Ok, first things first. The Action Bronson video for “Brunch” is one of the most sickening fucking things I’ve ever seen in a medium– music videos– which is a bottom scraper at the best of times. But jesus: knifing a rolled up carpet stuffed in a trunk with a drugged or dead woman’s body in it? Pure garbage hate, and, sadly, a representation of the dark river of misogyny that courses through the veins of millions and millions of men all over the world. Fuck me. John Lennon died for this?
People in the city where I live– Toronto– have been talking, and, I guess, debating, about Action Bronson because he was, originally, included in a free concert bill as apart of the North by the Northeast music festival, the largely awesome rock and roll caravan originally conceived by NOW magazine, the biggest, and only, entertainment weekly in town. NOW/NXNE has since moved the show out of the free public domain into a ticketed space, and yet, people are still outraged, as they should be, that it is happening at all. Controversy– and outcry– over AB’s booking comes only a few weeks after the Fuck Her Right in the Pussy incident at a TFC game a few weeks ago, in which a female broadcaster stood up to her verbal assailants. The assailant was outed and fired from his 100 K plus job. Justice and rights and compassion carried the day, tweaking people to that which demeans and abuses women.
NXNE argued, initially, against the AB outcry, suggesting that “Brunch” is an isolated work from a few years ago (2011). AB, himself, wondered why a song that he’d recorded in the past had suddenly become the flashpoint for controversy. I agree with zero percent of what AB did or is doing with his song and his greater catalogue– even if “Brunch” is a stand alone track, it’s hideous enough to cast a long cold shadow across whatever else he creates– but his argument says as much about him as it does about us. That we, as a listening public, and as men, did nothing when this song– and really, others like it– became popular shows that, while rising against the occasional hateful piece is important and good and, perhaps, shows enlightenment and progress as a people and as a gender, it also exposes our selective laziness and the power of a society to overlook, and accept, so much that is truly unacceptable. It’s staggering that this video was allowed to exist and to thrive, even in the internet cesspool that makes stars out of the outrageous and the controversial. This video found life because of us; because of you and me. The reason AB is being booked by NXNE is because we allowed them to.
Many years ago, I remember seeing the video for what may or may not have been “Lick it Up” by KISS (a few posts have refuted this memory; it may have been another KISS song) in which women are forced to crawl across floors pushing their faces against the tiles. It’s a disgusting video, and I remember thinking that KISS had just crafted their own demise, because how could this ever get played and why would anyone listen to the band after this and how did anyone at any level think this was a good idea? Of course, the song was played, and it became a hit. It has appeared on greatest hits retrospectives and the band still plays it live. We let “Lick it Up” go the way we let “Brunch” go the way we’ll let other future music go, at least if our track record means anything. Maybe this will happen less– I hope it will, and I hope we’ll learn– but instead of patting ourselves on the back for blocking AB’s free concert or for holding NXNE’s hand to the fire, we should, foremost, be ashamed that it has come to this, and ask ourselves how we can get to a point where it won’t take four fucking years after a song and video like this exists to stand up and say something and support women in their fight against hate and dread and men like us.