Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Video Monday: Sexualization Isn't Just a Pop Phenomenon

I hate to boil things down to their most simplistic form (oh who am I kidding? I love doing that!), but I've found there to be two predominant trends in pseudo-feminist pop music.  Either the singer is all about girl power and wants everyone to know just how sexy and awesome she is (The Spice Girls, Madonna, Britney Spears, most of the early 00s), or the singer is all about how she's just as good as a man (Salt-N-Pepa, Nicki Minaj, and, well, most female rap, to be honest).

But here's the thing.  Both of these types?  Well, they kind of end up having the same message.  Ultimately, especially if you watch the videos, all you come away thinking is, "Gosh that pretty woman feels strongly about women or something."

That's it.

Call me cynical (my camp counselor from 1997 would agree wholeheartedly), but I think this is a bad thing.  If the message of the song is all about independence from social norms, then why the hell does the video go so far to remain within them?

Basically, if you want to be taken seriously, women, why are you writhing around in your underwear?  Put on some pants and sing like a normal person!

So I thought we'd start off with the two primary examples from their categories.  Enjoy thinking about the deep social implications, or just take a deep breath and enjoy the music.

Glee, "Run the World" - Originally by Beyonce



It's light, it's fluffy, but it's got just enough of a dose of "Yeah, women power!" to keep me interested.  In fact, I quite like the message of the song, and the video does make me want to put a fist in the air, until I notice that the singer's wearing a modified cheerleader uniform, flashing her crotch while she sings about independence, and basically wearing bondage gear.

Riiiiight.

Jessie J., "Do It Like a Dude" - NSFW



It's pretty much the exact same video, right?  This one just has a lot more grit, like someone smeared the camera lens with a hippie's towel.  And while I think that it's an interesting video, seeing a pop star gyrate while clothed in something comes out to about a bathing suit doesn't really make me think independence.

Or at least not independence from the male gaze.

But then again, I could be being too sensitive.  It's not like nearly every music video produced these days has some form of female exploitation in order to gain more male viewers.

Oh wait.

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