Please excuse the incoherence that’s about to unfold.
So there I was in the gym yesterday, running 10 kilometres (WOO!) to nowhere, when the new Timberlake and Timbaland video came on. Accordingly, and with the appropriate amount of consideration behind it, here are a few rambling thoughts on R&B videos. (FYI, I’m including all mainstream ‘Black’ music under this umbrella; just call me the Daily Mail. I love it when they describe any black musician as a rapper. No doubt they all play basketball really well. And love fried chicken.)
When a white star, say Justin T (who has made his name as a peddler of ‘Black’ music) does a music video, the featured video girl, regardless of the multi-ethnic dancers in the video – and the genre of the music being historically ‘black’ - will always be white. ALWAYS. Well, with the exception of his debut solo single, Like I Love You - that luminous beauty was Shakara Ledard. But he was trying to woo us ‘Urban’ chicks. (And the rat bastard did. You got us, Justin.) When he does deviate, they are usually Asian/Latina/of-indeterminate-ethnicity-but-not-black-no-sir. Seriously. Check it.
Now let’s turn the tables with the video for Ayo Technology, you know the one, the catchy one with 50 Cent, featuring Timbo and Jutin. Sidestepping the ridiculous levels of implied misogyny and objectifcation of women etcetera, do you notice how JT ends up, once again, with ‘his’ very own white girl? Swing the camera over to Fiddy’s direction, and there is a veritable Rainbow Coalition draped across him – black, white and every beautiful shade and ethnicity in between. Ah, you think. Perhaps this is but one modest abberation. But wait! Mosey on down to the Timbo corner, and there he is, being attacked by a blonde. And not a black blonde like Lil Kim. Since this isn’t Destiny’s Child, and all participants in this song are equal partners, (ZING!) the camera once more returns to Justin. And there he is. Still with his one redhead. And she’s still white. Hm.
Now a few more questions.Why is this? Don’t get me wrong, the presence of these mostly pneumatic women in these videos, uber-sexualised, and reduced to the jiggling of their ‘pertinent’ parts is a nightmare to a feminist. And I’m a feminist. But as an aside, why is race still such a big question here? I might be taking a mahoosive leap here, but is ‘miscegenation’ (of a certain bias) still that hot a topic in America? Is Justin still seen, as a white man, as the great oppressor? Has he been advised to steer clear? Is it personal choice? Label enforced or implied? I read a few interesting comments after JT did that Love Sex Magic vid with Ciara. Robin Thicke’s videos, stuffed to the gills with black women, would suggest not. Then again, he’s been married to black actress Paula Patton forever. Does that mean he gets a ‘pass’? And are Timbo and Fiddy representative of the Shaft school of black masculinity; bedding women left right and centre, as well as thumbing their noses at white people like, “Na-na-na-na-na, ‘your’ women love us!”?
Sigh. I don’t know. I just noticed and wondered, is all. What say ye?