When watching these four music videos, it was clear that they all portrayed some sort of masculinity, at least the type that could appeal to their intended audience. It seemed, however, that with each video, the masculinity decreased, or at least changed to a different sort of manliness. Beginning with A$AP Rocky’s Video Fuckin’ Problems, it appeared to me that the idea of power was extremely important in the images shown. The first shot in the video is that of a blurred out woman, then cuts to A$AP Rocky himself, and back to a mirror image of the woman, this time clearer, dancing provocatively for the camera (in very minimal clothing). The video is often focused on the faces of the men, and less on those of the women. Most of the shots of the women are from below or further away, and focus more on their bodies (sometimes in compromising positions), whereas the men are followed by the camera, and much of the emphasis is on their faces and gestures. On top of that, and all images aside, the entire song includes each rapper referring to women as “bitches”, and relatively nothing else. There is also much reference by the rappers to their “dicks”, including a notable crotch-grab by Drake at the end of his solo verse. It’s his way of saying “I’m a man, and don’t you forget it”.
Moving on to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ video for the hit song, Thrift Shop, the idea of masculinity is also very clearly present. First of all, the video begins with Ryan Lewis pulling up in a very sporty looking car (which makes reappearances later in the video as well, so the audience doesn’t forget about it), and Macklemore being wheeled out by two women on a scooter. If these things do not scream masculine (at least in our society), I don’t know what does. Most of the video, Macklemore is surrounded by women (or at least with one on each arm), and introduces himself as having “a big cock” as he walks into the club. This advertisement could be ironic, but is similar to that of in A$AP Rocky’s video, as it is drawing attention to a seemingly important aspect of manliness. And normally, when I would see a fut coat, I would not imagine a man wearing it around as Macklemore does, but he somehow makes it a manly thing. Perhaps it is the strut that he has the whole video, but maybe it really goes back to that shiny car.
SHINee’s music video Lucifer begins to revert to a more ambiguous type of masculinity. It is hard to tell what the objective really is. The men in the video are…how should I put this? At first glance, I asked myself, are these men or women? I did realize that is was a boy group, and then noticed that the intense (and somewhat feminine, for some of them) hair styles and dark layers of eye-liner are what made me see the opposite for a second. But at the same time, backing almost every scene in the video were a line of cars. And it seems that stereotypically, cars are masculine. SHINee managed to incorporate some of this masculinity, even if they appeared far less masculine than the men in the first two videos. Finally, the One Direction video reached a very different point on the masculinity scale. In the video, they were found doing somewhat”manly” things (like riding motorcycles, surfing and chillin’ in prison). They also sport fake tattoos (almost every boy has at least one, if not more), again playing into the idea of what is manly. Despite all of these things, they are very boyish in their actions, and there is a type of camaraderie between them that is lacking in the first two videos, and even somewhat in the last as well. It seems almost as if the boys should be singing to each other, when in fact they are singing to a girl (who is never present in the video). There is nothing wrong with this per say, but it is quite the opposite of how masculinity is portrayed in the first video, for example. They are very touchy with one another, and seem very innocent and childish. At the end of the video, one of the boys (Zayn) jumps on a fellow One Directioner’s back (Harry, I believe) and kisses him on the cheek. Awww how sweet. There definitely seems to be a bromance going on here. But would A$AP Rocky and his buddies approve? Maybe, but I somehow doubt we will be seeing that move in their next music video.