OTOH: She has pretty good flow, and the instrumentals are also more than decent. It’s an above average song. OTOH: The lyrical content is pretty uncompelling. Hip hop is the one—the ONLY—genre where I’ll admit that lyrical content even matters at all. But perhaps as hip hop increasingly becomes just pop, lyrical content will matter less than flow? (But then there is someone like Flo Rida or Luda, who manage to have great flow and make cheeky, clever, smart plays on words.)
It’s interesting how well this video is crafted for global appeal. Even videos like Luda/Usher’s “Rest of My Life” or Taio Cruz/Flo Rida’s “Hangover” use nationalist symbols (US/UK flags, for example). Nationalist symbols are replaced with designer brands (e.g., Loboutains). I’m sure this is tied to IA’s white-Aussie-girl identity. The question is: why is a white Aussie female rapper so well-suited to a particular texture/presentation of extra-national/globalized capital?
The one thing I do unequivocally appreciate about the video is the way it presents her sexualization as just work. It suggests that women’s alienation from their sexuality is comparable to alienated labor—it’s all, in the end, just work—for capital, for patriarchy, whatevs. “Being a woman” is just another thing IA has to do to get by, to get what she wants from people, to succeed.
Obviously I have a lot to chew on. Thoughts?
“It is this interdependence which explains why oppression is possible and why it is hateful. As we have seen, my freedom, in order to fulfill itself, requires that it emerge into an open future: it is other men who open the future to me, it is they who, setting up the world of tomorrow, define my future; but if, instead of allowing me to participate in this constructive movement, they oblige me to consume my transcendence in vain, if they keep me below the level which they have conquered and on the basis of which new conquests will be achieved, then they are cutting me off from the future, they are changing me into a thing…Oppression divides the world into two clans: those who enlighten mankind by thrusting it ahead of itself and those who are condemned to mark time hopelessly in order merely to support the collectivity…the oppressor feeds himself on their transcendence and refuses to extend it by a free recognition” (Beauvoir, Ethics of Ambiguity, 82-3).
“This privilege, which he alone possess, of being a sovereign and unique subject amidst a universe of objects, is what he shares with all his fellow-men. In turn an object for others, he is nothing more than an individual in the collectivity on which he depends. As long as there have been men and they have lived, they have all felt this tragic ambiguity of their condition, but as long as there have been philosophers and they have thought, most of them have tried to mask it…But their attempt to lie to us is in vain. Cowardice doesn’t pay. Those reasonable metaphysics, those consoling ethics with which they would like to entice us only accentuate the disorder from which we suffer…Since we do not succeed in fleeing it, let us therefore try to look the truth in the face. Let us try to assume our fundamental ambiguity. It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our life that we must draw our strength to live and our reason for acting”
so, i grew up in Mapplethorpe-trial/Larry-Flynt-era Cincinnati. visual obscenity was like my hometown’s “thing.” maybe that’s the reason i’ve never really found it that interesting, philosophically. porn is always an interesting issue to teach in feminist philosophy or gender & aesthetics, but, i dunno, i personally as a scholar just can’t get “into” it.
but today i was thinking about the differences between visual obscenity—usually naked bodies and/or blasphemy (e.g., piss christ)—and musical obscenity. it seems like there are two levels of musical obscenity: (a) the verbal content of the lyrics, and (b) the affective content/form of the musical work/performance itself. this latter type of obscenity is interesting b/c it’s not tied to the representation of a taboo idea, concept, or symbol. it’s about transgressive affective or phenomenological states. even the ancient greeks tied musical experience (performance & listening) to ethical practices, i.e., to technologies of the self.
and i think, especially in the US, these affective states are deeply racialized. so, if what is considered visual/verbal obscenity generally references sex (and violence, and blasphemy, and drugs, but mainly sex), maybe non-lyrical musical obscenity generally references racial transgressions? just think about the history of black pop music in the US. first, it was literally segregated in record stores, cordoned off in “race music” sections. music was the first broadcast mass medium. white kids could listen to “black” music; music—as electrical currents—could transgress social and political segregation. this, after all, is the subtext of John Waters’s Hairspray. music was a gateway to racially transgressive corporeal practices and affective states.
So: Is there a kind of musical obscenity that works/functions differently than visual obscenity? Is musical obscenity, at least in postwar US (and maybe UK) pop culture, tied to race in a way that visual obscenity is not? Is racial transgression what makes some sonic experiences feel “obscene”?
I dunno. These are all open questions. I hope somebody has written about this—and if you know of any good work on this & related issues, I’d be eternally grateful for your suggestions.