Ryan Burns sent me a link to an animated music video (above) in which the narrator talks smack about “Nor Cal Gold Diggas.” He wanted my take on it, I assume, as A Woman Passionate About Gender Equity and Misguided Cultural Norms. So I watched it. If the video was satire, the poor animation and great-awful lines – “I’m gonna stick’er with my Fiskars” – would be brilliant. But “Hella Richtor” seems to be serious. I found myself mildly amused at the video’s existence, then remembered that I am a humorless feminist, so I decided to treat the leitmotifs more seriously, asking myself, as always, Should I be offended?
First, let’s look at the overarching storyline, in which a woman comes to town and uses her sexual wiles to seduce a sought-after rich man (in this case, a grower, natch) and incurring the wrath of the women who were there before her. This is not a new tale but one of several relationship scenarios that has been examined in art through the ages. Does it reinforce the stereotype of women as more willing to tear each other down than embrace one another as sisters? Sure. But in this context, we have the creative, artistic expression of a specific cultural experience and can examine it as such.
What about the name-calling? “Gold digga” and “grow ho” are both used to label the miniskirted, fish-netted antagonist. Is this an example of slut-shaming? If you embrace and endorse the mentality of Hella Richtor’s narrator, then maybe yes, you are being judgmental about women who attach themselves for materialistic reasons to guys who grow pot. We can agree that it’s wrong to be judgmental – but from books and movies to reality TV shows and pop culture blogs, we’re entertained by assessing the behavior of others.
Additionally, Hella Richtor’s throwing down of the gauntlet – “Go back to the Valley” – is an expression of the passionate outsider vs. insider mentality that exists in Humboldt County in general and this particular subculture specifically. (Ultimately we’re reminded “it’s a blessing” to be here.)
Finally, the violence. Few things upset me as much as the culture of violence that exists toward women, most of which is sexualized and all of which results in injury and death for thousands of individuals across the globe at a rate of which is unfathomable -– for every minute it takes me to write this, approximately 20 people are victimized by domestic violence, most of whom are women being hurt by men.
So how does that relate to the punching, shooting and the aforementioned threat of Fiskar-sticking by the homegrown cartoon characters against the “Nor Cal Gold Digga Cherry Picker”? I don’t think it does. This is clearly make-believe. There’s not even any cartoon blood. Are abuse and murder problems in the hills? Sure. (I say that based on news reports and word on the street – I have no immediate, personal connection to say anything definitively.) Is that fact connected to this video in any but the most spurious way? I just can’t take it any more literally than I would actions in South Park. To give the video more credit than due, we can compare it to the old-timey murder ballads, the appreciation of which does not equal endorsement for the behavior described within.