Psychology of the Oedipus Complex in “Motherlover”

By: Curtis Cole

[Disclaimer: Features some sexual content]

In Freudian theory there exists a theory on castration, namely, that the only reason young boys give up their sexual desire for their mothers is due to the father’s threat of emasculation. As far as genitals is concerned this is all well and good; typical of the Freudian mindset, this carries over into adulthood with the male child, as recounted by Robert Dale Parker in Interpreting Literature (2008), as “displac[ing] his desire for his mother onto a gender-similar ‘object’, a women who is not his mother” (119). Done by the father to ensure the child entry into heterosexuality, this act also doubly performs as a barrier to ensure that the father-figure itself remains unharmed by what Freud saw as the internal desire of the child to kill the father so as to win the love of the mother.

However, what happens when the father dies? Freud has some things to say on this matter but for the sake of reason I will allow it to be explained by the jokesters of the comedic musical troupe “The Lonely Island”, with their song “Motherlover” who, featuring Justin Timberlake, more or less gets to the heart of the matter at hand.

Music Video: “Motherlover” (Artist: The Lonely Island, ft. Justin Timberlake)

Goodness! Let’s jump right into this mess:

Early in the song, before the one minute mark, it is established that of the duo, who appear to be engaged in an intense homosocial relationship, not only adore their mothers but lack father-figures both such figures were lost to death or common human behaviors (e.g., leaving to satisfy an inner drive). The lyrics read: “My mama’s been so alone ever since my daddy left” and “My dad can’t satisfy her in the bedroom ever since he passed away”. Conjoined to this text is a series of close-contact encounters where each physically with one another: eating sandwiches on a stone bench, practically side by side, and working out in the gym, with one making physical contact with the other’s leg, all while discussing their love for their respective mothers. In such a short temporal period much has been established: such as—both are devoted to their mothers and both are devoted to each other.

“We both love our moms, women with grown women needs / I say we break them off and show them how much they really mean” and the chorus “I’m a mother lover, you’re a mother lover, we should fuck each other’s mothers” as well as “I’ll push in that lady where you came out as a baby… if doing it is wrong I don’t wanna be right; I’m calling on you since I can’t do it myself, to me you’re like a brother so be my mother lover”.

It is difficult to know where even to begin, but for the sake of arguing let’s start with desire. As Parker relates “Freud sees adult neuroses as deriving from early childhood traumas that interfere with the child’s physic development” (119) which to Freud as conceptualized as “Return of the Repressed”; “repressed drives which pop back up in the form of… disguised representations of unconscious desire.” Adoring one’s mother, yet not being able to sexually satisfy her due to societal taboo, counts as a ‘repressed desire’ as far as I, and Freud, is concerned. Hence why the intimate partnership between the two is needed: mere camaraderie will not do for a proxy encounter; it needs to be a relationship which allows the men themselves to enact their sexual desires not only with their mothers but through such an action become lovers by proxy themselves. The next set of lyrics attest to this– “I can’t wait to pork your mom” plus “Give it to my mom doggy style”.  Each of the men express the specific sexual acts the other wants performed on their mother. The curious aspect about these lines is how each is so specifically crude. It seems that each of the men had been ruminating on this for a prolonged period. Clearly a sign that their repressed homosexual desire for one another is, through the erection of this moment, something long in the making and just now at the breaking point. Continuing this trend each recite “it would be my honor to be your new stepfather” which, cemented by a reference to condom less sex, and the lack of biological fathers, signals the intention of the men to become the new patriarchs of their families and, without directly destroying the social taboo on incest, satisfy both their innate homosexual and oedipal complexes.

So if Freud were around today he would probably have a fit regarding “Mother’s Day” but thankfully he is not around to throw a hissy. He has left it to us. More specifically “The Lonely Island” and short blog posts like this. Because after all if I didn’t show you the roots of Mother Lover then who would have? Perhaps Lacan… ?

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  1. Michael K. Johnson

     /  March 18, 2015

    Lacan might note breaking one taboo (mother loving) substitutes for another (brother loving). Even if the two satisfy their Oedipal desires, they do so only to both approach and push themselves further away from the desire that isn’t quite name–which is for each other rather than each other’s mother.


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