MAYBE it’s that the lyrics are so tired and basic that I’m having a hard time being inspired, moved towards the cause, but I’m only a minute into Charli XCX’s video for “Break the Rules” and I’m already bored. Girls storm through a hallway wearing slutty takes on your average Catholic school uniform, looking like the girls who skip chem class just so they can learn how to roll a really nice joint instead. They dance, bellies out, in an empty school bus, ripping up homework they probably didn’t finish. “I don’t wanna go to school/ I just want to break the rules,” sings 23-year-old Charli through dark lips, just before ducking into Trashy Lingerie on La Cienega for a daytime dress-up party.
This is supposed to look more fun than stimulating your brain in the hopes of perhaps getting into an Ivy League school and becoming a chick who really runs the world (known in some circles as a #GIRLBOSS)? You have your whole life to be a boring skank, why rush towards it before you at least secure a solid GPA? Sure, I probably sound like my mother, but, you know what? Sometimes my mom was right.
The whole thing got me thinking about negative attitudes towards education in pop culture and its impact on the kids who are its primary consumers. A few weeks ago Rihanna “stirred a controversy” or whatever about putting her hand on her crotch (you rebel, you) under leggings emblazoned with “school kills” stitched onto a cigarette pack. She tweeted out the picture with the redundant (and grammatically incorrect) accompanying phrase “school. kills.” — surely to the delight of pervs everywhere and young girls looking for an excuse to drop-out of high school because, meh, they’re just not feeling it; they want to break the rules like their favorite celebrity role model does.
The fact that this qualifies as news and that I have retained it disturbs me greatly. The fact that it possibly might have resonated with kids who don’t know anymore disturbs me greater still.
Of course celebrities are just people, and they’re entitled to do what they want and hold the opinions they want. The expectation to act as a role model just because you got lucky in a creative field of what is ultimately self-expression seems unfair. But if you’re going to inspire the young masses — either by your droll tweets out to millions of bored fans, or your lame music video for a song whose lyrical limitations make me think you should have spent just a few more hours in lit class — to really break rules, to be an anarchist, to fight against whatever it is anyone living in a consumerist developed nation is wont to fight against, at least make the alternative to following the straight and narrow interesting.
It’s the least you can do.