By Curtis Cole
The Lonely Island is my favorite comedic pop band. Whether they are deconstructing Freudian tropes in “Motherlover” or satirizing Disney’s little kid musicians, they always have something interesting to say. So, when I saw a song by them that I hadn’t before heard—“Finest Girl (Bin Laden)”—I had to check it out. The end result? It’s one of the oddest politically charged songs I have ever heard.
Superficially, the track is about a romance between generic rock-pop star, on the one hand, and beautiful mystery lady on the other. But, of course, this is just the set-up and things quickly become apparent that typical Hollywood romances are being satirized; this is connoted early on when we see the “Connor” character reading a book simply entitled Romance Poems (undoubtedly by Romance Poet).
The track gains its real power of satirization through its deconstruction of sex-negative thinking. The oft-repeated lines—“that girl was a freak!”—is paired, here, not with simple sexual acts which would be otherwise expected from young, male persons, but instead from the girl’s surreal fetish—wanting to make love in a fashion similar to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Such a sexual desire is deeply unconventional and so sets up the central premise well—that sexuality is going to be used for something other than sexual intercourse itself.
As the song plays, this fetish plays out in exact detail: the girl dresses up in military attire, lectures her male lover on her “entry point” (vagina) and “potential hotspots” (breasts), before donning a beard, tunic, and turban, and demanding that her lover crawl into her room wearing night-vision goggles before performing oral sex on her; finalizing the strange fetish is the concluding lines which references the name of the operation, “Geronimo”, when Connor takes mutually agreed upon pictures, of which the posting of such is related as “throwing your (digital) body in the ocean (internet)” which, of course, speaks of how Osama’s body was disposed.
Lyrics here tackle demystifying the female body. Or, more accurately, the point of the lyrics is to illustrate how the male voyeur cannot understand the womanly form; the politics of the track, then, serve to reinforce this mystique: just as the male form does not under the female, the female form does not understand the male, overdetermined as she is by a strange politicization. Human anatomy, then, serves as the focal point for international relations.
Paying close attention to the lyrics, the close reader will notice a concern with the War on Terror. “You’re harboring a fugitive… my justice will be punitive”, “She tried to negotiate; I said that’s a no-no”, “She demanded that I do her merciless and exact, just like the world famous attack, that fucked Osama Bin Laden”. Underscoring the clownish sexual deviancy, there is a darker thread speaking about American imperialism; these lyrics, all of which speak to American ‘Law and Order’ ideology, unilateral military interventions, anti-diplomacy, and vicious and illegal raids, tell the story that Osama’s death was hardly a victory for the so-called “War on Terror”. Rather, it was a dangerous action which violated international law and nearly started a war with Pakistan.
The fact that The Lonely Island chose to disseminate this message through a political encoding was neat. It is outlandish but also a method which will get people to notice, especially those younger members who have lived their whole lives in a state of war and supposed emergency measures. So while the mildly concerning treatment of women is still an issue, as representations of the womanly form do not vanish simply because they are being problematized in a political statement, the mechanics of their problematization is something that I never thought I would see.