I know the last time on this series, I basically promised to try something else. My thought was to look at charts from different continents to get a more diverse view on what happens culturally outside of “Western civilization.” But the problem is that you either don’t get charts from specific countries or the lyrics aren’t in English or it’s just the same songs like everywhere else. Then I thought about going back in time, but I have something special planned for next week already. I almost thought of giving up and doing a straight charts analysis, when I remembered something I had wanted to do already: music videos! So, today, I look at the German Singles Charts again, but only at the videos of songs I haven’t discussed already. There’s nothing like good random parameters.
#2 Marlon Roudette – When the Beat Drops Out (directed by Alexande Brown, on Vimeo)
I found that video relatively interesting, as it effectively depicts the end of a relationship by showing the aftermath of a party and by separating the two protagonists although they’re in the same space.
So, while I like the imagery for the first part, it suddenly changes and the woman starts some kind of ritual. First she puts something like lipstick in her eyes (is that something people do?), then she dances and suddenly she’s in a circle with three other women, drinking something red and then gesticulating and dancing. It’s so weird all of a sudden and it’s not clear what it’s supposed to mean. And I might be overinterpreting, but it feels like witchcraft imagery, which is never a good idea. And it’s the man who doesn’t seem to understand why the relationship falls apart, so this makes it seem like a very male-oriented point of view. Maybe it’s just odd.
#5 Ella Henderson – Ghost (directed by Charles Mehling, on Vimeo)
Again, this seems like a pretty straightforward and innocent video. Singer in a red-light motel, story of a man, hunted through the swamps and haunted by the image of a beautiful woman. Nothing we haven’t seen before and director Charles Mehling has directed enough videos to know his tropes. It’s not bad or great, but suddenly we’re in Women in Refrigerators territory (see my post on it here). Because the featured woman is suddenly just the object of desire of two men, the one that is hunted and the “disgusting” man living in the swamps, the monster. And suddenly it’s all about those two guys, while the woman is just the gorgeous dead prop floating in the water, going all the way for Ophelia, who might be the most stereotypical Woman in a Refrigerator example and it might as well be Women Floating in Lakes. The desired woman is completely meaningless as a person, she is just used to show the conflict between two men. We see their anger and jealousy, but we only see her pretty face. There is no intention to feel empathy for her, just for her poor pretty boyfriend. It doesn’t help that the singer is a woman, it makes it even worse, I think, especially because that’s not what she is singing about.
#6 Martin Tungevaag – Wicked Wonderland (directed by ?, on Vimeo)
Now we’re moving into classical music video tropes area. How do you make a video to a pretty pointless song that is just supposed to fill the “summer hit” mold? Of course, with sexy women. Or even better, with sexy women doing nothing in particular but having fun on the beach. To share their fun and enjoyment. They’re young and carefree, it’s very refreshing. Oh, well, and it might make any male viewer watch the video again and again because they’re in their bikinis all the time, doing innocent/sexy poses. This is clear masturbation material and we find a lot of that in the charts, because that generates clicks and money. I mean, you could pick any random moment of that video as an illustration. Which I’ll do now (I promise, no plan for these images).
#11 Sigma – Nobody to Love (directed by Craig Moore, on Vimeo)
So, this is basically the same video as Wicked Wonderland. Two hot, sexy, attractive women having fun on their holidays. This might be intended a little bit more to appeal to young women too, imagining to enjoy their summer trip, but I think it boils down to the same concept. There is a reason it’s two women and that they are not overweight or pale or going to Siberia or going skating with pants on or why their asses get a lot of screen time.
#13 Jessie J ft. Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang (directed by Hannah Lux Davis, on Vimeo)
Okay, I don’t always want to assume the worst, I really don’t. And I’m not saying women can’t dress sexy in music videos or play with their sexuality. Still, I wonder why this has to be the main focus for most women depicted in music videos, even, as here, if three women are the singers, so it’s supposed to be their kind of view. Even the director is female, so they all must have had the best intentions, right?
Well, the video almost exclusively features women, dancing on the street, on rooftops and in a dark neon apartment. When men are seen, they only gasp at the incredible hotness of Jessie J. Which is especially funny when an ice cream vendor just stares at her with his mouth open, although, just seconds before, we saw him selling ice cream in an environment where he serves women in lingerie or women who seductively eat their ice cream and everyone wears hot pants. You’d assume he is used to that by now. But that’s all men are used for here, expressing “Wow, she’s hot!”
Which is okay, I guess, but again, why the strong focus on their sexiness? This way, it doesn’t matter what they sing about (I didn’t check the lyrics, although Bang Bang sounds philosophical) or in a way who they are. All we get is self-body touching, seductive poses and ass shots. Again, why? Why do women have to focus their body? Why do all the women in the video look like supermodels? Why do all the men have to be freaked out by them? Is that really all we can care about when it comes to women? And is that what women really want to present about themselves?
#17 Calvin Harris – Summer (directed by Emil Nava, on Vimeo)
As if everything else wasn’t enough, here we have the most blatant use of male fantasies yet. First shot: car race, second shot: lingerie model from behind, third shot: male protagonist, fourth shot: lingerie model on bed, fifth shot: male protagonist, sixth shot: lingerie model from the front, model in bath tub, model in corridor, models as audience to the car race, pool full of models, crotch shots, underwater models, last shot: male protagonist partying with a house full of models. Are women driving the racing cars? No, we need some unidentified men for that.
Why do we accept this bullshit?
#19 Ariana Grande – Break Free (directed by Chris Marrs Piliero, on Vimeo)
I don’t want to get too much into it, but it’s the same problem. Ariana Grande shows off this image of the innocent girl that constantly seems to say: “I know you want to fuck me.” It’s only about sex but here it’s this double standard that really annoys me. Cute innocuous looks coupled with lyrics like “If you want it, take it” and then seeing her running around in half-naked outfits.
And, no, that little penis nosed alien doesn’t help.
#24 Jason DeRulo feat. Snoop Dogg – Wiggle (directed by Colin Tilley, on Vimeo)
There is not much to say here. It’s almost not even worth showing this. But it’s so goddamn awful and listening to the lyrics is really infuriating. That’s the first shot:
The first real line is: “Youknow what to do with that big fat butt.” And then just ass shots and “funny” moments where women’s wiggling asses causes mishaps. Hilarious. And that song is annoying as hell, too. I almost couldn’t finish that video.
And finally, I have to ask again: why is this kind of sexism so accepted? I know things have gotten better as more and more people speak up and ask those questions, but you really have to wonder how it got that far in the first place. Are we really so confident with reducing women and ourselves to that? Why? And I know a lot of it strives for "We're playing with our sexuality here, we're just having fun! Don't be so serious." But there is nothing else! And it creates images that stay and continue and have lasting impressions and we should not just ignore that. And I'm not setting out to just focus on that, but there is almost nothing else to find in the charts. That's the most depressing part of it.
See also: Everywhere But Here
And see also: Feminist Frequency, which is very similar territory as what I'm doing, only much better!