Are Women represented as sex objects in rap videos?
Rap music started in the late 1970’s early 1980’s and was the first form of socio-political views in music, with the likes of Run DMC, NWA, Tupac & many more. They expressed about soul and the hardship of slavery, much like the Griots, a tribe from the roots of Africa. They were the founders of Rap music. Griots were storytellers, most commonly found in the west of Africa, who orally told villagers stories to a beat. The majority of Griots were slaves and were expressing their freedom from all the pain and torture they had to tolerate.
Soon, this oral expression materialized into rap music where people articulated about their pleasures and their lives. They also spoke about the suffering in their own lives. However today rap has changed for the worst – it’s all about self promoting, ‘Pussy, Money, Weed’ and glorifying violence. No longer is rap about what was important – what rap was all about. I believe that rap has also changed in a negative way. It is now becoming the evil vein of society, pumping in the glorification of violence. Brainwashing people. Making them believe that money is the only pleasure and it can buy anything.
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Rap manipulates young people, assuring them that misogyny is perfectly fine, when it isn’t. As a result of this negative change of rap music I will analysing a modern day rap video and will be using mise-en-scene to focus on some of the main aspects of within 50 Cent’s P. I. M. P. There will be analysis of the lyrics, the camera angles and shots, the setting, the actions and rappers within 50 Cent’s P. I. M. P. How can anyone not think that women are sex objects when all they see is the deliberate close-ups of their bodies over and over again?
The use of the camera angles in the video plays a very powerful part in drawing the attention of the viewers to the bodies (especially the sex organs) of these women covered in oil and who are scantily clad with their face never shown and the camera always focussing on the sexual organs, which symbolises that their body is more important than their identity. When the face is shown rarely in the video it is only pretty girls whose faces are smothered in makeup and they are always giving a sexy and seductive look to the viewer. This shows that they no individualism and no identity.
Their posture is always shown lying down or bending over which connotes that they are ‘easy’ and are ready for their man. So this shows that they are used as sex objects and are willingly allowing it to happen the effect of this is not physically evident in the video but mentally on the viewers. Everywhere you see there are women. They soon inherit the image of becoming furniture, like they are meant to be there; used and then disposed of. They are all equal commodities in the eyes of 50 Cent. They are there to look good and provide him with their services, to be the P. I. M. P’s sex object – a P. I. M. P’s promiscuous and sexually gratifying ‘bitch’.
When there are lyrics from rap music’s original ‘P. I. M. P’ Snoop Dogg saying: “P. I. M. P hand is strong” which connotes to domestic violence to women and also makes P. I. M. P’s women aware of the consequences of their disobedient actions therefore is it a wonder why they are represented as sex objects? This lyric and action of a raised back hand by Snoop Dogg shows how much of a commodity women really are to P. I. M. P’s, how they are sex objectives to P. I. M. P’s, how much they mean to them! How P. I. M. P’s believe in misogyny. It gives the message to the audience whom aspire to be like rappers and P. I. M. P’s that it’s fine to treat women in that vindictive way if they step out of line. In similarity to this, there was another use of a lyric, ‘I got 100 chicks by my side’. This quotation is a perfect example of 50 Cent’s nonchalant attitude about women. To him, there are plenty of women so he doesn’t care if anything happens to them, they are disposable to him.
There are women lining up to get a piece of action in the P. I. M. P mansion. He can just summon more women as he pleases. This shows that women have no significance in the video and are always cast down upon as just sex toys for the men. They are commodities that can be disposed of at 50 Cent’s will. As 50 Cent is exposed in the video as a very rich and powerful man; overpowering the women. They are represented as sex slaves but also as domestic slaves as they are his drink, dressing him and cleaning his furniture. This is partly down to the P. I. M. P mansion being full of riches and luxuries and not being simple and cheap.
They are as if they belonged to a monarch or billionaire – it comes across as a place owned by a rich man; in this case, 50 Cent. The lyric ‘they only like me because I’m from New York’ is important as New York is the financial city of America and the women like that fact as they can get some money from 50 Cent. They can do this by ‘dancing for dollars’ this again is another lyric which denotes women to strippers who must work for their money by dancing. All they want is his riches the end of the day. As long as there is money there is ‘bitches’ that will do anything for the men and money.
This strongly compliments the statement that refers to women being represented as sex objects in rap video. Not once do you see any woman wearing more than minimal clothing and not working. They are all busy at work. They just want money and if this means they have to interact with the men sexually, they will do it. Why do people even doubt the fact that women represented as sex objects in rap videos? When there is the constant use of low angled tilt shots on the greased up women who are barely of and lighting always reflecting on to the body these women.
They are exploited. When the camera is on 50 Cent it is a different story – he stands out more clearly with women bumping & grinding (like a standing lap dance) on him however he takes a blind eye to this as if it is an ordinary thing – he has a nonchalant attitude. That enhances the idea of women being sex objects in rap videos. I know and society knows that women are represented as sex objects in rap videos. So why don’t we do something about it? Perhaps putting regulations and censorships for rap videos.
Limiting the clever and cunning use of repeated low angled shots of the camera, the lighting concentrating on the bodies, the lyrics complimenting the video and what is going on in it, costumes (very little of it) of all the women and the setting in which the video takes place are all factors and all add up to women being represented as sex objects. All of this contributed to the way women behaved and were seen in the video by the viewers. They achieved a stereotypical image in the rap video industry, they have lost all dignity and have become a victim of degradation. This will last forever in my eyes.