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Top 40 Philosophy: TLC, “Creep”

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, Music, and Top 40 Philosophy

TLC had the #2 and #3 songs for 1995. We’ve already covered “Waterfalls,” (which argued — against the year’s #1 song, “Gangsta’s Paradise” — that you can escape the environment in which you were raised, but doing so would be a bad thing) so today we move on to “Creep.”

What a strange song. Musically, I like it. But I have to agree with TLC’s Lisa Lopes. Here is what Wikipedia says:

In the documentary The Last Days of Left Eye, TLC member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes said she was . . . against the release of “Creep” as a single, and threatened to wear black tape over her mouth in the music video. She thought that when a girl finds out that her man is cheating on her, the girl better leave rather than cheat back.

The song’s lyrics — which were written by a man — present the woman’s cheating as coming from necessity: “It’s only ’cause I need some affection.” Thus, she can still feel like she remains faithful to him, claiming that she’ll “never go astray.” In fact, she feels the need — out of her love and faithfulness — to “keep him protected” from finding out “the things

[she] did.”

Contrast with Better than Ezra and the Beatles

What a twisted song! It would be fruitful to compare this view of “faithfulness” with the one we got from the Beatles’ “Love Me Do.” While for the Beatles, faithfulness was a form of truthfulness, for TLC (or, rather, for their male songwriter), faithfulness and truthfulness are at odds. (Of course, we all know the extent to which their the view of faithfulness they espoused expressed the view of faithfulness John ended up living out.)

It would also be fruitful to compare “Creep” with Better than Ezra’s “Good,” from yesterday. In “Good,” we discovered the possibility of rejecting something we nevertheless think is good. In “Creep,” however, we find someone refusing to reject a person in spite of finding his actions to be wrong. It is possible, according to this song, to think someone is wrong and yet still love him.

The Principle of Non-Contradiction

“Isn’t it a contradiction to think someone is wrong or bad, and yet still find the person lovable?” you might ask. The answer must be: “Only if ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ is equivalent to ‘unlovable’. Only if you find someone both lovable and unlovable would you be contradicting yourself (and even then, you would have to find them lovable and unlovable in the same way at the same time for there to be a true contradiction).”

Contrast, for instance, the idea that someone is lovable in one way, but unlovable in another, with Three Days Grace’s “I hate everything about you / why do I love you?”

But let’s not end today’s post on such a troubled note. Let us instead reflect with gratitude on the fact that people can love us even when we’re wrong.

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