Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lily Allen's Controversial New Music Video


This week, British pop sensation Lily Allen came out with a new single called "Hard Out Here." The song's music video, which is intended to be a satire of Robin Thicke's infamous "Blurred Lines" (check out 3:07 in Allen's video), has received a lot of backlash for what some people perceive to be an objectification of black women through the movements of its scantily clad black dancers.

What some people see as racism, I see as Allen poking fun at Miley Cyrus' controversial VMA performance in which she used black women as props. But looking beyond the images in the video, I personally think that the lyrics provide a great critique of the pressures that women feel to be thin (“You should probably lose some weight / Because we can’t see your bones”) and of the double-standard that exists in society's view of sexuality (“If I told you about my sex life you’d call me a slut / When boys be talking about their bitches, no one’s making a fuss”).

People are entitled to their own opinions, but I think that you need to trust the artist on this one. Allen clearly had a point to make in her video about the sexism and objectification of women that is all too present in the media, but she certainly did not intend to objectify black women in her critique.

Allen defended herself on TwitLonger with the following:

Privilege, Superiority and Misconceptions
1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they're wrong.
2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they're wrong.

3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.

4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.

5. I'm not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of, or compromised in any way.
6. Ask the ladies yourselves @shalaeuroasia @monique_Lawz @ceodancers @TempleArtist @SelizaShowtime @melycrisp

Although Allen did not mean to come of as racist, it does not necessarily mean that her video is okay. Sometimes people can be unintentionally racist. Black feminist blogger Mia McKenzie brings up a great point in her recent post, explaining that just because the video is meant to be a satire does not make the content of the video acceptable by any means. She writes:

I like satire as much as the next person. I write a lot of satirical stuff myself. And you know what? Satire works best when you are flipping the script on the oppressor, on the system. When you are calling attention to the ways that the system is jacked by amplifying the absurdity of that system. Not caricaturing and otherwise disrespecting the people who are oppressed by that system...[Lily Allen], why the fuck does your feminism look like this?? Why do you need the bodies of women of color as background for your points? Why do you think slapping the asses of black women on national stages makes you smart or edgy or anything but an asshole? Why do you feel like you are entitled to use our bodies in these ways?

That's both sides of the issue, and I'm curious as to what you all think. Please feel free to watch the video and comment below!

On a lighter note, check out this adorable cat dancing to Sage the Gemini's "Gas Pedal." This cat would LOVE to be a backup dancer for Lily Allen someday!

~ Corinne

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" from a Feminist Perspective

As I said in my "RENT" post two weeks ago, I am very involved in theatre at GW, serving as Executive Producer of Forbidden Planet Productions. This weekend we produced our annual production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Rocky Horror is an important tradition for FPP, as it is where we get our name. The year marked the 19th year of FPP and of FPP's Rocky Horror.

FPP's Rocky Horror is especially meaningful for me because it has been a huge part of my college experience. I have been involved in the production since my freshman year, first playing the role of Columbia (the eyebrow-less groupie) and then directing the show last year.

Rocky Horror means a lot of things to a lot of different people. 2013 marks the 38th year since the movie first premiered, and it is the epitome of a cult classic. Rocky Horror teaches people to be comfortable in their own skin. It's a safe place to cross-dress, wear fishnets and heels, and scream profanities in front of complete strangers. And most importantly, it's A BLAST!!

The following quote from Richard O'Brien (the creator of Rocky Horror who plays Riff Raff in the movie) is one of my favorite quotes (it's literally in my Facebook "favorite quotes" section) and really describes the unique experience that is "The Rocky Horror Picture Show":

"I think perhaps because I didn't know what I was doing explains some of the success. I've seen and met so many people who want to write and whatnot to do this kind of manipulative work. Ahead of time, (they'll say) ‘Oh they're going to love this.’ Who are they? ‘No, do you like it? Does it work for you?’ It's not about them. I think whatever came out of Rocky was because of its expression of freedom, its adolescent kind of drive gave its edge really and the longevity in the end of the day…I'm just so grateful that I've been part of something that has so uniquely left its mark."

I cannot be more proud of this year's cast of Rocky Horror. They all worked so hard and since day one of the rehearsal process, they have reminded me of why I love this show and why I love FPP.

Probably one of the best cat videos ever made. Check the original number from the movie here.

~ Corinne

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On "Sexy" Halloween Costumes

"Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."

Cady Heron knows what's up. Girls love to dress "slutty" on Halloween. Walk into a costume store and you are bombarded with a wall full of "sexy" costumes for women. From "Sexy Corn on the Cob" to "Sexy Fox" and "Sexy Pizza," you can pretty much take anything and turn it into a skimpy costume for Halloween.

Now I don't care if a girl wants to show a little skin. Women have the right to wear whatever they want and they shouldn't be slut-shamed whenever they choose to wear a short skirt. What I have a problem with is that an entire wing of the costume industry is marketed to be "sexy," when true sexiness comes from within, not from the (lack of) clothes on your body.

In an interview with Bitch magazine, independent fashion designer Adam Arnold and Portland fashion designer-manufacturer Cassie Ridgway discuss the obsession with sexy Halloween costumes.

Arnold discusses why many women feel that Halloween is the one day a year that they are allowed to look sexy:

It's the one day of the year that every person has the permission to express something that is inside of them that they cannot express in their daily life. Obviously, you can express yourself in what you wear every day. But it's almost like there's this permission on Halloween. It is too bad that a lot of the options that are available, if you're not handy with your hands, seem trashy. There are a lot of people that feel there's a part of themselves in this society that is, for a lack of a better word, sexy and sensual. Our society as a whole downplays that and makes it seem unnatural when I believe it's a completely natural feeling to feel sexy. It's a great feeling, being comfortable in your body. On Halloween, maybe that becomes kind of stretched in a way in a person's mind and they're able to think of themselves as a crazy sexy animal, piece of toast, or circuit board.

A woman can dress up as a sexy circuit board if she so pleases, but some of these costumes are just outright offensive. Browsing through the costumes on lingerie website, Yandy, I found some of your typical racist costumes ("Indian Princess," "Native American Royalty," "Sexy White Eskimo," "Asian Persuasion," etc.) as well as one that made my jaw drop, the "Sexy Straight Jacket" costume.

Are these "designers" TRYING to offend people? I just don't get it. These disrespectful costumes bring up a whole other issue with Halloween costumes. And don't even get me started on the fact that some people thought that it was okay to dress in blackface this year. Halloween is not an excuse to be racist.

All in all, there is nothing wrong with a woman trying to show some skin. As long as she does not offend a whole demographic with her costume and she knows that true sexiness comes from within, she wear whatever she wants!

Check out some of the best Halloween costumes for cats!

~ Corinne