The latest craze sweeping across the music industry is the ladies with ‘booty’ as Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull states (the video features Iggy Azalea) in the single “Booty”, or as Meghan Trainor says it’s ‘all about that bass, no treble’ in her song “All about the bass” or as Nicki Minaj says ‘buns’ in her song “Anaconda”. While I can appreciate that they trying to say that ladies no longer have to subscribe to the ‘silicone Barbie doll’ image according to Trainor, with perfect bodies and the like, which is often a photoshopped version of the real person in order to feel attractive or special. I also appreciate that they attempt to encourage people to be comfortable in their own skin, even if they have a ‘big booty’.
Part of the good is that these are real women ‘who ain’t no size two’ according to Trainor, who has a ‘big, big booty’ according to Lopez and with ‘much back’ according to Minaj, who’s sending this message. It helps to enforce the message that other ladies can see that these ’stars’ are women that’s comfortable in their skin. The fact that it’s famous and influential people sending this message gives it even more weight (excuse the pun). These people are on all the radio airwaves, MTV and music video shows, I’m positive these tracks and videos are on young people’s mp3 and mp4 players as well cell phones. So the message has credibility, influence and access.
That brings me to some of my concerns. These people are the influencers of our young due to their credibility, influence and access. While the general message may be positive, a closer look at the lyrics and the music videos tend to undermine the whole message they are attempting to send. Eventually the ‘medium becomes the message’ and the lyrics soon become some background noise. The medium is just as important as the message especially in our youth culture where the visual has a prominent and influential place. Surely, there can be a better way to send such a positive message to people especially our impressionable young people.
For example, in Mehgan Trainor’s lyrics, she says, ‘boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’ For Trainor, how you look matters only because of how the ‘boys’ will respond by looking for something ‘to hold at night.’ The sad part of the song is that this message is given to her by her mother. While it might just be lyrics, the role a parent plays in the self-esteem and self-worth of their kids is vitally important.
Nicki Minaj’s lyrics are too explicit and scary to even talk about but her message echoes that of Trainor’s. Ultimately, it’s all about the boys and how the boys want a girl with ‘buns’, ‘he wants something he can grab’. The song further deteriorates into sexual explicit language and actions which is only to satisfy the boy.
Jennifer Lopez says the exact same thing, but this time says the boys not only want a girl with a ‘big booty’ but that boys will have a better time with a girl who has a ‘big booty.’ Lopez also says that the girl exists for the boy to show off, at the mall, at the club or wherever you may find yourself. Lopez also says that girls don’t really have a say in the relationship as they must just give him whatever ‘he ask for’ as it’s ‘his birthday.’
- This kind of message degrades women into being objects of a man’s desire and want and reduces them to pleasure toys. How does songs like these help encourage girls to look good and feel good in their own skin when the message in the end boils down to an anti-feminist, abusive and oppressive relationship and culture that is aimed at satisfying the man only? The women in most of these videos are scantily dressed displaying provocative and sexual dance moves which are to allow the viewer to feast on the show that is presented to him or her. There are no limits to the affection between people as they are encouraged and have the right to touch and rub up against anyone. I wonder how that speaks into the context of protecting especially our women and children in this sexually violent context.
- The truth of the matter is that the music industry is merely a competing game, as these videos are released within weeks of each other. Each video tries to better the other by either having less to wear, except in Trainor’s case, or better twerking moves. Again, the media wants to make millions and sell more albums at the expense of our vulnerable. There is no symbiotic relationship here; it’s parasitic as one always comes off worse than the other. It takes no amount of imagination who will be the worse off in this case.
- Our media and especially our music speak volumes of youth culture, but the sad part of it is that while it speaks volumes of our youth culture it is also a major influencer of the culture. So while our music reveals culture, it also paves the way in which culture will follow and we all know that our young are the target market of most culture. How do we protect our young when the influencers are looking to extort them?
Caution: The lyrics of these songs contain profanity, yet these are the songs our youth are listening and watching.