Monday, July 8, 2013

Watching Music Videos without Sound

I have always loved music videos.  If you have ever hung out with me in a venue that shows them, you know that i am TRANSFIXED.  So, I  was watching music videos at the gym the other day--without headphones.   i could not hear the songs, so I had an entirely different experience of them than I expected.  Artists whose music I might not necessarily connect with became relevant and inspiring to me through these videos.

I watched "Paradise" by Cassie Ft. Wiz Khalifa--i have never heard the song "Paradise", but now I want to.  clearly the video was set in LA, and in the beginning, we see her singing in the back seat of a convertible car, its almost like she is dreaming.... then we cut to shots of her driving the car.  In a beautiful and gentle way, it addressed the politics of identity and power specific to the Los Angeles community.  It celebrated things that I find offensive in our culture, and refreshed my sense of hope for the world and possibility of the moment, it gave me an opportunity to see my world differently.  What a gift.
Oh also, I watched a Ciara Video for "Ride" Feat. Ludacris.  She had never interested me before, but in this video, the choreography told a story of a young woman in her power, experimenting with the masculine/feminine dichotomy and with the dynamics of sex and power within these roles in a creative way.  She has several different costumes in the video, and one is more masculine, and she is SO strong and fit  in this powerful yet minimal outfit with natural makeup and wild, natural, curly hair.  she wears a masculine and military inspired cap, and she takes up space in the frame, and her movement at times suggests that she is the positive, the protuberant, the penetrator. In another moment she wears a soft fur coat over a gold maillot with heels--with styled feminine hair and lipstick--she looks like a woman in someone else's video--or a prostitute.  this is a different feminine ideal--one of deference, dependence and sexual servitude.  I have no idea what this song is about, but the video really invited me to think differently about feminine power, sexuality, the meaning of masculinity and the body in our culture today.

Then I watched a P-Diddy video.  it was SO FRICKIN BORING!!! I was very disappointed.  It seems that the young artists of our time have a LOT more to say about the world, about the dynamics of power and the meaning of life in America in 2013 than perhaps pop songs let on.  Perhaps it points to something specific about the music video medium --its an opportunity to say something you can't say in a radio-marketable pop song.