The 365 Commitment

Hollaback Girl

One of the awesome things about being a father of two daughters is that I find many opportunities to expand my horizons. From learning how to do french braids (with a side twist) to learning how to listen and not give advice I have had to be multi faceted. Today is not exception. I am going to become a music video director as I help my daughter enter a video submissions for her schools’ remote talent show. I started researching cool women that did awesome songs. Of course, I went immediately to Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Ann Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, Pat Benetar and my personal favorite, Debbie Harry. I tried a few of these as candidates with my daughter and she would shrug and say, “ok I guess.”

This meant I had to seriously up my game. I decided to research the more modern diva’s. Missy Elliot, nah, too vulgar for a 10 year old. Madonna, nah, too weird. Christina Aguilara, nah, to suggestive. Avril Lavigne, nah, too skater punk looking. I bounced around quite a bit, listened to many songs that I have heard before, but many that I have not. I barely made it through a series of Taylor Swift songs. That just about did me in. Katy Perry was not so bad, at least she was not bad on the eyes (ok, I will regret that statement). I was just about to go with Beyonce, when I landed on a Brittany Spears video that was perfect.

However, I have to say the the most entertaining review was that of Gwen Stefani. Brittany won because her video, Baby One More Time has some great lyrics topical to our time. “I must confess, that my loneliness is killing me now.” I am going to have some fun with that today as I record my daughter’s debut music video. However, during my exhaustive research I landed on the video that Gwen recorded on her own label, called Hollaback Girl. Funny story. When my kids were younger, my wife would play this song occasionally. We had them convinced that she was saying, “ship” and not “shit.” My ship is bananas. To this day my kids associate Gwen Stefani with pirates, because of her song about ships.

I learned awhile back ago the origins of this song. You might not be aware. Courtney Love made fun of Stefani in a Seventeen magazine interview. She called her a cheerleader. Stefani hit back fast by releasing the Hollaback Girl single. I had always thought that this song meant that Stefani was sarcastically claiming that she was not a cheerleader. However, I realized after watching the video that I was wrong. First a flashback of my own. I think in my early high school days in California. I went to some backyard party in Anaheim, CA. At the time, I think it might of been 1986 or so, ska music was becoming popular. I remember several bands at the time that were playing all over Southern California. Anyway, this particular party featured No Doubt. I am not sure if they were even called No Doubt, but they played from the roof top of this house and that was when I first say Gwen Stefani. Sorry to say she did look kind cheerleaderish. However, their success kept growing and by the time the 90’s rolled around she was a the quintessential rocker chic.

Anyway, I learned the real meaning of Hollaback Girl. This is obvious to me now. The lead cheerleader will yell something out and the other cheerleaders will yell something back. Effectively the other cheerleaders would be called the hollaback girls. I remember now the high school football games I went to. The lead cheerleaders of the competitive teams, leading a chant back and forth across the field at each other. “We have spirit yes we do, we got spirit, how bout you?” So what was Gwen Stefani really saying here? She was saying the opposite of what I thought. She is not only the cheerleader, but the lead cheerleader and she is not the hollaback girl. Takes on a whole new meaning now for me.

So why do I bring this up? I am sure you really do not care much about my amateur video production task that awaits for me today. I was thinking about this concept of being a hollaback girl. I think many of us, unwittingly, do just exactly that. We let other people, other organizations, other interests lead the charge and we just mimic back. Perhaps that is a good thing to do in some cases, but certainly not in the matters most important to us. We should be the lead cheerleader in our own lives, in our own families, in our careers and in the causes we support. Any other response is just B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Guy Reams

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4 years ago

I still sing the song with ship in it!

Hey, fine writing, my brother. You are really becoming quite the writer! I enjoy the reads.

Hey. I was Gwen perform at csuf fall of 93. Before they hit it big time….it was Wednesday. Band day. Noon. I would eat lunch on this grassy hill and listen to bands perform. This one Wednesday, the crowd was unusually larger than normal and I was hearing the buzz about how great this ska band was. Oh, they were excellent. Gwen jumped higher and performed with more energy than a even a lead cheerleader!

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