Any good piece of art should come with a spectrum of criticism and misunderstanding. A great piece of art should teach us something about others and ourselves. Certainly, the song and accompanying music video WAP by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B fits into these categories. The music is more provocative and the scenery more seductive than most are likely used to experiencing. It’s about female empowerment and glorifies feminine sexuality.
As these have long been hot topics culturally and politically, it comes with obvious criticism to those points. Less foreseen though is the criticism by some of the inclusion of Kylie Jenner into the video. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, both sides of this conversation are making arguments incongruent with their broader philosophies.
Hypocritical Comments From the Right
The most obvious hypocritical statements are those coming from individuals on the political right criticizing the video for lewd lyrics and depictions. Donald Trump’s behavior is actually much worse because these women are making music about themselves, while the President was talking about other people, which make Trump’s comments horribly disrespectful and inappropriate. James Bradley, a congressional candidate in California, deplored the example the two artists were setting for young women. While he also realized this was their freedom of speech, the fact that he is a Republican sets him up for a reasonable question — has he called out Trump for similar commentary? Only making public statements against these women shows the values he claims to be upholding really aren’t his values at all but just a publicity stunt to gain attention and / or appease his supporters.
Critics of these lyrics / images also have to recognize that there are likely thousands of songs performed by male artists with equally explicit lyrics. Attacking this song in particular is a double standard for men and women. With the track record many have on women’s issues, this event is just another attack from the right on women’s rights to express themselves.
Hypocritical Comments From the Left
Perhaps less expected are the critics who believe Kylie Jenner should not have made a cameo in the video. These individuals want to see the video with only women of color and also label Jenner (and the other Kardashian family members) as “culture vultures”. There’s a group that feels so strongly about this, they’ve created a petition with at least 37,000 signatures to have Kylie Jenner removed from the video.
Many groups promote inclusivity of different groups of people, which is fantastic. But you cannot promote inclusivity but also seek to exclude someone because of his or her race. These are the types of responses from the left that turn off individuals in the center or the right who believe in the principles of the movement but not the people who are behind the initiatives. Leading a cause is noble and can only be successful if the values portrayed are truly lived.
Further, culture is meant to permeate society for enjoyment of the group it was created within but also to spread to others who may encounter it. It’s the American principle of a melting pot that enables us as a country to be so unique that while pockets of people practice cultural pieces very close to or the same as where they’ve immigrated from but most people have a mixture of various cultures that provide variety, insight, and joy into their lives. By attacking people for using cultural pieces from those other than their own is against this principle of a melting pot, it is hypocritical (as surely aspects of the critics’ own lives are from another culture), and counter productive to the greater pursuit of cross-culture enjoyment. If these same critics cannot find something in their lives from another culture, they are either not trying hard enough to ignorant to their own beliefs.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have created a great piece of art that people on both sides can’t agree with except to pay attention to and talk about. I applaud them for their creativity, their choices, and their commitment to those choices (Cardi B came out supporting her decision and stating it wasn’t about race). Whether a conversation piece, a quick ear opener, a fast track to cancel culture, or a lasting piece of female empowerment, it’s clear that WAP has the country’s attention and has started many conversations.
Dailymail.com, Glenn Garner For. “Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion Fans Launch Petition for Kylie Jenner to Be Removed from WAP Video.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 8 Aug. 2020, www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-8606339/Cardi-B-Megan-Thee-Stallion-fans-launch-petition-Kylie-Jenner-removed-WAP-video.html.
Jenkins, Craig. “Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘WAP’ Is Hall of Fame Filth.” Vulture, Vulture, 7 Aug. 2020, www.vulture.com/2020/08/cardi-b-megan-thee-stallion-wap-song-review.html.
Mahadevan, Tara C. “Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion Fans Drag GOP Politicians for Criticizing ‘WAP.’” Complex, Complex, 7 Aug. 2020, www.complex.com/music/2020/08/cardi-b-megan-thee-stallion-fans-drag-gop-politicians-criticizing-wap.
Vacco-Bolaños, Jessica. “Cardi B Has A Message For Critics Who Want Kylie Removed From The ‘WAP’ Video.” Elite Daily, Elite Daily, 10 Aug. 2020, www.elitedaily.com/p/cardi-bs-response-to-critics-demanding-kylie-jenners-removal-from-wap-sets-them-straight-31070821.