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Is Good Art Subtle? T-Pain and the Delicacy of “Reverse Cowgirl”

21 Mar 2010

Just a suggestion: T-Pain is not subtle. He “f**ked a mermaid” and sang about it, after all. Here, he pulls no punches with the name of this one song called, uh, “Reverse Cowgirl.” For god’s sake, these are lyrics:

Just put it in Reverse Cowgirl
Get it up, get it up, pump it up girl
Set it up, set it up
I like how you do it, do it, do it
Just put your hands in the air
Wave ’em around and go yee haw, yee haw

But it’s the music video that really gets to me, though. For all the pumping and rodeo yee-hawing, the video is an oddly obscure piece of work. It features a T-Pain singing amid the fog, breaking flower vases and women dancing in flowing outfits. The footage is occasionally — and geniusly — reversed. Watch it below:

So unusually subtle (and it’s not even, really) that it’s refreshing. Ah, reminds me of the good ol’ days. Don’t you remember back when music and art would slyly and charmingly allude to these naughty things and we’d chuckle at having made the connection? Yeah, me neither.

But in all seriousness, there was a time when all that I spoke of truly happened. A magical time, a time long lost. I present to you Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as glorious evidence. Not the modern Burton-Depp adaptation, that movie being overtly creepy and unsubtle in all senses, but the 1971 version with Gene Wilder:

The old guys clearly got by with hilarious innuendos just fine. But this is a new generation now. You don’t have to scour garage sales and used bookstores to catch a glimpse of titty mags anymore. In fact, if all forms of mainstream content regulation were to be removed, I’d bet some artists would jump right into pornography. They’re only about two inches of fabric away, after all. But I suppose people like to pretend that’s a huge distinction. What are you anyway, like a pervert or something?

Have relaxed censorship laws seen the birth of a new vulgar norm in art and entertainment? Is the subtle preferable to the obvious? What do you think? Make your comments heard below.

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