For our project, we decided to make a feminist version one of the first videos we watched this year, “Fucking Problems” by A$AP Rocky (2012).
After a semester of critiquing media texts for their representations of gender, we decided to use DIY culture to create a progressive yet funny video that satirizes the normalization of sexism in popular media. To be fair, we like the original song. Yet, we wanted to recreate it from a feminist perspective to challenge and push beyond the dominant ideologies of the original video. We made an effort to emphasize the need for collective action by using the phrase “we” and highlighting different men and women in our chorus. In essence, we showed our problems with the song and the treatment of gender in our society.
To begin, through our lyrics we conveyed a feminist perspective that specifically addressed both men and women. Tackling issues such as rape culture, sexual objectification, post feminism, reproductive rights, and slut shaming, we did our best to incorporate empowering rhetoric behind our critiques. We underlined the need for both women and men to recognize feminism as an essential political stance, drawing attention to the hesitation of both sexes towards identifying with the feminist movement. Rather then simply calling out men for their contributions to female oppression, we also spoke to women for the need to recognize and actively combate gender inequality. As two self-proclaimed feminists, we often receive criticism from our friends about expressing a strong feminist standpoint on various issues in everyday life. Therefore, we used our video to express feminist opinions in a simple yet relatable way. While we may come off looking ridiculous, the video gives us a platform to express a crucial message that doesn’t necessarily have a space in dominant media.
Furthermore, we matched the aggression behind the original song in our lyrics, ensuring that our message would be forceful and in your face. While our lyrics were not terribly radical or complex, consistently screaming “fucking problems” allowed us to express our frustration with the inherently misogynistic, hyper-masculine and arrogant focus of the original video. Using the same refrain, we reinterpreted the lyrics to address what we see as the daily problems faced by women in society. While these problems often get ignored or even go unnoticed, our video attempts to show that these things can and should be talked about. Additionally, we directed our video in a similar way to the original, such as shooting from below the “rapper”, solo dance scenes, and aggressive hand gestures. Yet we refrained from directly imitating the masculine and problematic aspects of the original. Rather then cutting to images of overtly-sexualized women, we used long shots of us dancing casually by ourselves. Instead of focusing on one rapper in the chorus, we used a variety of people to spread our message. While we used some of the same lines from the original, we added intelligence, complex and meaningful details to our lyrics unlike the simple and derogatory troupes of the original. Further, rather then simply flipping the video by creating a Magic Mike-esque female gaze, we created a neutral gaze that focused on our message rather than our image. We were able to recreate the video with a more empowering and positive representation of gender by playing off and reinterpreting the techniques of the original.
DIY culture creates an opportunity to respond and reinterpret dominant forms of media. We used our video to challenge the ideologies behind “Fucking Problems” and rap videos in general. Not only did we seek to critique the original video, but we made a broader statement about gender equality in our society. When we first told people our idea, we largely received blank states, eye rolls, and critical comments about our “radical feminism” need to critique everything in society. Ultimately, this hesitance reflects the need for new forms of media that challenge the dominant culture in a relatable, humorous and appealing way. After showing our video, many of our friends acknowledged the problematic aspects of the original and were receptive to our views. Thus, we were able to negotiate the “fear” of feminism while still spreading a crucial message. Knowing that we may look ridiculous (we can’t write fluid lyrics, rap, or even dub our video correctly) we still attempted to use DIY culture to express the importance of our view of gender and sexuality in the media.
I live in patriarchy, that’s my fucking problem
And yeah I’m feminist, thats not a fucking problem
They call us bitches, that’s a fucking problem
And yeah I speak up, thats not a fucking problem
And yeah I wore skirt, thats not a fucking problem
If finding feminist media is your fucking problem
Bring your homies to the blog we can fucking solve it
Verse 1 – Jess
Hold up, boys simmer down
Taken long looks, we want you listenin’ to us now
Keep your hands off till I tell you that its fine
Ooh boy like it raw? we’re not a body for your needs, huh
Jess Good get like me
Never met a fuckin feminist like me
All these motherfuckers tryna objectify me
Put some knowledge in that dome, make you respect me
Cause you’re a problem, its a problem, how you actin like this
Broing out and getting biddies, ain’t the goal here
Up in Congress, down in Stubenville, thats patriarchy saying
She doesn’t need her rights, and oh those poor rapists
They say women make a man completely power-less
But she’s finally “allowed” to get rich
I be fucking tired like I been fucking fighting
Time to stop copping out, be a fucking feminist, boy
Verse 2 – Kate
Girl, I know its hard when real shit come on
Make you think bout all of the times you’ve been prayed’ on
Make you think bout all of the disrespect they’ve been feedin’ you
Got a feelin’ these the same dudes that we speakin’ on, listenin’?
But take a second? Are you believing them?
We can’t internalize the comments and accept their expectations
Ain’t a fuckin’ man’s world when you lend a hand girl
Then ju.. (Okay, I got it)
Then just stand up and get yo feminism on
Or we sit here silent, let our rights get trampled upon
Remember all that progress that we made? well its time for an upgrade
There’s more work to be done, don’t get distracted by post feminism
They tellin you go buy heels, don’t trust it
If you want respect, then we gotta have equality uhhuuhhh
Yes ladies, we should really say this often
These strong ladies ain’t for the passive talk, we believe