Friday, July 13, 2012

Big Girls Don't Cry

Some family and close friends will recognize this rant, as I have articulated it before in person on occasion, but I figured I'd dump it into ye olde obscure blog anyway. It's about the classic 1962 Four Seasons hit, "Big Girls Don't Cry," and how this piece of bubble-gum pop is actually an anthem for abhorrent behavior. Disguised in this bouncy, upbeat piece of musical fluff is a tale of manipulation and emotional cruelty befitting an episode of "Mad Men" (particularly since the show is set in the same time period in which the song was released). First, the obligatory YouTube link to the song:

"Big Girls Don't Cry"--which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 17, 1962 and remained there for five weeks--is an awful song, and not just because much of it is sung in that godforsaken male falsetto that--for reasons beyond my comprehension--was popular during the period. The lyrics are a case study in abhorrent behavior, both from the boy from whose point of view the song is sung, and from the eponymous 'big girl' (as in grown up or mature, not hefty) who is the subject--or should I say victim--of this charming ditty. Feast your eyes on these lyrics (from here):

Big girls don't cry-yi-yi (they don't cry)
Big girls come on cry (who said, they don't cry)
My girl said goodbye-yi-yi (my, oh, my)
My girl didn't cry (I wonder why)

Pretty sure I can offer a theory, but we'll get to that in a minute.

(Silly boy) Told my girl we had to break up
(Silly boy) Thought that she would call my bluff
(Silly boy) Then she said to my surprise
Big girls don't cry

He tells her that he's breaking up with her, for no reason whatsoever, other than the hope of eliciting a dramatic reaction where she bursts into tears and begs him not to leave her. When, to this girl's credit, she refuses to give her boyfriend-turned-agitator the satisfaction of a big, emotional scene, he is surprised! Like he rolled his favorite toy car across the kitchen linoleum, only to find that one of the wheels is stuck.

"Hey, why aren't you writhing on the ground in agony?"
What the fuck is the matter with this kid? Who was he raised by? J.R. Ewing? The Manson Family? Who wakes up one morning and says to themselves, "You know, today I think I'll tell this person I care about deeply (presumably--since they are 'going steady') that I'm ending our relationship. I'll do this for absolutely no reason, except that the reaction I will get out of inflicting this emotional torture on her will provide me with some momentary amusement." I'll tell you who--a goddamn sociopath.

This guy makes Anakin Skywalker look well-adjusted. Where did this little scheme fall into his agenda for that day? Did he decide to stage this scene before or after he tortures feral cats with a cigarette lighter? "Silly boy"? Yeah, if by "silly boy," you actually mean "sadistic freak."

"I may have Force-choked Padme, but I never told her we were breaking up just to fuck with her."
The song continues:
Big girls don't cry-yi-yi (they don't cry)
Big girls come on cry (who said, they don't cry)

Baby, I was cruel (I was cruel)

Baby, I'm a fool (I'm such a fool)

This belated contrition hardly gets him off the hook. He realizes that he was in error, and that he was cruel, but not out of genuine empathy. Rather, because she dumped his sorry ass. She bottled her emotions, kept her dignity, and told him to go fuck himself. He not only didn't get the reaction he wanted, he also lost her for real. He's "sorry" now; not out of remorse for the pain he caused, but because he now has no toy to play with (and nobody to give him a handjob in the back of his parents' Studebaker). Again, sociopath. Empathy doesn't factor in. Other people's feelings aren't real to him. He is the only one who matters.

This girl has had a bad day to this point, but it's not over yet, oh no. She goes home--the one place in the world where she should feel unconditionally safe to express herself--having every rightful expectation of finding solace and acceptance, and instead she gets this:

(Silly girl) Shame on you, your mama said
(Silly girl) Shame on you, you cried in bed
(Silly girl) Shame on you, you told a lie
Big girls do cry

As I see it, here are two possible interpretations for, "shame on you, your mama said." One is that Wannabe Anakin has stepped out of his role as participant, and is now narrating the scene of this awful mother telling her daughter that she should be ashamed for expressing emotion in the wake of this cruel episode.

"Contrary to evidence from the 6,000 years of history since God created the world, vaginas and emotions don't go together."
 The other, even more loathsome, interpretation of this lyric is that he is gloating to her about her crying, having unearthed this fact--inexplicably and unforgivably--in conversation with the girl's own mother! Either way, Mother of the Year is just as bad as Wannabe Anakin. The two make a loathsome pair that deserve each other. Maybe she should date him!

Yes, big girls do, in fact, cry. Then they dry their eyes, move out of the house, find a better boyfriend, get a few piercings, and duck mommy's calls.

"And we haven't even gotten into my issues with daddy."

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait for your analysis of 'Mr. Postman'