Selected Topics in Gender Studies
Analysis of Video-Clip Madonna “Music”
• Chapter 2; Description P. 4
• Chapter 3; Analysis P. 12
• Chapter 4; Conclusion P. 17
In this paper gender differences are shown, by analyzing a music-video. For the course “Selected Topics in Gender Studies” I analyzed, together with a group, the Madonna video-clip “Music”. Madonna is in the video ‘MUSIC’ breaking a gender taboo, by portraying herself as a female PIMP in the gangster/rap world.
In the next chapter a description of the video-clip will be given. This will be done by going through the video scene by scene, describing what is happening and explaining the meaning of the scenes.
In the third chapter the actual analysis will be given, by using still images of the video-clip of Madonna. Besides the analysis the link with gender will be made more clearly.
In the fourth and last chapter the conclusion will be presented, combining
the information given in the previous chapters.
The Madonna video-clip Music opens with a star. The star is very flashy and gold. In the star you see a sign of building with the letters Westside. The Westside area refers to the gangster/rap world.
The next shot is Ali G in a limousine car singing. He is the driver
waiting for a pick-up. Ali G is a popular comedian in England. He is
a parody of the gangster rap stereotype. His appearance is meant to
mock the stereotype gangster/rap world.
The neighborhood and the setting of this first scene is rough and it looks like a ghetto. It is a downtown crime ridden area, one of lower socioeconomic status. It is a typical area where one would find pimps and strip clubs. It is evening or even nighttime. The streets are empty and while the limousine drives through them you see no people wandering around.
As the car drives away, the word ‘MUSIC’ appears on the screen, with two stars on either end. This is the title of the music-video.
The next shot goes back to the inside of the car and to Madonna and
the two girls. Madonna’s dressed in white, wearing a gold cowboy
hat. She is covered in gold shinny “bling bling” necklaces
and diamond rings. The first impression that you get is that Madonna
is dressed as a female version of a PIMP. De golden necklaces she wears
are very masculine, they are big and loud. There are not one, but several
chains around her neck, which was the typical pimp outfitting of the
70’s. But not only from the 70’s also today’s rap
gangsters like Puff Daddy and P.I.M.P wear this kind of dress code.
Madonna is drinking Champaign while surrounded by the two girls who are dressed in black. The girls that are surrounding Madonna are ‘flirtatious’, while drinking Champaign. Champaign is just as the white outfit, the gold and the limousine a symbol of wealth and success. The two girls dressed in black show the link with the gangster/rap world. When you look at gangsters or PIMPS you always see them surrounded by beautiful girls who interact with them in a very flirtatious and sexual way.
Half way during the car ride Ali G lowers the window that separates the driver from the people inside the limousine and nods at Madonna. With this he approves what she is doing and basically says good job, keep on going. The limousine is a very expensive one. You can see this while looking at the interior. Besides a mini-bar the limousine also has a TV in the back.
During this scene words keep popping up on the screen; Dance/Crazy/Together. These are words from the lyrics of Madonna’s music video. All during the video-clip the screen changes and images are put together or separated. But this will be described more in the next chapter.
The next scene is where Madonna and her entourage enters the first
club. It is a typical nightclub, one where you would go to dance and
be seen by other people.
Madonna is sitting at a table surrounded by girls flirting and ‘sucking up’ to her. She is drinking some fancy drink, probably martini. She is having a good time and is making it clear by responding enthusiastically to the music played by Ali G and his performance.
Madonna and her posse are leaving the club and go back into the car. Ali G gets in too and they drive away. It looks like they are going to another place to party.
When they are in the car the video-clip switches from reality to a cartoon. First only on the TV screen in the car, but then the people in the car turn into cartoon figures. Madonna and the girls are at first just sitting in the car, but then you see a cork pop off the Champaign and Madonna shoots out of the car, through the sun roof, together with the other girls dressed in black. They fly through a neighborhood, which is lighted up by neon sign containing words like lucky and bad girl.
She flies into the cartoon ghetto looking neighborhood and lands in one of the streets. She is being approached by 5 tough and rough looking ghetto guys. Who kinda look like some ninja figures. But instead of being afraid of them, the cartoon Madonna goes up to them and start kicking their asses, using karate movements. In this she is very successful and the men do not stand a change against her.
In the next cartoon scene Madonna flies up and is ones again surrounded by buildings containing flashy neon signs. All the buildings have sings on them with contains sexual and suggestive labels. Like, sexy, material girl (which is also one of Madonna’s older songs) and express yourself. They are all designed to look like neon building signs you for example see in a place like Las Vegas. Madonna starts kicking the signs down.
Madonna comes across as very aggressive as she kicks the men’s asses. This is the first time in the music video that she is portrayed as lashing out against men. It looks like she is trying to say, I am a tough girl, do not get in my way. It also states that she is a independent women who is free to express herself. Just because she is a women, she should not have to fall back in the submissive female role or fulfill the so called traditional roles. She is doing what women not traditionally do. She is very aggressive and although she is dressed as a ‘sexy/superhero’ women her behavior is more of that of a men.
The next scene is Madonna as a mermaid. She is swimming in red water and the fish in the water all have the faces of Ali G on them. Historically mermaids were predators of the sea. They used to lure sea-men into the ocean to drown them. They would use there beauty to do so. Their beauty was therefore also their danger.
Madonna breaks out of her mermaid character and turns into an American version of a super man. She wears pants with the American flag on them and a short white top. Ali G is playing the DJ again while being sexual busy with a girl. Madonna comes in and kicks Ali G out of his DJ position and takes over control of the music. Madonna is shown as being a Disc Jockey with six hands. This is a symbolism of her having the ability to do anything a men can do and better. Where Ali G had just two hands to control the music, Madonna has eight. While Ali G played, the room they are in, was filled with skeletons, but when Madonna starts playing the room is filled with people dancing. This symbolizes the fact that Madonna is doing a better job as a DJ and the people are having a good time and are not bored to ‘death’.
After this scene Madonna turns into Wonder women and is flying in the sky. Again a head of Ali G is passing her by. She is looking down on earth from above. Suddenly she starts falling down to earth, landing somewhere in the continent of the United States of America. She falls back into the limousine and returns to her previous character as a PIMP in the back of the limo. Here switches the cartoon back to reality.
Ali G lowers the screen that separates the driver from the passengers in the limousine and turns the music down. Asking Madonna if he could play a part in her next music-video. He displays his role as a parody of today’s Hip Hop icons, ‘mocking’ the Hip Hop stereotype. He is playing his character. Madonna dismisses him and orders him to turn the music back on. He complies to her with the word ‘Respect’, a word he often uses when playing his character in England. He obeys her and turns the music back on. She owns the music and is clearly in control, the boss and the only one that speaks in the music video besides from Ali G.
The limousine stops and Madonna and her group are at another club.
The club they are at now is a strip club. When Madonna gets out of the
car, there is a red carpet, where she walks on to get inside. This also
shows power and wealth, since red carpets are often used in situations
where VIP’s or very important people attend a certain scene.
There is a lot of sexual movement going on in the strip club. Madonna is watching the girls dancing and it looks like she is really enjoying it. She is getting a lap-dance from one of the girls and is giving them money generously. She is supporting the sex industry, by enjoying the sex, alcohol and spending a lot of money on these things. Madonna looks very aroused by the dancers. She is also very comfortable in her role as a PIMP, interacting with the strippers. The acting does not look strange or out of the ordinary, because it is assumed by the video and the people around her that it is normal.
Madonna leaves the club and is followed by her posse, which now not only contains of the previous girls and Ali G, but also some of the strippers come along and get into the car. Madonna is clearly the dominant leader in the group and leads the others, while leaving the club.
When Ali G tries to enter the club, excess is denied to him. The bouncer at the door is telling him that the club is full. You do not actually hear the bouncer speak, but through subtitles in the music-video his words are made clear. Ali G does not give up so easily and tries to get in by using his name, but this makes no impression on the bouncer. When Madonna leaves the club Ali G gives the bouncer a manly gangster hug and everything seems to be ok between them.
Madonna and her entourage are back in the car, where the party continuous with the strippers and the previous girls. Legs of the strippers are draped over Madonna’s legs and she is touching them. They are all drinking Champaign and dancing in the car. It looks like Madonna is enjoying the attention, which is shown by the expressions on her face. She is licking her lips, which is expressing her femininity and also stand for a erotic gesture. She is a sex figure while still maintaining and never losing her PIMP role. Words again are shown in the video-clip.
The scene switches and goes to the license plate of the car. The license plate contains the words Muff Daddy, this is referring to ‘Puff Daddy’ and all the other Hip Hop icons that are male dominated in today’s generation. Underneath the words Muff Daddy ‘20 California 00’ is stated. 20 00 is the year the music-video is produced and California will probably stand for, either the place it was produced or the setting of the music-video.
In the next scene, the car drives away and the screen switches back to Ali G behind the wheel of the limousine and the music is slowly fading away. Next to Ali G are two strippers who were in the back of the car with Madonna before. He makes a sexual explicit joke directed at the strippers, about England and seeing the ‘real’ Big Ben. It contains pornographic industry connotations and England refers to the place where Ali G comes from and where he is famous. This is the first and only time in the video-clip that men and women interact together, besides from Ali G and Madonna.
The car drives away and in the screen appears ‘The End’. These words are graphed the same way as the words ‘Westside” that opened the music-video.
At the very end of the video you see the words ©BOY TOY, INC. 2000. This is meant to mock the porn/PIMP culture. A Boy Toy is a men who is seeing a women who is a lot older. It is said that the women who have a much younger men have a boy toy, only used to pleasure them.
Madonna in this music-video represents a female version of a PIMP in a man’s world. She is doing what a man does, but at the same time she still keeps her personality and role as a female. Madonna is the protagonist and main character of this video. This is amplified by the fact that she is always in the middle and the center of attention. In the limousine Madonna sits in the middle, when they enter any club in the video or sitting somewhere, Madonna is always in the middle. She is also always surrounded by other people, who are flirting and trying to be in good favor with her. The only time in the video when you see Madonna alone, is in the cartoon world, but never in reality will you see Madonna alone.
Madonna is wearing white and a lot of gold. As mentioned before white stand for power and wealth in the PIMP world, same as the gold, which of course means you have a lot of money. The fact that Madonna is wearing three huge necklaces instead of one, makes her different from the common known female and transfers her into the female version of a PIMP. She wears a gold cowboy hat. This looks very much like a scene from Austin Powers, where Mike Myers wears a similar cowboy hat. He is a kind of a PIMP/womanizer in a movie, set in the 70’s. And the whole setting of the music-video is between the old 70’s style and today’s Gangster/PIMP world.
Madonna is very confident in her charismatic/leadership role. She is very similar to a man, by the way she behaves. She sits like a man, for example look at the middle frame of the still picture and also for example the way she interacts with women. She does this in a very flirtatious way and they all flirt with her.
The way Madonna behaves and parties shows an image, not of a permissive flirtatious female, but as a confident ‘charismatic’, female version of a man. At the same time she still maintains her femininity by her choice of sexual clothing, and the way she interacts with the camera. But then again her outfit does resemble a manly PIMP, for he too would have his chest showing.
He represents the mockery of the stereotype Hip Hop world. Ali G is
the joke, the so called ‘class clown’. He is next to Madonna
the main character in the music-video. He plays a great part and is
the only one speaking besides Madonna.
In the music-video Ali G is sub servant to Madonna (and to other people in the video), she is his boss and he has to do what she says. Ali G is not known in the video, he is a nobody, in contrary to real life. When you for example look at the scene at the strip club, Ali G is denied excess. He tries to use is name to get in, but the bouncer, does not know his name. He is not important.
You can see a direct parallel between the Madonna in the music-video and Wonder women in the cartoon scene. Wonder women was an important ground breaking character in the 70’s. She was a strong female, winning and breaking new grounds in a men dominated world. She was the first female superhero and was very successful in her role as a strong women.. Besides Wonder women you could choose to be Barbie. This music-video has a direct link with the Wonder women of the 70’s. In this video it is the first time that a women is allowed to be a PIMP and be successful. You can see Madonna’s success as a PIMP as she is displayed with “Bling Bling”, her fancy ride, white outfit, wealth, freedom, power and influence over other women/people.
Only women are allowed in the strip club. This stands for the fact that women are allowed to enjoy other women. Madonna is not switching roles in the club. Instead of having male strippers dancing around Madonna, the club has female strippers. Madonna is very happy in her new role as a female PIMP, one where she is allowed to watch and enjoy other women dancing and expressing themselves. This scene is different from normal or regular gangster/PIMP videos. It is the first time where men are not allowed inside of the strip club and women dominate the gangster/rap world. It is a new world for females, where they are allowed to be free amongst themselves in the rap world and have the same rights as men. This is also represented by the fact that Ali G is not allowed to enter the strip club.
The video uses flashing images. There are cut screens to show the video,
like the one you have seen at the analysis on Madonna. They use techniques
such as stars and circles to join scenes. This way of picturing the
movie gives the viewer the feeling of being in the 70’s. It looks
like it comes straight out of a Austin Power movie. You can look at
the still frame of 3:45 minutes to see this. In this still frame you
see Madonna and the strippers in the strip club at the background. In
front you see a dollar money sign showing up in the frame.
Link to Gender Issues
The way Madonna portrays herself, as the female version of a pimp,
is clearly one of the most obvious links with gender. She goes against
the rules and breaks the taboo that women are not allowed in the gangster/PIMP
world. She shows the viewer that they can fit in that world and do the
same things men do and in some cases even better. Like she made clear
in the cartoon scenes. She dresses as a male PIMP, but is still able
to maintain her female look. She doesn’t turn into a men anywhere
in the video, but remains a sexual female.
Madonna tries, and succeeds to be very provocative in her music-video,
in the sense that she is enjoying other women, instead of men. She is
not trying to imitate the male gangster world as a female, but does
exactly the same as a men would do. Madonna is exposing diversity in
gender roles and is showing that it is ok to redefine what it means
to be a women. She is breaking the female stereotype.
Madonna is constantly attempting to re-invent her image. She tries to explore images that haven’t been exposed before. Not only in this music-video, but in all her videos she tries to set an example and break existing taboos. She is a trendsetter and likes the attention that the spotlight entails. It is ‘Taboo’ in Western Culture to be ‘PIMP’ like figure as a female. In this music-video Madonna is attempting to break this Taboo. Her behavior and attitude are that of a male PIMP, but despite that she still keeps her female attraction for the viewer.
‘MUSIC’ is mocking the gangster/PIMP world, but at the same time breaks a important taboo and makes the PIMP world more open to women and shows that they to can be part of the world and should not be hold back by stereotypes and traditional female roles.