Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”: First Amendment Anthem or FCC Hypocrisy?

A few months back I wrote about Lady Gaga and Flo Rida and their pathetic attempts to use symbolism and innuendo in their songs. I said my piece and felt content with my argument. But then Rihanna had to come along with “Rude Boy”–the most overtly sexual song I’ve heard on the radio since Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You.” There’s no metaphor in play with “Rude Boy.” It’s a catchy and bright pop song about getting it on. And I dig it. Yes Rihanna, I would like to be your Captain.

This weekend I probably heard the song no less than ten times on the radio. It’s a big song for her right now. But around the eightieth spin, I found it odd that a song so blatantly about sex was embraced by radio and the FCC. Rihanna croons in the chorus, “can you get it up/are you big enough” and begs to “take it” repeatedly.  She’s going to “give it to you harder,” but then wants her man to “give it to her like boom boom boom.” All great stuff. Favorite line from the bridge: “I like the way you touch me there/I like the way you pull my hair/baby if I don’t feel it/I’m not faking it.”

You see, she gave me what I wanted. At the end of that last post I asked for artists to just do away with the corniness and say what they’re really implying. I even referenced “Birthday Sex” as a great example of straight shooting. But ya see, people must of had a problem with that word sex because “Birthday Sex” eventually became ‘birthday shhhhh.’ Just another victim of the FCC.

Back to “Rude Boy,” which is pretty tame when you consider the litany on sex-based songs out there. It’s like R. Kelly for beginners. This is why “Rude Boy” has been successful. The song doesn’t contain one of the “seven words” and it doesn’t hide behind silly innuendo. Sex sells. And if you keep your sexiness within the rules of the FCC, as Rihanna proves, you can flaunt it and go into as much detail as you’d like. But here’s where she’s smart. Not once does she say the word “sex.” She describes her emotions, says what’s on her mind and describes certain acts, but never is sexual intercourse explicitly mentioned by name. It’s all about plausible deniability.

“Rude Boy” is an anomaly in today’s over-sensitized and censored culture. By the FCC’s antiquated standard, “Rude Boy” is perfectly clean. The FCC will censor out the word “ass” and any allusions to drug use in other songs, but a song that clearly describes a sex act in proper Queen’s English is free to be played to death on the radio because of its diction. Context, slang or social impact play no role in the FCC’s censorship guidelines. There are words on a list. You use one of those words, you get censored.

So “Rude Boy” gets a pass. She’s protected by the first amendment, and the FCC clearly has no problem with her lyrical content as long as that three letter word isn’t used. Seriously, we’re in the year 2010. If “Rude Boy” can be played uncensored on the radio then why can’t Eminem, Slipknot or Green Day say “fuck” every once in a while as well. What’s the difference between Kanye West saying “suck my dick” and Flo Rida saying “you spin my head right round when you go down”? Nothing. Everyone plays dumb, passes the buck and looks the other way. Call it a double standard or playing within the rules or semantics or whatever. The FCC is a useless organization that panders to it’s supporters and only steps in when the “offended” complain. 2 Live Crew should still be pissed.



Filed under Amateur Analysis, Blog, Music

6 responses to “Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”: First Amendment Anthem or FCC Hypocrisy?

  1. Amanda

    Great post. The song that offends me most on the radio contains neither ‘dirty’ words nor innuendo — it’s that heinous “According to You” or whatever it’s called. Her whole sense of self is wrapped up in some teenybop boy she’s dating/has broken up with? Lame.

  2. Amanda

    Also, I think Rihanna likes toying with FCC guidelines. “Roulette” ?

  3. chefdiesel

    I don’t mind “According to You,” but only because Orianthi shreds on the guitar. Too busy playing air guitar along with it to listen to the lyrics. Great player, weak singer.

  4. gina

    White Houses even got censored! BS

  5. Sharon

    I agree….What pisses me off now is the fact that you get radio stations that bleep out the word “ass” but then will play songs by Kanye West where he’s talking about a girl giving him head with shades on. My 11 year old asked me what that meant! I mean, really?! Do I need to explain to my kids what giving head is to 11 years old?! And then there’s this song by T-Pain ft Lily Allen and he’s saying it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and your feeling so horny…Again, wtf do you say to your kids? I rather my kids know what an ass is than a song talking about sticking something in someone’s ass

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