Honest’s post “‘Let Them Be Cake’…Said Nobody Ever: Distinguishing Battery From Baking” immediately made me think of the song Beat It by Sean Kingston, Chris Brown, and Wiz Khalifa, and the thoughts I had when it first came out last spring.
When I first heard this song, I heard it in passing somehow. I heard the lyrics of the chorus that go “she wanted me to beat beat beat it” and paid little attention to the rest of the song. From this, I assumed the song used “beat it” to mean that the woman wanted the man to leave. However, when I actually paid attention to the lyrics, I was absolutely shocked. The song clearly uses “beat it” as a synonym of sex. I didn’t (and still don’t) understand how this usage is acceptable. The link to violence is impossible to ignore. Because of this, I figured there must be people addressing this issue on the internet. However, I did not find much. And the only commentary I found about the song’s link to violence specifically dealt with Chris Brown collaboration. This article quotes fans saying things such as “Apparently no-one on Chris Brown’s payroll thought him appearing on a song called Beat It was a bad idea” and “Where is Chris Brown’s PR person and why is he allowed to be in a song called Beat It.” Perez Hilton comments:
Even though we would like to think Breezy knows better than to involve himself in musical projects that remind the world of how he viciously beat Rihanna back in 2009, that is obviously NOT the case, as he has lent his vocals to Sean Kingston’s latest jam titled BEAT IT.
This article is the most thorough one I can find that addresses the song’s violent implications. It states:
Chris Brown is collaborating with Wiz Khalifa on Sean Kingston‘s new song, which is bad news for several reasons. A. Every time Chris works with someone new, it’s just one more person for me to lose respect for and B. the song is called ‘Beat It’. BEAT. IT. Seriously? Do I honestly even need to write this post all the way out? Or can we all just marvel in the intense, unfunny irony of this known Rihanna-abuser putting out a song containing the lyric, “That’s why you calling my phone / you wanted me to beat beat beat it.”
Granted, I’m almost positive that ‘wanting someone to beat it’ is cool-person terminology for ‘sex’ that I’m not aware of because I’m a mouth-breathing blogger, but still. Does no one sit in CB’s headquarters in the mouth of that volcano shaped like a dragon and question these decisions? Are there no PR people busy in the belly of his dungeon thinking about how stuff like this might look to the public? Like, “Ah, Chris, perhaps avoid adding your melodic singing voice to a song with an explicit violence word in the title. Anything with themes of hit, strike, beat, punch, pound, etc. You know…because of that time when you tried to kill that nice lady with your fists? Do you remember that? Just an idea. I’d be happy to tweet all these pictures of your tattoos and your paintings of Jesus, though.”
But all those little minions were apparently in the park celebrating their day off today, because this song is all over the internets, ya’ll. Listen to it if you must but try not to like it. It’s getting a little gratuitous at this point.
In my internet search, I learned something important about our society: it is acceptable for men to use explicit violent language about women, as long as it isn’t directly linked to actual violence. I was incredibly shocked by how little there is on the internet about the use of “beat it” in this song. It is an explicitly violent phrase, but no one seems to care. While absolutely everyone talked about Blurred Lines this summer, almost no one discussed “Beat It.” There was no outrage or Jezebel articles, or anything like that. No one cared. Why did no one care? Interestingly, the only stir the song caused was about Chris Brown’s inclusion in the song (but even this was not talked about very much). When Chris Brown’s history of domestic violence comes into the picture, the use of “beat it” takes on a new meaning. But why is the phrase “beat it” completely invisible as a violent phrase until someone with a history of violence against women is the one behind it? And what does it mean that society generally does not question the use of “beat it” as a synonym for having sex with a woman?