Selected Topics in Gender Studies

Analysis of Video-Clip Madonna “Music”
Rosemarijn Kriek
Summer semester 2005


• Chapter 1; Introduction P. 3

• Chapter 2; Description P. 4

• Chapter 3; Analysis P. 12

• Chapter 4; Conclusion P. 17

Chapter 1

Gender plays a huge role in all day life. Gender is not alone being male or female, but also the roles that are expected from your sexes, by others. Women are especially a couple of decades ago, expected to be submissive and take care of the household/children, where men should be strong and provide for a living. This view has changed over the last years and in most parts of the world men and women have equal rights. But still there are a lot of taboos concerning gender. A lot of women still make less money then there male co-workers or are frowned upon when they choose a certain line in career.

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.

Chapter 2

This chapter will describe the events that take place in the music-video. Scene by scene a description will be given about what happened at a certain time in the video. Besides a description there will be some explaining and analyzing, but the analyzing will mainly be done in the third chapter.

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.
Madonna knocks on the window of the limousine. Ali G lowers his window and makes a remark, which clearly states that he is surprised by Madonna’s appearance, he did not expect her to knock on his window. When Madonna was first addressed by Ali G she was treated as a female sex object. He makes a sexual joke about her breasts, but she disregards the joke and orders Ali G to put on a music cd. Ali G complies to Madonna’s command and put the cd she gave him in the cd-player. From this time forward and by complying to her, Ali G is the sub servant to Madonna. Madonna has established her higher position, she is not the female sex object and will not be addressed like that by Ali G again. She is his boss and gives him the orders.
From this moment the music in the video-clip starts playing and it seems like the actual video-clip starts.

Ali G opens the door of the limousine and Madonna gets in the car, followed by two girls. The limousine has a 70’s PIMP style. You can see this looking at the sparkly gold paint job and the chrome wheels. The car looks like it comes out of a Austin Powers movie. There are blue lights on the undercarriage of the limo, which gives the car the spacey 70’s style. As the car rides away it almost looks like its floating. On the front engine hood of the car you can see a little statue of a panther, which also adds to the 70’s style and the PIMP style.

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’s white outfit signifies her higher status among other people. It is also very common in the gangster rap world to wear a complete white outfit, accentuated with gold. White stands for a symbol of power and wealth in the gangster rap world.

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.
The thing that catches your eye, when looking at the crowed in the nightclub is that it consist solely of women. There are no men in the club. Everybody in the club is flirting and dancing with each other. They are clearly having as good time. When Madonna enters, she is the center of attention. All the people look at her and she is again closely followed by her entourage. Madonna seems very important based on her mannerisms.

Ali G is behind the table being a DJ. But instead of him being the center of attention, he seems to serves more as a servant for Madonna, entertaining her by doing a break-dance on the floor.

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.
When they enter the club the first thing that catches your eye again is that there are only women inside. Not only the girls dancing are female, but also the ones watching. This is the same situation as in the nightclub they went before.
The strippers in the club wear bikinis with the American flag on them. America is known as the land of opportunities. It is a paradigm for freedom and the ability to express yourself.

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.

Chapter 3
Analysis of the Music-video

In this chapter an analysis of the music-video will be given. The two main characters in the clip, Madonna and Ali G, will be described and analyzed. Besides the description of the characters, other scenes will be analyzed and the set-up and layout of the music-video will be described and explained. At the end the link with Gender and Gender Issues will be made more clearly. To help explain the analysis I will use still frames of the music-video. Parts already analyzed in the description will not be analyzed again.

If you go to the still frame at 1:25 minute in the music-video, you will see a clear shot of Madonna sitting in the back of the limousine. The frame is split in three different scenes. The one on the left shows Madonna’s hand holding a glass of Champaign. The one in the middle shows Madonna sitting in the back of the limousine in a manly position, with her legs spread. And the last frame shows Madonna’s cleavage, covered by a serious amount of gold and ‘bling bling’. In this analysis only Madonna in real life will be analyzed, for the cartoon has partly been analyzed and will be analyzed further later in this chapter.

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.

Ali G
For the analyzing of Ali G, you should go to the still frame of 0:12 minutes. Here you see Ali G sitting in the limousine, waiting to pick up his ride for the evening.

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.
Ali G wears typical Hip Hop clothes, but not similar as Madonna’s. He would represent gangster/rapper figure with less money and power. He wears clothes that are not a tight fit and he wears a hat, which kinda looks like a boxer short on his head. When outside he wears a jacket with the text ghetto pimp on his sleeve. With the outfit Ali G tries to mock the Gangster world. His dress code contains all the cliché aspects rappers and gangster will wear.

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.

For the analysis of the cartoon scene you can use the still frame of 2:58 minutes. In this scene you see Madonna dressed as Wonder woman. She is flying in the universe, looking down on earth.

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.

Strip Club
The still frame used for the analysis of the strip club is the one at 3:56 minutes. Here you see Madonna sitting at a table, waving her hand and money at a stripper. The stripper is dancing on the table, right in front of Madonna.

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.

Layout and scenery
When you look at the atmosphere of the music-video, you feel like you are in a 70’s PIMP world. It is a combination between the 70’s Austin Power style, with cowboy hats and cars with lights on the undercarriage, but at the same time is represents the gagster/rap world as we know it today, with a flavor of pornography. The world Puff Daddy e.g. operates in.

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.
Names and words constantly keep on popping up in the screen. For example look at the still frame of 1:26 minutes. Here you see Madonna looking at the camera and the word crazy is written on the bottom of the screen. Other words like together, rebel, boogie Woogie appear during the music-video. This are suggestive sayings that relay the messages that Madonna is trying to convey. These are also words out of the lyrics of the song. Subliminal messages are constantly being displayed to the viewer. “Girls” is one of the main messages that bombards the viewer.

Link to Gender Issues
The link to gender issues is often made in this paper. Not only in the analysis, but also in the description. In the next paragraphs I will repeat the most important links with gender issues seen in this music-video.

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 leases out to the suppression of women, especially in the cartoon. She is not submissive to men and is in a lot of cases stronger than her male opponents. Like when she kicks the asses of the 5 men in the alley, or when she stand behind the dj-table, using six arms.
Madonna is breaking the taboo of submissive female roles in the gangster/rap world.

Chapter 4

The previous chapters have given a thorough analysis and description of the Madonna music-video MUSIC. The music-video and Madonna are mocking the stereotypical sexist ‘gangster hip hop’ world, while playing the role of a female PIMP. She is using mockery to enter their domain. A domain that haven’t been entered before, by a women. It is the first attack on the male dominated hip hop world. The music-video is produced during the break-out of hip hop in the United States and other parts of the world.

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.
Breaking the female stereotype and rebelling against the typical female role is not only done by Madonna, but it is also done in other music-videos, like in the Brandi video. Where Brandi goes against the stereotype female role.

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.