Tag Archives: music video

#solidarityisforwhiteartists: the oppressive nature of a white artist’s message

Lily Allen’s music video for her single, “Hard Out Here”, is yet another installment of how white artists implicitly add a racial dialogue to deliver and solidify their messages. What is oppression? Oppression is when your culture and bodies become tools to promote white artist’s careers and criticisms of society. It is how musicians’s “anti-consumerist” messages have been embedded in consumerism closely associated with hip-hop and thusly African American culture. In “Hard Out Here”, Allen asserts that you would never hear her talk about her chains.  In becoming “anti-consumerist”, Allen only targets one type of consumer: African Americans. Oppression is also having your body become hypersexualized and on display in an effort to critique sexism while reinforcing negative stereotypical representations of your identity. Allen, while fully clothed, is surrounded by mostly women of color who are: twerking in bikini coverage style outfits, provocatively touching themselves, and dowsing themselves in champagne. Although this video is meant to be a parody, Allen’s representation of African American women just reinforces racist tropes about them in music videos. Oppression of this nature between women is nothing new, as bell hooks pointed out that “sexism is perpetuated by institutional and social structures” (127). The institution of racism still permeates our society and divides our women’s movement, as seen in the popular twitter movement over the summer started by Mikki Kendal #solidarityisforwhitewomen. There’s much to do for gender equality, but if we’re getting there through putting other women and cultures down, can we really call it progress?

Works Cited:

Hooks, Bell. “SISTERHOOD: Political Solidarity Between Women.” Feminist Review 23 (1986): 125-138. Print.

To What Must You React? : Kim Kardashian and Physical Beauty.

Kanye West has recently released a video for his new single, “Bound 2.” Kanye West, who is known for his undeniable creative ability, takes a different course with his new music video. The video, which premiered nationally on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, features his fiancé Kim Kardashian as the leading lady.

My primary issue with this video is the portrayal of Kim Kardashian and the message it sends to young women. Throughout the video Kim is scene riding, mainly topless, on a motorcycle, with Kanye as the driver. The video frequently cuts to scenes of her nude silhouette, moving seductively, and enticing the camera (i.e. the audience) to take part in her and Kanye’s joy ride through the valleys of the Grand Canyon.



There is no denying the fact that Kim Kardashian is a beautiful woman and this video certainly serves to make sure the world knows it. The video as a whole has no real purpose than to sexually exploit Kim Kardashian’s body and show her submission to a man, aka Kanye West (no disrespect to Kanye). Kim Kardashian has made a career being America’s sexpot, and showing off her body and looks in magazines, commercials, and advertisements. She has used this overly sexualized image to sell cosmetics, clothing, perfume, shoes, and just about anything else related to the beauty industry. This video and Kim Kardashian’s celebrity, serve to promote the idea that physical beauty is a woman’s most desirable trait. Young girls are now growing up to idolize celebrities like Kim Kardashian and believe that they must be sexual and beautiful in order to be desired, and other qualities, such as integrity and education, are secondary. The Kardashian brand does not encourage young girls to take pride in what they have to offer to the world, besides looking their best.

Is this really what we want to convey to the next generation? When is enough, enough?


Selling Jeans?


I remember driving by Joe’s Jeans billboards when I was younger (before I even considered issues such as women’s objectification) and being puzzled. Isn’t this a jeans company? Why is this a picture of bare butts? I think this particular ad captures some of the music video/advertisement conventions touched on in Dreamworlds 3. Of course there is the emphasis on a single part of her body, while the piece of clothing Joe’s is selling is minimized. Also significant is the point of view – the photographer captures the man’s perspective as he stares at the woman, and therefore the audience takes his view. This billboard also captures John Berger’s concept of the woman being both the surveyor and the surveyed. Here the woman is highly conscious of the man watching her, and the viewers of the ad see her being watched; similar to music videos, she is portrayed as wanting to be watched. This ad seems to sell a heterosexual male fantasy more than a pair of women’s jeans.

Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

Jhally, S., Killoy, A., Bartone, J., & Media Education Foundation. (2007). Dreamworlds 3: Desire, sex & power in music video. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation.

What is Oppression?

Before this class, I used to think that oppression was diminishing. However, I now realize that oppression is a cyclical phenomenon embedded in society, a cycle between the oppressors and the oppressed, with no realistic end.

This became clear after watching Dreamworlds 3, a documentary about female oppression in music videos. This cycle of oppression stems from patriarchy – men believe they are superior to women and thus the controllers of all aspects of their lives. This supports bell hooks’, Seduced By Violence No More, in which she states that we live in a phallocentric and patriarchal state that gives men a sense of superiority and privilege over women, thus influencing their treatment and expectations of women.

Music videos generate cultural ideals of femininity, equating it with being desirable and submissive to men, thus putting women under male control. Music videos also depict women solely by their sexuality, devaluing and thus dehumanizing them, which enables further oppression.

The cycle of oppression in music videos commences with the male fantasy of women, women in music videos act out these male fantasies, then the everyday male audience interprets this to be reality and attempt to fulfill their fantasies in real life, leaving everyday women to bear the burden of this cycle.

It is unknown if this cycle will end, but it is crucial to remember that oppression is hegemonic – oppressors maintain control by making the oppressed willing to remain in their position. In this case, women desire to resemble video girls, which is simply maintaining male superiority.


Hooks, Bell. “Seduced By Violence No More.” Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations. New York: Routledge, 1994. N. pag. Print.

Jhally, Sut, Andrew Killoy, and Joe Bartone. Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2007.

Consent: Where Responsibilities Lie

We have seen music videos that present inequality between men and women;  women are fragmented, oversexualized creatures whose sole purpose is to please the dominant male artists.  Men have the freedom in music videos to exert power over women, and it is simply assumed that women enjoy it.  The reality, however, can be quite different.  It is our responsibility to separate what we see in music videos with how we act in everyday relationships.  Mutual consent is the key to successful and respectful relationships.  Our job is to understand that consent “should encompass more than yes or no,” and that “silence is not consent.”  We are responsible for communicating to our partners what we do and do not want, and we should ask them to share their feelings as well.  Consent is not passive;  we should not allow ourselves or our partner to simply see how far we can go, or do what we like without asking about our actions.  Unlike the fantasy of music videos, actual male/female relationships need the female to say what she likes too,  instead of only the male taking charge without discussion.  When everyone in the relationship takes responsibility to speak honestly about their desires, respect any instance when a partner says no, and ultimately treat each other as more than just their bodies, then it will be easier to put distance between the sexism in music videos and sex in the bedroom.

Bussel, Rachel. “Beyond Yes or No: Consent as a Sexual Process.” Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World without Rape. By Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Berkeley, CA: Seal, 2008. N. pag. Print.

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?