it’s all right because i like the way it hurts

do you all know this song?

video here.  lyrics here.

ok.

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…

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5 responses to “it’s all right because i like the way it hurts

  1. I was not familiar with the song, and after reading the lyrics and watching the video I had to go back and read your post again. My reaction to it is not the same as yours but then again I doubt we’ve had the same life experiences. I have never been in an abusive relationship; although I did date a guy for quite some time who was had a temper and would occasionally punch “things”, never in my presence, and his temper was never directed at me. I suspect that was luck. One day he asked me what I would happen if he ever hit me. I told him he had better kill me because when I recovered I would hunt him down and kill him. Needless to say that was the last night we saw each other.

    Anyway my point is, I think this song tells the same story that we see all the time. A couple is in an abusive relationship, it goes around and around and they both actually believe that it’s “Love” until one of them ends the cycle by leaving or dying. The woman says “but I love him”; “He loves me, really”; “I provoked him”….

    I also understand that no relationship is perfect (don’t tell my wife I said that) we all have our moments when we get upset or lose our tempers but, I believe that real love and respect go hand in hand. Respect for yourself as well as for the other person. It’s that mutual love and respect that makes people strive to be better than they think they are. That sometimes the whole does exceed the sum of the parts. If the woman in this song believed she deserved better she would leave.

    As for opposing the song, maybe the songs intention is to get you to think about it’s meaning and talk about how screwed up it actually is.

  2. I have heard the song many times (I have the guys’s new cd and I play it on repeat in my car) but I don’t think I ever stopped to listen to the words! I almost never break down a song’s lyrics while I’m listening to it – Tina knows. I guess that’s my adult ADD. To me it’s just been a catchy tune, sung by two artists that I happen to like.

    It’s interesting that the female singing the song has a real life history of being in a (very public) abusive relationship, and had enough self respect to leave her abuser. She wanted to be a role model to her young female fans (I heard her say that in an interview once- if she had stayed what kind of example would she be setting).

    Now she’s siging a song about liking the way it hurts. Example? Nah.

    After reading the lyrics again, I see this song as typical Em. It kinda reminds me of the song Stan (the one ft. Dido). It was so warped and twisted, WTF!?? Controversial is his style and I’ve gotten used to it I guess (now I get why he chose R to sing the hook).

    I agree with CAB that maybe the idea was to provoke thought and discussion or to raise awareness on how there may not always be a next time when two people abuse each other.

    What would people’s reactions be if the man was singing the chorus and the woman was the abuser?

  3. Ugh. I hate this shit. I teach self defense to women, to women just like this, who have never believed that they were worth defending. I have also lived through the nightmare of an abusive relationship.

    It’s fucking heart breaking.

  4. Exactly E, completely agree. Been there done it, on both ends. But to see it almost glamorized is heartbreaking. And to see, of all people singing the hook? Are you kidding me. Someone commented that the lyrics are thought provoking. To whom? To the pre-teens bobbing their heads to this? Soaking up every word. I feel like you have to have some type of mental maturity in order to constructively critique the lyrics and walk away thinking ‘yeah there are some ppl who live this way and that’s really messed up. Nobody has the right to physically abuse another person.’
    But unfortunately not everyone will walk away with that thought.
    No woman or man ‘likes’ being physically beaten. Not from a loved one or a stranger. To say it feels good…Really? Now it’s probably time for some counseling. Some ppl probably do get some type of rush from being violent. But please lets not confuse that with being happy and being loved.
    In e’s words ‘i hate this shit.’

  5. Pingback: i hear the way you lie… | Freedomgirl

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