Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Help! I'm Being Exploited!

I was flicking through the channels of the TV this evening, and came across a documentary on VH1.

It was called something like “Hip-hop Videos : Sexploitation”

Things like this always manage to make me laugh, get me pissed and make me shout at the screen all at the same time.

Basically, this documentary is a parade of women who claim to have been ‘exploited’ by the hip-hop business, attempt to ‘expose’ how rap and hip-hop videos portray women as nothing but sexual objects, anti-feminists etc, etc, etc.

I mean, for fuck’s sake!

Look, it’s a rap video. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years you know what rap videos are like. Shots of guys wearing lots of jewelry, making hand signals at the camera, interspersed with extremely scantily-clad women shaking parts of their anatomy.

It’s like signing on to make a hardcore porn film, and then being shocked and outraged:

“I signed on to act in a film called ‘Deep Anal Divas 4’, but when I turned up on the set wearing my edible G-string, they actually expected me to have sex with people! They tried to exploit me!”

Look, rap-video ladies, you don’t even know the meaning of the word ‘exploitation’.

If someone had put a gun to your head and forced you to be in a video, that’s exploitation. If you’d signed on for a different project and found that through clever editing you’d been cast in a less than favorable and stereotypical light, that’s exploitation. If you went for a serious acting role, and found all that made it into the final cut were close-up shots of your butt and cleavage…that’s exploitation.

However, when you turn up for an audition to be in ‘MC Long-Dong’s’ latest video: “Shake your big round ass in my face and make me want it, bitch.” It should give you a little hint of what to expect.

As for Rap and Hip-Hop stars degrading women, portraying them as sex objects etc…to be honest, I couldn’t agree with you more. When the video shows the rapper in a Jacuzzi with 12 almost naked women, rapping about how he really, really likes boobs…you know that none of the males in the video are thinking just how interesting and what great personalities the women have.

However, it’s up to you whether to be in that video and endorse what the rapper is rapping about, isn’t it?

I mean, any asshole can say whatever they want.(This blog is proof of that). However, the women in rap videos, by their very presence, are saying “I agree with whatever the rapper guy is saying and support his point of view.”

…and guess what? You chose to be in that video and endorse that point of view. How is that exploitation?

Basically, like any business, Rap and Hip-Hop has its good points and its bad points. Dancing in a rap video pays extremely well, only it’s doubtful that any of the rappers have an anti-sexual harassment policy.

In the end, you weigh up the good versus the bad and make a decision. You can’t take the good, and call yourself a victim because you had to put up with the bad that you knew about going into it.

In short, if you’re a female who finds rap and hip-hop videos offensive, you have every right to complain. When you’ve starred in one or more of these videos…that’s like me going on an anti-videogame march with a PSP in my hand.

You’re essentially shouting: “I demand that you put a stop to what I’m doing!” It’s like a burglar claiming his crimes are the fault of the police, because they didn’t arrive and stop him in time.

Of course, then we come to the standard excuse, the one used for ex dancers, porn stars, thieves and conmen.

“I didn’t get a good education, I need the money, so I was forced to do it!”

One word: Bullshit.

There are billions of people all over the world who have little or no education who can’t get a good paying job. Surprisingly, very few of them choose to shake their asses in music videos. Most of them wait tables, stock shelves or work in a factory.

What this excuse actually means is: “I could have got a regular job, but I really wanted the cash that comes with being in a music video.”

You see, there’s damn good money in music videos, stripping etc, a hell of a lot more money than you’re going to earn waiting tables or stocking shelves at a supermarket. One documentary I watched about strippers showed me that a lot of these girls earned more in a week than I made in six months.

The truth is that it’s your choice.

Now, I have to be very clear here, I’m not making any moral judgements on women who choose to be in rap videos, hip-hop videos, become strippers etc.

I’ll be completely honest, if I could earn seven grand a week by putting on a pair of tight shorts and dancing in music videos, I’d do it (Of course, my wife wouldn’t let me, but considering that it’s much more likely for people to pay me to put more clothes on, I don’t think that counts).

My point is that if you choose to ‘Shake yo’ booty’ in a music video or get up on a stage and dance for men…don’t go on TV later and try to paint yourself as a victim, because, quite simply, you’re not. You just did something you regret doing, and it’s easier to blame someone else than admit responsibility for something you’re not proud of.

At the end of the day, what you’re doing is deciding if your personal feelings and point of view are worth the price that the rap and hip-hop stars are willing to pay you to be in their video. If you willingly star in an ‘exploitative’ video, you have no right to go on TV and claim the moral high ground. You’ve already proven that your ‘morals’ are up for sale…and you’ve already sold them.

Just because you regret it later, doesn’t mean you’ve been ‘exploited’.

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