Friday, May 16, 2014

Feminist Theory in JLo's 'I Luh Ya Papi' Music Video

Jennifer Lopez's new single I Luh Ya Papi has been my addiction these past few weeks. Seriously, I feel a bit sorry for my flatmates who have had to put up with me listening to it on repeat. I became even more addicted to it after watching the video...

It's a JLo video that references feminist theory!!!!!

I feel like it's kind of a breakthrough for someone at Lopez's level to be talking about the male gaze and objectification of women, but not only that, it's an hispanic woman (and her friends) talking about the male gaze.

She draws attention to how effed the representations of women in music videos are by drop down, flipping it and reversing it - by having a whole lot of naked, oil-slick dudes writhing around on her yacht while she sings about how much she luhs her papi. Heck yeah, girl!

Basically we're all tired of 90% of music videos featuring women wearing -90% clothing, dancing in a overtly sexual way 90% of the time, who are merely an accessory to the suit-wearing men (hello, Blurred Lines!), and Lopez is using her celebrity to say something about it.

I know that some of the criticisms of this video (without even looking at the YouTube comments) will be about how she's doing exactly what she claims to be sick of by turning men into objects. But No, silly, she's got her tongue firmly in her cheek and the message is more about highlighting the disparities between representations of men and women in music videos, rather than it being about tit for tat, so to speak. Because having passive, half-naked beautiful men makes us feel soooo much more uncomfortable than seeing the same in women. See, it's gender role reversal!!

I guess also "the male gaze" is quite an entry-level feminist theory (much like my commentary here, but, meh, it's nearly 2am on a school night), but it's really not every day that a mainstream pop star dares to speak up against the patriarchy. We've all got to start somewhere, and if this video gets at least one person to start questioning this stuff I will be very, very happy.

(REMEMBER: There is no such thing as the perfect person, the perfect feminist, the perfect woman. Kill your idols. So there will always be flaws, and more ways we can educate ourselves to do better next time. So of course there will be something to criticise here, as we should be criticising everything that is presented to us in the media.)

Also I love that by being a part of American Idol, Lopez has changed the conversation. Remember how her butt was the OBSESSION of tabloids back in the early 2000s? Now that she's been on American Idol for a few years, she's more than just a body (more than just a butt), and she has given herself a voice. Not one in the form of lyrics being written for her, or tabloids fabricating stories about her day-to-day life. She has allowed the audience to see more of her personality and her vulnerabilities... more realness than that stuff about still being Jenny from the Block, which always seemed a little contrived, lbr. And now her "voice" includes feminism! Yaaaassss.

Other highlights from the video:
- The Drake reference: "Started from the bottom, baby, then we went roof"
- Her girlfriends cackling at "a whole bunch of naked guys on the bed, for NO REASON!"
- #blessed

- NOT French Montana tho. He's about as captivating as Jay-z in everything he's done since 2011 (excluding Watch the Throne, duh)... which is to say, not captivating at all. Also, it's the one teeny tiny moment in the video that drops the ball on the subversion thing and reverts back to the same old tropes. Like I say, not perfect, but a step in the right direction, and still better than it was before.

Sidenote: I would have loved if they had also made an 'I luh you puppies' version, with all puppies, all the time.

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