Jan 24, 2012 @ 9:52 am | By TheFeministGriote | 21 Comments
Guest Post: By @wearejanedoe
The following is a response to “Who Killed It: The Weeknd’s ‘Initiation’ Weaves a Wicked Web,” an article that was recently written by Touré and published by Complex magazine on their website.
“A song pulsing with evil.” These words are a precise and logical description of the song “Initiation” by The Weeknd, from his recent album/mixtape, Echoes of Silence. And yet, the opening line of Touré’s article, while blatant and honest, did not prepare me for the gravity of what the song has to offer. I wouldn’t have thought that The Weeknd would have penned a song that is basically an outline of how he planned and executed the date rape and gang rape of a woman. Because while Touré’s opening line is accurate, “‘Initiation’ is a song pulsing with evil;” more explicitly “Initiation” is an ode to or perhaps even an anthem for date rape.
“The Weeknd’s aggressive vocal attack—the way he barrels through the verses, intense and relentless, barely stopping for breath, rhyming as much as singing—adds to the creepiness as it signals his devilishly aggressive assault on this girl, plying her with substances, guiding her past her limits, taking her over.” –Toure
Let us begin with the order of events in the song “Initiation.”
- The Weeknd and a woman are drinking and smoking in a public place. Based on the lyrics “thick smoke and choking,” I will assume the substance being smoked is marijuana.
- The woman has consumed a large amount of drugs and alcohol and becomes disoriented. The Weeknd states that her heart rate has slowed and she has been crying. While in her disoriented state she is told that she will be taken to The Weeknd’s home to “continue the party.”
- The Weeknd addresses his friends, acknowledging that they are “high on Shakespeare lines (cocaine)” and then tells them that they do not have to wait in line because there is enough to pass around. “Enough” at this point could be one of two things, either (1) additional drugs or (2) the woman who is on her way to The Weeknd’s house.
- The Weeknd then addresses the woman again, who at this point is in his home, telling her that in order to have his heart she must first past the test of “meeting with his boys.” Or to put plainly, she must have sex with his friends in order to receive his love.
- The Weeknd explains that he has been bingeing for a week. On the night in question he has reached his peak high, begun to come down from his high and is gearing up for “another round.” It is unclear whether “another round” is more drugs, or more of the woman.
- While gearing up for “another round” The Weeknd tells the woman that he is not to blame for her nightmares that will surely ensue from this experience.
- The woman is told by The Weeknd that if she is too high that she can “meet his boys” to “make it right” by “riding it out. (have sex with his friends until she comes down from her drug induced high)”
- The assault begins. The woman is taken into the fold of The Weeknd and his friends.
- It is revealed that the woman has friends that have come to The Weeknd’s home along with her. Her female friends begin “screaming” because The Weeknd is “creeping out.” The Weeknd has decided that they are to be kept out of the room if “they are not down (do not wish to join the assault).”
- Post-interruption, The Weeknd offers more marijuana and cognac to the woman.
- Finally, The Weekend concludes the account with “Just one night, trying to f*** and leave you out.”
So, those are the order of events. What seems like ‘prolific writing’ and ‘deft story telling’ to Touré, to me reads as a police report; imagine replacing the phrase “the woman” with “the victim.” In this article he calls The Weekend a great writer with beautiful and forceful visuals. I think it is best that Touré’s accolades and Pulitzer Prize nominations cease. If instead of the story being told about a detail-less woman; what if she were Jane Doe? Or more simply put, what if she were real? This is a radical concept for many of the people who have listened to this song and will listen in future; people who have already been desensitized to graphic violence in general and violence against women in particular.
The writing, recording, and general acceptance of this song, along with Touré’s adoring article is telling of the willingness to dismiss violence against the female mind, body and spirit. Yes, Touré’s article pays attention to what is happening in the song, but no, it does not go the extra mile and speak to the damage that is being made to seem as “another day out with the boys.” And because of that, Touré’s article adds insult to The Weeknd’s injurious song.
This song at its very core is a frightening, detailed agenda of a pre-meditated, life-changing crime that will have long-standing emotional ramifications for women who have suffered and will suffer the same fate. And, The Weeknd and his kind are to blame for the future nightmares of these women. More outrageous than the deluge of admiration from Touré’s article towards the supposed lyricism and cleverness for “Initiation,” is the last paragraph of the article.
“Some things that must be said. I don’t condone gang rape. No one should ever do that. It’s horrible. This is a song. No actual women were hurt in the making of this song as far as I know. Art made from the point of view of villains and monsters is compelling. Loving it does not equal condoning horrific behavior. Also: The Weeknd is at the start of what should be an extraordinary career.” –Toure
Is that it? No, no one should ever commit gang rape. And no, it is not “just a song.” That is an over-simplifying, dismissive attitude that absolves both Touré and the song that he “loves” of its irresponsible message and down-plays gang rape, the act that he does not condone. It is impossible to accept the song for its “brilliance” and divorce oneself from the song’s rape premise, and it is a problem to think that one can praise a song while simultaneously denouncing the message. You have to know that if you are saluting the song, then you okay the message, even if you do not practice what the song is preaching. There is no need to attempt to intellectualize foolishness. And on another note, how would Touré know if any woman was hurt in the forming of The Weeknd’s philosophy? And furthermore, was that an ill-fated attempt at humor? After devoting 1,082 words toward kudos for “Initiation,” 60 words added for political correctness is just not enough.
Categories: Mind Over Chatter