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Beyonce Swagger Jackin’ And Black Female Objectification?!

March 25, 2009

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So Ciara dropped the video for her song  “Love, Sex and Magic” featuring Justin Timberlake last week, and I’ve been reading so many opinions on other blogs, and I figured I’d chime in. My initial reaction to the vid . . . . it does kind of tickle the wang. Ciara is known for her provocative, intricate dance choreography, and there’s a lot of sexual imagery in addition to those sexy moves. The song is called “Love, Sex and Magic” for cryin’ out loud! Now, perhaps I don’t spend as much time as others do scrutinizing music videos, but  some seem to think Ciara might have lifted a few elements from Beyonce’s recent videos, specifically the video for “Diva”.

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And while even I’ll admit, some of the comparisons may hold weight, I honestly don’t see that big of an issue. I think people need to stop looking at Beyonce like she’s the “Mitochondrial Eve” of pop msuic. I love her to death, but she’s one of the least “innovate” artists ever to grace the pop charts. And for whatever retarded reason, the media wants to cultivate a diva-beef, including the likes of CiCi, BeBe, and Keri Hilson, who allegedly called out the other two on her remix for her song “Turnin’ Me On”. Must we go down that road? Aren’t rap beefs nowadays laughable enough, without instigating petty catfights between songstresses.

The other issue seems to be the overtly sexual nature of the video, and Ciara’s collaborator on the song, Mr. Justin Timberlake. Some accuse him of “getting a pass” for apparently taking advantage of black female artists to boost his own career. They cite Timberlake’s actions in the video being degrading and oversexualizing towards black women, including Timberlake tugging at a leash around Ciara’s neck. They also bring up Janet Jackson and the wardrobe malfuction from the 2004 Superbowl, and it all just starts to hurt my head after a while. The implication that his actions damaged her career are especially ridiculous. Now, let me just say, that I can at the very least see where some may want to come to the conclusion of Timberlake’s actions being a symptom of a larger problem in regards to how black female artists are presented to mainstream music audiences, but I sure as shit don’t agree with it completely.

As to the whole Janet Jackson thing, yes, it was a dick move on his part leaving Janet to take most of the blame for the incident, but part of the blame was still hers to take. Even if he owned up to his part as equally as Janet did, I doubt it had any lasting negative affect on her career. If irreparable damage was done because of the incident in general, it’s her fault just as much as it’s his. But let’s be realistic and consider that maybe, just maybe, Janet Jackson’s career hasn’t be all that great because the material she’s putting out now *GASP!*. . . .  just isn’t that good. Far as I can tell, her best years were behind her long before JT exposed her tittay for the whole country to see. Everything she’s done post-Velvet Rope has either been a solid meh-inducer, or full-on pigeon scat! If she really wanted to, she could have taken a step back after the incident, and examined her career, and what kind of image she wanted to portray. You could argue that the “big bad music industry” manipulated her into continuing to sell sex, but this woman’s been in the game for over 20 years. If anyone has the clout to tell a record label that she’s gonna do her thing her way, Janet Jackson definitely could have. 

But back to Ciara, my question is, what do you want from an artist of such marginal talent outside the realm of dancing. Dollars to donuts, you don’t wanna hear this heffer sing live. And that’s something that can be said of a lot of these chicks. They might be great writers, but their vocals suck. They may just barely be able to carry a tune, but they can’t seem to come out with anything meaningful to say in their songs. And as to this issue of black female singers in particular being presented in an oversexed manner, well uh, that’s not just a “black women” issue. That’s a WOMEN issue! That’s any chick of any race, who more than likely got record deals despite having little in the way of any real musical talent, and have had to depend solely on sex appeal. And let’s not act like the mainstream music industry is always rewarding sex appeal over genuine talent. Hell, look at this past year’s Grammys. Hardly any of the non-white female nominees are known for being overtly sexual in their image or their music. Even beyond that, what if they were? God forbid an artist who presents themselves as being overtly sexual actually has a broader view of sexuality beyond cheesy romance novels, and isn’t “being manipulated by the even record company”. God forbid a black woman be into BDSM. Should she feel guilty given blacks’ history with slavery? Of course I’m not suggesting we forget slavery ever happened, but I think our insistence on dwelling on it hinders more than it helps us. 

Now listen, I don’t want to discount or discredit anyone’s opinion, but quite frankly, I feel like this is one of these instances where some people are really going out of their way to take issue with this video, and the individuals involved.

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2 comments

  1. I was agreeing with you until you went on your little Janet rant. You say that it was Janet’s music that caused her downfall and not the SB fallout. Bullshit this woman had just come off a super sucessful album and sellout world tour in 2002. “All for You” album sold over 3 million copies in the US alone. the tittle track “All for you” was a major hit for her and made radio airplay records. When Janet performed on the SB she was a Major pop artist still selling and adored. You mean to tell me after that night with all the backlash, people calling her a slut, whore and god knows what else her career was going to be the same? Radio won’t play her shit to this day,MTV just started playing Janet’s video in 2008? That’s fucking 4 years later. Her career was damaged tremendously because of the SB. And yeah Justin got off like a fat rat. As for the so call music please when u got soulja boy and tpain hitting #1 on the charts I don’t think it would take much to have a hit song today. But being blacklisted will fuck up all hope for that.


  2. “You say that it was Janet’s music that caused her downfall and not the SB fallout.”

    No, I merely entertained the possibility of her decline in popularity being contributed to her music. And I even said, IF her decline could be connected to the SB incident, it’s still partially her fault.

    “Bullshit this woman had just come off a super sucessful album and sellout world tour in 2002. “All for You” album sold over 3 million copies in the US alone. the tittle track “All for you” was a major hit for her and made radio airplay records. When Janet performed on the SB she was a Major pop artist still selling and adored.”

    True, but major pop artists can be at the height of their careers, and then for a myriad of reasons, none having to do with indecent exposure at a high-profile sporting event, can’t captivate audiences they way they did previously. Mariah Carey went from having a major career resurgence with Emancipation of Mimi, which sold six million copies, multiple singles either topping the charts or at the very least highly-ranking, to E=MC2, which has only gone just over platinum with one major single. Even if we give it another whole year to see how the album continues to sell, it’ll still be a drastic decline from her previous effort.

    Nelly had major success with the whole Sweat and Suit albums, and had people loving a song featuring Tim Freakin’ McGraw! But where’s the love for Brass Knuckles? There ain’t any.

    Sometimes, an artist can still fall in a rut, even when it seems like their career is on an upswing, and they’ve managed to steer clear of scandal.

    “Radio won’t play her shit to this day”

    That’s a bit of an exaggeration. If you want to say her record company wasn’t pushing her singles more aggressively, that makes a little more sense. Even then, singles for her subsequent albums have been released.

    “MTV just started playing Janet’s video in 2008?”

    Her videos were still being played on other major music video outlets. MTV is hardly the only game in town. Besides, it’s all just Viacom anyway. To say nothing of the fact that I’d argue her 20 Y.O. album got a fairly substantial promotional push in general. She was appearing on multiple magazine covers, and subsequently, some of those magazines had record sales as a result. Making talk show appearances.

    She still garners awards and accolades from black arts and entertaiment organizations, got back with the acting, even got a grammy nomination somewhere in the mix. Had a relatively successful nationwide tour, to boot.

    “As for the so call music please when u got soulja boy and tpain hitting #1 on the charts I don’t think it would take much to have a hit song today. ”

    Well, Soulja Boy is a bad example to bring up in particular. I think a lot of people have overestimated just how popular he is. His first album just barely went platinum, and his sophomore effort won’t even go gold. To say nothing of the fact that he’s been criticized heavily in the music press from day one. He had just been too hard to ignore given the success of “Crank Dat” just from him posting it on the internet. It was that vigorous self-promotion that put Soulja Boy in the spotlight, but trust me, he’s quickly proved himself undeserving of it, and the industry and the public are already turning their back on him.



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