June 11, 2012

I received a comment recently, which spoke of a person I’ve been wanting to write about for a while:


I was a MASSIVE Madonna fan growing up. I remember being in Year 10 in 1985 (15 Years old) and I was walking to school with my bestie, Katy. We were in deep and serious discussion about the rumours we had heard that Madonna was going to tour Australia. Wooooo Hooooo! We were planning how we were going to obtain the funds to be able to get good tickets, how we were going to sleep overnight at the ticket outlet (yes, no Internet) etc. etc.

Well, she certainly kept us hanging because she didn’t come until 1993 – but Katy and I still went together AND we got really good seats. It was simply awesome.
I’m deviating – back to the point.

When I was 14, Madonna released her song, Like a Virgin. I remember the ‘oohs & aahs’ over the word ‘virgin’ being in the title, but that was about it. The video is basically her strutting around Venice, dancing on a gondola in the Venetian waterways, being stalked by a lion and ending up with a guy with a lion’s head/mask. All very symbolic – haha!

It has ‘touches’ of raunchiness – but, please, it’s pretty tame.

Let’s jump ahead to, what I see as, one of her most empowering songs – Express Yourself. It’s now 1989 and I’m 19. On viewing this video, one can see that Madonna has gone an extra level in demonstrating her sexuality…BUT the thing that I think makes it different to what’s going on today, is her message. I (still) see her as a formidable woman saying,

Don’t go for second best, baby; Put your love to the test; You know, you know, you’ve got to; make him express how he feels; and maybe then you’ll know your love is real.” 

She basically sings that HE has to prove himself to get a girl’s heart and that girls are better off on their own than settling for second best.  She sings the chorus in a suit and she raised many an eyebrow because she ‘flashes’ her bra underneath her blazer and grabs at her crotch – Michael Jackson style. Her dancing is one of strength, not one from a strip club.

Then there’s the book – Sex.

I own a copy. I was 22 and it took A LOT to part with the $70 that it cost…that was 20 years ago and a tonne of money (for me anyway). She broke all the rules with this one and in a way it was a “F#ck You” to Warner Bros. who were placing restrictions on her artistic expression. It coincided with the release of her new album, Erotica.

Difference with today? Well, it was certainly NOT advertised on TV – it was something that was more of a ‘word-of-mouth’ thing – and it was sealed in a metallic bag with Madonna’s image on it (as you can see in the picture above). To see it, you had to buy it – so there was no exposure to the wrong set of eyes. Today we are wallpapered with hyper-sexuality.

In a way, my teen years and early 20s had Madonna in my life and I think I did actually learn from her. I saw someone who confidently pushed aside the ‘weaker sex’ image and made us see that we women are sexual beings with sexual desires, but that guys had to (for want of a better word) earn their way to it.
So, the question is:

Question #55: Is Madonna the same or different to today’s female artists?


Why? Because:

1. I absolutely don’t see the message in current female pop artists’ videos, that men have to share a woman’s sexuality. Women, in these clips, are hyper-sexualised in their actions, while men are generally just sitting there, fully clothed, observing the female artist doing everything short of sexual acts themselves (Jennifer Lopez’s latest clip pops into mind). And that’s on Music Video shows – for anyone to see – sometimes in your local KFC restaurant; as I once observed.
Madonna even had the video, Justify My Love, banned by MTV in 1990. Yes, banned! (It had a quick shot of girl kissing girl/looking like a boy and some raunch). We’ve passed the point where a video’s banned in this day and age because our moral compass is off kilter.

2. I think many female artists have tried to copy Madonna and think what they’re doing in their videos (to simply pleasure ‘the man’) is empowering. It’s not. Why? Because nothing is empowering when one objectifies themselves with no equal reciprocal action.
What – exactly – is gained?

3. She was the only one of her time – unique – and she was sending her (I think) empowering message from the start. She may have gone a bit far at times, but on the whole she encapsulated strength and exuded power. Nowadays, it seems that female pop artists have the same type of video. Whatever makes money, right? No sense of being unique in this culture.


So, what do I think of Madonna now?

I’m saddened that she’s started to deform her face with surgery and is not ageing gracefully. She could have been, again, such a front-runner for women and show how beauty, strength and power can come from within – but alas, it was not meant to be.

Deep Breath.


The following article appeared in the paper yesterday – a perfect follow-on to my last post.

It hits the nail on the head.

How have we allowed the music industry to portray women in such a soulless demeaning way?

OK. Do you agree?

I’m going to go down Nostalgia Avenue again – Sorry, I can’t help it…

Music and I have always had a close love affair. My earliest memories were of my best friend, Katy, and I preparing endless dance routines in her living room. It had a perfectly placed mirror to be able to watch the ‘magic’ unfold – our best work being a fabulously choreographed number to ‘Copacobana!’
Our dance moves were heavily steeped in 70s disco influences…and we looked fantastic! This music love affair continued with the birth of the walkman – a device I HAD to have. Music everywhere I went? How wonderful! In Year 11, I worked in a chicken shop (called ‘The Game Cock’….I kid you not), to pay for said walkman. My Duran Duran cassettes certainly got a work out…

At this time, music videos really took off. Of course there were music videos before, but they started to take on a new life – it wasn’t just an artist standing in front of a microphone and singing; stories started to be told through the videos.

I LOVED it. There was nothing like watching Countdown on a Sunday night (the cause for GREAT conversation on the bus the next day) or Sounds on a Saturday morning. I remember the pure excitement of waiting for the premier showing of a video….it was simply awesome….*sigh*

Now, I don’t think I sound the same as parents of the day, shielding their burning eyes from the thrusting pelvis of a certain Elvis Presley – I actually love some dance music, House in particular – really love them. I do, however, feel that things have definitely gone down a dark road for women in music videos. The worst part is that many women artists are perpetuating this image.

Pussycat Dolls – enough said. I always felt that they sent out very confusing messages to women – not needing a man being the main message in one song, to tormenting a boy whose girlfriend is not “hot” like her (or a “freak” like her), to practically begging a man to “loosen up her buttons”. But one thing always stayed the same – their videos were like soft porn.

On a different branch, one of the things I feel most disappointed with, is the fact that female artists that made it BIG being ‘wholesome’ and gained a very large, young fan base, all turned to soft porn to sell more albums. The unfortunate part, is that as they were watching the older market of consumers they could ensnare to buy their music (with means that had nothing to do with music), they turned their backs on the young ones, who continued to watch…and learn.

The first words of Christina Aguilera’s song ‘Dirty’ are of a man saying, “Dirty, Filthy, Nasty.” There’s that word again – dirty.

The accompanying video was just what they guys wanted to see – Christina in a dark and dingy boxing ring being cheered on by beefy men, as she danced as though she were in a strip show…I don’t really think it was for us. This was at a time when all of this was starting to warm up.

Here’s a shot of her from around the same time.

Of course there was also Britney – she who performed a lap dance every night of her last world tour, to a male audience member (amongst other things):

Both these women have sons. They will ALWAYS be able to access images of their mothers in this way….forever. It’s such a shame that the allure of more money took precedence over anything else. I wonder if they regret it, now that they’re mothers.

So, there are still music videos on a Saturday morning – but my daughters can’t watch them. Which is a real BUMMER. I want my girls and their future ‘Katy’ dancing to great songs in the living room.

I would love to think that there is a way to make a change with this.

Question #11: How is change possible, when women are helping perpetuate the soft porn image in their videos?

Growing up…’80s style.

February 3, 2012

In 1985, I was 15 years old. A pure ’80s teen.

I can’t help but smile at the tragic elements that made the ’80s so unique…and how I love them so. For all the Aussie readers, I was watching Rage the other night and they’re going through a retro stage, by playing countless episodes of Countdown – from the mid ’80s. MOST excellent! As I watched, I couldn’t help but cack at what the audience looked like. Classic!

There were lots of girls wearing baggy jeans, that came in a bit at the ankle (mmMMmm), with bunched up white socks, lace up shoes (think Duran Duran….my idols!), baggy shirts and big bows in their hair. Noice.

From memory, there were also the shoulder pads, tube skirts, odd hair-cuts (long on one side, short on the other – as well as the classic massive, teased fringe or spiky numbers), big shirts with a belt over the top, fingerless gloves, flouros, pastels, paisley, tartan, bubble dresses….aaaahh, good times. I can literally see the younger readers flinching…and you’d be right to…because on the whole, it was a baggy look…and we looked like dags. *still grinning*

Fortunately for us – it was the fashion. It was ‘in’.

Please cast your eyes on the wonderful specimen I was in 1984, at the Year 9 dance – my first ever dance with boys:

There is a white TIE at the front of this fabulous outfit….that I wore to attract a male of the spiecies (no luck, though – Ha!). Please also note the girls in the background with their full, long skirts. Imagine a Yr 9 dance todaywhat would the girls be wearing? Mmmm….exactly.

So, on this Countdown episode, Howard Jones is up and starts to lip-sync (as they all did back then) to his song:

“I’d like to get to know you well…I’d like to get to know you well…I’d like to get to know you well, so we can one, we can be one, to-gether.” (Remember that one?)

So as I’m watching him, with his long shirt, teased hair and excellent lip-syncing skills, surrounded by all those daggy audience members, I start to smile because they really do seem like more innocent times.

But not on the inside – it was the same hormones, same wants – just not so transparent and ‘in your face’.

I suppose the realisation I had, was that the music lyrics and videos of the 80’s were endearing because it was ‘tongue-in-cheek’. We all knew, like a ‘secret club’, what the lyrics were really about. Younger kids would be oblivious, because the video clips didn’t match what was being sung. I remember Cindy Lauper had a song called, “She Bop”. Now at the time, the word around the school yard was that the song was about masturbation (oooOOooo – so naughty *wink*) – but the video clip featured her in a suit, with a top hat and tails. It kind of felt a bit grown up to be part of the secret club – my younger sister certainly had NO idea what the song was about.

So what do we have today?

Well, about five years ago, I remember there was a VERY popular song on the radio that had a lot of the words beeped out (Eminem *gag* was one of the singers). I did remember the line, “I wanna girl who will do whatever the *beep*  I say, every day she’ll be giving it up.”

Nice. Classy. So I looked the lyrics up and this is a sample of it:

Get buzzed, get drunk, get crunked, get fuuucked up
Hit the strip club, don’t forget ones, get your dick rubbed
Get fucked, get sucked, get wasted, shit faceded, pasted
Plastered, puke drink up get a new drink
Leave the bathroom sink [puke], wipe your shoe clean got a routine goin’
Still got a few chunks on them shoe strings shoin’
I was dehydrated till the beat vibrated
I was revived as soon as this bitch giyrated
Them hips and lickin’ lips and that was it
I had to get Nate Dogg here to sing some shit
[Nate Dogg]
Were gonna have a party, turn the music up
Let’s get it started, go ahead shake ya butt
I’m lookin for a girl with a body and sexy strip
Wanna get it poppin’ baby step right up
Some girls they act retarded, some girls about it bout it
I’m lookin for a girl that will do whatever the fuck
I say everyday she be givin’ it up
I’m a menace, a dentist, an oral hygienist
Open your mouth for about four or five minutes
Take a little bit of this fluoride rinse
Swish but don’t spit it, swallow and now finish, Yeahhh!
Me and Nate D-O-Double G lookin for a couple Bitches
With some Double D’s pop a little chapagne and a couple E’s
Slip it in her bubbly, wheee fittin ta have a party                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               [Nate Dogg]
Were gonna have a party, turn the music up
Let’s get it started, go ahead shake ya butt
I’m lookin for a girl I can fuck in my Hummer truck
Apple bottom jeans and a big ol suck
Some girls they act retarded, some girls are bout it bout it
I want a bitch that sit at the crib with no panties on
Knows that she can but she won’t say no
Now look at this lady all in front of me, sexy as can be
Tonight I want a SLUT, would you be mine?
I Heard you was freaky from a friend of mine

I mean seriously.  They’re singing about drugging girls in one line, amongst the rest of its hideousness. Could young men hear this and think that’s the way it is – or worse still, the way it should be? Surely, the answer to that must be YES. They’re singing it in a song on the radio, aren’t they?

Now we have the women joining in, singing songs that sound like soft porn (how else are they going to make money, if it’s not to sell themselves short?) Why would a guy want to call a 0055 number, when he can turn on a popular radio station or go into any shop that plays the music and hear a girl moaning and singing, “I like it when you lick me there”? (I heard this one recently).

So couple this sort of music, with their corresponding video clips and hyper-sexualised women and surely you start to mould a generation.

Where’s the ‘secret club’ gone?

Question #10: How can we combat the influence of the current paradigm of music and their videos?