Today, I thought I’d share two music videos I really like. They don’t necessarily have thematic similarities. EMA’s “Milkman” music video is in color, employs trippy imagery, and looks deliberately cheap. Tearist’s “Disposition (In Black)” clip is in black and white, creates a sense of foreboding with shadows, quick cuts, and strobe effects, and is beautiful in its compositional austerity.
But both foreground the female singers–Erika Anderson and Yasmine Kittles–in a manner not completely out of step with pop video standards. No, we’re not dealing with Katy Perry cheesecake. No one is ejaculating icing from their bras, and glad I am for that because Jesus Christ never again. However, if music videos are foremost about elevating musicians to stardom–if only for a few minutes–these clips follow that trajectory while creating arresting imagery that befits the artists in the process.
I should also disclose that I’m prompted to dash off this post because the director of “Disposition (In Black)” contacted me recently. She told me about a write-up she saw on Lin Party where the author posted the video and used it as a springboard to talk about how Kittles makes him hard (incidentally, he didn’t talk about the song, the video, or the craft put into either creation). She wondered if I had written on the prevalence of these kinds of responses toward female artists by male critics in the past. Here’s an edited version of my response. I took out mention of the director’s opinion, because I’m not sure if she wants that reprinted. I thought I’d share because it deserves a larger conversation and I’m happy to use this blog as a forum.
So this guy is the worst! This goes way beyond getting the band’s name wrong. “If you ever have the erratic urge to jump up and shove your soft spot crotch in my face in public (or private) I will welcome it with two arms, a shirt that says ‘Fuck me I’m Bell from Bell Biv Devoe’”?!?!? (note: the author is referring to a video Kittles did with Erik Wareheim where she straddles his face several times to Bat for Lashes’ “Daniel”) Really? Gross. This just reminds me of how my journalism professors would say things like “don’t describe a woman as beautiful if you’re doing a feature profile on her” or “don’t describe what the (female) rape victim wore.” The idea being that women are so often judged on looks that we don’t even think about it when deciding whether disclosing that kind of information suggests a bias and furthers the story. Like, what do these things actually tell us about the person? Giving into it is both lazy reportage and old-school sexism.