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February 23, 2024, 12:35:03 PM

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White Woman's Instagram

Started by Barry Admin, May 30, 2023, 11:31:51 PM

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Barry Admin

Jesus Christ, it's really fucking brilliant, isn't it?


It just struck me a few weeks ago how insanely good it was, and I had an urge to watch it again now.  Lots of stuff I'd never fully appreciated before or which just flew past me like "may contain wine", "Beyonce is my spirit animal", a bobblehead of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"Latte foam art... tiny pumpkins... fuzzy, comfy socks"

It's just so on the nose, I adore it.


cakeinmilk

I went through several phases with the song, first just enjoying it at face value, how on-the-nose it was, then concern it was a return the misogyny of early Burnham, then "oh, maybe it's about one woman who is finding a way to connect with her dead mother" before finally settling on it being a satire of the commodification of life.

I enjoy it very much.

Barry Admin

Quote from: cakeinmilk on May 30, 2023, 11:43:36 PMI went through several phases with the song, first just enjoying it at face value, how on-the-nose it was, then concern it was a return the misogyny of early Burnham, then "oh, maybe it's about one woman who is finding a way to connect with her dead mother" before finally settling on it being a satire of the commodification of life.

I enjoy it very much.

The commodification of life!  That's a brilliant way to sum it up, that's exactly what it is.

I mean, I'd kind of forgotten the thing about the dead parents until I watched it again tonight, but it really mocks this desire now to live out every ache and pain in a performative manner for others to observe and "like."

Tiggles

Inside's now two years old! Lots of people said it would date horribly as they saw it as a pandemic thing. It's obviously so much more than that. Brilliant special, jaw on the floor from the disco ball onwards.

Papercut

'Some random quote from Lord of the Rings, incorrectly attributed to Martin Luther King'

Quote from: cakeinmilk on May 30, 2023, 11:43:36 PM"oh, maybe it's about one woman who is finding a way to connect with her dead mother"

It's absolutely this for me, which hit about the fifth time I played it, and now it gets a little sadder with each listen.

It feels to me like she is reaching out to anyone, feeling lost and alone, after losing her mum and becoming unanchored. Her father also went before that - 'give a hug and kiss to Dad'.

I mean at heart it's a slightly mean spirited but extremely accurate, and very funny, critique of how mindless a lot of middle aged Instagram posts are, of course, but mixing that with conjecture on why the need for this emotional connection leaves me with something conflicted, funny, sad and on some listens quite moving.

The extra songs are good too, I like the dumpling pettiness of Five Years.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy


Oosp

Obviously it's fucking brilliant.

My take: I see it as a rejection of lazy misogyny, the point being that this avalanche of (harmless if clueless) visual clichés serves to conceal the actual truth of the woman's life: a reality far more valuable than the meticulously-constructed face she is at pains to present to the world, a lived experience which is actually relatable and has the potential to generate a real connection. It's easy for a stranger to dismiss and poke fun; the question is whether one is prepared to dig a little deeper, because there's humanity there. We can only smile for so long before the mask slips and the need to express something genuine proves overwhelming. Burnham hits all of these buttons in his lyrics, partly in an effort to draw the listener in and partly to sucker-punch them with the Big Reveal.

It's important that the subject is a white woman; the implication at the outset is that she is privileged and relatively oblivious. Elsewhere in Inside, Burnham directly addresses class, mental health, isolation, reckoning with one's Internet footprint, the toxifying effect of the online experience and the precarious nature of a public persona, so it's fair to say he knows exactly what he wants to say in this song. Moreover, the succession of images presented throughout is a microcosm of the flattened/collapsed experience of the Internet in general - the woman's Instagram is an overstuffed but heavily curated diorama that recalls the least upsetting aspects of Welcome to the Internet.

The song is also hilarious and one of the biggest bangers in years. It's a tour de force.

Noodle Lizard

There must be some kind of subliminal marketing push for Inside going on at the moment. I only saw it the once when it came out, but then the whole last week I had its songs stuck in my head out of nowhere.

But yes, it's very good. How the World Works and Welcome to the Internet are serious earworms too.

Barry Admin

Loving the analysis! I'm getting a whole lot more from the song already.

Hadn't yet put much thought into why the frame changes and then changes back again, but read an interesting post on YouTube about how it opens up - away from Instagram format - as she does.

And another interesting point about how the subject is only a target for ridicule for the first half of the song, but becomes humanised by the reveal. And it strikes me there that this is perhaps the only way she really knows how to deal with that loss, or how to express it. Which is a more sympathetic analysis than I gave above, but also a comment on how we react to internet content, in a mostly superficial and judgemental way.

I mean I just listened to it again, and she completely changes - I feel a little guilty for my slightly caustic reading above. She's speaking very directly and earnestly and saying things that her parents missed out on and would want to know. Default but important life experiences that are a world away from the curated image that is projected for others throughout the rest of the song.

famethrowa

I know nothing of the guy's comedy, so I'm just evaluating the song here. Don't like it, sir. Does his always sing like that or is he directly lampooning/ripping off Tim Minchin?

Here's how it plays out:
- Funny prissy things, oh aren't women silly
- More silly lady stuff, I made a big list
- Emotional piano gut-punch al la Minchin or Ben Folds
- Oho aren't ladys crazy with their little instys, not like me, I'm a social commentator
- rambling chorus that doesn't go anywhere, yes we know the title by now

and no punchline ending! Come on, genius.

But never mind that, it's just a comedy ditty for a cheap laugh. The main point is, when he has the tape on his mouth saying HATE, and rips it off, shouldn't half his moustache come off with it? Would have increased the funny significantly.

Tiggles

Quote from: Barry Admin on May 31, 2023, 03:31:18 AMHadn't yet put much thought into why the frame changes and then changes back again, but read an interesting post on YouTube about how it opens up - away from Instagram format - as she does.

I think this is the main clue. This part is sincere, rather than performative. People do share their feelings of loss and grief on social media sincerely, and not for "likes" - they have complex reasons for doing so. The way the song launches straight back into "a goat cheese salaaaaad!" with such gusto as soon as the frame is back into square format shows the switch and is  shockingly funny.

The song is an ear-worm (like much of Inside) too. Banger. The Outtakes BTS of it is pretty funny, the guy put effort into this:

https://youtu.be/5XWEVoI40sE?t=1041


dead-ced-dead

It's a small point, but I really like the line, "A ring on her finger from the person that she loves," which suggests that performative isn't necessarily insincere. Even if there is a payoff for showing her engagement ring off for likes and comments, it adds something to make the point of saying that she loves this person.

Pimhole

Bo giving two fingers and mouthing "FUCK YOU" whilst wearing a t-shirt that says "MY FAVORITE POSITION: CEO" is the most perfect take-down of that kind of mindless, "Lean In", shallow, White Woman Feminism I have ever seen. Perfection.

Also Bo really nails the performatively cutesy, little-girlish mannerisms affected by some GROWN women. Sucking a sleeve, little shrugs and nose-scrunches, the big lolly. It's just funny to see this gangling bearded man do these things.

Coincidentally I recently found this really interesting review of Inside from a Black American perspective:

In fact, that guy's whole YouTube channel is pretty great.

Quote from: famethrowa on May 31, 2023, 04:00:54 AMand no punchline ending! Come on, genius.



There is a punchline which was cut out of the YouTube vid version posted above, a pretty crucial punchline really which frames the whole thing as punching up not down (although that's also made clear in the final verse imo).

phantom_power

That Funny Feeling is the one for me off Inside. There are other great songs, such as WWI, but TFF is another level. Really captures that existential dread and how it almost feels better to lean into it and accept it than fight against it

Oosp

I mean, further to what I said above, the woman in question most likely lost both her parents by the age of 17. That's awful. When she gets engaged (towards the end of the song), you realise (if you catch the details) that

a) neither of her parents will be there to walk her down the aisle
b) she's probably been talking to her dead parents in this way through social media for the past decade
c) Bo Burnham is a genius.

Just like the (generally polished, insubstantial and performative) Instagram page to which it refers, this song (ostensibly light, fluffy and playful) goes out of its way to bury the lede. Likewise, the more we engage with the song, the more we care about it. It's fundamentally about loss, coping mechanisms, personal prejudices, empathy and self-image.

Some final thoughts:
- the woman goes out of her way to put herself in a box
- the second gutpunch (that her dad is also dead) is followed immediately by the "goat's cheese salad" line; this emphasises the point that what's real and important is destined to be swept out of the way by ephemera, time and time again
- no matter how egregious the platform, it is a good thing that people can find a corner if the internet where they can feel safe to express themselves. Cf. the "not very long ago..." left-turn in Welcome to the Internet.

And this guy's supposed to be funny?!

Tiggles

The Bo Burnham subreddit had fun picking this song over many, many times. From when it first came out: https://www.reddit.com/r/boburnham/comments/nt0jea/white_womans_instagram_individual_song_discussion

Inspector Norse

Quote from: Barry Admin on May 31, 2023, 03:31:18 AMAnd another interesting point about how the subject is only a target for ridicule for the first half of the song, but becomes humanised by the reveal. And it strikes me there that this is perhaps the only way she really knows how to deal with that loss, or how to express it. Which is a more sympathetic analysis than I gave above, but also a comment on how we react to internet content, in a mostly superficial and judgemental way.

This is how I saw it - it's at once a comment on how vacuous and pointless a lot of that content is, but also asking us who we are to judge people merely on this surface level that they choose to show us, and by extension, how well any of us come out of the social media cycle. That Burnham himself owes his career to social media and has expressed regret over some of what he used to publish adds an extra level to that, of course.

Barry Admin

Quote from: Pimhole on May 31, 2023, 07:59:01 AMThere is a punchline which was cut out of the YouTube vid version posted above, a pretty crucial punchline really which frames the whole thing as punching up not down (although that's also made clear in the final verse imo).


Oh gosh I can't remember what it is, and my Netflix password shit the bed now. I really have to watch the whole special again. Had it on in the background a few weeks ago, I'm still stunned at what an incredible achievement it is.

Don't have much to add that hasn't already been said, particularly in Oosp's brilliant posts, but here goes:

The song starts off almost hopeful (in melody and lyrics), while the video is in 'full screen'. Then the first chorus comes in and the screen closes in, 'mimicking' an Instagram feed, and perhaps suggesting how the app 'narrows' everything down into this generic and claustrophobic sense of experience. Is it just me or is the first verse sung more earnestly than the second? Like the images presented sound kind of good - An open window, a novel, a couple holding hands... - but once you put them onto IG they become somewhat 'tainted' or devalued and open to mockery. The second verse seems to be sung in a more ironic and cutesy way, and is going for mockery in a way that I don't think the first is.

Then of course, the way that it goes from mocking the vacuousness of a certain type of Instagram account to honing in on and humanising one specific person is (initially) surprising and brilliant. This happens at about the half way mark and adds a level of poignancy to the rest of the song that wasn't there at the start. Take that out and it loses most of its emotional depth. As has been mentioned, the visual framing temporarily opens up again at this crucial point, as something real is being said, but quickly closes in on itself again, suggesting perhaps that only the briefest glimpses of something real are possible on the app.

And that's about as far as my analysis can stretch on this fine morning.

Barry Admin

#20
Quote from: Oosp on May 31, 2023, 08:31:41 AMI mean, further to what I said above, the woman in question most likely lost both her parents by the age of 17. That's awful. When she gets engaged (towards the end of the song), you realise (if you catch the details) that

a) neither of her parents will be there to walk her down the aisle
b) she's probably been talking to her dead parents in this way through social media for the past decade
c) Bo Burnham is a genius

I've enjoyed your analysis so much! I'm so glad I started this thread; I hadnt got to the idea that it was all about just the one same woman.

So yeah, whole other level there when you realise it's the same person who just celebrated her 27th birthday as it is who lost her parents. I had a pretty superficial reading of this song, but still thought it was incredible - now I'm absolutely blown away by it and want to study the lyrics in depth.

Edit: here they are - and the first thing that strikes me is the performative aspect of the two white doves at the wedding; another comment on feeling like sincerity has to be planned and acted out, partly with a view to how it will look when archived and presented online.

QuoteAn open window
A novel, a couple holding hands
An avocado
A poem written in the sand
Fresh fallen snow on the ground
A golden retriever in a flower crown
Is this heaven?
Or is it just a
White woman
A white woman's Instagram
White woman
A white woman's Instagram (Instagram)
White woman (white woman)
A white woman's Instagram
White woman
A white woman's Instagram
Latte foam art, tiny pumpkins
Fuzzy, comfy socks
Coffee table made out of driftwood
A bobblehead of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
A needlepoint of a fox
Some random quote from Lord of the Rings
Incorrectly attributed to Martin Luther King
Is this heaven?
Or am I looking at a
White woman
A white woman's Instagram
White woman
A white woman's Instagram (Instagram)
White woman (white woman)
A white woman's Instagram
White woman
A white woman's Instagram
Her favorite photo of her mom
The caption says, "I can't believe it
It's been a decade since you've been gone
Mama, I miss you, I miss sitting with you in the front yard
Still figuring out how to keep living without ya
It's got a little better but it's still hard
Mama, I got a job I love and my own apartment
Mama, I got a boyfriend and I'm crazy about him
Your little girl didn't do too bad
Mama, I love you, give a hug and kiss to dad"
A goat cheese salad (goat cheese salad)
A backlit hammock (backlit hammock)
A simple glass of wine
Incredibly derivative political street art
A dreamcatcher bought from Urban Outfitters
A vintage neon sign
Three little words, a couple of doves
And a ring on her finger from the person that she loves
Is this heaven?
Or is it just a
White woman
A white woman's Instagram
White woman (white woman)
A white woman's Instagram (Instagram)
White woman (white woman)
A white woman's Instagram
White woman
A white woman's Instagram

Pimhole

Quote from: Barry Admin on May 31, 2023, 09:06:30 AMOh gosh I can't remember what it is, and my Netflix password shit the bed now. I really have to watch the whole special again. Had it on in the background a few weeks ago, I'm still stunned at what an incredible achievement it is.

It cuts to Bo sitting alone in an empty, dark room, in a dirty hoodie, watching the song back on his laptop. The chorus echoes tinnily in his empty griefhole. The white woman has "won" ("I've got a job I love and my own apartment"/"a ring on her finger from the person that she loves"), Bo is just a greasy loser watching from the sidelines.

Barry Admin

#22
Oh wow.

Edit: so in other words, it's a more explicit way of prompting people to be introspective about how they engage online. There was no real reason for him to feel superior, he could just be jealous.

They say one of the worst thing about social media is how it gives this fake highlights reel of existence, which then causes many observers to feel depressed and bitter.

Norton Canes

Just listened to this for the first time and quickly read the comments here, apologies if I've missed anything but it's interesting everyone thinks the song's about one woman. My immediate impression was that apart from the widescreen part, each line is about a different person - the implication being that most people treat Instagram vacuously but a few are heartfelt.

Disclaimer: I don't have an Instagram account.

Papercut

Another thought on the women's potential state of mind, and the fact her parents are no longer here, each chorus starts with 'is this heaven?' which, after the reveal, could be taken to mean she wishes she was with her parents.

Papercut

... or at least is using Instagram as a way of communicating all of the life events to her parents she wishes she could talk to them about.

For such a superficially sneering song, scratching the surface seems to reveal a lot of empathy, it's very impressive.

'incredibly derivative political street art'

Pimhole

Quote from: Barry Admin on May 31, 2023, 09:34:16 AMOh wow.

Edit: so in other words, it's a more explicit way of prompting people to be introspective about how they engage online. There was no real reason for him to feel superior, he could just be jealous.

They say ome of the worst thing about social media is how it gives this fake highlights reel of existence, which then causes many observers to feel depressed and bitter.

Yes I liked that the usual default criticism of Instagram (rich beautiful people trying to create an image of a 'perfect' life to make us slobs feel like shit) was almost an afterthought to the song, which, like the rest of the special, asks deeper questions of WHY people engage online in the ways that they do and what the implications are.

Put me down as another who always thought the whole song was about one specific woman.

dead-ced-dead

I shared this with my mum who has no clue who Bo Burnham is. Not going to fix the punctuation or grammar as it's a copy from a text message. These are her insights:

QuoteWell, that was a very cleverly crafted song about the all embracing culture of identity. He analysed it well, the posed photos, the "live, laugh, love" posters and media posts of their beautifully decorated rooms and curated lives. But....but....each young woman (unless she is completely narcissistic and toxic) is probably presenting a "hope for" future life with someone who she can love and live with for the rest of her life. Before all these apps which allowed young women  to "perform" their life for followers it simply didn't exist. Similarly, the malign influence of the Tate fella on young men has a similar effect: successful job, fast cars, lots of women and sex. Some young men are sucked into the fantasy, which, as with the ditzy bitzy presented world of the young women portrayed in this video doesn't stand up to reality. All groups, whether white or black share the same social media pressures. I don't know how young people manage to communicate outside these pressures because when I was young it was simply different and so I cannot judge or make suggestions. However, the primeval imperative is to mate and to create a home, that is all I can say and nature has a way of seeing this happens to a very large extent. I hope the above doesn't come across as too "windbaggish". Xx

Norton Canes

Never heard of Bo Burnham before either but his name makes me think of a mash-up between Andy Burnham and Mo Mowlam

The Culture Bunker

Somehow, and I know I'm way off the mark, it reminded me a little of Bob Mortimer's 'Barry Homeowner' stuff.