What girl power message?

What girl power message? - Music videos are essentially advertising, but the clip for Katy Perry’s California Gurls, top of the Australian charts, is the most cynical bid for market dominance I’ve seen in some time. It’s a video underpinned by a marketing logic common to both soft porn and sugary food, where pleasure is a naughty indulgence in which a woman’s role is to facilitate the enjoyment of others. In food commercials, women nibble chocolate or lick fingers smeared in whipped cream, smiling coyly for the camera. They are not eating for their own satisfaction — god forbid, that might make them fat — but to illustrate a correctly feminine mode of desire: proportional, demure, and always conscious of its own appearance.

What I find especially irritating about California Gurls is its eagerness to illustrate this lesson to young girls, who form a large segment of the viewing audience of music videos. If I were five years old I’d be mesmerised by California Gurls: ice cream, gummy bears, giant gingerbread houses, fairy floss clouds. It illustrates, very powerfully, a fantasy of endless oral gratification that young children are psychologically in thrall to; a fantasy that advertising works to exploit in a highly gendered way. Women and girls — and girls learn this very fast — are not allowed food. They become food, a delectable display for others, as is Perry and her troop in their cupcake bikinis.

Yet it serves little purpose to be moralistic, and to wish that girls could have their innocence preserved while watching Video Hits. If California Gurls proves anything, it’s that ‘‘innocence’’ is a profitable advertising notion, pink and shiny as the inside of Barbie’s dream home.

Katy Perry performs California Gurls at the MTV Movie Awards.
Katy Perry performs California Gurls at the MTV Movie Awards. Photo: Reuters

Perry’s elaborate, colourful candyland is also evidence of another industry truth: the continued importance of the ‘‘event video’’ to a popular artist’s commercial success. The event video is the cinematic blockbuster of music clips. It can propel an artist from mid-ranking to megastar.

MTV royalty Michael Jackson and Madonna created event video in the 1980s by borrowing from ‘‘Golden Age’’ Hollywood musicals such as West Side Story and Singin’ in the Rain. Elaborate choreography, high production values and an extensive supporting cast were key. The legacy of these artists is nowhere more obvious than in the work of Lady Gaga. Today’s MTV comes in the form of YouTube, and Gaga is its reigning pop queen: her two most recent videos, Alejandro and Telephone, have between them received 100 million viewings on the site.

Major record labels such as Interscope and Capitol — home to Lady Gaga and Perry, respectively — are increasingly canny about marketing their extravagant visual wares. Previews and teaser clips stoke viewer expectation, while dedicated artist’s ‘‘channels’’ create virtual fan clubs, with embedded commercials to take advantage of a captive audience. Gaga’s videos are particularly shameless in their product placement: the hefty fees paid by companies to flog their technological toys no doubt helps to offset her label’s production costs.

Beyoncé Knowles becomes “B.B. Homemaker” in Why Don't You Love  Me?
Beyoncé Knowles becomes “B.B. Homemaker” in Why Don't You Love Me?

The crucial money-can’t-buy-it marketing factor is word of mouth, a form of hype the web is uniquely suited to exploit, as links, tweets and Facebook ‘‘shares’’ ping around the globe. A video both high-production and high-concept invites fevered online discourse. Gaga, unblinking at controversy, uses this to her advantage, but so have other artists.

MIA’s Born Free, released three months ago in advance of her new album, achieved the rare distinction of having its accompanying video banned by YouTube for explicit violence. It’s about the only distinction this video managed, and it certainly did no harm to the buzz around it. Having disappeared from YouTube, it proliferated on any number of rival video-hosting sites.

Born Free busts several conceptual gaskets in trying to be hard-hitting, but is merely ham-fisted: it presents the viewer with a shallow visual analogy of racism — swapping the brown-skinned for the red-haired as persecuted victims — an analogy which treats racism, a complex structural prejudice, as if it was simply a phenomenon of seeing.

Beyoncé’s recent Why Don’t You Love Me? is more sophisticated in its visual reversals. In it, Beyoncé becomes “B.B. Homemaker”, an African American woman usurping the 1950s domestic kitsch of white pin-up girls.

Beyoncé, co-star of Telephone, is no stranger to the sleek event video, but Why Don’t You Love Me? is filmed on vintage Super8 stock, grainy and washed out. Its rough-edged spirit reminds me of an overlooked video pioneer, Cyndi Lauper. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was one of the first clips to feature a multi-racial cast. It made Lauper a star, and for the comparatively modest cost of $35,000. In 1983, at age two, I adored it, and I still do. ( theage.com.au )

No comments:

Post a Comment

Abraham Lincoln Accident Acting Adele Adolf Hitler Ahok Air Susu Ibu Aisha Gaddafi Albert Einstein Alicia Keys Alien Amanda Knox American Idol Amitabh Bachchan Amy Winehouse Angelina Jolie Animal Anna Chapman Anti Islam Apple Archeology Arnold Schwarzenegger Artist Aung San Suu Kyi Autism Avatar Barack Obama Bencana Alam Berpelukan Biography Blake Fielder Blog Bollywood Bon Jovi Brad Pitt Britney Spears Brittany Murphy Broadway Bruce Willis Bryan Adams Buah - Buahan Budaya Cameron Diaz Carla Bruni Celebration Celebrity Cell Phone Charlie Sheen Christina Aguilera Christopher Tierney Computer Conspiracy Credit Card Criminal Cristiano Ronaldo David Cameron David Walliams Demi Moore Depression Diet Dinosaurs Disaster Discovery Economic Elin Nordegren Elton John Elvis Presley Evolution Facebook Famous Farrah Fawcett Fashion Fenomena Fidel Castro Film Finance Fisikologi Anak Frank Sinatra Games Gary Lineker Global Warming Grammy Awards Guns N' Roses Haji Halle Berry Harry Potter Health Helen Mirren Helena Christensen History Hoaxes Holiday Hollywood Home Hong Kong Hugo Chavez Humanity Humor Ibadah Ramadhan iChildren Innocence of Muslims Insomnia Insurance Internet Irina Shayk Isaac Newton James Franco Jane Fonda Janet Jackson Javier Bardem Jennifer Aniston Jennifer Lopez Jermaine Jackson Jesus Jewelry Jhon Terry Joaquin Phoenix John Lennon John Prescott Jokowi Journalism Julia Roberts Justin Bieber Karina Smirnoff Kate Middleton Katherine Heigl Katy Perry Kehamilan Kendra Wilkinson Kesehatan Payudara Kesehatan Rambut Kiamat Kim Kardashian King Abdullah King Abdullah II King Salman Korupsi Indonesia Kristen Stewar Lady Diana Lady GaGa Law Lee DeWyze Legend Leonardo DiCaprio Lifestyle Lily Allen Lindsay Lohan Lionel Messi Madonna Margaret Thatcher Mariah Carey Marilyn Monroe Mario Balotelli Mark Zuckerberg Marriage Mel Gibson Michael Jackson Michelle Obama Mick Foley Mick Jagger Mike Tyson Miley Cyrus Miranda Kerr Miss Universe Mistery Mitos dan Fakta Moammar Gadhafi Modelling Mona Lisa Money Mothers Music Mystery Naomi Watts Nelly Furtado News Nia Sanchez Nicolas Cage No Smoking Nuclear Obat - Obatan Olivia Newton-John's Oprah Winfrey Orang Kantoran Oscars Pamela Anderson Parent Paris Hilton Pasangan Hidup Patricia Neal Paul McCartney Pejabat Pendidikan Penelope Cruz Performers Permainan Anak Personality Photo Pippa Middleton Pisikologi Remaja Politics Pollution Prince Charles Prince Felipe Prince George Prince Harry Prince Philip Prince Salman Prince William Princess Princess Diana Princess Lilian Princess Victoria Producer Produk Kecantikan Queen Elizabeth Queen Helen Relationships Religion Ri Sul-Ju Ricky Martin Rihanna Rokok Rolling Stone Royal Baby Royal Family Salma Hayek Sandra Bullock Sarah Palin Scandal Science Scientists Selena Gomez Sepak Bola Serena Williams Shah Rukh Khan Sharon Stone Simon Cowell Songwriter Sophie Reade Space Spiritual Sport Storm Stress Suami Isteri Super Bowl Sylvester Stallone Taylor Swift's Technology Television Teroris Tiger Woods Tips and Tricks Tips Kesehatan Tips Komputer Tips Pria Tom Cruise Tony Curtis Top 10 Travel Van Halen Vatican Victoria Beckham Wedding Whitney Houston Woman World Cup Yahudi Yoga Zsa Zsa Gabor