Why Macklemore’s Grammy performance left many people questioning the sentiment…and reasons it should not matter.
If it were a category, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis would have won “Most Hated Group Post Grammys”.
Following the 56th annual awards show this past Sunday, many viewers are not only disagreeing with the hip hop duo’s takeover of the rap categories but also the intentions of their “Same Love” performance. The performance-turned-matrimonial ceremony televised the joining of 33 couples in marriage, but not without objections.
“Same Love” is described as a response to experiences and observations to the LGBT community, namely the treatment of gay culture in hip-hop and support for same sex marriage. Also featuring singer-songwriter Mary Lambert’s chorus of “she keeps me warm”, the song interplays between her personal struggle and Macklemore’s injected thoughts. While some may be as bold to consider “Same Love” an LGBT anthem, the song merely discusses equal rights.
And cue the backlash. Wait, what does Macklemore know about gay inequality as a male, straight, white rapper? Why does he believe he can shape the beliefs of the queer community? Why are people supporting him using his image as a straight ally by appropriating and commercializing LGBT issues? Why does Macklemore wear his granddad’s clothes?
Although valid questions, what permits a person to speak about – not necessarily for – an LGBT issue? When did support become controversial, and why does supporting automatically equate to appropriating or commercializing?
Although many people will be quick to consider Macklemore a man of privilege, that does not mean that he should not be criticized for commenting on gay rights, especially when in favour. Further, that certainly does not mean he is automatically using the LGBT community for profit. With this type of binary thinking, men should not be able to care about women’s issues or white people about slavery. Yes, that is meant to sound ridiculous, and thinking in this way about LGBT rights is no different.
As a successful musician, Macklemore has a significant reach that allows him to easily bring attention to whatever he chooses. Although it is ideal that those actually experiencing inequality speak for themselves, it becomes clear that this is not always possible.
In her response to the performance, Youtuber Arielle Scarcella, who identifies as a lesbian, sees the necessity for allies, gay or straight and the problems that arise from presenting support: “whether we want to believe it or not, gay people still have a very long wait to go [for equality] and criticizing allies for not doing it perfectly is not going to get you there any faster […] you don’t have to understand what it is like, to understand what is right”.
Val Pepin, Co-Coordinator of the Western LGBT organization Get Real, does not see any issue in the Grammy performance either. “Who cares if he gets extra attention? What is important are the actions he took. That performance was amazing, and speaks wonders about the movement for marriage equality.”
Beyond Macklemore’s distracting arm swinging, my attention during the Grammy performance fixated on the commitments that were made and the love that was shown regardless of race, sex, and sexual orientation or attraction. The support shown for these couples was louder than anything Macklemore could have said. The action of saying “I do” spoke for itself.
OPENWIDE Staff Writer Leah Lalich is a fifth year English student who’s two-times with MPI (third year). She writes on thewildvibes.com and talks on CHRW’s The Wild Vibes about her spontaneous music obsessions. She once saw John Stamos on a plane and he thought she was pretty.