English Comp. 101
August 7, 2013
Love According to Macklemore
On July 18th, 2012 a song titled “Same Love” was released by an up-and-coming new hip-hop artist named Macklemore. Macklemore has recently reached number one on The Billboard Hot 100 with his song “Thrift Shop” and his voice has become very influential to his mainstream fan base. “Same Love” was recorded during the campaign for Washington Referendum 74, which legalized same-sex marriage in Washington State in 2012. The song has peaked at number eleven on The Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and has reached number one in Australia and New Zealand. “Same Love” is the first song about same sex marriage and equality to ever reach the top forty on The Billboard Hot 100. Macklemore effectively uses Pathos, Logos, and Ethos to communicate to anti-gay individuals and groups, including the hip-hop genre, that homosexuals deserve the same rights as everyone else. He does so by informing social media and hip-hop music that words like “faggot” and “gay”, even when used synonymously with “lame” or “not cool”, promote hatred and discrimination. Essentially every line, verse, or word in the song expresses to his audience not only through emotion but also ethically and even logically about his desire for equal rights and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Macklemore’s strongest approach to his audience, which includes anti-gay as well as pro-gay supporters, through his song “Same Love” is undeniably through emotion. The first line in this song puts the listener right in his shoes as a child. “When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay/ 'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight/ I told my mom, tears rushing down my face/ She's like ‘Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k ‘ trippin…” (Macklemore, 1-4). Here he points out the stereotypes associated with homosexuals. He goes on to say “Bunch of stereotypes all in my head/ I remember doing the math like, ‘Yeah, I'm good at little league’/ a preconceived idea of what it all meant” (6-8). In the music video it shows a scene of his gay uncle playing football as a kid, which is commonly thought of as a heterosexual behavior. Macklemore is conveying to his audience that these are false predispositions associated with homosexuality and that stereotypes are very commonly untrue and can be hurtful.
The chorus of the song also has a strong emotional impact on its listeners. Repeatedly, the featuring artist Mary Lambert sings “And I can’t change/ even if I tried/ even if I wanted to” and later “My love/ she keeps me warm” (19-31). This chorus, especially because it is unexpectedly introduced by a female voice, has the potential to emotionally connect with a large audience. Most people have experienced the desire to change something about their identities for which they have been judged. Whether it is because of one’s appearance, race, or skin color, everyone knows the inexplicable feelings of love for another person, and the feelings of safety that come with love. Macklemore’s emotional impact is particularly felt toward the end of the song as he says, “When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart/ a world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are”(68-69). Here he is demonstrating how culture’s bigotry and rejection toward anyone different than the norm is leading to young children being so ashamed of who they are that they actually commit suicide. Through these lyrics he attempts to make the listener feel sorry for the kids who are struggling with their identity. A strong sense of sadness is felt here in effort to persuade his audience to be more sympathetic toward such youths. Macklemore’s emotional impact is felt strongly, but he also uses an ethical approach to get his message across.
A huge force in the oppression of gay rights is religion. Macklemore does not neglect to bring up religion versus equality and he uses some well-written words in his song to counter the conservative religious views on homosexuality. “’God loves all his children’ is somehow forgotten/ but we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago” (16-17). Here Macklemore speaks of how the conservative, religious oppressors of equal rights paraphrase the Bible to preach that homosexuality is wrong. However, their logic is flawed because the Bible has been interpreted in countless ways and the text is dated. Surely, the principles and levels of morality and understanding have drastically changed over almost four thousand years. Macklemore bluntly argues against the religious belief that homosexuality is a choice or a curable disease by saying “The right wing conservatives think it's a decision/ and you can be cured with some treatment and religion/ man-made rewiring of a predisposition/ playing God” (11-14). He continues on to speak of the hate some churches preach. “Live on and be yourself/ when I was at church they taught me something else/ if you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed/ that holy water that you soak in has been poisoned” (45-49). Clearly, he expresses his disapproval of any church preaching hatred. Macklemore is trying to make his listeners understand that promoting hate is immoral and unethical. While religion continues to oppress the equal rights movement, we have learned from logic of our past that human rights will prevail.
While there is a fine line between logic and personal opinion, Macklemore does mention some facts that may possibly appeal to his listeners on a logical standpoint. “A culture founded from oppression…” (36) and later “It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion/gender to skin color the complexion of your pigment/ the same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins/ It's human rights for everybody there is no difference!” (41-44). As the lyrics are spoken the music video shows clips of Martin Luther King Jr. and bombs exploding in war. Macklemore conflates Black Civil Rights with Gay Rights and uses the lyrics here to logically explain our nation’s history with human rights movements. He is sending the message that it was not okay to treat African Americans as a less than equal minority back then, and that it is not okay to treat the gay community in the same manor today. Macklemore also argues against the logical standpoint of the religious groups that think homosexuality is a curable disease as mentioned earlier.
Whether a supporter of gay marriage or not, many would argue Macklemore’s message in “Same Love” was heard loudly and clearly by social media. He even appeals to heterosexual listeners when he explains that, although he may not be gay, he strongly supports equal rights for all “I might not be the same, but that’s not important/ no freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it” (52-53). One could also argue that this song of hope for human rights has effectively aided in the passing of the Washington Referendum 74, and perhaps even the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Macklemore knows that those small victories are just a stepping-stone to full equality when he mentions “A certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all/ but it’s a damn good place to start…” (70-71). He also acknowledges the fact that there is still a long way to go by saying “No law is gonna change us/ we have to change us” (72-73). Nonetheless, he leaves his listeners with a strong message of hope that reaches out to the religious oppressors “whatever god you believe in/ we come from the same one/ strip away the fear/ underneath it’s all the same love/ about time that we raised up” (74-78). The song ends by echoing his influential message with a verse that he took from the Bible “Love is patient/ love is kind” (Corinthians 13:4).
1 Corinthians. Holy Bible. N.p.: Collins Bible, 2001. Print. Haggerty, Ben, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert. Same Love. Macklemore. Rec. 2012. 2012. CD.