Exploring privilege through “7 rings”

The new U.Va. student anthem

796f41a4-db88-4c3f-b529-d5e27f576940-sized-1000x1000

Shree Baphna is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

Let’s face it — we all aspire to create a life for ourselves that makes others jealous or a life that we can rub in the face of our haters and competitors. Just ask Ariana Grande, who recently dropped her newest album that features the hit song “7 rings.” As the song suggests, we all are motivated by the idea of proving someone else wrong and finally being able to capture the life we all really want. Perhaps even to say we are “motivated” is too soft — we thrive off the idea of “making it.” 

That being said, who better to thrive off such a goal than broke, exhausted and downtrodden 20-something college kids, like you and me? Isn’t that why we major in practical things such as commerce and economics? Isn’t that why pre-med students stay up late into the night drilling themselves with physics and biochemistry? We understand, even at this young age, that money is the answer to this question. It’s the endgame. The only way to physically manifest the word “thrive” is to shell out those bills the way one writes final papers at the last minute — carelessly and without thinking. 

Do keep in mind that I write this piece with more than a hint of irony — I am a studio art major with no hope whatsoever in making large amounts of money. 

First of all, we should acknowledge that simply being at this University has given us a lot of privilege. We are already light-years ahead of the majority of people in the world just by getting a high-quality education. Yet, in spite of already being the creamiest of the crop, we have somehow managed to develop another hierarchy within this pre-existing hierarchy. It seems near impossible — we are already so privileged, and yet, we still draw comparisons. We have more uniting us than separating us at this educational level, but we still find ways to slap the “exclusive” label onto the most arbitrary things and, therefore, create “ingroups” and “outgroups.” It’s absurd. Of course, I am not innocent of this myself. I have bought into this exclusive label more than once because everyone else around me is doing it. 

Therefore, when we listen to “7 rings” with our Airpods and cathartically gasp about how it’s our “anthem,” do we truly get to claim an “aspiration” to be successful? How much of that aspired-for success has not already been given to us? How much of that success do we really need to work for? Clearly, not a lot — if I take myself, for example. I was born so privileged I decided to major in studio art and scoff at boring 9-to-5 desk jobs. I have the financial security to do such scoffing, even though my own father worked his way up through such a so-called “conventional” job and is now able to send not one, not two, but three kids to college and beyond. There aren’t any pop songs about that. 

However, I must pull back and look at the other side of this argument. When Ariana Grande came out with this song, the world took it as merited. She has definitely proved herself to be a talented, resilient artist, if nothing else. Of course, she should get to sing about eating breakfast at Tiffany’s and cashing out at ATM machines. This then, pushes me to give us –– privileged college students –– the benefit of the doubt. 

Maybe another reason why this song has become so iconic is because it points to the rewards one reaps from staying strong. Maybe we listen to it to gain strength to get through whatever it is we are going through. Maybe we listen to it to reassure ourselves that when we face obstacles, we are not alone. Perhaps it’s a way to remind ourselves that happiness is something everyone deserves, and we should not depend on other people to give it to us. 

Or maybe, it’s just another catchy song to “get lit” to on the second floor of Boylan. For some reason, that conclusion is the most believable in my eyes.  

Shree Baphna is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com. 

related stories