Ke$ha is totally trying to save your at-risk tween and junk
By now, you've probably heard Ke$ha's new single, "We R Who We R," several dozen times, and its strobe-lit dance-pop thump either speaks to you, or it doesn't. (Back in Pennsylvania, my niece is probably banging the song on her smart phone as I type this.) It brings to mind E-addled rave parties in abandoned warehouses that you never bothered with or it sound tracked last night's misadventures or it suggests that a deeply horrific, "Thriller"-homage video clip is forthcoming. (No, seriously.)
"We R Who We R," from the Cannibal EP, isn't much different than the junior-varsity party-slut how-to pointers Animal offered up earlier this year. The differences? A crucifix rests in Ke$ha's cleavage during her club crawls - shades of Madonna Louise Ciccone, amirite - the glitter that's all over her promo shots gets a shout out, and also, of course, this single is intended, somehow, to bring teen suicide to a screeching halt.
"Hopefully it will be an anthem for weirdos -- for real people," the 23-year old pop star told Rolling Stone last week, adding that "I was really affected by the suicides that have been happening ... Every weird thing about you is beautiful and makes life interesting. Hopefully the song really captures that emotion of celebrating who you are."
That's all well and good to say, but coming from a young woman whose growing oeuvre is packed full of amped-up celebrations of carelessly engaging in activities that create situations that often drive other young people to suicide, this gesture of solidarity feels, well, weak, like an attempt to dress her not-so idiosyncratic downtown hedonism up in philanthropic/humanist play clothes.
Sure, there's something evocative about the hot-pink nihilism underlining "We R Who We R," its images of dead-eyed, barely clothed bi-sexual tween/teen roustabouts trolling some dystopian mirror-balled wasteland like Blade Runner-esque/Frank Thorne ne'er-do-wells or street hustlers, propositioning marks then robbing them: "sellin; our clothes, sleepin' in cars, dressin' it down, hittin' on dudes - hard." (Hitting with sexuality? With a blade? With a gun? The mind boggles.) Depending on how deep one chooses to read into the song, it's pretty fucking scary, a reflection of a lawless future to come, and "We R Who We R" will likely spawn some fascinating post-grad theses and muso self-fellating conference papers. But the idea that it's some sort of anti-teen suicide anthem? That's as much a joke as the assertion that dance-pop is a serious unifying force, that the sorted conflicts and barriers the world's youth are wrestling with can be alleviated or eliminated by a single three-minute pop song.
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