The Weekend Desk: Sexual Empowerment Or Sexual Accessories
    • FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 2015

    • Posted by: April Siese

    [Ed. note: The Weekend Desk is a new, weekly series that we're premiering on Baeble where our team of writers tackle serious issues in the music world and how those issues reflect back into the rest of society. We're very excited to be bringing this new content to you every week, and I know personally how much I love this piece from our first contributor.]

    Recently, Muse released the lyric video for their single "Dead Inside" off their forthcoming album, Drones. The video features semi-metallic kaleidoscopic nude women and a drone because...branding. While the whole concept of the lyric video has become a little dated, this isn't the first time a naked one has hit YouTube. The first example that comes to mind is a wholly different naked lyric video -- Amanda Palmer's "Want It Back" -- which features the artist naked and uses her body as a canvas for the lyrics themselves. It's a hell of a lot more dynamic than Muse's ALL CAPS Windows 98 screensaver font they have flying at your face while naked women bounce into each other until their bodies are unrecognizable.

    The biggest difference -- aside from stylistic cheesiness -- is the fact that Palmer is the artist and the nude in question. To wit, Matthew Bellamy and co. have not bared all for the sake of a video...though they apparently feel more than comfortable employing others to do so. It takes the lazy concept of appending lyrics that were already created for a song that was already mixed and only vaguely attempts to make it more interesting by way of the even lazier sex sells policy of nudity. Compare that to Arctic Monkeys' "Arabella," in which the (again) female nudity is used to advance a story, and you have two totally different but slightly uncomfortable uses of the female form as props.

    Naked women in music videos isn't a particularly new thing, lyric or otherwise. It just seems that the trend of women baring all while a male artist or group sings their song is strictly a dudes only thing -- as if to tell the models or actresses that they only barely set the scene for a song that's much bigger than themselves. Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner makes a cameo appearance on yet another female nude-centric video for Mini Mansions' "Vertigo," in which there is a bit of, say, a male chest, but nothing compared to the quickly undressing model at the beginning of the video. While it's great to see Turner embracing the role he combination built for himself/fell into as frontman sex machine, it would be incredibly refreshing to see him step over the lines of pelvic gyrations and into the uncharted territory of just being fucking naked.

    Even when the Flaming Lips had the gumption to collaborate with Erykah Badu, they flubbed their video unveiling of Badu and her sister just being naked while Wayne Coyne thought up strange shit for them to do, which set about an uncomfortable back and forth that certainly frayed the two's artistic relationship and ultimately only had the female artist naked as opposed to Coyne and anyone else in the Flaming Lips going for it. The Lips are incredibly into nudity but not enough to do it themselves, despite frequent appearances of topless women rolling atop the arms and unaware heads of crowds the world over at their live shows.

    Artists who advocate for their own nudity or who see women past the point of being set pieces tend to be women and, while it's impressive, brave, and beautiful, the fact that, say, Azealia Banks can own an entire issue of Playboy by way of a brilliant, biting interview and a raunchy but fun spread sadly also leaves room for those same notions of women being seen in the background and therefore judged at the forefront when they themselves are advocating for the celebration of the female form. This is to say nothing of the fact that the female nudity employed in Palmer's video or Azealia Banks's Playboy spread doesn't specifically or intentionally cater to the typical straight male crowd that's consistently being pandered to.

    Banks talked about being ready for Playboy in the way that most artists gush about working with a sought-after producer. It was a dream of her's that was fully realized in a way she wanted to celebrate. The fierce openness she exudes in the lengthy interview with the magazine runs the gamut of young and dumb relationships as well as the importance of speaking out at all junctures. Even if you don't like what Banks has to say, the depth of her reasoning is far more admirable than hiding behind the concept of art to celebrate nudity. However, her divisive language of hating "fat white Americans" and the country in general is what's currently getting the most play, rather than exploring a deeper conversation on what it means to be naked and proud alongside your art -- pushing the two to the forefront in brand new ways.

    The last memorable naked male music video was Blink-182's "What's My Age Again?" which, instead of proselytizing the oversexualization of yet another naked female body, poked fun at the fact that society thinks seeing men naked is basically funny and immature as hell. This can't be a good complex to have on the male spectrum, either. Muse's trite lyric video came out just a few weeks ago. Blink-182 has racked up nearly ten times the Youtube views on their's because it was released in 1999. I don't know if anyone's counting but that's a lot of naked women for every scene of the trio racing through Los Angeles in the buff in a race of desperation that nobody wins.

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