Culminating Assignment 3

Culminating Assignment 3
The music video we have chosen for this assignment is Britney Spears’ song “I’m a slave
4 u”. This music video was released on September 24th, 2001, was a number one hit in many
countries, and was performed by Britney on every tour since it was released. I believe this video
is a perfect example of gender roles and sexuality in the music video industry since the entire
video is about Britney being a “slave” for a guy she’s singing to. Britney Spears calls the shots
and makes vast amounts of money off of her music videos such as “I’m a slave 4 u”; however,
she is portrayed as a slave and not having a free will.
What makes a video like this so popular? This is a very interesting and important
question. Why do we all enjoy watching a video like this? What is so significant about it that
makes us want to tell everybody how awesome it is? First off, Britney Spears has made it all the
way to the top and is very popular to begin with. It is hard to miss a song of hers especially if it
makes it into a music video. She is all over the media many times which boosts her popularity
even more. Britney Spears has been around for a little now and we all know who she is for many
reasons. The most important reason why her music video “I’m a slave 4 u” has become so
popular is because it had been introduced with the media. As I mentioned before, this video was
released in 2001, a new millennium in which the internet was getting a lot of attention and the
media was booming in general. This song’s popularity was boosted by sites like YouTube from
which people could view it for free, comment, and share it with other people. Of course MTV’s
and VH1’s homepages just encouraged this even more. The focus of Britney’s songs and videos,
especially “I’m a slave 4 u”, was a lot more towards teenagers than anyone else. Teenagers look
up to her as a role model and want to be just like her. Girls want to be able to sing like her, look
like her, dance like her, and be able to perform like she does. Guys mostly pay attention to her,
since she exposes her body in many different ways throughout the video. Guys also pay more
attention to the lyrics of this song more than girls since the lyrics do appeal more to them in
terms of seduction and sexual appeal. Yet, neither really pays close attention to the lyrics. Some
may remember the chorus, but in the end we all focus a lot more on the melody which can be a
game changer in terms of even liking the song overall. All in all, the youth is who makes her this
popular. Once Britney comes out with a new song, we are the first to hear it and we share it
quickly with all our friends. There is one thing we need to pay more attention to though. The
lyrics are an important part of the song and if we just focus on the singer and the melody, we will
never understand that gender roles are a big part of many music videos.
Lyrics are the most important part of a song, obviously. Without lyrics there is no song,
nothing to listen to but the melody, and we don’t know what’s going on. The lyrics on Britney
Spears’ song I’m a slave 4 u are very contradicting. By analyzing the lyrics a little closer,
Britney starts off saying that she is no longer a little girl that needs to be watched and told what
she can and cannot do. She wants to be an independent woman and do what she wants to do. She
starts off very strong which gives us all the feeling that she has successfully made it into the
world without any dependence on a guy. Yet, once we look further into the lyrics, we find out
that this entire song is just about another guy. She is basically saying that she would do whatever
for him and be his “slave”. She has urges she wants to release, urges she cannot control when she
sees this guy. That’s what I think is very contradicting. As I mentioned before, she started off
saying she can do whatever she wants, she’s an independent woman that just wants to “dance”,
but once we get a little further into the song, she totally throws herself on this guy, saying that he
could do whatever he wants and she’ll be his slave. She doesn’t want to be viewed as a little girl
anymore, she wants to do her on thing, yet once again it’s all about another guy. Another very
important part of the lyrics are the visuals which really enforce everything she says.
After watching the video several times there are many interesting parts to mention. As in
many other music videos of Britney Spears, she exposes her body for everyone to see. But how
does this show her independence and her bread-making attributes and how does she call the
shots? Of course Britney is the main focus in the video. She leads her background dancers and is
always in the front of the crowd. I’m also pretty sure she had a lot of say of what happens in the
video. She knows what to do and so far she did everything right. She has vast amounts of money
and is currently just making more and more. There are just too many scenes within the music
video that show the gender based side. There are many scenes in which she is felt up by many
guys and she doesn’t seem to be minding it. This song is all about one guy, yet she is touched by
many others. She dances with a good amount of guys in the video, grinds with them and
basically has “sex” with them while they dance. There is one very disturbing scene which
enforces this very much. Towards the end of the video, she is literally covered by guys all around
her, implying almost that they’re having sex on the spot. In the end, she does call the shots in
terms of what happens in the video, yet we do not see any of it. All we see is her being
surrounded by guys 24/7 and her being a slave to the guy she’s singing to, which brings me to
my next point.
Britney Spears is a big name in the music industry. We all know her and know she’s a
singer and dancer. She has made it very far in her career. How did she do it? “Since the porn
view of the world suggests that women are constantly available, these men are bewildered by
rejection” (Dines, p.85). This is true, especially in the music video industry. Woman in the music
industry only become popular if she’s always available for a guy within the video and outside as
well and once she isn’t, the guy becomes upset and it all goes downhill. Looking at “I’m a slave
4 u”, Britney is always around a guy and doesn’t reject any of them. It’s apparently the key to a
successful career. Society suggests that in order to be successful in this industry, you need a man
and without a man you cannot make it. Britney Spears is somewhat in this category. Of course
she became wildly popular with songs like this, but by looking at the details, the producer and
writer of the song was Pharrell Williams, a guy. According to Gail Dines (2010), “Women today
are still not major consumers of hardcore porn; they are, however, whether they know it or not,
internalizing porn ideology, an ideology that often masquerades as advice on how to be hot,
rebellious, and cool in order to attract a man” (Pornland,100). This is exemplifies the music
industry perfectly. The only reason female singers become popular is by exposing their bodies to
the viewers; harsh, but true. Often they don’t even know they’re doing it. Singers just like
Britney Spears worry about their careers so much, they don’t even know they’re doing it. So how
did Britney become so popular? By doing exactly what society expected and wanted her to do.
Society bases everything off of gender roles, which brings me to my last point.
According to Gale Dines, “We collectively flog Britney Spears for her trashy ways, yet
put her on a pedestal for embodying a kind of uncouth hot sexiness” (Pornland, 104). What does
society want? Gender roles are a big part of almost every music video produced in today’s world.
Gale Dines has a very valid point. Many think that Britney is slutty by dancing with all the guys
in the videos, or by constantly having a guy around her, yet we admire her for her sexiness that
she portrays. Society almost suggests that woman have to be slutty to gain the image of hotness
and the role model factor of many teenage girls. But technically society is rewarding her for
doing the wrong things. We can’t criticize Britney for being trashy if that’s the only way she can
become an icon in this world. Society sets impossible standards for woman which compared to a
male singer are impossible. While Britney has to portray the slutty slave picture in her music
video and be criticized about it, Snoop Dogg for example can go through a decent amount of
woman in his video and he will be awarded for it. Woman compared to men definitely have the
harder job at succeeding in the music video industry. To be successful, woman almost have to
show off their bodies and act slutty to gain any attention while men just have to sit there and sing
while being surrounded by woman. Britney’s song “I’m a slave 4 u” is a perfect example of
gender role based videos. Her entire song once again is about a guy, as usual. But as I mentioned
earlier, without a guy as the main picture, woman don’t have a chance to succeed in this world.
Voices and skills are not everything anymore, which I think is very wrong.
All in all, Britney has definitely made it very far in this world. She is one of the most
popular female singers in the world and she definitely deserved to have that rank as well.
Compared to male singers, women have it a lot harder and by looking at her success, Britney
definitely rose to that level. Of course gender roles will always play a huge role in music videos
and I don’t believe that will change anytime soon. With this analysis I just want to point out how
hard it is for a woman to succeed in the music industry and how unequal standards are set.
Britney still releases new videos in which she is still portrayed as trashy and as a lower being to a
man, but isn’t that what society wants?
Work Cited
Dines, Gail, Pornland. Boston, Beacon Press, 2010.