“Same Love,” same old shit?

—Karen Tongson

In my first book, Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries, I write extensively about driving around in cars listening to music; about commutes for pleasure in the Southern California landscape with the power to transmogrify nostalgic and wholesome American Graffiti-style cruising, into the kind of cruising Al Pacino polices and dabbles in (undercover, of course) in the 1980 thriller of the same name.

We cruise along; our drives down Southern California’s palm-lined, pot-holed thoroughfares are scored by songs of adventure, longing and regret. This is the only way I really listen to new music these days. Sometimes I sing along. At other times I surrender to the candied ambience of pop, becoming happily attenuated to its comforting predictability. But something happened recently that nearly jostled me out of the cushy bucket seats in the lesbionic/So Cal sorority girl Jeep I inherited from my mom. In what was surely part of the media ramp-up to June, aka “national pride month”—isn’t there something deeply sinister about that phrase?—I heard this on the radio:

It felt like a slap in the face.

As one who belongs to a generation of queers with a special ear for Cole Porter’s clever innuendo—queers accustomed to projecting our homo desires into popular love songs, and reading ourselves into the narratives of amorous legitimacy—the bald earnestness of  “Same Love,” a “conscious” rap about rejecting gay stereotypes in support of same-sex marriage, felt vulgar. More crass than Katy Perry’s made-up confession that she kissed a girl and liked it. (At least there’s some fantasy swirling around in that formulation). Meanwhile, the carefully calibrated “politicized” verses of “Same Love” by Seattle-based white rapper, Macklemore and his creative class posterboy producer, Ryan Lewis, (featuring vocalist, Mary Lambert), felt lacking in any genuine allegiance with queers.

In the opening verse, as soon as the scenario is established in which the narrator, “Ben” questions his sexuality as a child through a tantalizingly Sedgwickian identification with his uncle, the mother corrects his misidentification and reminds young Ben that “you’ve loved girls since before pre-K.”

Macklemore (foreground) and Ryan Lewis (background) performing “Same Love” on The Colbert Report, May 1, 2013.

In fact, Ben’s gay (mis)identification is constructed as the source of his own preconceived notions—his stereotypical views—about what constitutes gayness: an aptitude for art (“‘cause I could draw”), a genetic predisposition (“my uncle was”), and a precocious anality (“I kept my room straight”). Just as his mama corrects him and draws attention to the stereotypes animating the proclivities that might lead him astray to being gay, he is corralled back to fulfill his destiny of becoming a straight-but-not-narrow male ally for people like his gay uncle who are targets of the religious right’s scrutiny and hypocrisy. (Read the lyrics in their entirety here.)

“Same Love” was produced in 2012, during the campaign for Washington Referendum 74, which would legalize gay marriage in the state. By all accounts, the song was written with a sense of local duty, as part of the effort to push Referendum 74 through. Furthermore, Macklemore wanted to respond forcefully to homophobia in hip-hop, perhaps even bolstered by events like Frank Ocean’s more ambiguous “coming out.” Though I don’t question the earnestness of Macklemore’s and Lewis’ intentions to help out queers like you, me, Frank Ocean, and Macklemore’s uncle, the rhetoric of “sameness” and the white male hetero privilege that affords such statements of equivalency feel totally patronizing.

“Same Love” is aptly titled, and unwittingly plays upon the classical tropes of homosexual narcissism, while also trotting out the newer rhetoric of equivalency, brandished visually during the HRC’s most recent campaign in which red equal (=) signs were posted on Facebook with rash enthusiasm. A graduate student in American Studies and Ethnicity at USC, Emily Raymundo, wrote a smart and rousing screed about that particular phenomenon, so I won’t go on at length about why this mass display of hetero-allegiance with the HRC totally pissed me off. Suffice it to say this: nice as these gestures are intended to be, why does it take a thousand straight people on Facebook switching their profile pictures to legitimize a broader conversation about LGBTQIA issues? Maybe we don’t want to be “liked” by you on social media or in meatspace.

Why does it take a white dude who phobically disavows his own fleeting homosexual identification as just another instance of “buying into stereotypes” to make the case for gay marriage, and gay biologism on pop radio on our behalf? Maybe the music on the radio already feels queer to us, has already been made queer by us.

Why did so many pop critics, mostly male (because most of them are), jizz all over “Same Love,” including it in their year-end top-10 lists, and praising it for its depth and profundity?

Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (featuring Mary Lambert) is the poppy end of hip-hop. It may well be the most profound ditty either genre has ever produced.”[1] As a pop specimen, the song is nowhere near that awesome or deep. The rap feels labored, and the instrumental backing track sounds like the piano riff in “Seasons of Love” from Rent mated with the anemic, pseudo-blues chords from John Mayer’s “Waiting for the World to Change.”

Aesthetic quality aside, all of what I’ve said thus far is pretty obvious. The fish was in the barrel so I pointed and shot. And I don’t even have time to get into the video and its homonationalist—nay, let’s just call it nationalist—depiction of the “life cycle” from birth, to love, to homeownership, to marriage, to death, intercut with Civil Rights-era documentary footage for emphasis. It’s so neoliberal, using that word would be redundant. So what’s the point of writing about “Same Love” during “pride month” for a special series of posts about LGBTQIA issues, if we already know this object is bad and its producers are, despite—or because of—their sensitive guy intentions, kinda douchey seeming? (See this video in support of my last claim.)

Because I heard it again on the car stereo later that same night.

Because I fortuitously managed to miss all the authoritative and conscious rap verses about choice, birth, religion and marriage to tune in just in time to hear Mary Lambert’s vocal hook ushering us out of “Same Love.” I heard a velvety lady voice that would be at home reinterpreting the deep catalogues of womyn’s music and lesbian balladry; a voice evocative of a postmillennial Joan Armatrading, leavened by a little Joni, a smattering of Stevie, and a healthy dollop of Sarah McLachlan.

Lambert sings the hook; Lewis claps in the background. The Colbert Report, May 1, 2013.

It felt like it existed outside of the storyline, in the way queer things have always exceeded narrative’s normativizing outcomes. She sang of her love, not of a same or equivalent love: “My love, my love, my love she keeps me warm.”

She said nothing of marriage, but sang tenderly of a warmth, a feeling—the slightest adjustment of temperature and pressure, which requires no validation from the likes of Macklemore, and no expressive DJ roof-raising in the background from Ryan Lewis.  Her voice quivered as it crescendoed its way through the final catechism, “love is patient, love is kind (not crying on Sundays…not crying on Sundays).” And on that Sunday, I cried a little in my car.

Karen Tongson is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at University of Southern California. She is co-editor for NYU Press’s Postmillennial Pop series and is also co-editor-in-chief of The Journal of Popular Music Studies.

[1] Gary Nunn, “Same love; different lyrics” for The Guardian (UK): http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mind-your-language/2013/mar/01/mind-your-language-same-love.

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46 thoughts on ““Same Love,” same old shit?

  1. As Eric Zinner probably knows – I’m a longtime blogger – and blog about a popular subject with ardent fans. A queer feminist blog can be a great forum for honest debate and discussion. Moderators are editors. They can author the culture of the forum by excluding personalizing, derogatory rhetoric “what qualifies you…,” sexist/homophobic assumptions “your internalized homophobia,” and generally reactionary comments that do not forward discussion. When you publish academic-bashing, it only encourages more – as the trolls get a cheap thrill from seeing their slam “published.” Why even give them that? There is no reason to – these people do not actually represent NYU Press’s audience – and they in fact turn that audience off.

    Blogging hosts sometimes think that big traffic in relation to a post is a good thing for a blog – in my experience there is no carry-over – the size of my actual reading base has been very stable. The 3000 people that might hop onto an article out of hate and fascination don’t stick around and their attention isn’t worth capturing. I’ve been asked to move my blog onto mainstream sites several times over the years, and I’ve stayed independent – exactly so that my soul & spirit might be spared the ordeal that KT was just put through.

    Hope this leads to stronger and more creative moderation – moderation should be about more than removing direct threats and offensive language – it can be a curatorial art.

  2. I honestly completely understand your point and how it has seemed…in a way offensive to you. The points you´ve made are things people should be critically thinking about and adding to the conversation. But like all things extremely wrong in the world, you have to start somewhere and it never will be that you started in the perfect place or do it right the first time, human kind has proven that haven´t we? We have to start somewhere, or carry on somewhere, or accept that this issue is being so heavily fought by the morons of the world that those who agree can´t turn on each other. Of course those who agree with eachother on a broader level aren´t the same people and aren´t going to have the same solutions for what they think will help the situation (Occupy?) but we absolutely can´t turn on one another, that´s where the beginning of this whole problem is.

  3. I will reiterate the thoughts I posted on Facebook in support of Karen’s piece: my initial exposure to the group was on the Colbert Report and I was suspicious of them based on that performance. Karen eloquently articulated the nature of the doubts that I had and confirmed my suspicions and dis-ease. I generally do not comment on blogs but I feel that it important to endorse Karen’s sentiments in face of hostile responses to her legitimate statement of opinion. It saddens me that the level of discourse consists of thoughtless virulent attacks rather than a thoughtful dialogue that may be oppositional but nevertheless civil.

  4. In response to Prof Saysso’s comment, from Eric Zinner, Editor-in-Chief of NYU Press:

    Thank you for your thoughts, which are helping us think this through. Honestly, we’ve never had to deal with this before and it caught us completely by surprise. Commenting on From the Square is generally light, and the people who come to the blog of a scholarly press are a self-selecting group who understand who we are and what our authors do. Obviously, those boundaries exploded in response to this post. The comments were screened, with many (many too many) blocked because they were insulting and offensive, but was done without specific guidelines in place. We need to do it better; to that end, we will write posting guidelines for ourselves and post a version on the site to clarify what we are looking for in the comments. And we will be more rigorous and thoughtful about which comments get posted. We may not set the line where you do–so much of what we do is tilted towards encouraging engagement, of having the work of our authors read and taken up, that we’ll lean towards more rather than less–but we must have a better understanding of what that line is.

    P.S. Everyone, keep your eyes open for a follow-up post from Professor Tongson addressing the issues raised in and by these comments.

  5. I’m a proud parent of a gay daughter. I’ve been in same sex relationships. Yet from reading this article I fear I’d fall short of the author’s standards for “ally.” Anything I say will be the “same old shit.” I was proud to see the outpouring of support when hundreds of people I knew changed their Facebook profile pictures to variations of the pink equality sign. I like this song and what it represents. The tide is slowly turning and public displays like these aren’t done to be cool, or to make people like the author feel loved. They are important because they show the rest of the people, from the fence sitters to the haters, that there is increasing support for equality. These gestures – however trite – matter. They help influence public opinion. They will help change the world. This angry, bitter, misguided, privileged rhetoric doesn’t help the cause. It makes you sound like you want things to stay the same. This kind of rant sounds out of place anywhere other than a stereotypical 30-something privileged white New York wine party, properly insulated from reality.

  6. One subpar white straight rapper “sticks his neck” on same-sex marriage and I’m supposed to be grateful? Let me say as a brown person, as a [email protected] person, as a queer that doesn’t believe in marriage (or wedding registries but I do believe in hospital visitation rights) for myself or anyone else (and wonders why don’t straight people get pissed about all the rights and tax breaks they are denied in the state’s attempt at controlling our private lives) that Macklemore is hardly an avatar of hip hop white hope. And the upworthy video of that lesbian couple where one girl proposes to the other is not the scenario I want to be thankful for–to me, that is the manifestation of self-hating queer assimilationist agendas. and I love myself for being ungrateful. I get to be. And I’m thankful for Dr. Tongson’s rigorous skewering of this artist’s unoriginal savior complex.

    Also, this is a university press web log–what’s up with the anti-intellectual flava here? $5 words? Miss your Perez Hilton much?

    So…give me the avowed homophobic and misogynist self-hating braggadocio that is at least honest in its abject Eminem-ness. At least I know where I stand and can respect the unwavering fear and loathing in 8 Mile’s finest and not the vacillating cowardice of projecting support while disavowing the possibility that God-Forbid-You-Too-Could-Be-Gay, Macklemore.

    You want to pat yourself on the back, straight world? Then watch a better hip hop artist put his ass on the line, kiss another man and tell the real story of what it is like being queer in a hateful world.
    MURS’ Animal Style:

  7. I loved this post – esp. the conclusion. But woah – the comments section! NYU Press – a blog is not a mosh pit! Do newspapers print ALL letters to the editor – NO. The “eyeballs” drawn to this kind of comment thread will not result in more sales – it will drive your actual community right off the forum. I actually don’t publish comments to my blog from people telling me that I shouldn’t write about my subject, or who feel compelled to tell me that they think I’m full of crap or that I “overintellectualize” etc. There’s a lot of trolls out there – just because they send a comment to your site does not mean you have to publish it. Anyway, I strongly recommend that NYU Press consider being more discriminating in its moderation of blog comments – and not publish comments that are, well, reactionary, that are anti-intellectual and which turn the comments section into a shouting match. It’s amazing how effective a little moderation can be – it’s essential for the creation of a real intellectual forum. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean one can’t edit, shape, and author a public discussion. Anyway, this – undermoderation of blogs – is a pet peeve of mine.

  8. To those of you who consider yourselves allies: if you’re primarily concerned about getting a gold star for being a “good” straight person and aren’t actually interested in hearing the thoughts and experiences of actual queer folks that make you feel uncomfortable, you’re probably a shitty ally. And Karen’s critique is not some bizarre outlier, trust me.

  9. I found the opening lyrics of the song cringeworthy and that’s mostly what I took issue with. If you go into the article trying to see from the writer’s vantage point you will find this article isn’t angry; it’s critical, and it’s funny and it’s dead on the money. I too have tried to convey this simple message, one that needs to be unwrapped in a sophisticated way, in much angrier ways with much worse results.The song does have good intentions, and there’s no doubt that Macklemore’s personal touches are real. Nobody is disputing that. It’s whether we want to idolize allies who claim to draw their inspiration and compassion from a cliched and confused period of their lives, almost as if they are trying to convince everyone in America they qualify to be an ally instead of just being one. Or just being a person. For now we seem to be stuck with the allies who grab the mic and say, “Just in case you hadn’t heard, I love all you gays! I knew you guys were cool from the moment I almost was one of you.” It puts the audience in a tough position because the message is undeniably positive, or should I say benign, but there’s something about the motivation that doesn’t ring true. He’ll sell a few albums.

  10. I get that there may be some problems with the Macklemore song. But as a queer youth, I find it to be really comforting. Maybe the first verse seems to say that there is something wrong with being gay (why should his mom be so quick to try to “correct” him otherwise?), but overall it teaches good things. Yah, I think my love is the same as heterosexual love. At least as far as it is the same as anyone’s love, since no two people love the same way. And I also used the red equal sign for HRC, because it was a sign of unity, to show that I CARE. Is it hetero-pushing when it was something queers were doing to? Passionately?
    Heterosexual people are a majority, they probably always will be. Majorities are what is required for a law to pass, for change to happen. The LGBTQ+ community NEEDS the support of our straight allies, no matter how much we might resent it.

  11. “a” stands for “ASEXUAL,” not “allies.” great takedown of nomalizing culture, and the inherent insult in framing social justice in terms of people who are at the center and their priorties instead of destroying those very engines which create the marginalization in the first place. kudos.

  12. Tolerance is not the result of enlightenment; it is the result of public boredom.

    One thought the message to homosexuals might have been ‘We apologize for mistreating and annoying you all these years,’ when, in reality the message heterosexuals offer with their banal acceptance actually reads: “Come on in; the place is a mess, you’ll love it.”

    Miss Tongson’s piece is only a way of pushing back against the boring noise that acceptance makes. At least some things still sound beautiful.

  13. From some of the comments, it seems that at least a few so-called straight allies are not invested in understanding and learning about queer difference, which is what the article is about: how mainstream US culture can unwittingly reduce LGBTQIA peoples to a homogeneous ideal of sameness–the heteronormative idea of “Same Love.” But what really bothers me is the implicit suggestion that Tongson should not assume a critical eye in respect to how such issues might articulate themselves in a pop song. This is the same type of condescending, holier than thou discourse often deployed against minorities and women when they speak loudly against how racism and sexism continues to pervade contemporary society. If the other’s voice becomes too loud, harsh, or angry, so-called allies sometimes lash out, telling their “friend” to tone it down, that they are bitter, sour grapes, etc.

    And btw, this song is the definition of pop insipidness, music-wise.

  14. What Nathan said. The folks who are shocked and offended by Karen’s incisive takedown of “Same Love” seem to have confused the mainstream movement’s glossy public image of us queers with the way we actually are: complex, contentious, moody, bitchy, different from each other, different from you, impolite, irritable, man-hating, man-loving, hyper-intellectual, and aggressively stupid and incisively smart. And yes, we are actually entitled to dislike Macklemore’s stupid song. We don’t have to be grateful. We don’t have to understand how Macklemore is just fighting the good white liberal fight against bad homophobic hip hop. You will survive the mortification of having your “tolerance” of LGBT sameness and support of threadbare “equality” thrown in your face. Gender studies will continue to be taught, men will continue to be hated, and thrift stores will continue to be raided by douchey white rappers. Life will go on. And it will go on to the tune of other, better music played by a zillion other queer and non queer artists, both in and outside of hip hop. Karen’s message is simple: no more Mr. Nice Guy!

  15. Check out all the straight folks getting pissed that a queer person spoke for themselves.

  16. Also – again to YvesPaul – the author has already “made a name for herself”: she has in fact published a book with NYU Press called Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries. I’d highly recommend you read it.

  17. To YvesPaul, who comments, “When gay-friendly folks are trying to do something nice for the gay community and this is the response they get, maybe this legitimizes homophobia?”: Do you think queer critique – as opposed to immediate gratefulness to whomever it is that professes to be doing something nice for us – “legitimizes” fear and hatred of queers and gays everywhere? Do you think that a piece like this “legitimizes” the recent gay bashings in New York, for example? If not, I’d seriously rethink your response. There is nothing that “legitimizes” homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. By implying that these positions could ever be justified, you yourself are participating in an explicitly homophobic project. If this is how you feel about homophobia – that it could ever be justified – you are not an ally, nor will we ever accept your support.

  18. To be quite honest, I’m tired of people who identify as “queer” deconstructing and tearing down any semblance of support for the LGBTQIA community. The fact that a person voices support for the LGBTQIA community should be embraced, rather than hyper-analyzed and/or questioned. Is the song itself “profound”? Perhaps not. However, it almost seems that you’ve grown hypersensitive to anyone who doesn’t share the same perception that you have of what it means to be queer. I’m speaking, in a very general sense, about the subtle cynicism that you hold against the “white male hetero privilege” that you attribute to Macklemore. The song itself looks towards a sense of “oneness”, while it seems to engender your feelings of mistrust; perhaps the history of the LGBTQIA community leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. However, in a sense, you’re standing on a soapbox, shunning a person who is willing to voice open support. I have seen this time and time again–from my years as an undergraduate at a liberal arts college to online forums–and I have to say that I’m beginning to question the course that Queer Studies itself has taken.

  19. Thank you Karen Tongson for making this articulate, thoughtful takedown of the unimpressive “Same Love.” My partner (or whatever) is a gay dancehall & club producer, we know several gay rappers, club promoters, DJs, etc. When Macklemore became very popular because of this song, it was truly remarkable how none of our friends ever mentioned it or seemed even to have noticed. These people notice everything, so the lack of talk was actually something else. “Conscious” rap is such a degrading insult to the art of rap, as if angry rap somehow suffers a lower consciousness. Wrong. This song sucks. I’m gay. I don’t feel compelled whatsoever to thank pop culture for bad rap made charitably on behalf of a liberal political interests, however well-intentioned. It’s hard to care that he’s an ally. Its purely about taste, which should matter. Taste should matter to people as much as their politics. “Same Love” is a poorly designed knock-off. Can you even imagine anything more gross than a conscious white rapper from Seattle who’s only other song is about the Salvation Army? I’m supposed to appreciate this?

  20. I believe Macklemore did one powerful thing that has yet to be mentioned: he started the conversation. As the song came on the radio, entered living rooms, and was shared on headphones, the younger generations began talking. Macklemore reached individuals through pop culture, instead of stale political campaigns or newspaper articles. He reached a lot of people who may have otherwise been left out and uninformed. What’s more, he contradicted most of the prominent pop culture views, providing a different perspective for this audience.

    Furthermore, as a Seattlelite and Washington resident, I know many of my peers who only knew about the initiative to pass gay marriage through this song. Several of my peers registered to vote that month to vote on this issue, which they knew about from Same Love. Obviously, the song is not the only reason it passed, but it certainly helped.

    I am neither LGBTQ nor an expert on gender/sexual orientation equality and can’t speak personally about the lyrics or the emotional response this song probably generated. But now at least more informed people are talking about it. So thank you Macklemore AND thank you Karen.

    Although, I must admit, Karen – you might reach more people if you stopped using such inaccessible vocabulary and syntax. I’m a college student and still struggled with this language.

  21. Homosexuals don’t need allies or messages of emotional support from real people – most of these commenters would do well to say as little as possible in their days to come.

    Thanks to Miss Tongson for this thoughtful bit of wisdom and reality. At least June is nearly halfway over and all of the cries of support will abate. The heterosexuals are only whistling Dixie.

  22. Thank you for writing this and putting words to my feelings about this song and Macklemore. As a QWOC, this song does nothing to elevate me but only feels like it profits off my oppression. I have no room in my life to accommodate this type of commodification.

  23. It sounds like maybe miss grumpy cat sour grapes is upset that maybe the world is finally accepting the LGBT community and just maybe she is scared of not being considered “different” anymore. Maybe she has based so much of who she is on being different that she can’t connect with this song “Same Loce.” If it brings people together, raises awareness in today’s youth about the destructiveness of stereotypes, what is the problem? I am not a fan of rap but when I heard this song it felt good. Finally we are getting somewhere in our society. One song will not change the world but it will either further or hinder progress depending on what we allow to happen. Let your guard down a little Miss Sour Grapes and open your eyes. You might be surprised at how much the world has changed.

  24. I just wanted to say that as someone who identifies as queer, I have always felt that Macklemore really had good intentions with “Same Love.” The only problem was, it was only a song to pass R74, and it did. Being a resident of Washington State, it was amazing to see a rapper I have been listening to for years finally rise up and make a radical change in the state. After R74 passed, “Same Love” just sounded like a PSA. My boyfriend and I always joke that you have to be straight to love that song. There are stereotypical queer personality traits that are pressed and in the end it tends to sound very preachy. The only redeeming quality of the song would be Mary Lambert’s hook (and we have since taken a strong liking to Mary Lambert’s solo work).

    In response to those who have commented before me, I think you can only understand the point this professor is trying to make by being one who identifies as queer, gay, lesbian, etc. We have experienced enough oppression and have been subjected to enough stereotypes that we listen to “Same Love” in a much different way than you. “Same Love” is nothing more than a PSA for R74. Other than that it has no merit as an actual LGBTQIA supportive song.

  25. I agree with James on asking what is considered enough to be an LGBT ally. This song might not be perfect and it might have a few stumbling points but at least it’s something. At least it was made with a conscious effort to support the LGBT community. With this author’s type of view point, she would have every straight person scared to speak up in support in case they don’t say exactly the right thing. No one is perfect and everyone has put their foot in their mouth at some point while talking about a sensitive topic, but in most cases it is the thought more than anything that counts. As for Macklemore’s song, it became the rallying point of the marriage rights campaign in Washington. I would say his particular effort came with major benefits.

    If you are still iffy on Macklemore’s social awareness, I would check out his song “Awake” it talks a lot about how it can be difficult to put yourself out there as an ally to any cause for fear that you will be criticized as not being enough of a part of it.

  26. Man, I think the only thing you forgot to talk about is how the horn players obviously aren’t REAL allies of the LGBTQ community because they didn’t accentuate or crescendo just right. Regardless of your stances and opinions, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and co. did something that not many others have been brave enough to attempt to this point. Should it take bravery? Should it be something of note? Ideally no, but art mirrors life, and this is where we stand as a country now. If you want to see it as ‘validating,’ that’s your choice, but I think it’s terribly errant. We couldn’t be prouder to call him a Seattleite and couldn’t be prouder to officially be a state of allies by popular vote. “Damn right I support it”

  27. promoting your book first to start this blog off…unclassy. Second I got really turned off when you felt you had to identify him as a white rapper. I guess society will never go away from ignorant labeling and separation. I guess for now on I’ll introduce myself as a white straight guy. From there the article got worse. Find a new hobby.

  28. Although your vocabulary is impressive, I think that you might want to spend more time thinking about the perspecitve of the songwriter, and not your own. Macklemore was not speaking to you or for you, he was speaking to the rap community about homophobic and gay slurs. He was touching briefly on stereotypes and misconceptions. He was reaching out to a relatively bias and ignorant demographic and asking them to pause for a moment and reflect on what is ultimately something as basic as love. She keeps me warm….that caught your attention, but you missed the point.

  29. Thanks for this, I’ve been feeling the same way, having been hearing this rap for months now in Seattle, all night while I work. While initially nice to hear something ‘gay’ on the radio, the more I hear Macklemore’s lyrics, the more empty they sound, but the hook still makes me cry.

  30. Professor Tongson’s invective against straight allies is as smug as it is counterproductive. This type of overwrought “you’ll never know my struggle and f*ck you for trying to relate” liberal inanity is exactly why you can’t take gender theorists pronouncements seriously outside of a Greenwich Village cocktail party. It doesn’t make any constructive sense.

  31. I read this with an open mind. I agreed with some of what you wrote towards the beginning regarding his fears and affirmation by his mother regarding the stereotypical behavior beliefs. However, the more I read, the more your outlandish entitlement becomes apparent and just plain disturbing. You insist upon change in this country, then verbally trample those who are the grass roots of change on your behalf? Give me a break. The intention of this song, and the straight people on your side is clear. Unfortunately, so is your abundant narcissism and hate.

  32. Honestly, I’m all for a in-depth discussion of how pop culture relates to our understanding of the world. But to use rhetoric like, “same old shit?” “It felt like a slap in the face.” just indicates to me the author is going for provocation. So much of this queer theory clap trap is intentionally contrarian and holier than thou. Few pop songs on the radio or on MTV can withstand this level of theoretical queer studies scrutiny. Let’s engineer the perfect pop song in a laboratory and see how many plays it gets.

  33. Really? It seems that some people like to fight oppression not because they want equal rights, but because they like being the outspoken outsider.

  34. “You don’t know me!” and “I would prefer to have my own stereotype and not be grouped together with the evil white male” are all I heard when reading this piece.

  35. This woman’s white privilege is boundless. How sad for her that a person trying to help is not cool enough for her.

    Does this author know that the “A” in LGBTQIA stands for allies?
    Macklemore is part of the LGBTQIA community.

  36. When gay-friendly folks are trying to do something nice for the gay community and this is the response they get, maybe this legitimizes homophobia? I understand the author might be writing this piece to make a name for herself but what’s the point of overanalyzing a song? Change the channel or just put Katy Perry on your ipod and get it over with. Let me see her analyze having I Kissed A Girl and Peacock in the same album, Is she bi curious or just a slut? Go!

  37. As a Seattlite who’s close to a lot of people who know or work with Macklemore, I’ve encountered nothing but shocked and offended expressions since last fall whenever I say what you have articulated much more eloquently. Nice to know I’m not alone! Like you, I don’t doubt the sincerity. I’m just not buying the hype. Thanks for sticking your neck out with this splendid article, Karen.

  38. I would like to commend the author on a well written review of said authors opinion. I on the other hand write and review music for a living, and I am a man in a legal marriage with another man. I am sure the author, can a will critique my horrible grammar and sentence structure. I will be happy to learn from her on that matter. That being stated, the author should stay away from music reviews. Her statement on the songs history is somewhat correct, but a few more important facts were left out. The first and foremost of course is, music and a song start off to mean two things, that are defined by one, the artist, then redefined by the listener. Slicing the lyrics apart with big fancy words means no more than using simple ones, and in either case is mute, because it is the artist and listener who will define what the lyrics and song means and says, to each respectively. While there are many points in this article I disagree with tremendously, the biggest is the perspective that he is stereotyping. Now maybe in the authors world what was depicted in the music video does not happen, however in the LGBT Community that I live in, I see it everyday. That is not a statistic from some school, that is a first hand account.
    To answer the question the author posed “Why did so many pop critics, mostly male (because most of them are), jizz all over “Same Love,” including it in their year-end top-10 lists, and praising it for its depth and profundity?”. Answer, because most of those critiques know a lot more about music then the author of this article obviously does. The back line rhythm is right on spot, the smooth transitions of lyrics and the harmonic strings with the sway blues keyboard work very well together. When speaking of a song, and then placing it in a review format, from a English and Gender Study professor, seems as quirky as packing a ice cube tray for a trip to the desert. I would suggest one other small tiny thing. It was a song about a man falling in a forbidden love with another man and the struggle that represents from a character who obviously had a religious or very spiritual background. Now the author may call that Stereotyping, we in the REAL LGBT Community call it REALITY!

  39. This author teaches gender studies? My sympathies to her students. Arrogance reeks. And out of touch. Grumpy cat wannabe?

  40. Reading this makes me wonder what standards are needed to be considered an ally of the LGBT community. I think when reading this your issue should focus more on maybe the misinterpretation of Macklemore’s intent and message. I’d argue that your view of what was meant by the song and how legitimate it is has been skewed by what listeners have done and or how they have digested it.

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