Music is the modern-day educator of the youth when schools fall short of their duty to spread knowledge about social issues. As the media and the world in general has decided to go sex mad, naturally, music is also there to teach you about the dynamics of sex and relationships. Here are a few of the lessons contemporary videos have touched on…
1 Love is universal
(This is 2015. Discrimination should have ended a long time ago, duh!)
In 2002 two completely different videos made a statement through their use of same-sex couples kissing centre-screen. Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ and t.A.T.u’s ‘All The Things She Said’ videos forced the topic of homosexuality into the conversation and into the living rooms of young people and homophobes alike. The videos subconsciously planted a seed of hope in the minds of those confused adolescents struggling with their own sexual identity and allowed them to also gain the courage to come out to their loved ones. These videos were part of the process that led to gay marriage being legalised in the UK last year.
In a manner just as groundbreaking, Michael Jackson’s video for ‘Black Or White’ in 1991 also normalised the concept of equality; as it forced racist people to accept that interracial relationships were going to become the norm on their television screens and in their neighbourhoods. Increased ethnic representation in music videos has also helped to both dispel negative racial stereotypes and introduce people to new cultures, which has lead to more uneasy parents being comfortable with whoever their child brings home to date. However, simultaneously these same stereotypes are also being enforced in the media in a negative way and are widening the gap between races. Hence the long-lasting structural racism protestors in Ferguson are currently fighting against.
2 Know your worth and don’t be pressured into sex until you’re ready
(Be the girl he falls in love with, not the one-night stand he forgets)
2006 saw the release of Ludacris’ ‘Runaway Love’ and Lyfe Jennings’ ‘S.E.X.’ videos, which both broached the topic of underage sex and virginity. They both left viewers with the firm message that young females hold all the power and shouldn’t be pressured into situations they are not emotionally mature enough to handle yet. As Lyfe Jennings put it “you’re worth waiting for”, so ladies take control and do what feels right for you.
The danger with the music videos of this generation, in particular rap and EDM videos, is that hyper-sexualisation of women is the norm and young girls see this and aspire to it believing that that is the best way to get a guy’s attention. This message could be the difference between a teenage girl holding out for someone special to lose her virginity to and a girl losing her dignity at a party; acting out of character for the attention of boys who see her virginity as a conquest.
3 Being referred to as a “ho” or “bitch” is never a good look, mutual respect is key
(Intelligence, confidence and ambition are sexy traits ladies take note!)
As condescending and silly as DJ Khaled’s video for ‘Hold You Down’ was last year, the message to celebrate intelligent, loyal and independent women is one that the younger generation should embrace. But as the delivery proved, male musicians still have a way to go before they understand the true impact that images of men throwing money at women (literally in Khaled’s case) can have on the younger generation.
Note to any young men reading this: attempting to re-enact how Khaled spoke to that woman in the video will probably get you slapped in real life.
Earlier this year the rapper Wale spoke out on the objectification of women in the media and consciously chose to feature a positive female role model in his music video for ‘The Body’; who, for the record, was fully dressed. In an exclusive blog post Wale comments that: “These days, we spend so much time focusing on ‘that assssss,’ we forget how much of love’s chemistry is contingent to a beautiful face and genuine personality.”
4 Cheaters deserve to be dumped because the next one WILL treat you better if you let them
(The 80/20 rule in full effect)
Growing up I got the impression from TV that infidelity in relationships was typical and that it just resulted in some anger-induced throwing, dramatic door slams and crying into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. The reality is that being cheated on is a traumatic experience, and where your emotions are concerned it is never as simple as the relationship being over and you instantly hating the guilty party. This can be confusing and a lot of people make the mistake of trying to repair the relationship.
Music videos, a lot of the time, tend to encourage this habit of returning to toxic relationships and labelling it “romantic” to the beat of an R&B love song. Thankfully there have been a couple of female empowerment anthems that have bucked this trend, including Letoya Luckett feat Ludacris’ video for ‘Regret.’ The 2009 visual showed the innocent party embracing the split and finding someone more worthy of her heart, a much better message.
5 Contrary to what rap videos allude; being too aggressive will not win her heart guys
(Let’s all leave rape culture in 2014)
Contrary to the pandemonium that ensued post 50 Shades, most women don’t enjoy being controlled or sexually assaulted in public. The women that do enjoy it rough in sack are also very aware of the power they have as part of a dominant/submissive type arrangement. Therefore, the overwhelming images of scantily clad women being smacked on the ass and ordered to shake it for cash can be extremely damaging to young boys consuming these images, uninformed of the truth, throughout their adolescence.
Not to go totally Germaine Greer on your asses; but women are more than just sexual play things and aggression is never the right route to that all-important skill of communication. Domestic abuse is currently an escalating issue among young couples in the UK. According to Homicide Statistics (1998), every three days in England and Wales a woman is killed by a current or former partner. Given this shocking statistic, maybe Rihanna should have been less fond of Eminem’s lies in the 2010 emotive video.
6 It is ok to cry your eyes out over a guy ladies, but don’t spend too long dwelling on someone who doesn’t see your value
(Make like a phoenix and rise from the ashes)
Music has been a source of comfort to us all over the years and a shoulder to cry on during hard times. Especially when it comes to relationships, personal experience in heartbreak is a hot commodity for singers; just ask Mary J Blige or Taylor Swift. A heartfelt lyric can have amazingly healing qualities when it is relatable; all of a sudden your experiences are put into perspective and you realise that you are not alone.
Over the years there has been a wave of videos proving that no matter how much it hurts, life goes on and you will be fine. Toni Braxton feat Trey Songz’ ‘Yesterday’ video in 2009 and Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ video in 2011 are a couple of my personal favourites.
7 Most people do not look like the models in music videos and that’s OK
(There is beauty in everyone; you just have to look for it)
After seeing certain YouTube videos on the process of editing for advert campaigns and how different the final product is from the look of the original model, I feel like this should be compulsory viewing in every school. No one looks like the models in magazines, not even the models. Porn star bodies are hard to come by naturally too FYI. So stop beating yourself up for being flawed, perfect is boring and unobtainable.
Last year’s ‘Make Her Say’ video from Estelle was a breath of fresh air compared to most sex-related video concepts. There was not a photo-shopped body in sight. It featured a focus group of couples from all ends of the spectrum racially, sexually and body type wise. They were all asked questions about their sex lives and then proceeded to act out their bedroom moves. If you can’t already tell, I am a big fan of inclusivity and I wish the video had been given more exposure. Big thumbs up to Estelle.
8 Embrace your inner freak in the bedroom. Relationship sex doesn’t have to be boring
(A trusting environment is key to try out all the things your brain has already fantasised about)
If Destiny’s Child taught us anything it was to cater to your man and Miss Kelly and Beyonce have continued to bring that message forward with videos like ‘Motivation’ (2011) and ‘Partition’ (2013). A healthy sex life can add the pizazz your relationship needs to stay fresh and exciting. Plus it can be a free workout with back-to-back orgasms to boot, what’s better than that?
Bashment as a genre has always been pretty sexual, ‘Hot Fuk’ anyone? Yet, in addition to setting the X-rated tone for the evening, it can also serve as a great self-esteem boost. Dancing to bashment can make you feel like you have the sex appeal of Scarlett Johansson and ready to take on the world. As tragic as it is that looks play such a huge role in self-confidence, everyone wants to feel desired and dancing suggestively to a little Vybz Kartel in your bedroom before a big night can do just that.
9 Expand your social circles to find love
(Having different tastes can make for a more interesting conversation)
In 2006 a study published in Psychological Science by Peter Rentfrow and Sam Gosling found that college students used musical taste more than every other topic combined to generate an idea of a new friend/partner’s interests and values to make a judgement on compatibility. As the emergence of lyrical artists singing about social issues has become more apparent in recent years, musical taste is more telling than ever of a person’s belief system.
People naturally gravitate towards those with shared interests and values, but perhaps having an eclectic group of friends is more beneficial to individual growth. Take a page out of Tinchy Stryder’s book and expand your social circle, it could teach you new lessons you never thought existed. Tinchy’s unlikely bromance with the Chuckle Brothers isn’t a rare occurrence in the celeb world; Chris Brown and Elton John are known to get on famously.
10 When all goes wrong in your love life, a good support system is essential
(Friends are the family members you choose for yourself)
On the topic of friendship, never underestimate the power of a strong support system when your relationship isn’t all that Disney predicted. This goes for men and women, never be afraid to ask for a fresh perspective from your close circle, it may just save your relationship. I’m sure that most women have faced the same brutal wake-up-call conversation from their girls when their man showed his true uncomplimentary colours, as depicted in 2004’s ‘Girl’ video from Destiny’s Child.
However, there is such a thing as too much when it comes to relationship advice, at the end of the day trust your intuition and personal knowledge of the situation (like Dame Dash said don’t become a “Chatty Patty”). Good friends are always there through thick and thin, so cherish them.
Music can have an extremely powerful influence on people in many ways, another of these is health. Check out the 10 ways music can boost your mental/physical health:
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