"Talk Dirty": From mutual respect to no respect

The Balkan Beat Box is a very unique and highly acclaimed band that takes elements, both traditional and modern, from many cultures to create their sound.  Their musical influences include Klezmer, Balkan, Gypsy Punk, Electronica and Middle Eastern Traditional music.

They collaborate with musicians from many places and backgrounds. While most of their music is fun dance-type music, it also includes commentary on society and political issues. They try to make everyone aware of how power works in the world, and the effects of money on politics. They work hard to promote peace and understanding in the Middle East and all around the world.

Sadly most people do not know The Balkan Beat Box exists. They do know some of their music however. Jason Derulo samples the Balkan Beat Box’s song “Hermetico” in the popular song “Talk Dirty”. To put it lightly, this song does not stand for the same things that The Balkan Beat Box does. The song is instead racist, misogynistic and promotes behavior that is highly questionable.

“Talk Dirty” is about how the singer has sex with multiple women while traveling abroad. Derulo does not act very respectfully towards these women.  For example in the song he says, “Sold out arenas, you can suck my penis… Got it saved in my phone under ‘Big Booty’.” These lyrics clearly show that he is not respecting the women that he is interacting with. He does not even call the girl “she”, instead calling her “it”.

The song also includes the line at the end “What? I don’t understand!” This line is said by an infantilized, stereotypically Asian sounding woman, and the racist way this line is presented is troubling. But this line and other lines like it in the song are troubling for another reason.  How can these women who don’t even understand what Derulo is saying be consenting to performing sexual acts with him?

Consent is vital to any sexual interaction and the most important thing when getting consent is verbal communication and a clear understanding of what each party is agreeing to. Without this understanding and verbal communication, consent cannot be given, which means that the interactions taking place in this song should be classified as rape.

I recently heard “Talk Dirty” being used at a Chatham event by a group of Chatham women and this saddened me deeply. I hope that in the future we will all take a moment to consider what kind of messages are in the songs that we choose to promote or even listen to.

Whether the songs are taking something from another culture and using it poorly or they are talking about women in a degrading manner it is important for us here at Chatham to choose our entertainment in a conscious manner. What we each do affects the world. Let’s make that effect a positive one.