In case you’re somehow unaware of the epic Grammy performance last night in which 33 straight and gay couples got married on stage as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis sang “Same Love” (and Queen Latifah and Madonna joined in), you can click here to watch it. Once you have, here’s 10 reasons you should definitely feel uneasy.
1. Straight artists leading the agenda on gay issues
Straight allies are essential to gay causes. And as a male feminist, I can empathize. But there is a fine line to tread, and all privileged people with platforms, but especially straight white men such as Macklemore, should surely understand that there are some circumstances where there is value in raising other voices above their own – in this case, identifiably queer ones. Instead, we got…
2. Silencing the voices that really matter
The whole idea of marriage is that it is a public declaration of private love. And I understand how it could be powerful, in theory, to see this declaration made by gay couples on a vast public stage. But in this instance, the couples were treated as decoration and their declarations of love entirely unheard. In favour of Macklemore.
3. Limited screen time for the couples getting married
I’m not saying I wanted to get to know the personal history and star sign of each and every one. But it was bizarre how little we saw of the supposed focus of the song. If you’re going to pull this shit, you could have the courtesy to launch a thousand glitter-coated homosexuals into the night sky. Let them on stage at least! As it was, there were times when this looked less like a public celebration of gay love and more like a badly organized line dancing rehearsal.
4. Madonna’s history of commodifying minorities
If you haven’t read bell hooks on Madonna and black culture, then do. Sadly, Madonna’s approach to gay culture is hardly unrelated. Sure, she has also given a lot of gay people a great deal of enjoyment and support. But when the end game is, as it ever was, the Madonna brand, a healthy dose of suspicion is valid.
5. Macklemore’s self-centred approach to gay rights
As has already been widely noted, rather a lot of his ode to same-sex love centres on his own travails as a straight man suffering from gender and sexuality stereotypes. Which is not an unworthy subject in theory. Just in his ill-conceived rendition.
6. The retrograde lyrics of the chorus
“I can’t change, even if I try”. What about trying to move the conversation on? I’d like to think that by successfully focusing the agenda on gay marriage, we’d progressed from even entertaining the idea of whether homosexuality is something that can be changed or cured. But apparently Macklemore hasn’t.
7. Queen Latifah’s views on sexuality as public property
I’m not here to dictate what Queen Latifah should or shouldn’t say in public about herself or anyone else’s sexuality, and I respect her refusal to discuss her own just as much as she clearly respects other people’s right to celebrate theirs. And it’s not like I’d prefer her to simply stay quiet on the matter of gay rights. This just seems a rather thorny way to wade into a discussion she has long avoided, and one that risks confusing or distracting from whatever message such a stunt aimed to promote.
8. The general warped agenda
If Macklemore, Madonna and Queen Latifah had wanted to make a powerful, public pro-gay statement, and had sat down and consulted the people they aimed to represent, I am fairly sure they would not have come up with this. This was about attention, craven self-aggrandizement and being theoretically shocking, while at the same time, utterly, utterly safe.
9. Madonna’s live vocals
The Grammy stage is where Whitney Houston killed “One Moment In Time” back in ’89. Have some respect.
10. Madonna’s choice of attire
The cane I can handle – because then you correctly resemble that bat shit uncle who is so far behind the times it’s tragic. But trust Madonna to ignore rule number one – don’t wear white to someone else’s wedding, bitch.