( – promoted by Sue Prent)
I’m going to admit, I kind of like the song “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo. Guilty pleasure pop songs rarely have anything to do with politics, but I’ve been on a bit of a mental roadtrip and I think I’ve found a connection between the YOLO zeitgeist (represented here by Tove Lo) and the decline of the American Middle Class that’s important to explore.
Why do so many of us feel the need to “stay high all of the time” like Tove Lo? Hm.
I’ve also finally gotten around to reading Elizabeth Warren’s A Fighting Chance which reminds me so much of elements that were in Fareed Zakaria’s book The Future of Freedom. Isn’t it strange that ten years after Zakaria was describing in plain English how the banks were hosing us all (and even after the economic meltdown) there still hasn’t been a mass movement to overthrow the bankers and the people who have propped them up (#Occupy=#failure)? Odd that the party who took control of both houses of Congress in November just pushed through a budget with measures deregulating the banking industry so they can gamble with complex derivatives and mortgage-backed securities all over again?
Who needs a drink?
So how does this have anything to do with Tove Lo? I’ve been trying to decide if I’m a really bad person/parent for liking this song. “Staying high all of the time doesn’t solve anything!” I want to say. Binge-eating twinkies and mourning failed romantic relationships is keeping Tove Lo and so many of us young and young-ish irresponsible people from voting- let alone rioting in the streets to fight against the unfettered greed that has kept wages low, left so many people in foreclosure and/or medical bankruptcy (thanks for explaining that one better, Sen. Warren), and kept the people at the top getting richer while everyone else gets… well, like, you know.
There’s another way to see Tove Lo’s song, though. If you take it at face value it’s a predictable YOLO formula: “Look at me! I’m sad, gotta get high. At least I look good doing it.”
But WAIT! She doesn’t look good doing it. Look at the video.
She looks miserable. Not just a little miserable. She’s tired, pounding Alka-Seltzer, having no fun partying. Maybe she’s trying to secretly tell all of the kids something that’s been eating at me since I stopped partying and tried to act like a grown-up. Maybe she’s hidden a pearl of wisdom in her pop anthem for anyone who’s ready to scratch the surface and see how messed up it is to encourage the behavior she’s espousing in this dreadful song.
Or maybe she’s just saying, “High is as good as it gets.” Might as well stay high if your love is gone, your job is gone, there’s no one to protect you, the cheap crap you eat is making you fat, you can’t afford the debt that’s eating you and your neighbors alive, etc.
I’m not sure, but it’s catchy… and that video really got me thinking.