discussing vanity, aka Denise Matthews

81981636cc7898d253789e83579f8692Alex Abramovich and Emily Barton at The Paris Review:

Which brings us in a roundabout way to “the question of whether [Nasty Girl] is ultimately a song about power.” You write: “I think it is, and actually a pretty smart one, in that it doesn’t assert either of the easy sides of the argument (i.e., either the gazer or she who holds the gaze being empowered) but ricochets between them, which may be why there’s that infinite regression in who’s imagining what in the song’s set up.” That’s beautifully phrased, and just right: infinite regression, and the ensuing layers of ambiguity—aren’t those the very reasons it’s taking us two days, and six thousand words, to decode a song that takes five minutes to listen to (that is, if you’re able to listen to it just once!)? If you’ll allow me one more tangent, is it a coincidence infinite regression, and neurotic self-awareness/reflexivity, are also the concerns of some of the more interesting writers working today?

“Drive Me Wild” is another good song to bring into the mix. (I’m curious: Why are you more willing to ascribe authorship to Moonsie than Matthews?) You’d have to rope in R. Kelly—“Girl you remind me of my Jeep, I want to ride it”—to come up with a better example of woman-as-commodity fetish. And, like R. Kelly’s song, this one strikes me as especially sad. Look, Moonsies is saying. I know you’re going to objectify me no matter what I do or say, so I’m going to beat you to the punch and objectify myself. The world this song is describing is a world in which no one really looks into another’s eyes, except to catch their own reflection. And what the song has in common with “Nasty Girl” (or, at least, the interpretation of “Nasty Girl” we seem to be working toward) is internalization, bred of an anticipation which may or me not be rooted in some form of something a more religious man might call despair.

more here.