At this point, Allen attempts to hammer home her thoughts about the evils of objectification and cultural appropriation, but once again, botches the execution. Her statement that “Don’t you want to have somebody that objectifies you? / Have you thought about your butt? Who’s going to tear it in two?” is obviously dripping with sarcasm, but just as she laments that the only people in videos are Size 6s, she proceeds to insert a bunch of extremely fit and attractive African-American women in the video. Much like you’ve seen in videos like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”—both, it should be noted, were directed by a woman named Diane Martel—the camera here in (male) director Christopher Sweeney’s video tends to gravitate towards the curves not of Allen but of the cadre of ethnic women surrounding her, leering as body parts dripping in champagne shake and jiggle in slo-mo. This is problematic.
Allen is pointing fingers here, railing against anyone and everyone tangentially involved in the rampant explosion of jiggling asses in 2013: music video directors, artists who greenlight and participate in these concepts, greedy corporate suits who will gladly exploit women if it will get them a buck in return, and yes, all of you out there who have tweeted about twerking or “liked” one of these videos along the way. But, as the old saying goes, when you point your finger at something, three end up pointing back toward yourself. Allen’s attempts to have her proverbial cake and eat it, too—think of the caloriesman!—end up ringing false. Instead of succcesfully deploying the concept of parody and flipping the script by, say, showing us visuals of “unattractive” (however you define that) and/or unconventional bodies shaking their thang, Allen ends up being just as guilty of female objectification and cultural appropriation as her targets, especially because she remains mostly clothed while other barely clothed bodies orbit around her. In other words, it’s tough to claim the moral high ground when you end up utilizing the same ground-level tactics as your targets.
All that said, Allen does inject some moments of levity into her otherwise heavy-handed video (moments of which, we would argue, also occur in the likes of “Blurred Lines” and “We Can’t Stop”). Her video’s most triumphant moment needs no explanation or context, so we’re just gonna roll with it:
Don’t get it twisted, we’re still card carrying members of #TEAMLILYALLEN, not to mention #TEAMLILYROSECOOPER. We are head over heels in love with the song, as well as being quite psyched to hear the rest of her upcoming material. There’s nary a doubt in our mind that Lily Allen possesses one of the most refreshing and necessary voices in the music business today, and feel strongly that the core message of “Hard Out Here,” lyrically and musically, is delivered in a successful manner. We just lament the fact that the video undercuts the effectiveness of her overall statement by not practicing what Lily is preaching, that’s all.