do you all know this song?
this song had me in tears both times i heard it on the radio.
it’s about an abusive relationship, where both partners are guilty of losing control and hitting the other, though there is an implication that the male partner has a harder time being responsible. the twist at the end is pure horror — he admits that he’s trying to get her back but he’s not going to change, not going to treat her well, he knows this about himself. and she admits that she knows he’s not going to change, she predicts the final outcome, where he burns her alive in their ruined relationship. and she says it’s all right, she likes the way it hurts, she loves the way he lies.
my reaction to this song is really complex. he says, “your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re the same as me…maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano” i know what that means. i’ve been locked in a struggle with someone like that, where things spiral out of control and it’s a never ending puzzle to figure out who started it or who’s at fault. people get violent with each other, relationships can be mutually abusive.
but then, the resolution of the song seems to fall back into the awful trope of passive, forgiving, accommodating woman meets headstrong, understandably out of control man. he burns her alive, and she accepts it because she loves him.
what the fuck? and why does that feel even for a moment like i can identify with it?
why is it supposed to be fulfilling to a woman to suffer the temper and violence of a male partner willingly, even lovingly?
i can identify with both characters in this song, and maybe that’s the root of the complexity for me. i’ve been the out of control person who lashed out physically. i’ve also been the person who was the target of out of control behavior. i’ve been on both sides of the equation, and that’s what draws me into this song in the first place — an acknowledgment that both parties go at it sometimes and lose control. but the ending sucks. i would find the song that much more compelling if they both ended in the flames, if it were a mutual destruction, rather than the male partner mastering the female partner and walking away free.
so now i feel conflicted. should i oppose this song on ethical grounds? why does it have such an effect on me? am i overanalysing a stupid pop song? feel free to discuss, or add your own strong reactions to cultural bits that don’t always have redeeming social value…