As I read staff writer David West’s Ithacan review of Ariana Grande’s latest album, I quickly realized that I wasn’t reading a critique so much as I was reading a misogyny-driven screed trying to disguise itself as a review. In fact, West’s review is so dependent on and saturated with sexist tropes about women in music that it’s difficult to even take it seriously as a work of artistic critique in the first place.
West fails to provide a thoughtful critique throughout his whole piece that doesn’t already rely on sexist stereotypes. As a result, the critique isn’t smart or thought-provoking. Instead, West’s piece is low brow, hollow and mean-spirited. West doesn’t even take the time to engage with the actual music itself, aside from brief one-liners and an overuse of adjectives that, when absorbed along with rest of the review, come off as incongruent. Instead of analyzing the album on its merits, West resorts to a character attack in which he projects his grievances with Grande onto the review itself.
What West decides to ignore is that “thank u, next” is intentionally personal. Thus, it matters that Grande chose to write about her vulnerabilities in a public way. It matters because women are constantly shamed and harassed for centering themselves first. And it matters because women are still expected to placate men at their own expense.
This is not to say that West is wrong for not liking Grande’s album — there are always works of art that may not strongly appeal to us. But, there is a marked difference between smart commentary and lazy writing; West’s review is the latter.
Celisa Calacal, Ithaca College ’18