GENDER DECONSTRUCTION EXAMPLES
In many of The White Stripes music videos Jack and Meg white are wearing similar if not the same outfit, showing a bit of androgyny. In the band Man Man, their music video for Rabbit Habbits rejects gender completely by turning two people on a date into genderless werewolves. The catchy song is popular, however the odd factor of the music video turns off many viewers based on the YouTube number of views. The band The Beat Happening is made up of two males and one female.
The female sings half of their songs and has a very classic girly voice. When you view any of their videos it looks like there are three males in the band. Heather Lewis, the female whom is not transgendered just looks male. A similar foundation was the band The Pixies, made up of three males and one female. In some videos Kim Deal,
the female looks very feminine, and in others she looks male or almost genderless. The band Of Montreal has a male lead singer, whose voice sounds slightly female and is in semi-drag in all of their performances. NOBUNNY,
a one man punk band wears a huge rabbit mask in all of his live performances and sometimes nothing else. With the rabbit face masking his gender, he sometimes pairs it with women’s underwear. These examples challenge the viewer to rethink gender constructions and sexuality in music videos and live performances. Gender mix ups such as NOBUNNY wearing women’s underwear is almost a parody of overly sexual visuals in music videos and in the general music aesthetics.
NON-SEXUAL IMAGE AND GENDER DECONSTRUCTION MOVEMENTS
In the late 90’s in the Northwest, the grunge scene was thriving and so was the Riot Grrrl movement. Female punk bands finally overcame sexism and were equal to male bands. The movement had feminist tones and was very political and the bands never got hugely popular. However it did change the way female bands were regarded in the punk and indie world. Bands such as Bikini Kill,
7 Year Bitch, and Bratmobile still dealt with sexism. In response to negative slurs said to them such as slut and bitch, band members would write these words in lipstick on their skin at shows.
Queercore, although sounding a bit derogatory is the genre title that gay men and women have grouped their punk bands into. The genre is classified with a classic punk sound, but with call to action lyrics about social injustice towards the gay community. “The music celebrates its outsider status, refusing to cave into the so-called moral majority’s myopic definition of what is right and natural.” Queercore bands such as
Team Dresch have heavy lyrics about sexuality.
Ani DiFranco is a Grammy winning songwriter and lyricist. A feminist, she has pioneered gender ambiguity in the music world.
The band Guantanamo Bay Watch is made up of two males and one female. In their Halloween performance they went as the band No Doubt and the male front man was Gwen Stefani.
David Bowie also pioneered gender vagueness.
In his video Rebel Rebel, he appears in semi-female attire, accompanied by the first lyrics got your mother in a whirl/not sure if you’re a boy or a girl. In you tube the video has viewer comments such as “David Bowie: Confusing straight men around the world since 1972,” and other remarks about sexuality. In his videos produced by larger labels, his image is a bit more normal.
Rumors circulated tabloids about the popular Lady Gaga being really male. How this and her lavishly out of the ordinary ensembles could make viewers uncomfortable, instead the public endears it.
The public can endear a bit of weirdness or edginess in their music videos, but not to the point where it makes them uncomfortable. Artists such as David Bowie and Lady Gaga become popular because they tone down their strangeness to a level comfortable for the public. They were able to become largely popular because their videos are still aesthetically pleasing to viewers. In Lady Gaga’s case, there is still evident sexual objectification poorly disguised with slightly odd visuals.
The blatant gender mix-ups other bands are doing are de-sexualizing their appearance entirely instead of disguising it. This puts the attention back on the music and the art instead of the human appearance and spectacle.
Hansen, Christine Hall. Priming Sex-Role Stereotypic Event Schemas With Rock Music Videos: Effects on Impression Favorability, Trait Inferences, and Recall of a Subsequent Male-Female Interaction. Basic and Applied Social Psychology. 1989, 10(4), 371-391 Copyright © 1989, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
"Riot Grrrl." AllMusic. Web. 26 Nov. 2010. <http://www.allmusic.com/>.
Bad Romance music video. (2009) Retreived Nov. 26, 2010. Youtube.com
David Bowie music video. (1984) Retreived Nov. 26, 2010. Youtube.com
Toney, Gregory T. and Weaver, James B. Effects of Gender and Gender Role Self-Perceptions on Affective Reactions to Rock Music Video. Sex Roles, Vol. 30, Nos 7/8, 1994.