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How the times have changed: Sex, Music, and Consumption

Using videos of Lesley Gore (1960’s) Lil’ Kim and Fiona Apple (early 2000’s) I can gather a rough idea about love and relationships at the time. The cinematography was completely different even beyond the black and white film used in Lesley Gore’s video. In the 1960’s there was probably at most 3 cameras used at the same time and the film crew filmed in one continuous shot making it easier to synchronize the audio and video when editing. Gore’s video is primitive as it tells the story of her relationship woes. Producers of Lil’ Kim’s or Fiona Apple’s video employ sophisticated juxtapositions of shots and special effects to produce an argument about perspective.

How relationships have change previous to the eighties is before my time. Looking at other popular songs on love around the sixties the society was growing out of a much more reserved feeling on love. Through the sixties and seventies there were civil rights, women’s rights, and sexual liberties movements that were influencing pop culture and music. Selecting certain music can give a biased opinion because the thoughts around love, sex, relationships was changing and there were media expressing a multiplicity of thoughts. From what my parents tell me, chivalry was not dead but challenged. Young people still understood social graces and used them in everyday life. When I was growing up in the eighties I remember believing that men and women are essentially on level ground with each other. My mom tried to instill a sense of chivalry in me, but the predominant thought when I was growing up was that it’s antiquated and almost more respectful to women if you don’t hold doors, get up when they leave a table, and other social graces. This was dead wrong! There was also the influx of STD’s and growing up there was a lot of education about protection, abstinence, and how you choose a mate based on sexual experience or lack there of. Much of that rhetoric has dropped from site recently and there is a resurgence of STD’s in youth today after a drop in STD’s in the 80’s and 90’s.

The glut of provocative and even pornographic imagery is everywhere. I think there is a lack of accurate information in the public. Pop music, sensationalized news reporting, and general fears amongst older generations lead to assumptions that may or may not be correct. All our students are readily left with is sensationalized and highly refined consumable products to make a point that might be over their head. I don’t see the majority of students understanding the underpinnings of Fiona Apple’s video. They might grasp that Fiona Apple is confronting her assailant the public, and thumbing her nose at them and inviting the voyeuristic public in to her “controlled? sexual environment especially through shots in the bathtub where the viewer is presumably connected to the mysterious feet. The understanding of control in this context is what is easiest to simplify and misunderstand. Fiona has creative control because she has money.

Lil’ Kim has control because she has money. The hegemony of our dominant culture is still white males. Lil’ Kim could never assert an influence over Bill Gates or even her record label president. The video leads people to believe she could through her sexuality. In fact using sexuality as a consumable product only reinforces the dominant culture and furthers an argument that it’s ok to pay for sex or get paid from it. Lil’ Kim’s video gives voice to this, and adds that she’s going to make money off this popular immoral indulgence and laugh all the way to the bank. The shot that typifies how Lil Kim is in control is her standing legs apart over a man in chair; the man is staring at her crotch. She bluntly depicts the commercialism of her self in shots of various toy versions of her being put together in a factory and latter sold on store shelves. Lil’ Kim is bragging about her product that she has the best line.