Whirr2009-06-18
The meloncholy sense of longing for a lover who is too far away.

I was discussing the role of the artist in one's understanding of art, and Blur's 1994 hit Girls and Boys came up (it was the subject line of a friend's email, actually) and it made me actually look at the lyrics for the first time in my life. I was maintaining that, although a lot of one's response to art is purely subjective, there is also an objective component--the artist is (often) conveying meaning, and one's interpretation of the text can simply be wrong.

I realized that this was true for me, regarding Girls and Boys. I've always seen it as a song in celebration of sex, regardless of orientation, prejudice or kink, with the important addendum that it "always should be someone you really love". I've always like it for that reason.

Imagine my surprise to read on Wikipedia that it was a series of "withering putdowns of trendy pansexuality and aimless hedonism satirise the party culture in the UK". I went back and studied the lyrics, and lines like "Following the herd / Down to greece - on holiday", "You are very beautiful / but we haven't been introduced", "Count your thoughts - on one two three four five fingers" and, of course, "You'll get nasty blisters" certainly seem condemnatory.

So that's too bad--I'm certainly ambivalent about mindless sex, but I had rather enjoyed the song as a song about enjoying sex regardless of the social conventions. Instead, it seems more like a reiteration of the "bisexuality is just decadence" bigotry. Which, in 1994, wasn't so surprising. Still, anyone want to cover the song with slightly different lyrics?

In examining the lyrics, I noticed a bunch of other (much more silly) ambiguities which I will put after the "cut", as it were.

Remember, Blur tells you that you should:

Take your chances looking for
1) GIRLS WHO ARE BOYS
2) WHO LIKE BOYS TO BE GIRLS
3) WHO DO BOYS LIKE THEY'RE GIRLS
4) WHO DO GIRLS LIKE THEY'RE BOYS

ALWAYS SHOULD BE SOMEONE YOU REALLY LOVE

My first reading was that:

1) You are looking for girls who are boys. What kind of girls-who-are-boys?
2) The ones who prefer that the boys they have sex with are girls. What kind of girls?
3) The kind of girls who have sex with boys as if they were actually girls, specifically
4) The kind of of girls who have sex with other girls as if they were boys.

Or is it

1) You are looking for girls who are boys.
2) In addition, you look for girls who like boys to be girls.
3) Furthermore, they must have sex with boys as if they were girls.
4) And finally, this girl must also have sex with girls as if they were boys.

Much more simple, but still a bit of a tall order, I fear. There's further confusion, however--these "girl's who like boys to be girls". Is this meant literally? I.E., do they prefer transfolk who are biologically female, but present as male? Or does it mean that the girls prefer boys who enact traditionally female roles in sex play--submissive boys, in other words?

Finally, there's a problem with homophones. Do the girls do boys like they're girls? Or do they do them like their girls? Not, "act like a girl for me!" but, rather, "When we have sex, I will pretend that you are my girl, even though you are not my girl and are, in fact, a boy!" In that reading, it isn't about gender roles at all, but has the rather meloncholy sense of longing for a lover who is too far away, and seeking momentary comfort in the arms of a stranger.

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