In Defense Of Theory’s Hate My Life As A Cautionary Tale (Please Hear Me Out)

Keep in mind that this is not a defense of the subject of the song, rather the song itself.

Music, just like any media, is not always meant to have a character who is the paragon of morality, rather it is meant to tell a story–nothing more. This song is no different.

Theory–formerly known as Theory Of A Deadman–is a post-grunge band with some elements of country and hard rock. Their early discography is known for its themes of self-deprecation and bad relationships. It can best be personified as a dude-bro from a desert town along the California-Nevada border–despite the band themselves being from Canada.

Hate My Life

Basically, Hate My Life was released in 2008 within the album Scars And Souvenirs. It fits within the overall theme of self-deprecation accompanying the song Hating Hollywood. It is about the grievances that the subject has which is best encapsulated by the title itself.

However, it has negative reviews from Guardian and the Sheperd Express due to its material pertaining to misogyny and possible pedophilia. Obviously, these pertain to the grievances that the subject of the song has in his daily life.

The problem that I have when people make such assertions is that they automatically assume that the song is meant to be a propaganda piece on behalf of the subject. I wouldn’t put it past the writers to be the same solipsistic wokies who talk about the enculturation of misogyny in a show like Johnny Bravo where the titular character creeps out women–and ignore the seconds that follow where he constantly gets the crap beat out of him.

I want to argue that the song Hate My Life is doing the exact opposite, that it is casting the subject of the song as a complete a-hole with a disorderly life who is projecting all of his problems onto everyone else.

(DISCLAIMER: I’m not going to speculate whether any of the band members themselves have done any of these things described in the song. I’m not writing this article to make accusations, rather I want to reduce the scope of this article to the song in of itself and the subject of the song.)

Hobos

The first grievance that the subject of the song has is with hobos. He accuses them of taking advantage of people’s hospitality while he himself has to work for his money. However, it is revealed that he himself is constantly struggling with money, can’t give his wife what she wants, and works a job he doesn’t like.

In some ways, he himself is pleading with the audience, not for money but for sympathy. It should be noted that all of the song is through his perspective and nobody else’s–if you exclude the layered voice agreeing with what he is saying. It’s kind of hypocritical when you condemn people for asking for money, while you yourself are asking for sympathy.

People Who Can’t Drive A Car

He also has to deal with the inconvenience of having to stop whenever a passerby has to walk across the street. He immediately calls the passerby a “female dog,” projecting his problems onto her. It is revealed that he can’t wait without “falling apart.”

Of course, he never said he wanted to run her over, rather he may be alluding to a breakdown. He notes how he cannot “catch a break,” implying that he cannot be late for his job or for his errands, such as refilling his pantry or taking a relative to a hospital appointment. This culminates into a profound level of stress that is just barely managed.

Wife And Getting Laid

What I noted long before reading the reviews of the song is that the subject sings about “not getting laid” and how his wife contends with him about buying new things. A strong suggestion is that he is cheating his wife.

The fact that he cannot have amorous sport with a woman, feigning a headache, implies that he does not have the social flare to be able to “score;” or perhaps she doesn’t want to be with him. It is never stated whether “she” is supposed to be his wife or a woman he talks to at a bar.

Either way, the subject of the song clearly demonstrates that he is not socialized enough to realize that he may not have been as compelling as he thinks he is. He decides that “Nice guys always lose.”

Job

As for his boss, well, I can now see how the subject is appealing to the audience with working a miserable, unfulfilling job. The subject remarks that he doesn’t get paid enough to put up with his nonsense. Let’s be real, we’ve all said something along those lines.

I will concede that we’ve all been there and that just might be the hook.

Rich Friends

What further solidifies my claim of the subject’s lack of socialization is the fact that there is “so much at stake/Can’t catch a break” yet he has rich friends. You would think that if he really has rich friends, they would’ve already helped him out; or he would have found his way out of desperation. Indeed, the Michalangelo Effect would have played into his favor, since the theory posits that, basically, we are the people we surround ourselves with. Either he cannot communicate his problems to his rich friends (playing into the lack of socialization), or they realized he is an a-hole and refuse to help him with anything.

“Can’t Tell”

The notorious part of the song occurs when the subject hates how he can’t tell if a girl is underage. He tells a girl she’s a nice piece of meat, and gets punched in the face by her daddy.

The critics would have you believe that this song is glorifying such behavior, when it clearly does not when behaving as such results in a punch in the face. If anything, this part makes it clear that the subject is a moron who can’t read the room.

As such, don’t you think this part says more about the subject’s lack of socialization, which includes when he “can’t tell if she’s underage?” You would think that a man who is well-adjusted to society would not be able to rush head-long into making assumptions about people he doesn’t know.

You

At the end of the song, the subject proves to not be loath to project onto the listeners themselves. He calls them “female dogs” and declares a rallying cry for them, which is if you’re mad like him, you should all lift middle fingers up and declare “Crup You!”

You would think that he calls the audience “female dogs” as a way of providing some dude-bro bantering, however he concludes the song by stating “[I] Hear it sucks to be you.” In other words, he concludes the song by projecting his problems onto you. He does not provide you with enough space to commiserate or empathize, rather he abruptly ends the song with “I crupping hate my life.”

Conclusion

Instead of looking forward to a brighter path, the subject of the song secludes himself in his tragic fate of being perpetually aggrieved. It becomes tragic whenever the song is played and he is brought back to life.

Instead of a song of morality, it should be a cautionary tale. We are not meant to root for our hero in this song, rather we are meant to develop catharsis, being thankful we are not in that spot. If anything, it has more in common with Theory’s other song Lowlife which is about a lower-class man describing his misadventures in passing out drunk at the neighbor kid’s soccer game or getting into fights. Hate My Life also describes the subject of the song as someone not to root for, but as someone to avoid becoming or associating with.

While we can relate to some level to Mr. Tylolly Haytmullife’s condition, that’s really how he sucks you into his world. Within his world, he has a failing marriage, no social grace, a miserable job, a lack of a support system, and high levels of stress. We are to be grateful we are not in his position and always have a chance to evolve past our predicaments.

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