Sunday, March 1, 2015

@Hozier, Fantine, and Occitocin

I'm listening to Hozier. 

I was alerted to his existence by an acquaintance who told me about his song “Take Me to Church.”  She said she hated the song.  I decided to go listen to it. 

I pull up the music video. Here’s the link

 I immediately hate it.  The idea of promoting gay rights appeals to me, but the not idea of watching innocent people be burned alive.  Still, the voice sticks in my head.  I want to hear it again.

I am drawn to watch the video several times.  I get a bit desensitized to the horrific incident depicted there. I decide to go listen to the album preview on amazon.  I download the album.

I’m listening to it on replay for a while. The first song currently has 27 plays on my iTunes, while the later songs have 16 .  As I listen, I keep bopping around, loving the rhythms, the voices, the harmonies.

But after a while, as I sing along, I start noticing what I’m singing.  OK, this guy doesn’t like the church, but he worships women and sex.  Hmmm.  This isn’t exactly representing my my beliefs.

I look back at the video and listen to the words.  Hozier is singing about a female lover.  He’s not singing about a male lover.  Presumably, he himself is not gay, unlike the couple in the video.  The video doesn’t really go with the words.

I mean the passion and anger go with the video — and the anti-church message — but the songs on the album are clearly about a straight man.

I find an interview with Hozier on YouTube.  He explains that treatment of LGBT people is one of the reasons he feels angry toward the church, yet I don’t see anywhere that he himself is gay.

Someone sends me a link to a video with a Russian ballet dancer done to “Take me to Church.”  Here’s the link.

It is sort of a stereotype that ballet dancers *are* gay — so I imagine that perhaps this dancer, taken by the music and the video, wants to add his enthusiastic contribution.  His video is a lot more appealing than the official video.  It’s done in an idyllic wooded area.  No one is burned alive.  The dancer is talented.

But the actual words of the song, as opposed to the video — and the actual words of more than one of the songs — are on this somewhat unappealing topic: I worship women and sex, but I’m not interested in marriage/commitment.

This is a pretty typical view for an immature, selfish, young man.  Perhaps his personal morality and maturity just aren’t as advanced as the music.  That wouldn’t be too surprising.

My thoughts drift a bit to a couple of other amazing songs, performed  in Les Miz.  “On My Own” and “I Dreamed a Dream.”   Here are some links.

These are songs about women who have had their hearts broken by men. 

The case of the character, Fantine, played by Ann Hathaway in the movie, is much like that of the gay couple in Hozier’s video.  In both cases, we see pompous, self-righteous hypocrites violently brutalizing others in the name of religion, while ignoring those principles of religion that most of us hold most dear: love, forgiveness, tolerance, mercy, and compassion.  In both cases, the brutality of the attackers persuades us that their viewpoint is defective.  The primitive, savage brutality,  which might be thought to be inspired by early scripture, is in fact not what God wants us to be doing here and now.  Art helps us see a truth that naked text fails to reveal.

But there’s something here that doesn’t quite click. 

In fact, Hozier’s attitude toward women seems not so very different from that of the guy who abandoned Fantine to the savagery of vigilantes and, inherently, Cosette to the exploitive greed of the family who takes money in exchange for neglecting her.  He wants to have fun. He doesn’t want to make a commitment. He hates anyone who might be implying that there is something wrong morally with his behavior — or his idea of worshiping sex and women.

Now, we can rationalize.  There are contraceptives and abortion so women don’t have to be left with children who they cannot care for.  In much of the world — though certainly not all — the idea that women who have had premarital sex should be brutalized or killed or even shunned has been abandoned.  The idea that out of wedlock children should be stigmatized for the malfeasance of their parents is also commonly rejected in places that we consider civilized. 

Still, it is not at all uncommon for young women to have their hearts broken by exploitive, young men who are eager for sex and don’t care at all for the consequences.  Hozier and/or his handlers are clever to divert us from that thought, by directing our attention to the case of the poor gay couple in Hozier’s music video, which now has over a hundred million views.

Listening to Hozier’s lyrics over and over, it’s hard for me to believe that the subject matter of the music video was more than a self-interested afterthought.

This leads me back to one of my pet theories, which I talked about in a blog that I see has only 5 views at this point

I believe that our ability to bond to lovers is not infinite.  I believe that we bond most strongly to the first person we have sex with ("the first cut is the deepest"); and that the more people we have sex with, the weaker our ability to bond becomes. 

My own experience is that I could never enjoy anyone else as much as the first one.  Everyone is shaped a bit differently, moves a bit differently, makes different sounds.  No one was ever quite the same as the first one, the one I had bonded to, and therefore could not satisfy me the same way. 

I believe this has to do with the action of the hormone occitocin on the body responsive to certain types of stimulation.

I learned about occitocin during childbirth education.  I had an even stronger, but similar, experience after giving birth to my first child via natural childbirth and nursing him — resulting in even greater release of the hormone occitocin in a particular, life-changing event.

Based on my personal experience and my reading about the action of the hormone occitocin on the body, I believe that people who have casual sex with multiple partners are damaging themselves and their partners -- reducing their ability to bond and have satisfying relationships.  This damage has nothing to do with the vicious actions taken against Fantine in Les Miz.  It’s just the way our bodies are made and how they respond biologically to stimuli.

Despite the beauty of Hozier’s music and the cleverness of the diversion posed by his video, I have to conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong — even perhaps evil — about some of his lyrics.

Addendum 4/19/15

Well, I haven't stopped listening to Hozier.  I still like the music, even tho I have this impression of him as being a self-centered user of women.  One thing that I'm noticing now is the prevalence of the word "sin." It appears that he's troubled at some level by his own behavior and also by the moral teachings he received at a younger age.  I find this a bit encouraging. 

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