Monday, November 14, 2011

Beautiful.Dirty.Rich: A New Brand of Feminism

Are Pop Divas the new Hip-Hop?
Allow me to explain...

As I was strolling down memory lane, I listened to some 90s girl group music. It then occurred to me that, unlike En Vogue's Free Your Mind or TLC's Unpretty or Waterfalls, Destiny's Child never did a political song. (Stand Up For Love doesn't count. That was trash.) These days, pop divas are about a different empowerment. Beyoncé is a girl power artist. She likes to "empower the women" as she says so often. Rihanna and Gaga love to push the boundaries of sexuality and bring women from the video vixen background to showing more ownership of their sexuality.

Beyoncé's both asked and answered an important question: Who run the world? Girls. Gone are the male pop idols of before. These days, women do indeed rule the charts. Ask Adele's chart topping album. Katy Perry and Rihanna's number one singles are shattering records. Beyoncé and Gaga's stage shows trump any male entertainer out there.
What exactly are they proclaiming with their music? Women overcoming body issues? Women leaving bad relationships? Equality of any kind? Not really.

"All we care about is runway models, Cadillacs and liquor bottles," raved Gaga on the title track from her first album Fame. Beyoncé wants women to be independent, but it isn't in an emotional or political sense. Every ounce of her female empowerment is rooted in financial fortitude. "The shoes on my feet? I bought 'em." "Make that check. Come at they neck..." If a woman can support herself and prove that she doesn't need a man's money, she is set. Gaga's music has also mostly teetered between sexual liberation and boasts about materialism. Many of their tunes make Madonna's Material Girl seem modest. Ciara's Ride and Love/Sex/Magic videos were highly controversial and sexual, but some argued that she was just flipping the roles.
Even the gay following has changed. Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive and Cher's Believe were mostly about repairing your heart, while the newer generation of gay Diva stans are more concerned with the glitz, glamour, and socialite lifestyles. Rihanna's newest effort Talk That Talk is laden with lewd content and fans are eating it up. Of course Madonna and Janet surely paved the way for the new hyper sexual antics that were missing before them. However, the coin stacking paper chasing concepts seem to be new, perhaps being a direct result of hip-hop influence in Beyoncé's case.

Hip-Hop acts have been long criticized for couple hyper sexed images of women with an unrealistic thirst for material wealth. Are Beyoncé and her fellow divas gaining an edge by taking the reins into their own hands and owning it? Or are they perpetuating the same problems that are women are trying to combat?
Is this new way of I don't need your heart being replaced with I don't need your wallet healthy? Only time will tell. We will have to wait until Britney stops partying and the Rihanna reign let's up.