Satire is dead. Satire is dead and we have killed him. On Tuesday, the Ying Yang Twins are coming to Yale.
I don’t know why the Ying Yang Twins were invited, and I don’t know why there isn’t more outrage. But they really were invited; they really will perform. I can’t stop them. All I can do is reflect on what they say about us. In a way, it’s appropriate that the Ying Yang Twins were selected, because they constitute the apotheosis of our generation’s sexuality, music and feminism.
Some have described the Ying Yang Twins’ music as overtly sexual. This is a mistake. There’s nothing sexual about it. A better word for it and for contemporary patterns of desire would be masturbatory. The Ying Yang Twins evidence no sexuality — no desire for union or intercourse with another. No woman is the object of their love or lust. Rather, in every song, the only object of desire is the male orgasm and attendant ejaculation. A woman is just the most convenient means to that autoerotic end. But fundamentally, neither twin can differentiate a woman from his own right hand.
The Ying Yang Twins’ popularity is symptomatic of our generation’s crippled sexuality. They are little different from the man who chooses a hook-up and refrains from learning her name or speaking to her the day after. The case for him is the same — libidinal release is the only desired end, for which any orifice may provide the justified means.
The musical abominations which are the Ying Yang Twins indicate something of the artistic degradation of our culture. Leaving aside their misogyny for a moment, there is no compensating value to their music, which is repetitive, obnoxious and uninteresting. “Salt Shaker” has, literally, two notes. One theme predominates — in an impressive combination of narcissism and phallus worship, every song informs us of the artists’ fixation on their own penises, a fixation privy to which they wish to make the whole world. Art happens at the intersection of the Apollonian and the Dionysian, where bestial urges are informed by human artifice. But there is nothing of art to be found in their droning, predictable, crunk rap-boilerplate lyrics and chords. There is only the throbbing Dionysian urge, never informed, moved, redirected or perfected by human artifice.
What is most surprising, however, is the sudden evaporation of our campus’ feminism. The real ones, of course, have not evaporated. Those hard cores, who read N.T. Nuyen and populate the Women’s Center, continue to be outraged. By the run-of-the-mill Yale feminist is hardly to be found.
We have performed an impressive feat of intellectual hypocrisy. The Ying Yang Twins’ invitation reveals our campus’ faux-feminism. We insist on advertising pro-choice sympathies in section, in joining the right Facebook groups, voting for the progressive candidates and telling those wretched evangelicals to keep their hands off of our bodies. But when feminism demands more than calling George Bush ’68 a fascist and wearing cute shirt, it is silently abandoned. When it’s politically fashionable, Eli will militate for reproductive rights, but he won’t decline to grind to “Beat da pussy up, beat da pussy up!” lest he look like a square. Like the upper-middle class suburban mother who donates to the NAACP while trying to make sure no real-life black people get too close to her, Yale men will do everything to advertise their feminism short of actually demanding respect for women. It is clear that what dictates the feminist conscious of this campus — both at its best and its worst — is less a commitment to an ideal than a commitment to fashion.
It’s true that ours is a culture in which people are too quick to compete for the title of Most Offended. For that reason, I appreciated Avinash Gandhi’s ’10 little satire (“Reason to protest,” April 14). But the fact that a boy cries wolf too much doesn’t mean there are no wolves. Leprechauns are not an offensive Irish stereotype, but lyrics like, “Make that pussy fart for the Ying Yang Twins … The home of the fifth red bones and big butts, has been bitches splittin’ all over the floo,” are wildly, wildly offensive, however much the word may be overused.
Oscar Wilde once said that “All art is immoral.” If he meant that art shouldn’t be preachy, that it doesn’t exist to make us moral people, then I agree. But the problem with the Ying Yang Twins isn’t that they are amoral, but that they preach on behalf of anti-morality. They create nothing interesting, nothing beautiful, nothing profound. All they do is appeal to our worst instincts.
When Ying Yang Twins take the stage, do something. Throw food, hiss, leave. People like them deserve to be stigmatized, frightened, told clearly that they will never be given any respect by respectable society.
While Old Campus throbs in celebration of an adolescent, predatory masturbation, I will sit in Davenport courtyard, smoke a pipe, listen to Beethoven and read Shakespeare, shutting my eyes to a cause and embodiment of the degradation of my generation.
Matthew Shaffer is a senior in Davenport College.