MIA and Taylor Swift
Because these videos were played next to each other, differences in the message and portrayal of women in the videos were apparent. The first thing that was evident was the difference in the approach to portraying the women as attractive. T Swifts attractiveness comes from her coy nature that begs to be saved by a man who could take care of her. Things like her dainty Sunday dresses, her pearl earrings, her unwillingness to look at the camera, and her gown blowing in the wind atop a building create a dreamy mood that makes Taylor’s dainty face the figurehead for virginity. Taylor’s attractiveness comes from her femininity. Conversely, MIA’s attractiveness comes from her feminine appearance with very masculine demeanor. One thing constant in the two videos is the use of red lipstick. Annie (Professor Peterson? Professor Annie?) brought up the point that red lipstick used to represent being scandalous or sexy. In the case of Taylor, I would say that this is very true. The red lipstick on the white blonde blue eyed Taylor might be the only trait that would deviate from her otherwise shy and unaware persona. However, for MIA, the lipstick gives her a sense of feminine where it otherwise lacks. MIA is put in front of cars and guns which are iconic for masculinity. This masculinity is attractive on a woman because of the power that is given to MIA’s feminine figure (highlighted by her lipstick and make up). Another indication of the feminine Taylor versus the masculine MIA is the setting each are in. Taylor i the middle of city where she meets the man in a coffee shop where she tediously sips her coffee encourages the virgin symbol she is. MIA surrounded by drag racing and a Middle Eastern desert give her a sense of dangerous sexiness. As much as we want to make fun of Taylor for being so dainty, as a heterosexual male I have to admit that there I am nonetheless attracted to it. Similarly, although I don’t know why I am attracted to MIA’s chest hitting chain in some remote looking area of the Middle East with Middle Eastern gunmen surrounding her, I am.
Girls Generation’s different kind of feminine.
Girls’ Generation’s “I Got a Boy” contains a different kind of feminine that that of TSwift and MIA. It is similar to MIA in that the girls do not wear the ideal feminine clothes that Taylor wears, yet the prevailing attitude of the music video is “girl power”. If T Swift is the model for feminine, Girls’ Generation achieves their persona of Girl power by dancing and dressing in masculine ways that gives their feminine figures a vitality and a presence.
As in most rap videos, the masculinity of rappers is presented. Men are presented as sexual beings that get money and, quoting the video here, fuck bitches. If Taylor is an extreme of femininity, A$AP, 2Chainz and Drake are extremes of masculinity in this video. I specifically didn’t include Kendrick in here because I think he is a good example of a guy whose typical personality and style does not fit this video. I would say the same for Drake but he has done songs like this before so it is not as obvious. I think a parallel can be drawn with Taylor Swift and Kendrick in their respective videos. Taylor has songs that emphasize the strength of women and independence. Similarly, all of these rappers (but specifically Kendrick and Drake) have songs about loving women and respecting them. However, Taylor has songs like this where her happiness lies in the hands of a man saving her and Kendrick and Drake have songs professing a “fucking” problem. Can a country fan say that they do not like Taylor’s song? Can a fan of rap say that they hate this song because of the absurdity? No. Life can be obsurd and since we sometimes cannot express the extremes of femininity or masculinity the way we would like, we have A$AP and precious Taylor to do it for us.
Thrift shop is not overly masculine or feminine and satirizes the typical hip hop video. In Snoop Dog’s Gin and Juice, you see him in a car with a girl and a bottle (presumably of gin and juice). In thrift shop, you see macklemore riding a scooter with two girls pushing him drinking slurpees. His positioning might seem masculine but the irony of the situation shows that he is in many ways satirizing a characteristic rap music video.
SHINee’s exhibit of gender is much more two-sided. The clothes they wear and the dance moves they make are far from the extreme of the masculine spectrum. They are feminine in this way which makes them attractive to a teenage girl (N’SYNC early 2000s) and potentially a homosexual demographic.