Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Friday Night: An Homage or Warning about Binge Drinking?

The tears in my eyes surprised me when the song Last Friday Night came on the radio the other day as my son was flipping through stations. Pop and strong emotion usually don't hold hands, do they?  Katy Perry is fun, but I never thought she would make me cry. But this time I actually listened to the lyrics.

This song been criticized as an homage to binge drinking, but that's not what I heard.  I heard a FANTASTIC explanation of teenage addiction wrapped up in bubble gum pop. You do all of these stupid, embarrassing things: "stranger in bed", "smell like a mini bar", "kicked out of the bar", "broke the law", yet can't wait to do them again. Pictures of last night, Ended up online, I'm screwed, Oh well, It's a black top blur, But I'm pretty sure it ruled. Ah, the irony of thinking that being a mess is the bee's knees.

As I write this, I have watched the video, searched for reactions to it, and found one on The Drinking Diaries that sees it as a problem. Now I get it - partying eighth graders. The video is a send up of early '80's videos (yes, my era) but Ms. Perry is playing the role of a geeky thirteen year old who uses alcohol to make herself popular. (Hey that's what I thought I was doing too!)

Thirteen. Raging hormones and insecurity. I remember it like yesterday, and that's when I started drinking. However, I am listening to the lyrics from my perspective as 43 year old woman who has been sober for all of her adult life. I've been there and it's not a joke. I'm not looking at it from the perspective of a thirteen year old who doesn't have any point of reference.

For me, the tears were for gratitude to not be in that place:

There's a stranger in my bed,
There's a pounding my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJ's passed out in the yard
Barbie's on the barbeque

There's a hickie or a bruise
Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a black top blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled

Last Friday night
Yeah we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a menage a trois
Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop-op
Whoa-oh-oah

This Friday night
Do it all again
This Friday night
Do it all again

Do it all again, and again and again. It's AWFUL. Trust me. And back then I didn't have the extra atrocity of pictures ending up on-line, like teens today do.

So what do you think? Do you think the song is an homage or a warning? Katy Perry is married to a recovering alcoholic herself, so I doubt that she is saying that blacking out is cool. Puking isn't cool, waking up with a stranger isn't cool - nor is breaking the law or getting kicked out of a bar. TRUST ME. I've been there.
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13 comments:

  1. I see it as you do. I love this song, and it actually brings me back to my college days. And when I listen to it it's with this, "Man those days were fun but thank G-d, I'm not the mess now, but yeah, I miss them." The blacking out and drinking? No, I don't miss that, but that carefree feeling, thinking you were invincible and could just be crazy and the friends I had back then and the first feelings of feeling grown up and being away from home and the craziness. Yeah, that I miss. But I never thought of this song as a rah rah to binge drinking.

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  2. It's interesting, isn't it? My tween son and I talked about the lyrics. It was a great opportunity for our ongoing conversation about stuff like this, and how everyone has different interpretations and perspectives . . . on so many levels!

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  3. Yes, I've been there, too. But I was in my twenties, in college, at the time... not in eighth grade, not a tween. I look back on those days and those antics and also thank God that I survived, despite the poor decisions I made and dangerous situations I willingly put myself in in the name of fun. BUT, I am honestly appalled by this song playing on the radio. Whether Katy Perry is sober now, or a recovering alcoholic, the song DOES come across as a playful homage to this behavior, making it sound fun and breezy. Perhaps I am just becoming a conservative old lady (gasp... I'm only 38!), and I'll admit that having a 6 yr old daughter who is just becoming aware of pop music and wants to listen to the radio certainly plays a role in my strong reaction. But I have a really hard time thinking it's ok for a song such as this to come on the radio on any typical afternoon, for any and all ages to hear. Yikes... I'm kind of cringing at my own reaction; I am still trying to work through my feelings about it, and to figure out why it gets under my skin the way it does. Ah, parenthood...

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  4. Kaley - thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! It is so different coming from the perspective of a parent, isn't it? The lyrics are great in terms of a serious discussion about life, but yes, for kids to hear them without any context is troublesome. This is why mentoring - not to mention parenting - young people is so important!

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  5. Lena, I'm so glad you started this conversation.

    T.G.I.F. was the song that finally broke down my defenses against Katy Perry (whom I was determined to loathe forever after "Kissed A Girl"). I'm really disappointed in the video, though, because part of what I like about the song is that it takes me back to being the singer's current age--27--which was when I went through my partying phase. (Not that this behavior is risk-free for adults, but at least buying that first drink doesn't have you breaking the law before the party even gets started. And the need to earn a living Mon-Fri does a good job of confining the stupidity to the weekend.) The idea of promoting this as a fun way of life for teenagers makes my stomach hurt. So I listen to the song, but I don't watch the video.

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  6. Thank you Kathryn. I watched the video alone on my computer - no kids present! I don't watch music videos much anymore, but I was addicted to MTV as a teen. (MTV just had it's 30 year anniversary!) Objectification of women and partying was all the rage then too. I don't think there's any consciousness going into the making of these things. T.G.I.F. is supposed to be a funny video, but it has made so many adults uncomfortable because of it's carelessness, and of course it is hugely popular amongst the 13 - 21 demographic.

    If we can help kids stop and think about things and form their own opinions, instead of going along with the masses of the arbiters of "cool", then everything becomes a teachable moment, no matter what our age is, right?

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  7. Lena, your post made me think of the lyrics to the below Katy Perry song, perhaps her answer to the "question" Last Friday Night?
    My 7 year old like the beat to both, but I must say the lyrics to Friday Night are disturbing....Hope all the young ones find as much to relate to in this one as the other! :)
    Johanna

    "Firework"

    Do you ever feel like a plastic bag,
    drifting through the wind
    wanting to start again?
    Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
    like a house of cards,
    one blow from caving in?

    Do you ever feel already buried deep?
    6 feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
    Do you know that there's still a chance for you
    'Cause there's a spark in you

    You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine
    Just own the night like the 4th of July

    'Cause baby you're a firework
    Come on, show 'em what you're worth
    Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
    As you shoot across the sky-y-y

    Baby, you're a firework
    Come on, let your colors burst
    Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
    You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

    You don't have to feel like a waste of space
    You're original, cannot be replaced
    If you only knew what the future holds
    After a hurricane comes a rainbow

    Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed
    So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
    Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
    And when it's time, you'll know

    You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine
    Just own the night like the 4th of July

    'Cause baby you're a firework
    Come on, show 'em what you're worth
    Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
    As you shoot across the sky-y-y

    Baby, you're a firework
    Come on, let your colors burst
    Make 'em go "Oh, Oh, Oh"
    You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

    Boom, boom, boom
    Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
    It's always been inside of you, you, you
    And now it's time to let it through-ough-ough

    'Cause baby you're a firework
    Come on, show 'em what you're worth
    Make 'em go "Oh, Oh, Oh"
    As you shoot across the sky-y-y

    Baby, you're a firework
    Come on, let your colors burst
    Make 'em go "Oh, Oh, Oh"
    You're gonna leave 'em all in awe, awe, awe

    Boom, boom, boom
    Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
    Boom, boom, boom
    Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

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