Heads up: Top comment and controversy

Reaction: Is Lily Allen's video a feminist anthem?

Just as pop music seemed like it couldn't get any more exhaustively booty-licious, with Miley Cyrus gyrating in front of a dwarf dancer at the MTV awards, and the twerk pretty much hoovering up all the attention around on female bodies and their role in the music industry, along comes a new song and video from Lily Allen to shunt things in another direction.

The video for 'It's Hard out Here', released earlier this week, examines the pressures put on female performers, with Allen being shown how to fellate a banana by her elderly male producer in one scene. Robin Thicke comes in for some wonderful roasting too.

Here's what's being said around the web about the video and its significance today:

Feminism, loud and proud

"What is so encouraging about Allen's comeback video is just how many people are likely to watch it", writes Gillian Orr in The Independent.

"Forget twerking and nude thongs. When some of pop's biggest stars still refuse to identify themselves as feminists (Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Katy Perry have all stared at their feet at the mention of the 'f-word'), having a fully dressed mainstream female artist write a song featuring the phrase 'the glass ceiling' and sing 'We've never had it so good/ Yeah we're out of the woods/ And if you can't detect the sarcasm you've misunderstood' might just be the most radical statement a female artist today can make."

Not so progressive

Two The Atlantic writers, Nolan Feeney and Ashley Fetters, discuss a few of Allen's footfalls in a far-ranging piece:

"Do you feel weird about the racial aspect of this Lily Allen video?" asks Fetters.

"I feel not-so-vaguely icky about it. Most of these bodies getting ogled at and over-the-top objectified are black women’s bodies, and the woman rejecting that, presenting herself as the exception, is white."

Fetters adds:

"Maybe it's fair to say that this is proof that every music video director should consult with a team of sociologists and gender studies professors before proceeding with a shoot. Kidding—but what I would say is that the takeaway here is great intention, flawed execution."

Does Allen have to speak for everyone?

In The Guardian Ellie Mae O'Hagan criticises the racial characteristics of the video, saying "in that respect, it's difficult to see Allen's anthem as anything more than the same old same old, and it's probably why I ultimately feel she misses the mark".

O'Hagan adds, however: "Feminism is an extremely broad church, but I often think feminists are guilty of expecting every single prominent feminist to reflect their exact politics because there aren't enough opinions in the mainstream to choose from – and all too often the feminists that do make it big are white and middle class."

"Perhaps the most helpful response we feminists can have to Lily Allen's video is not to tear it down because of its flaws (although they should be addressed), but to look at feminism itself and discuss how to realise its potential as a political movement."

What's your reaction to the video, to the song, or to the culture Allen takes issue with? Let us know in the comments below...

React Now

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice