Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Domestic Violence is So Mainstream

Have you heard the new song "Many of Horror" by Biffy Clyro?

Have you even heard of Biffy Clyro?

If not, I don't blame you. I only recently became aware of this Scottish band, and that was due solely to AltNation on XM radio. Upon hearing this song, I just sort of rolled my eyes because their general feel gave me a way too strong Nickleback or Daughtry vibe. Blech.

Upon actually listening to the lyrics, I was a bit worried. Here's the opening and the beginning of the refrain:

You say "I love you boy"
But I know you lie.
I trust you all the same
And I don't know why.

'Cause when my back is turned,
My bruises shine.
Our broken fairytale,
So hard to hide.

I still believe,
It's you and me
till the end of time.

When we collide we come together,
If we don't, we'll always be apart.
I'll take a bruise I know you're worth it.
When you hit me, hit me hard.

Those are some pretty disturbing lyrics to me. I'm trying to find a way to view them that doesn't invoke images of domestic violence, but it's really hard. It seems to capitalize on the myth that violence perpetrated against men by women is no big deal. I mean, he'll take the bruise, he knows she's worth it.


If we imagined that lyric sang by a woman instead of a man, most people would be deeply disturbed. Fact of the matter is that we have got to take a stand against all forms of violence. Excusing a woman who batters a man is not only incredibly dangerous for all men, but it also perpetuates stereotypes about what it means to be a "real" man and the idea that women are weak, defenseless little things. Yes, we all know men are, on average, physically larger and strong than women. But does that mean that protections against violence should only be extended to women?


Unfortunately, if the popularity of Nickleback and Daughtry are any indication of the public's tendency embrace shitty rock ballads, Biffy Clyro isn't going anywhere, regardless of their DV message or not. I guess I'll just be a one woman protest by turning the dial when this tripe comes on.


  1. To be fair, this is what the band says the song is about, but I don't buy it...

    "Lyrically it's about being so madly in love that you can't live without someone, yet you clearly just want to kill each other sometimes. The good and bad sides of being in love," he explained to one interviewer, before telling another "the whole record is kind of about my whole relationship with my wife and family."

  2. Hi, I found this post because I love the song and only just properly listened to the whole lyric and realised it had a possible domestic violence interpretation, and Googled it for other people's reaction to that.

    I have to say, I find your response to the song overly simplistic and literal.

    First of all, I actually thought the song is perhaps intended to be sung from the woman's point of view; interpreting the first line as "You say, 'I love you', boy", as opposed to "You say, 'I love you, boy'", flips the perspective of the entire song. But regardless of who the abused party is, I don't see why telling the sad story of a damaging relationship from which one party really should walk away but can't bring themselves to because they are trapped by their own feelings should necessarily be seen as excusing or condoning the abusive behaviour, or saying that such as situation is OK. The fact is that this stuff happens, all too commonly, and a piece of art which offers a window into such a relationship - which is how I have come to see the song - should not be automatically assumed to be condoning it. Whether or not the song is sung from a male or female perspective, it is not necessarily sung from the perspective of the singer's own reality, and when lines appear to contain implicit value judgements such as "I'll take a bruise, I know you're worth it" they should not be attributed to the song or the singer. Again, this stuff does happen in real life, so there are evidently people in abusive relationships that do take that view of their partners, and in my view that makes it a valid line.

    Secondly, it's entirely possible that the bruises and "hitting" are intended to be taken metaphorically. That's common in lyrics, and this reading tallies with the writer's stated intentions for the meaning of the song.


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