Write a critique of the song’s message, using the video and/or lyrics for evidence. Your audience is a casual reader (reading a blog or magazine) and your purpose is to persuade and to entertain. This means you can use a casual, humorous, or even snarky tone.
Graphic Organizer for Brainstorming: Song analysis graphic organizer.
Planning Packet: Music Video Deconstruction Assignment Packet.
Thesis Statement Example
This video’s message, that _________, is _________(questionable/disgusting/admirable/refreshing/sexist) because it implies that/because it relies on the assumption that __________.
- The critique cannot be longer than three pages, typed, double-spaced, but the ideal length is two pages.
- You may organize it in any order you like, but if you want structure, you can follow this:
- 1 paragraph intro. Hook the reader, stating the song, title, video director (if any), and provide a summary of the plot of the song/video. End with a thesis about the theme.
- 1-3 body paragraphs examining how the song and video prove the theme. Use specific images and lyrics. You should use the ACE-IT formula here.
- 1-2 paragraphs questioning or supporting the theme. State whether or not this message is valid and/or appropriate to its intended audience.
- You may use “I” sparingly and discuss personal observations if you choose (i.e. relating your real-life observations about the theme to the video).
- You must have a clever title.
- You must include a Work Cited section. Optional: You may choose to include research on current events or statistics. If you do, you must also provide extra entries in your Works Cited section.
- You must have a thesis statement that appears at the end of the first paragraph or near the end of your review.
Key words and phrases to consider using in your review:
- to objectify
- to disempower
- to marginalize
- misogyny, misogynistic,
- gender role
- the male gaze
- binary opposition
- false dichotomy
- to capitulate
- to challenge
“Wide Awake”: A Feminist Love Song Gone Wrong
The world has grown accustomed to the fact that girls will always pine for boys and then feel inadequate when he doesn’t put a ring on it. But Katy Perry offers all the newly-single ladies an antidote to the popular belief that, in Tom Cruise’s words, “you [, dude,] complete me.” In the video of her 2012 hit “Wide Awake,” Perry encourages her viewers to challenge cultural norms by telling us that a woman don’t need no man to make her happy–all she needs is herself. So this Valentine’s Day, don’t spend money on valentines for boys. Just write one that reads: To: Me. From: Your One True Love, You.
Let me applaud for her attempt to dispel boy-frenzy (or, as I like to call it, “lady-brain”) in the promotion of self-knowledge. The whole video revolves around the conflict between two mutually exclusive beliefs: I love my man and I love myself. The video starts with Perry biting into a strawberry with a very Eve-like profile; she has, supposedly, eaten the fruit of the strawberry-vine of the knowledge of good and evil. And we are to assume, I suppose, that the knowledge she gains is that she is good and men are evil. Soon enough, her childhood doppelganger shows up to guide Perry through her maze of confusion to the brilliantly-lit hill of self-knowledge. The exposition is simple: our heroine has been dumped and now she sees the world for what it is: a dark place filled with jerks who will break your heart (Duh, anybody who’s watched even one episode of Friends knows this). But the story goes on from here: it’s not just a tale of heartbreak, it’s a journey to find herself.
Perry’s lyrics and images of consciousness, alertness, and wisdom are clear: she’s “wide awake” (clearly, based on her ginormous well-mascaraed eyes), she’s “not blind anymore,” she has exited the darkness of the labyrinth (a symbol for sleep? or a nightmare where she’s been transformed into a sexy witch from Hocus Pocus?) and entered the brightness of the garden where she is able to successfully punch her impossible prince-charming (riding an impossible unicorn, no less). She is aware that the world is trying to trick her, from the masked minotaurs to the lying prince to the hypnotist feline shrubbery.
But what’s the underlying assumption at work here? That women need to be told “Know thyself”? That we are so hormonally imbalanced that we will all sink into a labyrinthine depression every time a boy kisses us with his fingers crossed? Despite her valorous attempts to empower women, Perry’s message reveals a disturbing underbelly. Her song operates off the grounds that women are inherently weaklings, like Eve in the garden, and their lady-brains are easily tempted–tempted by patent-leather shoes, princes in pink garters, and even cunning serpents. Let’s stop playing blind-man’s buff; next time, acknowledge that we’re all already awake before you start a relationship.
Perry, Katy. “Wide Awake.” Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection. Capitol, 2012. Web.
Beyonce’s Quick Tip for Running the World? Objectify Yo’self!
Women have come so far in the world since the ‘20s when we gained the right to vote. Someday soon, we might even have a female president. But if Hillary Clinton were to listen to Beyonce’s advice in her video “Run the World (Girls),” she might have to ditch the sea foam-colored pantsuit in favor of a push-up bra and a short skirt. The video, directed by Francis Lawrence and released in 2001, shows an army of women in varying degrees of undress facing off against a black-clad army of men. As the Queen B sings and gyrates, the men act thunderstruck. Her women hold red banners, pose amidst the rubble of war, and stomp their 6-inch heels. The lyrics tell us that girls run the world. But why? Beyonce’s underlying message, that women can use their bodies to get power, is disturbing because it plays into the objectification of women, implying that our only powerful qualities are those determined by men.
How does this message come through, you ask? Well, it’s loud and clear if you just watch and listen. Consider, for instance, when the fully-clothed men show up under the bridge as if to fight Beyonce and her crew. They roll up with bats in their hands, pointing at the girls as if they will start beating them in the next minute. Beyonce’s response? Dance. Dressed in a bra, booty shorts, and some sort of fur vest, Beyonce then shows that her plan of attack is moving her body and the men just stop and stare. Conclusion? Sexy dance moves are more powerful than billy clubs. (Let’s not get into the fact that this video is just as insulting to men, making them out to be stupid, sex-crazed idiots.) Later on she continues her use of her body and the promise of sex to control others. “You’ll do anything for me,” she sings while looking sweetly into the camera as if beckoning the viewer. She then quickly changes her face into a mean growl, suggesting she was just acting like she was sweet on us to get us to do what she wants. She then promptly blows up a car with the pounding of her fist. Clearly, Beyonce’s “Run the World” is about how girls have sexual power over men. Why else would they be wearing so little?
But that brings us to the problem of the video. I’m all for girls feeling good in their bodies and being proud of what they’ve got. But by setting girls against boys in such a war-like atmosphere, it’s clear that to these women, bodies are weapons. What happens when your weapon is gone or faulty? What happens when you’re not a size 2 with a D cup? Are you any less powerful as a woman?
If the girls watching Beyonce take her message to heart, they will think that in order to “run the world,” they should use their bodies to get power. What does that mean to the younger listeners? Have sex at an early age, dress in a hypersexualized way, and maybe, just maybe, act pretty but dumb. It kills me to see little girls singing along to Beyonce without knowing that the Queen is actually telling them that men run the world. Obviously, men are the ones these women are trying to appeal to and therefore men are the ones who have the power in the first place. If girls do, in fact, run the world, it’s not because we know how to objectify ourselves for the pleasure of onlooking men, it’s because research shows that girls are proven to be better at making compromises, managing money, and leading companies. Beyonce, let’s get this straight: girls do run the world, but not the way you show in this video. Maybe you should take a page from Hillary’s playbook and put on that sea-foam pantsuit and stop playing into the expectations of men. Remember who run the world: girls.
Beyonce. “Run the World (Girls).” 4. Columbia, 2001. Web.