Is love really a battlefield?

I suppose it’s one thing to rip off somebody else’s ideas when those ideas are really good, or at least really relevant.

Look, Grandmaster Flash (along with the Furious Five) made “The Message” in 1982, and pretty much every rap record made since has said the exact same thing.

Just a sample of the lyrics.

Grandmaster Flash: “It’s all about the money, ain’t a damn thing funny.”


So it’s not exactly that I’m against jacking someone else’s mood or worldview or thought, exactly. In any type of art, that’s invariably how it works. Everything is a reaction to something else.

But I object to Jordin Sparks, and not just because her name is spelled wrong. I object to Jordin Sparks because she has taken the idea that love is a battlefield, which was a moronic idea in the first place, and recycled it.

This is the chorus of her song, “Battlefield,” which, you’ll notice, is strikingly devoid of soldiers, gunfire, explosions, nerve gas, gruesome death, politics or emergency amputations:

I never meant to start a war
You know, I never wanna hurt you
Don’t even know we’re fighting for
Why does love always feel like a battlefield, a battlefield, a battlefield
Why does love always feel like a battlefield, a battlefield, a battlefield
Why does love always feel like

I bring this up not because I’m offended by war metaphors. Although I think they’re trite, I don’t really mind them when they make sense. The basic strategy in football, for example, is the same as the basic strategy in battle. Both are about gaining ground on the opponent, taking key patches of ground (first downs) and involve physical clashes. The metaphor works a lot better if you’re thinking about war before the invention of the airplane, but still. It’s a logical metaphor.

Love is not like a battlefield or football.

No matter what Pat Benatar says.

It was Benatar, of course, who first introduced us to this idea in 1983. Now, I’ll admit 1983 was a crazy year (half of which I actually lived through). A nuclear power plant in New Jersey malfunctioned, Ronald Reagan announced plans for a missile interception system* (one of the most manly and awesome things a U.S. president has ever done), Tom Brokaw became the lead anchor for NBC Nightly News.

*Note: This was because Russia had nuclear warheads aimed at the United States at the time. We were not messing around in 1983.

This just got serious.

So we have to evaluate these things in context. Anyway, here’s the best passage in “Love is a Battlefield”:

You’re beggin’ me to go, you’re makin’ me stay
Why do you hurt me so bad
It would help me to know
Do I stand in your way, or am I the best thing you’ve had
Believe me, believe me, I can’t tell you why
But I’m trapped by your love and I’m chained to your side

This guy Benatar’s dating seems like a real schizo, telling her to go, then begging her to stay all the time. But as annoying as that sounds, it doesn’t really seem like a battlefield to me.  It sounds more like a conversation with a first-base coach.

My fiancee and I get into our share of arguments, but I don’t really ever get the impression she’s trying to destroy me, even metaphorically. It’s quite the opposite of that, actually. We’re both trying to be happy, and are sorting out how to best make that happen for both of us.

Love isn’t a battlefield, it’s a negotiation. And that isn’t even taking into account all the good stuff.

I guess “Love is a board room” doesn’t have the same ring to it.


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