Music Video Role Reversal

We have spent much of this week in class dealing with the formula for a standard music video formula. Much of the ideas we came up with – water eroticism, disproportionate ratios, an invitation to the audience via direct looks at the camera, “mild” homosexuality, skimpy clothes, and panning shots, to name a few – are mirrored in this video by Marina and the Diamonds, though this time with the genders having their roles reversed.

For me, the video is a bit jarring – the men showering together and “frolicking”, for lack of a better word, seems like something completely culturally unacceptable. When I interpret it, though, through the lens of this weeks classic formula, the true satire of the piece becomes apparent to me. The piece does make me wonder, though, whether it is meant to be a subtle joke on Marina’s part or more a message of empowerment.

Do you know of any other videos that play with the “classic” music video format?


2 thoughts on “Music Video Role Reversal

  1. deeana15

    What I find really interesting are the gender dynamics of the video. Together with the reversal of the visual elements of standard music videos, the lyrics also reinforce this idea of the singer being like a guy: she is a player, she does not want to be attached to any partner, all stereotypical characteristic of men. Yet towards the middle of the video, she says that she is a player only because “we [girls] don’t want our hearts to break”, so we understand that everything she has said is fake, is a mask: guys are the real players, girls are always the more involved ones, the ones that will get hurt, and to protect themselves they have to play a part. Gender roles reversed? No, just hidden.

  2. virseymour

    I think Marina frequently parodies the popular culture and gender roles through ironic lyrics and comedically feminine performance. It is really hard to say what is actually her voice and what she is parodying in her songs, so I am hesitant to agree with the previous comment simply because we can’t know if that lyric isn’t just also a parody, part of the character she plays.

    When I think of music videos that subvert the trend that we saw in Dreamwords 3, I always think of Missy Elliott. Besides being the best in every way, she manages to completely avoid all of those dominant tropes that sexualize women in her music videos. Pointing specifically to the video for “I’m Really Hot” ( is particularly useful. From the title, one expects more of the same sexualized video girl action: I’m-attractive-and-only-a-sexual-plaything. But you see the video (and ignore the orientalizing for a second) and realize that she isn’t talking about her body, she’s talking about how awesome her dance moves are. All the women are “appropriately” clothed and though they wear some suit jackets they aren’t worn in a fetishized way or to assume the role of men in the video. Clothes are only taken off to throw down and dance harder. Women dance, men dance, kids dance. There are no close-up shots of breasts or other female body parts; the video is primarily wide shots to display the variety and skill of dancing and close ups of Missy Elliott rapping that don’t stray from her face and shoulders. So many female rappers and singers give into the demand for sexiness and become just another video girl, but Missy Elliott’s talent is what keeps her Really Really Hot.


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