Two Choices: Hip-Hop Femininity

5 11 2008

I recently saw Ciara’s new “Go Girl” video, and I have many thoughts, none of which are entirely positive. First, the superficial shots: the song has zero energy. T-Pain’s guest spot is the most exciting part of the track, and that just means it kept me awake long enough to see the end. The concept was also only halfway there; it’s futuristic, she’s an about-business corporate chick. Now she’s a robot! Then it ends climactically with her becoming the main feature at a harley show, twirling around on a Price is Right, “brand new car!”-esque lazy susan, spurting sparks from the tailpipe. Also, the scaffolding in the final dance sequence looks like the behind-the-scenes view of the scaffolding in the “Promise” video. Oh yeah, and it looks like Ci-Ci has not only harnessed the Matrix backbend, but the “Go Girl” video seemed to be an outlet to display her newfound love for Mel B.-like splits. Overall, in one word, “Go Girl” is both visually and aurally uninspired.

But…..

Seeing her in that CUH-RAZY robot outfit with metal greaves, a strong stance and underoos that Katy Perry would fall in love with, got me thinking about Ciara’s image and strong femininity in hip-hop. She’s not the first female solo artist to ward off the temptation of becoming a glorified video girl (yeah, I’m looking at you, Christina Milian, Ashanti, Amerie, etc.), nor has she completely eschewed using sex as a marketing technique. But overall, everything from her bourgeoning image to her aggressive-yet-impressive dance style is refreshingly strong for a female in her particular genre, and in pop music in general. I applaud her for espousing this unique image, but after the Go Girl video, I felt led in two distinct directions:

Ciara’s Anti-Object Femininity: How’s She Doin?

1) Her message, while a bit jarring, is important and should be applauded and embraced by the hip-hop community. Sure, she’s pretty freakin’ terrifying in that robot outfit and man-cut business suit in her new video. But maybe it’s necessary. Maybe Ciara needs to be the stark opposite so we can arrive somewhere in the middle. And I’m not saying that it’s a travesty that women are being mentioned in sexual terms in rap lyrics; that would be a separate issue altogether. What Ciara’s standing against, at least visually, is the manipulation and domination that is occurring in popular sexual lyrics regarding women. Women aren’t partners in rappers’ sex fantasies; they’re subordinated and lured with promises of fame and wealth, which give the lyricist the right to gratify himself however he sees fit, sometimes even with violence. I know what you’re thinking: light topic, right? Let’s move on.

OR:

2. Ciara has good intentions, but she’s actually making matters worse. Good for Ciara for standing up against objectifying females, but seriously: the message she’s sending with her creepitude costuming is putting us right back where we started. The reason I say this: a woman does not need to disregard her innate femininity to illustrate that she’s more than a sex object. What CiCi’s saying with her MANnerisms is, “sup. I’m just like a dude. That means I gets respect.” WRONG. Ciara needs to hold on to what makes her a woman and demand equality in the hip-hop genre while doing so.

Anyway, sorry for the tome. Below is her video, just in case you need to prove me wrong:

Random irreverence to the intellectual legitimacy of all the above: check out the beginning of the spark-cycle sequence at 2:36. How does that look like anything BUT super-flatulence?!

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2 responses

18 11 2008
Shay

blah, I hate hate hate that metallic outfit!

7 12 2008
omar

I like the new look, very successful indeed! The song is quite good, and you can’t go wrong with Ciara’s dance pas in that bob-wig!

But what REALLY makes it for me is those orgasmic L’Incognito sunglasses by Martin Margiela! Those things are the new Alain Mikli! (Kanye’s Stronger glasses)

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