There are many things to enjoy about Little Mix's new single "Shout Out To My Ex". It's a good old fashioned declaration of personal strength in the wake of a shitty break-up, a middle finger to a wasteman following the proud lineage of, say, "I Will Survive" and "Since U Been Gone".
Last weekend, they performed it on X Factor in a much less coy 'Mean Girls do the Winter Talent Show' sort of way; stomping around the stage like four militant choreographers in a theatre school, flanked by a troupe of dancers in thigh high boots and oversized tees brandishing the struck-through names of previous lovers (the shirts are pulled off and tossed aside during the crescendo, because what is revenge pop without an aggressive visual metaphor).
I remember watching it and noting how much fun they were having (or at least pretending to be having), how whoever was in charge of wardrobe lowkey shunned heteronormativity by having the dancers wear shirts with other girls names on them, and how it's an all-round great song despite sounding a lot like G.R.L.'s "Ugly Heart" and every chorus Taylor Swift has ever had a hand in writing. Which is weird, because a lot of other people with eyes and ears apparently missed all of that and saw four "prostitutes" in "stripper outfits" who were being "too provocative" for British television.
For days now, Twitter has been flooded with comments about how these bunch of "hoes" must have "forgotten the bottom halves of their outfits". In an interview with the Sunday People, Mel actual C professed her love for Little Mix but said it's a shame that "they are getting more provocative". As the member of the group wearing the least while in possession of the most curves, Jesy of course received the most comment: 'Jesy Nelson turns Little Vixen in PVC for X Factor sex kitten transformation', 'Jesy Nelson flaunts her peachy posterior in sexy latex bodysuit after X Factor performance', 'thank god Jessie [sic] had a full wax could almost see her lunch in those hooker outfits the girls almost had on' - that sort of thing.
People seemed incredibly mad at a bunch of 23 to 25-year-olds for wearing some clothes and having a nice time. There must have been something I wasn't understanding? I sat with this information for a while. I took out my phone again and again. I scrolled through my news feed of unsolicited takes about the their performance, tabloids regurgitating the ongoing Twitter vitriol in real time, footage from an episode of Loose Women in which they dedicated an entire segment to debating the Little Mix performance, despite the fact it is essentially four professionals emulating what we see at 2am in every single club from Oceana to Corsica Studios on a Saturday night.
I was amazed. I was certain we laid this matter to rest three smooth years ago, just after Miley Cyrus birthed the age of the thinkpiece by turning 21-years-old and dry humping a mattress. Surely it was understood then – if not before, through the power of biology and observation – that teenage girls with bodies will become young women with bodies? Did we not concede some time ago that women should be able to wear whatever they want while doing their jobs? I am certain we did, and yet here we are, freshly disgusted that four humans with boobs did not "cover up" enough for a "family show" – just as we were in 2013, and 1993, and also 1963. You know, in the good old days when we weren't in the EU, there was no Equal Pay Act, and everyone was excited about the new Doctor Who. You know... kinda like how things are right now.
All of this simmered in the back of my mind while I perused the rest of the news: a surge in far-right politics across Europe, the pound slumping to a 168-year low, Thatcher being voted the worst UK prime minister in the last 100 years just after her heir Theresa May waltzes into office unelected – and, eventually, I came to a conclusion. I dropped my phone to the floor. I realised... Time is literally moving backwards. The universe has contracted.
I walked into my kitchen to get a drink, calm my nerves, and it was already happening; the stagnant water in the sink was slowly returning to the taps. I attempted to pour milk on a bowl cereal, get my blood sugar going, but everything flew back into the cupboards as if at the behest of a poltergeist Mary Poppins. I looked out the window and briefly saw a shit shoot straight back up a cat's arse, from a previously stationary position.
Am I going mad? I looked back at my phone...
We have regressed, the arrow of time has reversed, the Big Crunch has begun. Glass will be unbroken and the dead will rise again. We are doomed to elect the first black president of the United States only for him to be succeeded by a 70-year-old xenophobic member of the NRA who is shit at business; to watch Rick Astley and Robbie Williams scale the charts in 2016; to yell "yaaaass slaaaay!" at some pop stars for their forays into feminism and "SLAGS" at others for showing their legs. We have entered a wormhole like Donnie Darko pranging out at a house party and will continue to journey deeper and deeper into the past until we either blow up the internet or forget what it is and trolling is replaced by thousands of furious virgins booing at strangers for no reason.
Either that, or we are just really shit.
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