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How Female Singers in Music Videos Regained Their Power


Perhaps one of the main positive features that exists in the music of the end of the last decade is the opportunity for women to freely realize themselves, their potential, and at the same time not be oppressed.

American divas have gone to this for a long time. They were objectified and portrayed as a sex symbol in music videos. But sooner or later, they realized their real strengths and that, they are not merely for showcasing their bodies to the audience.

Sooner or later, the cup of patience would burst, but it happened at the right time

By the early 2010s, music videos by female performers catered emotionally and aesthetically to men. Usually the celebrity herself was shown on the screen, possessing traditional feminine beauty, dancing or posing in a provocative manner. Almost everyone who started their career after the 2000s can be found in similar videos. Britney Spears appears in the debut video as a seductive schoolgirl, Christina Aguilera performs a song without the visuals telling a story as such, Rihanna performs as R'n 'B-divas. This state of affairs continued for a long time. At that time, both viewers and content producers were accustomed to objectifying an idol.

Blurred Lines crossed all lines and limits

Until the middle of the decade, the usual patterns were preserved in the clips created by men. In them, usually the performers, if they did not perform certain plot actions and did not show the story, then nodded approvingly, seeing barely dressed dancers.

At least that was the case until Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines video released in 2013. It was then that clip makers and consumers realized that the scheme did not work. They realized that it is not very cool to showcase girls like that explicitly topless in the music video.

Thicke had previously preferred to make videos with such content. It was during the release of Blurred Lines that a scandal erupted in the fem community, as evidenced by the founder of the women's support platform Leah Latchford in an article for The Guardian.

The debate sparked after this video and concerns were raised by common women. The time had finally come when the world realized that the traditional view of beautiful girls only as objects of desire is frankly annoying and insulting.

Robin Thicke in Blurred Lines

Robin Thicke in Blurred Lines

And it all started with a distortion of the familiar

One of the first who decided to show the world that women do not intend to dance to the old tune was J. Lo, who released the video I Luh Ya Papi with French Montana in 2014.

The video begins with a concept discussion with a male director who comes up with the standard sexist ideas. Why are we seeing this? Then to watch later as Jay and company make fun of retrograde, saying the following: “If Lo were a guy, this conversation would not exist at all”, “Why do men usually objectify women? Can't we do the same?" You can, which is why in I Luh Ya Papi the regal Jennifer sings surrounded by oiled and barely dressed guys.

Such perversion, distortion of gender roles in the music video has forced the community to rethink the understanding of male and female at the level of visual images.

Jennifer Lopez in I Luh Ya Papi

Jennifer Lopez in I Luh Ya Papi

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How Rihanna made objectification work for her

Then began the formation of modern women's music videos as we see them now. The same Riri - that's what fans call Rihanna - starting with dancing in the rain in Umbrella and party images, she plunged further and further into creating her own language. Sexy, but devoid of objectification of a woman, at least in the traditional sense.

'Rude Boy' still shows the singer standing in front of the camera in a defiant costume, although she already allows herself to undress the dancers, then in S&M Rihanna wins the role of the mistress of the situation in the most direct sense, because she appears in the form of a dominatrix.

Then Riri gets naked and seems to draw attention to the body, taking the audience away from the main thing - the essence. In fact, the singer even uses herself in some way to tell a story. Recall the Bitch Better Have My Money clip. The performer shows skimpy outfits throughout the video, sometimes she oppresses women herself (and does it like a man!), torturing a naked blonde and killing her in order to get to the main enemy, played by Mads Mikkelsen. In the finale, Rihanna relaxes, lying in a chest of bills — naked and covered in blood, in fact making us think of her not as a sex symbol, but as someone who is intimidating.

Rihanna in Bitch Better Have My Money

Rihanna in Bitch Better Have My Money


Why Beyonce became a boyfriend and went to beauty contest?

The same can be said about Beyoncé 's videos. At first, she only slightly outlined her intentions to rebel against the typical gender division, as in the If I Were A Boy video. Here, too, there is a perversion, the story of a male policeman who flirts with a colleague, almost cheating on his wife is shown. Only the director switched the spouses, showing how the situation would look if a woman did this.

After the 2010s, Beyoncé rose to a new level. Her 2016 album Lemonade became the confession of a woman who lost her family, love, child, power and was not afraid to face difficulties, overcome them and come out renewed.

This is evidenced by her clip Pretty Hurts, where the singer shows without embellishment what is behind the imaginary success of every woman, for whom the main thing is to be conventionally beautiful. The heroine of the singer performs at a beauty contest, listening to criticism of her weight and figure during preparation, facing body shamingon behalf of other contestants, unable to do anything in return - she only has to smile from the stage.

Showing the numerous awards received earlier, she silently thinks: “Why do I need all this, if I and my colleagues in the shop are forced to torture themselves with hunger strikes, spit dinners into the toilet, tighten their waists and go under the knife?”

The outcome of the story is obvious to fans of the star. In the finale, Beyoncé stands on the stage of a small-town beauty contest and, after briefly reflecting on the question from the presenter: “What do you see as your goal?”, she replies,“My goal is to be happy,” and crushes all her prizes received for beautiful eyes and clear curves of the body.

Beyonce in If I Were A boy

Beyonce in If I Were A boy

It is noteworthy that the named clips of Rihanna and Beyoncé were directed by the same director. Melina Matsoukas is one of the most influential people in the art community in the early 2010s. For her, according to Melina herself, it was important to challenge the usual foundations, show what provokes and diversify stories.

From the early 2000s through the 2010s, we saw divas dancing cutely to songs, giving us an unhealthy view of women dictated by male music video makers. Later, they gained power and got the opportunity to convey to the viewer something more than their bright appearance.

© 2022 Hamza Hussaini

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