“The music industry is a vicious business. It chews women up and spits them out.”, says singer/songwriter Tori Amos. Much like the world of advertisements and fashion, female performers are hypersexualized and objectified. The music industry, being run by mostly men (producers, directors, etc.) make it very unlikely for a woman to succeed based on their talent, but more so because of the way they express their sexuality and flaunt their looks.
The problem in the music industry is not that women aren’t successful, just look at the women at the top right now: Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, etc. The problem is the actual nature of the success, in other words, how many twerking/half-naked stunts they have to pull to get them to the top. Forty-five percent of women in the music industry say that the biggest problem they face is being seen as a sexual object, and it is no surprise because of the simple fact that the media treats them like their appearance is the only thing that matters.
One example is the Lana Del Rey GQ cover from last year. She is the only one who was featured completely naked on the cover of the Man of the Year 2012 issue, meanwhile all 4 men were in tuxedos. She also was shot sitting down in an almost fetal position, while the men were shot standing up. When a female singer is attractive, the media will focus on that, and very rarely focus on the craft of the artist: the music. Or when they do, they will only compare them to other female artists, never male artists who create the same genre of music.
When Lana Del Rey first broke out as an artist, the New York Times Blog said “Without straying too far off the pop grid, she’s the perfect antidote to Rihanna-Gaga overload — dare we say, a skinnier Adele, a more stable Amy Winehouse?” meanwhile musically, Adele, Amy and Lana have very little in common aside from the fact that they are all female vocalists.
Maria Diamondis of Marina and the Diamonds, also had a looks-based experience with her record label when she was due to release her video for “How to Be A Heartbreaker”.
“So, someone at my record label wont let me release the video bc I look ugly in it apparently,” Diamandis wrote on Twitter. “We need more $/ time to paint out ugly parts.”
She also went on to mention that she would leak the uncut version to her fans if the video was not ready by the end of the week, unfortunately she isn’t the only one that has been affected by this hypersexualized craze.
The most recent example of this popstar hypersexuality is ex-Disney star, Miley Cyrus. At the MTV Video Music Awards, Miley twerked her way around stage (and on top of Robin Thicke) in a nude colored body suit, inappropriately caressing her dance partners with her foam finger. Then, at the European Music Awards, she groped one of her dancers onstage, also while wearing very little clothing. British actress, Emma Thompson, had this to say:
“She made the choice of going hyper-sexual for a reason, and we’re all responsible for that, because that’s what we buy, and that’s what we click on. Those quick clicks are dangerous.”
Twenty-seven year old singer Charlotte Church also had much to say about the subject during a talk with BBC a few weeks ago. While artists like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna might feel that flaunting her sexuality is empowering, Charlotte says the music industry demoralizes women.
“Cyrus, and a former generation of Disney child stars turned singers such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, are “encouraged to present themselves as hypersexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win”, said Church.
While the women performers in the business are getting all of the fame (and endless slut-shaming), the men who are producing these tracks, directing these videos are making all of the money. Church also says that Rihanna’s video “Pour It On” (which is 75% dancers on poles), attracted 40 million views but its purpose was to make money.
“You only have to look at the online response to see that it is only a matter of time until the public turns on an artist for pushing it too far,” she said. “But the single, like all Rihanna’s other provocative hits, will make her male writers, producers and record label guys a ton of money.”
While Charlotte does come from a completely different world of music (gospel), she does make a very good point about how the only way men could be seen they way women are seen in music is for comedy.
“I’d like you to imagine a world in which male musicians are routinely expected to act as submissive sex objects,” Church said. Picture Beyonce’s husband Jay Z stripped down to a T-back bikini thong, sex kittin’ his way through a boulevard of suited-and-booted women for their pleasure. Or Britney Spears‘ ex, Justin Timberlake, in buttocks-clenching hot pants writhing on top of a pink Chevy, explaining to an audience how he’d like to be their ‘Teenage Dream’. … Of course these scenarios are not likely to become reality, unless for comedy’s sake. The reason for this is that these are roles the music industry has carved out specifically for women.”
A recent example of this is Kanye West’s new music video for his song “Bound 2”, which features his wife Kim Kardashian, topless, who literally straddles him for a good minute of the video. Comedian Seth Rogen and actor James Franco decided to make a parody of this in which Rogen was half naked, playing the part of Kim and Franco was playing Kanye. The parody was a hit, yet no one bothered to mention that the original video was only disturbing because Kanye uses his own wife as a sex doll in his music video.
One female popstar from the UK has made her point very clear that she will not take this sexualization and objectification any longer in the music industry. After four years of not releasing an album, Lily Allen just released her hit song “Hard Out Here (For a Bitch)” with a very explanatory video of what it is like to be a woman in the entertainment industry.
From the opening of the video, Lily Allen expresses the struggle, or the pressures to look a certain way as she lies on an operating table surrounded by surgeons performing liposuction, as well as her manager, who says out loud, “How does somebody let themselves get like this?” To which she replies: “Um, I had two babies,”
The video, features several women twerking around her (a stab at Miley Cyrus), while her manager comes over and “shows” her how to jiggle her assets while she sings,
“Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you/ Have you thought about your butt, who’s gonna tear it in two?”
Allen’s second verse of the song hits on the major points women face, not just in the music industry but all the time:
“ If you’re not a size six
And you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich
Or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight
‘Cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face
Or you’ll end up on your own”
Belonging in the kitchen, the pressure to be skinny or pretty, are all things that women (especially those who are highlighted in the media) have to think about, even more so than their music. Kate Nash, a singer sometimes compared to Lily Allen said this: “Maybe some people have [forgotten about the music],” she said. “I wouldn’t judge somebody for doing something because they felt like they had to because it is a difficult industry to navigate through.”
Lily Allen’s approach to confronting the problems women in the music industry face was satirical and humorous. As an aspiring singer/songwriter myself, I truly hope that more women in music begin to speak out about the constant objectifying and hypersexualizing of popstars. BNot only is this way of thinking ruining the music part of the industry but it is also discouraging to aspiring artists. Agreeing with Lily Allen, it is indeed “Hard Out Here (For a Bitch)” .
Gender Representations In Music Videos: Essay
Music videos originally served the purpose of creating an outlet through which artists could generate publicity for their work, broaden their popular appeal, and reach wider audiences with interesting audio-visual content (Berry & Shelton, 1999). Over the years, the visual imagery in music videos has increasingly become as significant as the music it represents, as music videos have now become major outlets for propagating views and stereotypes that influence popular culture.
One of the most noteworthy features of modern music videos is the portrayal of gender according to the worldviews, experiences, and expectations of the music artistes, or in line with gender stereotypes associated with specific music genres (Conrad, Dixon, & Zhang, 2009). In this regard, this paper attempts a critical interrogation of gender representations in music videos, specifically in terms of how women and men are represented in music videos of artistes in the Hip Hop genre. In doing so, this paper seeks to determine the stereotypes that underpin gender portrayal in hip hop music videos, contextualize the factors that may be responsible for the propagation of such stereotypes in music videos, and explore the implications for audiences – particularly teenagers and young adults who constitute much of the fan-base for the hip hop music genre.
In order to develop a keen understanding of gender representation in hip hop videos, it is important to first recognize that the hip hop genre presents itself as a reflection of urban reality, and seeks to give expression to the lifestyles, social orientations, and thoughts of young people in the society (Bynoe, 2006). The genre purports to represent a movement that caters to the daily hopes, dreams, ways of life, and struggles of urban communities, while provoking critical discourse to foster social change (Alexander, 1996). However, many hip hop artistes prefer to use language and images deemed sexist, offensive, or profane to communicate their messages, and this preference has largely defined artistic expression in the genre for the last two decades. Against this backdrop, it has become almost normative for hip hop music videos to represent gender in terms of stereotypes about what women should look like, how they should be treated, or what role they should play – especially in terms of social relations with men.
Many hip hop music videos contain stereotypical characterizations that seem to glorify the objectification of women, while focusing on male pursuit of sexual gratification. The depiction of the female body in many hip hop videos suggest that it is a decorative prop or trophy that illustrates masculine sexual desire and portray the female's main purpose as satisfying the male's sexual interest and fulfilling his craving for dominance (Ward, Hansbrough, &Walker, 2005). To be sure, sexual objectification is not unique to hip hop music videos alone, or to music videos in general. Modern media culture as a whole tends to...
Loading: Checking Spelling0%