Readers, hopefully we’re all in agreement that violence is bad, and that killing people with weapons is, in most circumstances, not good. However, have you heard “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers? Like, really listened? Because if you, like me, have listened to “Motion Sickness,” many times, on repeat, in a car, or lying in bed, while crying, or vibrating with rage, then hopefully you can understand why many of the lines from that song have made me, a staunch believer in the principles of restorative justice, believe the following: Phoebe Bridgers deserves a goddamned sword. Like, just a giant, fuck-off Excalibur. Here are seven reasons why.
7. “I hate you for what you did / And I miss you like a little kid”
There’s a dichotomy here that should be familiar for many people who have gone through trauma or have been hurt in a relationship, whether it be with a romantic partner, a friend, or parent. There’s one side of you that knows what this person did to you was wrong, and you do hate them for that. You want to scream and tear your hair out and scorch the Earth just to make sure they suffer for what they put you through. But there’s another side, too. One that, try as you might, you can’t seem to escape from entirely. It’s the side that shows its face late at night when you can’t sleep, or when you’ve had a little too much too drink, or when some innocent thing you encounter in everyday life catches you off guard and reminds you of that person, and all of a sudden, you have a fleeting moment of missing the way that person used to make you feel loved, and understood, and valuable, and safe, before you’re jolted back to reality and remember all those shitty things they did in the first place to destroy whatever may have once existed. And you hate them for that, you really do.
6. “You gave me fifteen hundred to see your hypnotherapist”
When I was a freshman in college, I briefly dated a guy who was four years older than me. He was also my student mentor and the teacher for my freshman honors symposium course that year. Even more than the age difference and the weird power dynamics there, the problem was that, throughout the entirety of our relationship, he wanted to be my boyfriend and my mentor. Those are two things that really should not ever mix. There’s something very weird about the person you’re sleeping with acting like they’re also doing you favors by setting up your path to success. The recent New York Times article in which several women, including Bridgers, allege that Ryan Adams was sexually manipulative with them, also describes how he often mixed his romantic relationships with offers to jump-start the music careers of the women he was pursuing.
Anyone with a basic understanding of healthy adult relationship practices should see this as a huge red flag. The way some older men try to act like hybrid romantic partners and mentors to young women seems like a great way for them to make sure they get what they want while also stoking their giant egos. Maybe I’m just reading too much into this line, but I get strong vibes of a man thinking he knows what’s best for a young woman and trying to be a life coach to her as much as he is a boyfriend, and it makes me physically cringe as much as I do when I think back to how my ex thought discussing my resumé was good pillowtalk.
5. “I can hardly feel anything / I hardly feel anything at all”
4. “And why do you sing with an English accent? / I guess it’s too late to change it now”
This one isn’t so much of a reason why I believe Phoebe Bridgers deserves to have a sword as it is proof that she has the power to wield one.
3. “There are no words in the English language I could scream to drown you out”
There ARE no words in the English language. I just went and picked up a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary off my shelf ,and every page? BLANK.
Anyway, if you haven’t felt like this before, I sincerely hope you never have to. For those of us who are, unfortunately, deeply familiar with this feeling, please donate to the cause at www.givephoebebridgersasword.com.
2.“You said when you met me you were bored”
If, for any reason, Phoebe Bridgers doesn’t want the sword, I’d be more than willing to take it and slay Ryan Adams myself for this one.
1. “And you / you were in a band when I was born”
If Phoebe Bridgers did have a sword, this line would be the vanquishing blow. I can think of few other takedowns in the history of takedowns as succinct, unforgiving, and deeply cutting. Hindsight is 20/20, and you can hear the vindication in this line, the realization of: “I may not have known it at the time, but what you did to me was wrong.” There’s power in the moral high ground here. Bridgers doesn’t have to connect all the dots herself, just lay out the details like this and let listeners understand for themselves the fundamental wrongness of what Ryan Adams did. There may be no words in the English language, but she’s not letting him off the hook. Every time I listen to “Motion Sickness,” this is the line that gives me the urge to riot in the streets. And the concurrent urge to consider that, surely, if there is anyone who should be allowed to own a sword, it’s Phoebe Bridgers.
Editor’s Note: In a freshly unearthed January 2018 interview with Exclaim, Phoebe Bridgers stated that “on Women’s Day, [Ryan Adams] gave all the women on tour swords.” We congratulate Bridgers on her sword ownership and we wish her well in wielding it, preferably against the very man who gave it to her.
Editor’s Note #2: Phoebe Bridgers has clarified: “I was on tour with Ryan on women’s day a few years ago and he got every woman on the crew a sword except for me.” We already wanted to give Phoebe Bridgers a sword; now, we’re not sure just one sword is sufficient. Two swords, at least. Or maybe some of those knives on strings, like in this clip? Much to think about.
Editor’s Note #3: