Research Project – Literature Review

April Rodriguez uses fashion and product placement of her own line, The Other Duck, in her video of dance choreography to “Slow and Easy by Zapp and Roger”. She wears a T-shirt which casually displays the bold font of “Sick My Duck” where a duck, the trademark for her fashion line, is depicted through a picture rather than words. Rather than merely viewing this as a fashion selection for wardrobe in the scheme of her video, this element can be ascertained as a something more. It delivers a message of consumption but also asserts the power of femininity. One can infer that the play on words from the interchange of I and U to make “Suck My Dick”. Surely, this phrase has been used in slang as an insult towards condescending men who think women are incapable of achieving or performing at the same caliber and the assertion of authority since Rodriguez is such an influential and highly esteemed individual within the dance community.

From an academic perspective – and dance choreography analysis aside – to analyze this component of Rodriguez’s video, the article “Shake it, Baby, Shake It: Consumption and the New Gender Relation in Hip-Hop” by Margaret Hunter provides interesting insight to this topic. The main components of this article are comprised of hip hop’s newly created culture of consumption rather than production and the rise of strip clubs, all affecting the currently production of mainstream rap music.  Through consumption, hip hop relays a message not only through its music and lyrics but also through other outlets such as entrepreneurship and marketing, which function to enhance and reinforce its purpose and these implications embedded within context.

For example, this article discusses how a rap video is not just a commercial for a song; it is a commercial for all the products placed in this video. These paid product placements are commodified; they deliver a message of what is endorsed by these artists – the clothing line, shoes, and liquors – and the image portrayed. In a similar manner, Rodriguez is utilizing the same tactic but rather on a more meaningful note to promote female strength and respect in the dance community. Furthermore, the article describes “a new social experience mediated through objects, where people relate to one another through their purchases”[1]. This certainly exemplifies Rodriguez’s attempt to communicate her values to her viewers, fans, and supporters through her artistic work – both in choreography and fashion. Essentially, this article and site being analyzed demonstrate the interplay of shifting gender relations and increased consumption of products in mainstream hip hop.

 


[1] Margaret Hunter, “Shake It, Baby, Shake It: Consumption and the New Gender Relation in Hip-Hop,” Sociological Perspectives 54, no. 1 (Spring 2011), http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sop.2011.54.1.15 (accessed November 8, 2011).

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Research Project – Outline

1. Introduction
a. Background on hip hop
i. Origin
ii. Four pillars of hip hop
iii. ARTICLE: “Hip-hop.” –Ralph, Michael
b. Introduction of sites
i. Moving bodies through dance
ii. Media
iii. YouTube as 2 sites (primary sources)
1. Brian Puspos “Wet the Bed Choreography by Chris Brown”
2. April Rodriguez “Slow and Easy by Zapp and Roger”
c. Women’s sexuality
i. Association with mainstream media, personal image, etc.
ii. Thesis: Hip hop dancers use choreography as an expressive, creative outlet to fashion their own feminist movement and deliver a message of feminine empowerment that neither fully denounces nor validates the negative overtones of the stereotypes in hip-hop and women’s sexuality.
2. Body
a. Sexual overtones
i. Affects in hip hop music, culture, and videos on women’s sexuality and body image
ii. Seen through musicality, lyrics, and performance in YouTube sites
1. Analyzing movement and dance
2. BOOK: Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance –Foster, Susan Leigh
b. Stereotypes of objectification of women
i. Rappers and degrading rap lyrics
ii. ARTICLE: “2009 The Year Hip Hop Reinvented Sex?” –Carpentier, Megan
iii. ARTICLE: “Showing, Seeing: Hip-Hip, Visual Culture, and the Show-and-Tell Performance” –Brunson III, James E.
c. Positive aspects of hip hop
i. Women who don’t meet standards of European standard of beauty and how hip hop has positive impact on how women feel about their bodies
1. Effect on how woman views herself and her body
ii. Reinforces sense of sexual empowerment
1. Certain body types/images, fashion, and sex to render men helpless and women as powerful
iii. Artists fashioning own version of feminist movement
1. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a female artist or choreographer to contribute
d. Fashion
i. “Sick my duck” T-shirt in “Slow and Easy” YouTube video
1. The Other Duck fashion line by April Rodriguez
2. Product placement to communicate a message
3. Rodriguez shows total package – fashion, sex, performance, musicality, and strong body image (femininity and power)
ii. ARTICLE: “Shake It, Baby, Shake It: Consumption and the New Gender Relation in Hip-Hop” –Hunter, Margaret
iii. ARTICLE: “Music and Motion – How Music-Related Ancillary Body Movements Contribute to the Experience of Music” –Nusseck, Manfred and Marcelo M. Wanderley
3. Conclusion
4. Bibliography

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Research Paper – Close Reading

To specify my research, I chose two videos to focus on. The first is titled “Brian Puspos Choreography – Wet the Bed by Chris Brown” (http://www.youtube.com/user/BrianPuspos#p/a/u/0/abpwVRp6u3Q) and the second is “April Rodriguez – Slow and Easy by Zapp and Roger” (http://www.youtube.com/user/apreezee#p/c/38ADFB9B1DFEE4C0/2/PSd8UXii_4g). Brian Puspos is a very talented dancer and choreographer, and his experience includes SoReal Cru, Mos Wanted Crew, and much more. I chose this specific video for multiple reasons. Not only is the choreography very sexual, but the musicality and performance of this video also has a major role in the total effect and presentation. The song “Wet the Bed” by Chris Brown, when reading the lyrics, has very explicit phrases about sexual intercourse, and Brian Puspos certainly translates this into his movements and facials. Furthermore, all the dancers in this video are male which contrasts my other video of choice by April Rodriguez. Not only are her backup dancers all female, but April Rodriguez holds much prestige in the dance community like Puspos. This video demonstrates femininity but also a certain amount of strength of female dancers. The song chosen is still somewhat sexual, but her choreography is not as overtly insinuating as seen in Puspos’s. In addition, one can’t but notice the “Sick my duck” on Rodriguez’s shirt. This in itself is an interesting thing to discuss; it is a bold statement made on her part. The Other Duck is her own fashion line that was launched relatively recently. As I mentioned in my research proposal, fashion is a trend involved within the hip hop community. And Rodriguez exhibits the total package – musicality, performance, strong body image (both femininity and power), fashion, and sex.

I felt like these two videos were a good parallel for content as well as levels of choreographer experience. She is a part of Essence Ladies, an all female crew with a lot of respect and success. There are many aspects within these two videos that are worthy of analysis, and combining academic books and sources (like Susan Leigh Foster’s “Reading Dancing”) to contribute to my research will make this, in my opinion, a very interesting topic which challenges people’s thoughts on women’s sexuality in hip hop.

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TDPS R1B – Crenshaw Summary

Kimberle Williams Crenshaw’s “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity, Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color” is an article which explores race and gender dimensions of violence against women of color. The umbrella term dealing with this concept involves identity politics, where the isolated and individual is taken to a social and systematic level. Essentially, identity-based politics has been a source of strength, community, and intellectual development; it is the source of social empowerment and reconstruction rather than the power of domination. She recognizes the limitations of her evaluation and realizes that it only highlights the need to account for the “multiple grounds when considering how the social world is constructed” (Crenshaw 358). There are two major problems with identity politics: 1) It ignores the intragroup differences, and 2) it ignores the difference within groups, which leads to tension among groups.

These issues are divided into three parts: structural intersectionality, political intersectionality, and implications of the intersectional approach within the scope of contemporary identity politics.

1) Structural intersectionality – “the ways in which the location of women of color at the intersection of race and gender makes our actual experience of domestic, violence, rape, and remedial reform qualitatively different from that of white women” (Crenshaw 358). Women’s shelters in minority communities are the primary example provided. In 1990, the marriage fraud provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act were passed to protect immigrant women who were abused by U.S. citizens – people with whom these women immigrated to the United States to marry. Perhaps some of the biggest problems involved with this issue are the combination of cultural barriers along with their limited access to resources and these women’s deliberate choices for protection against deportation over their safety, leading them to insufficient evidence for a waiver. Furthermore, these structural problems consist of two elements – dependence on spouses for legal status and language barriers. These patterns of subordination result in domestic violence.

2) Political intersectionality – “Women of color are situated within at least two subordinated groups that frequently pursue conflicting political agendas” (Crenshaw 360). Ironically, feminist and antiracist politics marginalize the issue of violence against women of color. A subsector of this second problem of identity politics is the politicization of domestic violence, and the example provided is the refusal to publicize the statistics of domestic violence from LAPD. In the end, women of color are pushed to the background and “erased” by strategic silences of antiracism and feminism because stereotypes are confirmed and efforts to oppose negative beliefs about certain communities are undermined.

[The third issue is not discussed because only part of the article was assigned.]

Another important concept, under antiessentialism, is the social construction thesis since “all categories are socially constructed; there is no sense to continue reproducing those categories by organizing around them” (Crenshaw 375). This process of categorization as an exercise of power is not unilateral. People use identity as a site of resistance; subordinated people participate and even subvert the naming process in empowering ways. There has been a move to uncover how subordination is experienced by the underprivileged in contrast with the privileged; the biggest problem is how certain values are attached to this and the way those values foster and create social hierarchies. Crenshaw continues to discuss how identity politics is distorted through vulgar constructionism by signs of power – power exercised through categorization and power of categorization to have social and material consequences. For instance, debates over racial subordination are exemplified in Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education.

By exploring the ways in which race and gender intersect in shaping structural, political and representational aspects of violence against women of color, identity can be reconceptualized as a coalition between men and women of color. Crenshaw further states that through this awareness of intersectionality, differences among us can be acknowledged as we negotiate the means by which these differences will be expressed in the construction of group politics.

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