing just ain’t right.”

So goes the lyrics to part of a song by an utterly forgettable vaguely rock-y boy band from a decade ago. It’s been stuck in my head for most of the afternoon and this has been driving me bloody nuts. The smug selfish attitude, the petty moralising, and the presumption that statements like “What you’re doing just ain’t right” actually make any sense. It’s crass, it’s stupid and I wish I’d never borrowed the album from the library and copied it onto tape bought it.

Except it’s not the song that’s really bothering me, well ok a bit. Nor is it really the smug self-righteous band that sang it. No, it’s more insidious than that. It’s the fact that the song plays upon a standard narrative that, to be blunt, it conjures drama when no drama need actually exist.

Let’s presume the song was based on an actual break-up. It’s clear that there was, at the very least, some miscommunication. The narrator in this instance thought that they were in the preliminary phases of a potential long-term relationship but the other person (the ‘you’ in the song) was after something a little more casual and apparently didn’t do a good enough job of communicating this to prevent the narrator from getting butt-hurt and writing an angry damning song that counts on the listener’s sense of moral indignation. That is, it counts on the listener having the understanding that all relationships should be entered into with the presumption that it’s with the potential of forming a long-term, maybe even lifelong relationship; that anything more casual is fundamentally bad, and by extension anyone who wants one is bad.

What. The. Shit?!?

And this message has been wheedling around inside my head all afternoon. The lesson? I don’t know, I’m tempted to say be careful what you let yourself listen to but I’m far to big a fan of some pretty un-PC bands for that to be even remotely viable. Perhaps just that sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and looking at frequently occuring narratives from a different standpoint.