To What Extent Do Music Videos Give an Accurate Representation of Young Women of Today?
To What Extent Do Music Videos Give an Accurate Representation of Young Women of Today?
In the earlier part of the last century, women were portrayed with elegance, poise and sophistication. Women like Audrey Hepburn, Bridget Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor were not only seen as beauty icons, but also as true personalities who were idolised by the female world. Music videos, in films, showed innocent love between couples, quite often dancing with a view of a beautiful landscape. Women today, though still idolised, are portrayed in a completely different light. With the establishment of women’s suffrage and the rise of feminism, the representation of women has changed. Music videos today portray women as sex symbols; as each video is released, the women seem to be trashier than in the previous one. The natural beauty that used to be seen in the eyes of our idols has gone; now we can see a star captured my glamour, enveloped in make-up and stylish clothes and with an artificial figure of curves and long legs. These videos do not give an accurate representation of women, as they do not show the lifestyle of the average young wife, mother, student or daughter of 2005.
The young woman of today is liberated, independent, dynamic, confident and above all, she is goal seeking. A career driven woman is motivated and wants to be successful, while a feminist strives for equality to men. Each woman has individuality, she exposes to the world her unique style influenced by her friends, environment and culture. In the world of music videos, only one type of woman is shown: a black or mixed race woman heavily made up with foundation, mascara and lip gloss. She wears clothes of extravagant designs, accentuating her voluptuous figure, which is untrue to everyday life. In my world, there is a wider variety of women, of different races and cultures, each with different figures and sizes. Women in my culture are modest and conservative, most importantly high on moral values. Some women may be strong-minded and brave to face the world; others may be dependent on their family. Generally, women like to gain respect from society. However, by pushing the women that appear in these videos in a category, we are automatically going to be stereotypical about their behaviour.
This is a preview of the whole essay
The exaggerated and over the top illustration of women gives the youth of today negative information. Young girls will make every effort to obtain this “perfect figure and face”, which is only possible after cosmetic surgery and airbrushing with modern technology. Young girls will look up to these women and this puts enormous pressure on them, because they think that it’s right. They now start to believe that it is only acceptable to be a size 8 or 10; any bigger and they consider themselves fat. This image has become common; therefore young boys are expecting all girls to be like this. If women were not portrayed in this way there would be no expectations. Who created this false image? Can we blame them for thinking in this way? The media has built up this image of women, but it is false. It’s an image of what women strive to be like, not what they are in reality. Inside all women’s magazine, there is an article somewhere called “How to lose a stone in two weeks” or “Drop a dress size this holiday” and it will include celebrity “diet plans” or “fitness routines”. This sort of encouragement should be banned.
The purpose of music videos has changed since they were first introduced in the 1980s. They used to be made up of the artist singing and putting on a performance on stage in programmes such as Top of the Pops. Now, a music video is an image describing the words of the songs; it helps the audience understand the lyrics, quite often changing the meaning of the song. Videos are used to promote sales; audiences can vote for the videos they wish to view on different music channels and the prices of these calls add onto the sales of the song. There are over ten different music channels available, most of which have similar target audiences of young adults and teenagers. The videos influence the audience and the audience expect latest trends and fashion to be seen in them. Each video creates an image for the artist, which brings more competition to come up with an original and unique video as well as song.
Some of these videos are targeted mainly at men, so that the producers can win over a male audience. They show women as what men want them to be like, not what they really are. In female hip hop artist Khia’s video of her song My Neck My Back, the women are shown as sluts. Many male artists talk about women in a negative way in their songs, they talk about how women are there to serve them. These songs demean women enormously. My Neck My Back is a female artist’s song and is the most degrading song for women. It uses revolting language and describes sexual actions. She refers to herself as a “bitch” and talks about sex in a repulsive manner. There are four women in the video, who are wearing brightly coloured bikinis and are washing a car. There are two men standing across the street from them, and they are watching them. Everything the women do is related to sex; therefore the men are smiling throughout the video because of the sexually appealing movements. The camera focuses on the women and zooms in on their breasts, thighs and lips. The lighting has been used effectively, to enhance these features on their bodies, to make it look raunchier. The video will stay in the viewers head if it catches your attention, and will in effect encourage sales, but this video attracts attention for the wrong reasons. Women portraying themselves in this manner become a bad influence and give out the wrong idea- the video makes people believe that this is what women are really like. The picture that many people have of women, as tender and sensitive is completely wiped out and overshadowed by the cheap picture painted in this video. Khia would argue that she is a positive role model because she is proud of her own body and femininity, but on the other hand some may say she can’t be proud as she is not showing any dignity or respect for herself.
Many music videos portray an “independent woman”, one who does not need men to please her or to make her life worthwhile, such as Goodies by Ciara. In the song, she lists her criteria and sets herself a specification about what she wants her man to be like: “sexy independent, down to spend it type that’s getting his dough”. She talks about how she is not looking for material things- “just ‘cause you drive a Benz, I’m not going home with you”. She is being “choosy” about her man, she says that she is not going to give herself away easily and that her “goodies stay in the jar”. Nevertheless, she dresses provocatively in the video, to get attention from men; she makes them want her and then rejects them. She flaunts herself in front of men, wearing low cut, skin tight tops and low rise jeans, and then contradicts her actions by saying that she doesn’t want or need them. Part of the video is a shot of Ciara dancing with some background dancers, in which she is wearing a blue bikini bra and a white jumper, which is so short that most of her bikini is on display. This reveals her ironing-board-flat stomach, making many girls wish to be that woman with the “perfect figure”. This outfit is not true to what women dress like on the streets in reality, even if women are having a night out. It’s almost as though the less clothes the woman in the video wears, the more sales the song is likely to have. No one even bats an eyelid when a celebrity will wear such a revealing top in a video, but if an average woman were to wear a top similar to Ciara’s in the video, she would get stared at and lose a lot of respect from society. She says she is independent and some people may seem she is dressing in such a way for herself and not for anyone else, but the video has the same effect to a viewer as Khia’s video. In the middle of the song, there is a rap verse by hip hop MC Petey Pablo. In this verse he says “all I gotta do is tell a girl who I am, ain’t no chick in here that I can’t have”. This suggests that men have this power over women and that women are really nothing without men. Today’s music video’s are very hypocritical; on one side they say that women are independent and can survive on their own and on the other hand they say that women are naturally in need of men and are at their service all the time.
Hip hop artists seem to have this idea that the only way their record will do well is if the video is sexually appealing and has women exhibiting themselves in ostentatious clothing. No one realises that when an audience views women throwing themselves at men, they feel quite saddened by the fact that there is no innocence left in these young women. If the producers of these videos knew that their own daughters were acting in the same disgusting ways as the women in music videos, they would want to ban them straight away. In the same way, as a viewer of these videos, I feel that the female society is being fooled in to believing that they are something which is not true to life; they are being influenced by women who are not true to life, in a world which is not real.