Is this really for the gays?

Posted in Uncategorized by teddytaylor on April 30, 2010

I thought it would be interesting to consider the use of queer themes in music, especially since lately it has been seen a lot.  A particular genre that has always been favored by the gays is that of the pop diva, which I do consider separate from pop as its own genre.  Today it seems like these female musicians have really embraced their gay audience, as opposed to years ago where it might have taken years for someone like Cher to openly admit “this album was for the gays,” even though in the back of our minds we knew it always was.  Now you have artists like Christina Aguilera who before even releasing her latest album came out and said she had the gays in mind when recording it.  Britney Spears recorded a video message for the Logo Awards, talking about her love for the gays, and Beyonce basically reinvigorated her career by changing her persona to match that of a black queen.  Interestingly though, not many in the mainstream might recognize this, so it brings up the question, are the gays getting the credit they deserve and is this credit giving them the appropriate kind of attention?

As I watched the premiere of this Christina Aguilera video today, I couldn’t help but notice the bondage theme, which is heavily associated with the gay culture, and of course, the woman she’s giving a lap dance to.  She even says in the song “she’s kissing boys and girls” but the song is still called “Not Myself Tonight.”  I get that the video is just for fun, but the abundance of sexuality in the video, along with the homosexual themes, is being used for shock value.  She saves her reputation by stating several times “she’s not herself tonight,” so at the end of the day the idea of this girl-on-girl action is just being used for controversy, lacking any kind of substance, which is not what the queer culture needs.  I didn’t really appreciate that Katy Perry song either, for the same reason.  It’s not that I can’t appreciate the entertainment value of these songs, but I feel like they are using gay themes in the form of sexuality to grab people’s attention.  People say, “wow look how far we’ve come,” but really I look at it as a step back because all we’re doing is alienating the gay culture as something that is inappropriate and not typical of normal human behavior. Christina happens to state at the beginning of the song “she’s out of character, and in rare form,” which I understand, because she’s heterosexual, but people should consider why it is she’s even using the gay scenario anyway.  To represent her gay fan base?  I don’t think so.  What these divas can do to show their appreciation of the only people who *purchase* their records, is stop using gay themes for the sake of controversy, and just let people know who inspires their music.  I don’t recall Beyonce stating any kind of formal support of gays yet, and we all know if it weren’t for her gay choreographers, she wouldn’t have won all of those Grammys.  Christina might have made her latest album with the gays in mind, but she could have gone without featuring the homosexual scenes in her video, which obviously aren’t being used for any kind of advancement in awareness.  If people hear about her interviews and how this album is inspired by her gay fan base and then watch this video, it would be very easy to associate them with ideas that only strengthen the stereotypes that we’re trying to move past.

Don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE this video.  😉

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5 Responses

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  1. misspuff said, on April 30, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Christian Aguilera is openly bisexual, in fact has said that she prefers women to men.

    • teddytaylor said, on April 30, 2010 at 8:56 pm

      Well she married a man and had his baby. So she might want to clarify.

  2. saimaanika said, on May 2, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Yes, Christina Aguilera is openly bisexual. Also, I think some bisexual people look at their compatibility with someone else through their soul, doesn’t matter whether they are a woman or a man, before they consider the physique and gender. Just because she married a man, doesn’t mean she needs to provide elucidation because she is still bisexual, she just fell in love with someone from of the group of people she sexually prefers. But, what you said about just utilizing the gay theme as a way to create videos that are sexual tantalizing for optimal audience support, especially in the gay community, to rack up sales is very true. This directs the audience to the wrong direction and makes them think that the LGBT community has come a long way, but when in reality, the community is going the opposite way we want for the LGBT community. I’m a HUGE fan of Christina Aguilera since I was 9 years old and I have every CD and most of her DVD’s. What I always admired about her, besides her larger than life, powerful, and effervescent voice, is the fact that she is authentic and true to herself. However, with this video, if you look at it as a political piece rather than a frivolous one, she kept saying “I’m not myself tonight” and goes even further to say that “in the morning, I will be the same girl I was before.” She is openly bisexual and so “kissing all the boys and the girls” is something she does as herself and until she got married, hopefully. I think we need an explanation on that. Maybe she is trying to jump on the bandwagon of wrongly enticing the gay audience like these other pop divas. Since she is usually authentic, maybe this video and song is not as political as we think and it purely for fun and a celebration for gay people (I am strictly talking about the video, not the lyrics). I’m thinking that maybe she’s singing about how heterosexual people, especially women, embark on those drunken and wild nights where they indulge in same-sex experimentation for fun because she does talk about all this happening in one night.

    Your post really made me think and I really do appreciate the profound thought process behind your post.

  3. ascheer said, on May 3, 2010 at 3:52 am

    You’ve raised some really interesting points here with your post! And the topic is incredibly relevant when you consider videos like Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” which also has some homo moments. And I also have a hard time figuring out whether or not homosexuality is being used only for shock value, especially because displays of sexuality in music videos tend to be cartoonishly over-the-top to begin with. I am often left wondering, “Why did that happen?” when I see Xtina giving a woman a lap dance or Lady Gaga kissing that andro-masculine person in the prison yard. And again, in both of those scenarios the pop-divas in questions are wearing what is essentially glamorous underwear. At least “Telephone” attempts, in some way, to represent the spectrum of female embodiment or identity; most other examples stick strickly to femme-on-femme contact.

    At the end of the day though, I think that if a song has a good beat and a good hook, people are gonna like it (gay or straight). And if it’s something people can dance to, then dance they will and probably not pay attention to the lyrics.

    Also this song and this video are SO Madonna’s style.

  4. sarah said, on May 3, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Teddy! I loved your post, seriously. You brought up so many interesting points about Aguilera’s and the pop culture using homosexual themes. I strongly agree that they use these themes for the shock factor. I also like how you said “She saves her reputation by stating several times “she’s not herself tonight,” so at the end of the day the idea of this girl-on-girl action is just being used for controversy, lacking any kind of substance, which is not what the queer culture needs.” I think this is true because, she as an artist, does not face any real, damaging consequences for the gay theme in her videos because she is not really saying she is gay or coming out. This also reminded me of how the lines for a woman’s sexuality can be blurred but still intact whereas if a men were to act homosexual in a music video he would DEFINITELY be seen as gay in our Culture. I feel like this double standard also confuses and misrepresents the work that the LGBT tries to do.

    I wanted to comment a little more about the music video itself. I wanted to mention the conclusion of the video. At the end of the video, you do not see her on a bed with a woman but a man. I think this is significant because the bedroom represents home and family. In contrast, she is giving the woman a lap dance in a less intimate, more open, white background. If we contrast these two images, it even looks like she is more intimate, more aggressive and more passionate with the man. She is also wearing red which denotes fire, passion and intimacy whereas white and black are less intense. Does this mean that unconsciously we know that she chooses the man over the woman? That it is more desirable for her to be with the man than the woman?

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