About two months ago, writer and journalist kris ex wrote an op-ed for Pitchfork called “Women Don’t Need a Man To Make Their Mixtapes.” It was in response to the first Apple Music commercial with Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson, and Kerry Washington, where they put each other on to the streaming service. “It’s like you have a boyfriend that makes you a mixtape in your laptop,” laughed Washington in the ad.
Though initial reception to the spot was warm, the ever-wise ex saw something more insidious going on in the video. “Why is the musical experience of these three accomplished women being centered around men?” he asked. He doesn’t come to any conclusion, but he struggles with the understanding that, “It’s 2015 and women are still defined in their relationships to men, so the most subversive and revolutionary thing that one can do is rock out with cocks out of the picture—even if the existence of men is implied.” He even questioned how his own piece of writing might feed into the constant misrepresentation of women in the media.
But yesterday (Nov. 19), the most powerful man in the music industry – Jimmy Iovine, no doubt – proved ex was right about his suspicions. After debuting a second Apple ad with the same trio of ladies, Iovine explained to CBS, “I always knew that women find it very difficult at times – some women – to find music, and [Apple Music] helps makes it easier.”
He went on, “Girls are sitting around, talking about boys, or complaining about boys, heartbroken or whatever, and they need music for that, right? So it’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has the right list or knows a DJ or something.”
It doesn’t get much more tone deaf than that, except maybe when Condé Nast describes a platform actively amplifying the voices of women as a destination solely for “millennial males,” and as someone who’s heard the same sentiments from higher-ups in the industry, it’s not surprising to me. But it’s almost surreal to see a guy with that much clout talk about women as if they’re dependent infants on national TV – next to Mary J. Blige, no less.
The backlash against Iovine’s comments was so quick, Iovine even had to issue an apology via Buzzfeed shortly after. “We created Apple Music to make finding the right music easier for everyone — men and women, young and old,” he said. “Our new ad focuses on women, which is why I answered the way I did, but of course the same applies equally for men. I could have chosen my words better, and I apologize.”
So there it is folks. The man behind the curtain telling it like it is, from his side, at least.
Watch the new Apple Ad below, and ladies, make a poor boy a playlist of dope music today.