The public sphere is a place for discussion, something outside the government, and free for anyone to participate in. And today, we have the mediated public sphere; the media plays a large role in discussion within the public sphere and can contribute to debate about public issues. Gay marriage is probably one of the most debated issues within the public sphere today. Everyone has their opinion and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s song “Same Love”, released in mid-2012 and featuring Mary Lambert, clearly vocalises their view on the issue. It’s not only the lyrics that give the song power, but also the video clip. I’d be very surprised if you haven’t seen it, or at least heard the song, as it quickly became very popular due to it’s message. In fact it reached number 1 on the ARIA chart.
The lyrics of the song discuss reasons for gay marriage, and why it should be supported. In an interview on Studio360’s website with Macklemore, entitled “Macklemore’s Gay Anthem”, talks about the song and why he chose to write it. Here’s part of it:
“Macklemore’s “Same Love” came out of his frustration with hip-hop’s misogyny and homophobia: “Those are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip-hop culture,” he tells Kurt Andersen. “It’s 2012. There needs to be some accountability. I think that as a society we’re evolving and I think that hip-hop has always been a representation of what’s going on in the world right now.”
Macklemore’s aim in writing the song was for it to be discussed in the public sphere. As a songwriter, he used this to his advantage to create discussion and become involved in the mediated public sphere in a positive way, to create awareness of the issue. He actually wrote the song during the campaign for the gay marriage referendum in Washington, and believes his song helped sway the “yes” vote. The law allowing same-sex marriage in Washington came into effect on 6 December 2012.
But it’s not only the lyrics that caused discussion; the video that goes with the song is quite powerful. I’ve posted it above, but to summarise, it follows the life of a gay man from childhood through to old age, showing his struggles and his successes. It shows his marriage to the love of his life, and follows their lives growing old together. It’s a really emotional song, and the video makes it even more so. When I first saw it I got a bit teary, not going to lie! Songs have always been used to raise awareness of issues in the public sphere, but it’s rare that we see a song this powerful. The media’s role in the public sphere is a strong one, and it’s great to see songwriters like Macklemore using this power in a positive way, and increasing debate on such a widely discussed issue.