A shot from Outlandish’s video for their cover of “Aicha.”
Last year, I got a call from a young cousin who informed me, with sheer glee, that the new One Direction music video featured a young Muslim in hijab. Those few seconds in the video that highlighted a giddy, veiled teenager were a breakthrough for young identifiable Muslimahs in the world.
I think this meant that I was supposed to embrace the boy band that I had successfully been trying to avoid. I must admit I checked out the video. OK, I can’t lie. I watched it on repeat about ten times. (It’s a catchy song). And yes, from 1:20 to 1:23 in the video may seem like young eager Muslimah pop fans have been well represented. No inferences of weakness, oppression and need of immediate liberation. There isn’t race. There isn’t creed. There isn’t blatant stereotyping of women; there is just 1D fangirling – which unites us all.
The reactions to Esperanza Spalding’s win for Best New Artist seemed to range from the one above to, “Well, at least it wasn’t The Bieb.” But the win was as weird as it was surprising, as the 26-year-old isn’t a rookie.
Spalding was nominated following her third album, Chamber Music Society, which was released in July 2010, and was eligible because, in the eyes of the powers that be, Chamber was the first recording “which establishes the public identity of that artist.” Besides her own work, Spalding is the bassist in the US5 Quintet, led by jazz stalwart Joe Lovano, a Grammy-winner in his own right. Continue reading →
As the marketing buzz controversy surrounding Lady Gaga’s new single grows, it should be pointed out that, as with arguably other aspects of her act, this is nothing new.
The lyrics in question in Gaga’s new single, “Born This Way,” center around an oddly-phrased call for self-empowerment:
Don’t be a drag, just be a queen Whether you’re broke or evergreen You’re black, white, beige, Chola descent You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient Whether life’s disabilities Left you outcast, bullied or teased Rejoice and love yourself today ‘Cause baby you were born this way
What sets Gaga’s use of the term apart, for now – there’s been no video released for “Born This Way,” though she will perform it at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13 – is the direct use of the word Chola in the lyrics, as opposed to visual shorthand. And that’s where the controversy comes in: the word it’s derived from, Cholo, originated in the 16th century as a slur, similar to “mutt,” in both Perú and Mexico. But in the U.S., some would argue that they’re tied in with the Chicano identity and culture, following the lineage of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. Continue reading →
TRIGGER WARNING: Video NSFW, includes imagery of violence toward women
By Guest Contributor Naima Ramos-Chapman, cross-posted from PostBourgie
Decided to throw this up here before the label undoubtedly takes it down: Kanye West’s leaked video “Monster.”
Soon there will be a host of blogs that pick a part every scene to explain what Kanye is trying to tell us, but here is the short version: there are a lot of dead, eroticized women- dead model-esque women hanging from the ceiling like chandeliers, dead women lying in bed made to pose in “sexy” positions, dead women body parts lying around a mansion…there just seems to be dead women everywhere.
But to be fair, there were also women who are seemingly alive and kicking, depicted as man-eating zombies, screaming banshees and werewolves.
The dichotimization of women as it pertains to race; in the video, white women are predominantly locked into roles of subordination to the point of gruesome lifelessness while black women are cast as aggressive, angry and threatening sexual beasts.
Nicki Minaj’s scenes are mild compared to rest because A) they have no corpses of any kind and B) the self-interrogation part can be seen as “edgy” and “different.” But, that would be too kind. What sort of internal conflict can be that deep if the two versions of yourself that are having issues with one another — dominatrix Nicki versus barbie Nickie — are also ones that readily appeal to male-fantasies?
Why oh why does the King Kong image and its attendant suggestions of pure white goodness and evil black barbarism keep on rearing its ugly head? Sent to us by reader Ruth, this photo is one of a series done by celeb art photographer David LaChappelle, for special editions of Lady Gaga’s new album. See the whole series here.
Or you may remember it and its ilk from the Amanda Marcotte/Seal Press debacle, where Seal Press used images such as the following to illustrate Marcotte’s book, It’s a Jungle Out There:
Or you may remember this image from this:
The list goes on.
In September, I linked to another Gaga/West image, which features a white lady (Gaga I assume) and a black person (West I assume) humping around. I suggested that the image dehumanised both players in a sexist and racist way. Mostly the reader response was: yawn.
This new King Kong photo of Gaga being the white virgin for West’s primal altar is problematic just to look at: a naked blonde woman with a perfect body is being stolen by a dark-skinned tropical heathen with dead eyes. Aiyeeee.
But the shot is even problematic in the context of the Iconography of Gaga.