Have you had the pleasure of hearing that god-awful “Rude” song? If not, here you go, I’ll wait:
If, like me, you first heard it on the radio and had a very difficult time understanding what was being sung in the song, you probably got creeped out thinking that he was talking to the girl he wanted to marry, then switching audiences and announcing a desire to “marry her anyway” (seriously, the “daughter” got lost in my radio listenings of the bridge).
After watching the Todd in the Shadows video I realized the singer was asking permission of the daughter’s father. My reaction was similar to Todd’s and also the character of Evan in Royal Pains (“People still do that??!!”).
Then, I saw the “Father’s Response” to the song and oh. Well then.
Let’s unpack this, shall we?
I guess on a logical level I knew that “asking permission” was a thing that still happened because it shows up on all those Pinterest lists I find while trying to find a wedding cake design that meets my desires for artistry and Manbeast’s desire for it to “just look like a cake.” But honestly? I would be really pissed if he asked my dad’s opinion on our union before coming to me. You ask ME to marry you, then we go INFORM my parents like the autonomous adults we are. If you want to do it this way, I’d like to pretend that I can respect your familial situations or desire for tradition or whatever but honestly the only one giving permission should be you because you aren’t property. Suzanne Calulu over at No Longer Quivering makes a great distinction between “permission” and “blessing” in this quote taken from one of her articles about the Pearl’s marriage advice*:
“On that same note, Nico asked my mom and dad for their blessing before he asked me to marry him. Blessing NOT permission. Why?
A. Nico planned to ask me to marry him even if my parents said no. After all, I was not the property of my parents.
B. Nico knew if he asked for my parents’ permission, they would have said no because they wouldn’t want me to marry someone who viewed me as a piece of property.
C. If I had ever found out that he had asked for permission, I wouldn’t have married him. I’m not a piece of property.>
I don’t “belong” to my husband. I promised to be true to him in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, and to love and honor him all the days of my life. In other words, I vowed to be his wife.”
What I like about that is the idea of a “blessing” (cuz it’s cool to have your family on board, but no permission because they don’t own you), the idea that dad would say no to “permission” because he respects his daughter’s autonomy (we’ll come back to this one in a bit), and the emphasis that a woman (hell, a person in general) belongs to no one.
The song itself, by MAGIC! doesn’t at any point detail the man’s relationship with his beloved’s family in any regards, so we don’t know for sure if the question is one of blessing or permission (the father does say “blessing,” not sure if they are being used interchangeably). We don’t know how long the couple has been dating, we at no point hear any of the woman’s insights… nothing. There’s not enough to go of off, really. not even enough to actually say if the dad is being outright rude or just asserting the honest view he was asked for. Which is commendable even though his answer should have been to call up his daughter and say “hey, did you know this was going to happen? How would you like me to proceed?” But of course, given that the daughter is the absent character, she could be the one asking him to say no! And wouldn’t that just through a big monkey wrench in your plan Mr. Singer?
So let’s look at the “response” shall we? The first thing we need to keep in mind is that this response makes some assertions about the song that are non-canonical.
The biggest assertions being made that are not supported by the song are that this is the first time the father is meeting the boyfriend and that the boyfriend has a dead end job. There is nothing to support those assertions in either the song or the song’s video (even though music videos barely count as canonical).
I can, in some ways, understand why the father would be mad that he has never met this guy before. I do know several parents who met their children’s spouse on the actual wedding day, but that was because distance had prevented it, not because they were kept apart. Those parents do wish they had had more time to get to know their new in-law, but have all been happy that their child has found someone to make them happy. Of course, the song does say the singer “got in his car” and presumably made it there in a reasonable amount of time, which would rule out distance as the reason the two have not met.
The father wants the man to have a better job than “flipping burgers,” which in some ways is fair. The official music video (barely canonical, remember) makes it seem like it is a lower-class man asking a wealthier family if they can marry their daughter. That makes the “no” seem rather classist. The “no, not while you’re just flipping burgers,” is almost certainly classist. It’s hard to pinpoint why this is a problem because we aren’t given more information. I’m a college-educated woman who at one point was conversational in Russian and I had to spend a year and a half working in a grocery store for barely more than minimum wage because that was the only job I could get. For all we know, this dude is in the same situation. Maybe he is working this kind of job while he saves up for school. Maybe he really enjoys what he does and the woman has a lucrative enough career and is ok being the breadwinner. My dad’s not going to say “no, don’t marry Manbeast because he’s working retail part-time,” we’re in a competitive job market where not even having a master’s is a guarentee of gainful employment. If “flipping burgers” is supposed to symbolize to us that this man is unworthy of a spouse because he’s lazy and lacking ambition, the current economic climate makes it impossible to extrapolate that just from the fact that he works fast food! (And then there’s the assumption that it’s fast food. I knew a kid who worked full time as a burger cook… at his parent’s gourmet restaurant.)
In the actual song, there isn’t really anything to suggest the father is being rude. He’s answering a question honestly and as stupid as I may think the question is, I also believe that if you ask a question you should expect and be grateful for an honest answer. Likewise, I don’t believe that the father in the rebuttal is being rude either… because he jumped that fucking fence and slide down a hill into “why you gotta make me take a restraining order out against you” territory. Aside from threatening to punch the guy in the face, he also says he’ll make him “go away” if the singer marries the daughter. Is this family rich because they’re the fucking mafia? If the answer is yes, the singer guy should feel blessed that he was told no and run far away (and make sure to take his favorite horse with him). Listen, father, you may not like this guy but threatening bodily harm and death are seriously not cool. If this singer asks your daughter to marry him and she says yes, you are totally obligated to show up and support her happily. You’re obligated to do that if he’s flipping burger, if you’ve never met him, and even if he turns out to be an abusive fuckface. You know why? Because if that latter is where that relationship is going (and there’s nothing to suggest that) it’s important to know that abusers like to isolate their victims. Support systems are crucial. Support systems are crucial period! If this guy and your daughter get engaged you should grin and bear it because otherwise you risk losing your daughter! You risk her not trusting or respecting you, you risk her pulling away, and you risk her not coming to you when things go wrong. Say “no” if that’s your honest answer, but if it happens anyways put on your best begrudged face and show up. You don’t have to give them money, you don’t have to like the guy, but if you’re a decent parent you should stand by your kid and say “I trust you know what you’re doing, but I’m here for you either way.”
At least, that’s the kind of parenting I needed while I was embroiled in an abusive relationship. It’s not the kind of parenting I got though, and now I don’t trust my parents to be a part of my life.
One final gripe I had with the rebuttal was the actual video. The guy clearly has talent, there is nothing wrong with filming while playing guitar on the couch. There’s nothing wrong with including your wife in the video/song. However it was incredible distracting (and a little unprofessional) to have her folding laundry in the background. I wondered if she even knew what her husband was doing. I know chores have to get done whatever way they can but I think she either should have sat with her husband like she was an actual contributor on the project or took the laundry out of the camera frame.
If I were the daughter in question… well after all this I would not be endeared to either my father or would be fiance. I’d probably leave both of them, to be quite honest. Respecting my autonomy and respecting my decisions are both awesome things that I will remember down the road. They will be helpful in creating a lasting marriage and making sure Dad get’s put in a nice nursing home.
Thumbs down to both the original song and the retort