Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Most Dangerous Men in Hip-Hop

Th Ying Yang Twins add another lump of coal to their burgeoning collection of horribly misogynistic music and music videos...

VIDEO: "Dangerous" by Ying Yang Twins

Sin City was an homage to the film noir glory of the early days of cinema, as well as a heightened comic book orgy filled to the brim with blood, guts and sex. The femme fatale was merged with the spandex-wielding women of comic art, what emerged where pseudo-powerful woman who still thrived predominantly on their sexuality. In many ways it was the ultimate melding of popular entertainment's most overtly sexist forms of entertainment, so it's not particularly surprising that the music industries' most misogynistic duo picked this particular film as its source material for their latest video "Dangerous."

Previously the Ying Yang Twins left our mouths aghast in disgust with their hit single "Wait (The Whisper Song)," which was a call for sexual violence as eroticism. Here they take the traditional "male gaze" that Laura Mulvey found prevalent in said film noir, and give it new life so that it might impose sexist ideals on an entirely new generation. Whereas Sin City lends itself to the "homage" defense (albeit a very weak one), and at the very least was restricted to a somewhat critically aware age-group through film ratings, the Ying Yang Twins are bringing straight up sexual discrimination to the masses.

It isn't just that women are "dangerous" because they are capable of seducing men and then perhaps ruining their lives - but these women are literally physically dangerous creatures. They are "alien," represented by fierce fangs and animal imagery, the ultimate image of what is "other" and not safe. Simone De Beauvoir might see it as a blatant attempt at reinforcing the self-negating feeling in women, as well as supporting the self-secluding notions in the dominant male. To literally portray the women as a tigress, an animal, the Twins and their director attempt to whittle the entirety of civilization down to a dangerous game between the hunter male and his irresistible beastly prey.

This danger is tied directly with female sexuality. The fact that these women are dancing provocatively and such is the reason they are eventual lined up to be imprisoned. The logic implies that it is their fault; it's a moral sin to be a woman, one that will eventually be punished by the male hierarchy. These women, who have been shown to do nothing more than dance and then seduce the Twins, are now criminals on the highest level.

What is clear, more than anything, is that these men actually do fear women. Moreover, they get pleasure out of setting up the female as the enemy and then reversely being conquered by a "creature" that has been traditionally associated with "weakness." The entire male-female "game" that is referenced here in fact exists only between men. In the very introduction of the video we here, "she's mine, she's his" - it's a game between two brothers, two males vying for power over each other through their victory over the female. There is no "ying" and "yang" here though, just one consistent theme of oppression.

Yet perhaps what is most disturbing, what sends the video over the edge into absurdity, perversion and ultimately sadness, is that "Twin City" is a metaphor for the "pimp" and "ho" dynamic. Had the video ended with the females perhaps even jailing the Twins with their sexual prowess, owning the streets themselves, one might be able to find a glimmer of empowerment in that (a faint glimmer at that). But when Wyclef reveals his own golden teeth, riding away with a car of women, it is implied that he was in control the entire time.

This is not an Amazonian world of powerful women; it's a slavish system in which the women are mere tools used by more powerful men out to make a buck. Ironically, that sounds a lot like the way most hip-hop videos are made. I wish I could say I expected more, but the underlying problem with these types of videos is the way in which they continually lower our expectations. And that's what makes the Ying Yang Twins so dangerous.

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Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie