Calling Out of Context 5: Hollaback Girl

Posted on 17.06.2012


What is a Hollaback Girl? – not sure if I’m a Hollaback Girl

Well, at least one thing is certain: Gwen Stefani certainly ain’t no Hollaback Girl.

For the Family Guy fans out there, there was a Green Mile parody episode in which Cleveland discusses his thoughts on the term’s definition: “a foul, disease-ridden thing, that wears too much makeup to cover up the fact that it’s a 47 year-old fish-dog”.

My favorite part of Cleveland’s definition is that it unknowingly (or not) describes where the song originated: a Seventeen magazine interview with Courtney Love. Are you surprised? Seriously? Don’t be. In the interview, Courtney said: ‘being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed’.

Yeah yeah, Courtney, we’ve got it: you’re real. You’re hardcore. Way to bring all of us back to high school. Obviously, Courtney’s never paid a lot of attention to Gwen beyond being jealous of her looks: Gwen was never a cheerleader or even the cheerleader type, just a good-looking badass with an enviable six-pack that was most likely friends with more guys than girls. Anyone that’s EVER liked No Doubt could have told you that.

So Gwen heard that Court was talking shit and didn’t think that she would hear (or read) it. Obviously, she’s been around that shit-talking track a few times, so it wasn’t gonna happen like that. Never one to hollaback, she didn’t even mention the source of her inspiration by name. A year later in an interview, she finally said (of the song): “Y’know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, “OK, fuck you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me”.

…And she did. The single, which happened to be the final song recorded for Love.Angel.Music.Baby topped the charts, ruled the dancefloors, and made it onto the best of the decade lists. In the accompanying music video, she takes it further: dressed like a cheerleader, she performs well-known cheer moves using local cheer and marching squads, drill teams, and bands. She took that one negative passing reference and made it into a hit single AND a chart-topping music video. And, for anyone paying attention, an eBay sale: the car featured in the video was sold for no small price.

Below, Urban Dictionary defines Hollaback Girl:

It seems as though Ms. Stefani has had some incidents in which another young, presumably female, individual has made some disparaging remarks about her character. Upon learning of the situation, Ms. Stefani is informing this “culprit” that she intends to handle this matter physically. Ms. Stefani’s character is such that she is not the type of person who counters verbal attacks with verbal attacks, or “hollering back.” Using terminology that is commonplace among today’s youth, this is shortened to “hollaback.”

Attention, trash talkers: assemble your crew and meet Gwen at the bleachers. She won’t be hollerin back at anyone. She prefers to put on her big girl panties and settle things like a real woman.

Game. Cheerleaders.