Friday, August 03, 2007

Still Not Tired of Hypocrisy: 50 Cent feat. Justin Timberlake "Ayo Technology"

Classy male cinematic masturbation...

50 Cent feat. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland "Ayo Technology"

dir. by Joseph Kahn

Before we get into the obvious criticisms of extreme female objectification, it should be said: this is an exceedingly attractive modern hip hop video. Director Joseph Kahn manages to find novel and visually exciting ways of playing with the cliches of the genre - namely girls, cars and inordinate displays of wealth. As my friend Jason observed upon his initial viewing, it's like the Minority Report of 50 Cent sex-themed videos (which constitutes nearly all of his videos).

But now that we've got that out of the way: are there any men in mainstream hip hop who have any sort of regard for females as human beings at all? We've addressed this topic numerous times before, but from 50 literally aiming a sniper rifle at a lingerie model to JT spying on girls with binoculars - this is just kind of ridiculous. What's silliest about this scenario is that the song itself is literally about pornography - and men masturbating to said pornography. Thus it's the epitome of male sexist fantasy to depict what is normally a lonely and self-pleasurable act as an avenue of expressing sexual power over real women.

That being said, the video would be somewhat justifiable if we were shown the other side as well. Objectification isn't a terrible thing per se - both men and women enjoy being in control and being controlled at different times - but it's the lopsided nature of power in our society which makes it such a harmful activity. Try imagining the opposite of this video, with popular female artists simulating sexual activities on powerless scantily-clad men...and now try imagining that video ever being made.

In mainstream media male pleasure has never been considered "sexy," but it's sad that there are seemingly no directors in the music video community (or Hollywood for that matter) who have the guts to show it - even when the song is actually precisely about 50 Cent getting off far too often to porn. In reality he and Justin are the ones being controlled by women (or at least pictures and videos of women on the Internet), but in the end even the source of this "technology" is shown to be a man playing with his computer in his bedroom.


Anonymous said...

first, insecure bitches...

Jason Kirk said...

that's a telescope, not a rifle.

it's not about porn, it's about the ultimate lameness of phone sex. i mean, there's a scene where curtis is blindfolded. if there's one thing porn requires, it's eyeballs.

ideal, maybe not, but "she wants it" and jeezy's "she likes it", etc., are miles away from the early 90's "guzzle some nut, bitch" talk.

khal said...

well written - and such a relief. good to hear cats voicing these views.

Anonymous said...

it is a telescope, my bad.

but the original title of the song was "Ayo Pornography." and you could make the argument that it's really about virtual sex of all kinds, including over the phone, but that doesn't really change the level of misogyny at all.

and though certain songs do have far crasser language and more blunt dehumanizations of women, what we are talking about here are the implications of a video - a video that will be shown and seen millions of times.

Anonymous said...

This clip seems WAAAY less misogynistic than "Amusement Park" - for example. The fact that Fiddy is blind-folded at one point sure doesn't make him come across like a total predator. I am not saying this a "pro woman" song - but this review (and the hysteria on antville) seem a bit harsh. Often, at least to me, it seems that the socio-political examination goggles come out way more on hip-hop videos than on rock clips.

Anonymous said...

well i'd agree that this isn't the most misogynistic video ever - even of this year. and there are indeed many non-hip-hop videos which can be more offensive, but that doesn't mean we should let these guys off the hook.

the fact that these are two of the biggest stars on the planet is really why this particular video becomes so important. regardless of what other artists are saying, these artists are heard.

jeffjrstewart said...

I don't agree. It's a song about
girls in strip clubs. And 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake being who they are, they have the option of taking them home with them. They're pretty clear about that in the lyrics. So its not really about pornography.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how this video is doing in RnB circles but it seems to be kind of a joke in hip hop circles.

That said, pornography has always been about control over the other through objectification and reduction to a representation that can then be used as desired.

This is a fairly weak example for current youth oriented popular culture and really more of an example of "Classy male cinematic masturbation..." being picked up in hopes of saving a very weak tune.

I don't know how this is being read by the mainstream, i.e. how it fits into the actual consciousnesses of real everyday people who look at this stuff, but I just see the kind of thing that has long been portrayed as part of the fetish world of white society.

To be honest, there's nothing new here. Once you have to start building a complex argument for why you chose your sample then you've already lost the argument in whatever larger arena you were attempting to reach.

But I think you're absolutely correct in expanding the argument beyond simple pornography into larger themes of voyeurism and power.

brandon said...

yawn...did you pay Eskay to link this??

Anonymous said...

Some people in hip hop circles love to hate, and it's white Timberlake causing the controversy, not the sex. Race and it's affect on street credibility is the issue here. No one in hip hop is offended by the sex, except terrified white journalists. No surprise here - it's been this way since the beginning of black music. It's always too sexual and pushing too many limits for "decent" white folks.

That said, the video and song are strong pop machines. It's going to be huge.

You missed a few points. That's not a sniper rifle in the beginning. The editing provoked the idea and then they revealed the red herring as a telescope. Whatever it meant, it was deliberate.

You also underestimate the scene with 50 in a blindfold. That's a passive sexual position for a male, and the girl dancing is in control at that moment. He cannot touch her, or see her. That role reversal is a very strong statement for gangsta culture. Would DMX or Tupac allowed themselves to be blindfolded and controlled by a woman on television?

Anonymous said...

First off, we're not offended by sex - but this isn't about sex. It's about relations between the sexes, and how that is represented in hip hop (often through sexualized images), and what effect that might have on the audience - or what it says about society at large. This is a video which contributes to a particular strand of hip hop culture which dehumanizes women.

If you want to read the one scene with 50 in the blindfold as him relinquishing power to the female (though the camera continues to focus on the half-naked woman), do you then see the video as a balanced portrayal of male and female objectification because of it? Do you think anyone who watched this video would emerge thinking that men and women are equal because of one blindfold, while ignoring every other scene showing men controlling voiceless/powerless females? It's not nearly shocking or powerful enough to accomplish that. If it had been a scantily clad 50 Cent dancing and performing for a seated women - even if she was blindfolded - that would have been a far grander statement on gender equality.

This also has nothing to do with Timberlake. A cursory search of our archives would reveal misogyny as a primary topic of discussion on this blog, and almost always in relation to videos which do not feature Timberlake. To attempt to use racial prejudices (which do exist, but by wrongly assuming the race of the writer here you've exposed your own) to justify misogyny is not an adequate defense of this video.

Anonymous said...

"A cursory search of our archives would reveal misogyny as a primary topic of discussion on this blog, and almost always in relation to videos which do not feature Timberlake."

That pretty much sums it up for me. Total double standard. Nothing new here.

Your idea that equalization is 50 stripping and performing to a blindfolded woman sounds fine on paper (though naive), but let's be honest here. You would end up fixating on the woman being blindfolded as a sign of submission.

Did you know sex is not perfect? Word to the wise: often, someone takes the lead.

Anonymous said...

So 50 should just rap about killing and drugs. Sex is bad. Typical repressed Americans.

Unknown said...

I've heard this argument before, the one that goes, "What if the roles were reversed? No one would make that." The fact is, it has been made... Salt n Peppa with "Shoop" had a bunch of men dancing around shirtless and objetified, yet not caring about it as men tend not to. The fact is, that even as big as "Shoop" was, 50 Cent has far outsold everything that Salt n Peppa did with one album. Men don't account solely for all of those album sales. If you don't like it, then boycott. If you don't want to boycott, then try to find something else that the public is more into than scantily clad women (including other women).

Anonymous said...

This is a PURE CINEMATIC ARTISTRY video. If you can't undertsand the art of directing, you will never understand its beauty.

Anonymous said...

Being a hip hop fan you may consider me bias and late replying, but I read this blog/article and chuckled. I thought at first that perhaps this may of been a religious blog, but having read on it would seem not. I read some of the views here and I would have to say that Master has an excellent and very logical view. I myself can think of countless videos in which men have been paraded for women's fancy and to be honest, who really cares? At the end of the day, I can guarentee them women got paid very well for starring in that video and Justin Timberlake/50 Cent put out a great club tune for a friday/saturday night. It's win win, no-one loses out here. It's a fun video that shows off the great female form, has a catchy beat, interesting enough lyrics that basically say what alot of men are thinking when inside a strip joint and or with a women they desire. End of the day, I have to say that it's another job well done for all involved, it sold records and it paid everyone involved. Job done.

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