Monday, July 21, 2014

Little Doll Face

[Note: according to some liner notes I saw after this was posted, the song's writer is "unknown."]

There is a Saturday Night Live routine called "Shy Ronny." Andy Samberg plays this character, who is voluble enough to freestyle rap... except when in the presence of Rihanna. Then, he is struck dumb by the power of her beauty, so she thinks he is just dumb.

This scenario, of being made speechless by the presence of an overwhelming radiance, has been part of human experience for a long time. Here, Simon-as-Landis explores the phenomenon from Shy Ronny's standpoint.

The speaker is despondent, as the girl with the "Darling little doll face"-- we know that she has "freckles," and "lashes" that "flutter," but no more of her appearance-- won't even "look at" him. Of course, this is because she doesn't "even know" him.

Of course, he doesn't know her, either. To her, he's a non-entity. To him, she's not much more... just a pretty face that may as well be on a doll.

Some might say this is sexist objectification, and in a way it is. He does see her as an object, a toy at that. But it's simply a reflection of the fact that he does not know her yet as a person... still, he wants to. He does not wish to only see her this way, but for now, her visage is all he has. Well, that and a high opinion of her personality-- "You're lots of sugar, and some spice."

Yes, this nursery-rhyme reference is in keeping with the "doll" metaphor. In fact, it sounds like there is a toy piano on the track.

Mostly, we know that he is not going to get to know her. His objectification of her has made her, in his mind, unapproachable: "Whenever you walk near me/ I'm hypnotized completely... If you'd speak, I'm sure I'd stutter."

He is entirely convinced that he is deserving of her lack-of-notice, and that she is way out of his league. "You're Little Miss Paradise," he tells her, and you can't get more unobtainable than Eden or Heaven. He is sure that she was "born in this world to entice," but be out of reach, like some sort of mythical siren.

"How can I ever tell you/ How much I love you," he moans. He can't, but that is fine because he doesn't love her. He loves her face, and the idea of her, but he doesn't know her well enough to love her.

Until the speaker is able to see her not as a doll, but as a person, she will remain nothing more than an ideal and an idea.

Jim Henson, of Muppet fame, once said, "The only thing between me and my goals is me." This guy needs to start seeing himself as good enough, and her as approachable... and human. Not a doll or angel or statue on a pedestal.

Next Song: Let Me Steal Your Heart Away

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