More than thirty years ago, MTV began to beam a budding art form known simply as the music video today. Although the birth of music videos dates back much further, music videos only came into prominence in the 1980’s when MTV based their format around them. Three decades later are these short films that try and integrate a song with imagery still relevant especially since the same sex filled dish is incessantly served up to us by lazy artists?
The birth of sexuality in music videos
Sexuality in music videos has increased radically over the last decade or so as a result of the commercial function music videos play today. Music videos must attract the audience’s attention and convey a message quickly to boost sales. The sexual attraction provides a means of both drawing attention and conveying a message quickly. Having said that though, with porn availability at an all time high how much of an impact will a skimpily dressed booty shaking dancer have these days? Have we not become desensitized to “soft porn” sexual imagery? Still the ‘pornification’ continues to happen and will continue because being explicit does not harm any artist’s career. Putting the words ‘banned on MTV’ on press releases and album covers is one of the most desperate PR ploys but it gets attention or does it?
The problem here is that sexually explicit is becoming more and more main stream as main stream artists such as Sharkira (She Wolf), Christina Aguilera (Dirrty) and Robin Thicke (Blurred Lines) deliver their own versions of the pornification of the music video. Robin Thicke’s video was recently banned on YouTube for being too sexy but these videos are however losing the ‘shock effect’ as we become more accustomed to them. Other artists such as Kurupt are pushing beyond the boundaries of ‘sexy’ and getting into what I can only describe as porn in order to maintain this ‘shock effect.’ In his video ‘She like to what’ Kurupt takes the concept of sexually explicit to another level. Yet with the full nudity and the over the top sexual content ‘She like to what’ has just under 13 000 views on YouTube to date. So is sex still selling? A 2007 study titled ‘Young U.S. blacks believe in politics’ found that 72% of black, 68% of white and 69.2% of Hispanic youths (aged 15-25) agree that rap music videos contain too many references to sex. Has this over indulgence with gyrating, ‘sexed up’ women paved the way to the ‘Gangnam Style’ music video era.
The Gangnam style Era
Psy’s Gangnam Style has clocked over 1.5 billion views on YouTube to date with Psy’s latest offering Gentleman nearing over 125 million views in a matter of days. So what is it about these videos that lead to billions of people around the world watching them? The same skimpy dress dancers feature but it is the humour and creativity that has caught our attention. The concept of a middle aged man dressed the way he is dressed with outlandish dance moves that seem to get everyone dancing is something fresh and original. I’ll be the first to admit that sex sells but if music videos are going to be here for the next three decades more creative concepts are needed. Artists are starting to respond, Kanye West’s Runaway probably the greatest music video of all time and movie themed concepts such as Lady Gaga’s Telephone are bringing life to what was increasingly becoming the boring and outdated music video. MTV’s rapidly declining viewership numbers are a testament that the over dependence on the ‘Pornification’ of the music video will ultimately lead to its death.
That’s our piece and tell them you heard it from Matt “The Rat” Mkhize.