Opinion: Beverly Osu, Miley Cyrus, others mirror the full blown denigration of women

by Dolapo Ani

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Some of the dance steps leave spectators scratching heads and wondering how their parents could applaud such. 

“Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.” -Mohammed Ali to his daughters

Probably due to this writer’s knack for serious media content and intellectual materials (print, TV and radio), watching musical videos was relegated to the background several years ago. But sometime in the final quarter of 2012, I sat down to view what latest musical videos were on some popular music channels. I was taken aback by almost all the videos. Some videos caught his attention. The musical videos were Jingalin by Ludacris; Excuse My French by French Montana; Pound The Alarm by Nicki Minaj, and a video of Ruggedman featuring Terry G.

These videos have just one thing in common-blatant disregard for womanhood. Apparently, the Nicki Minaj’s video is quite and extremely more suggestive than the other videos put together. And just in case, the reader has forgotten, Nicki Minaj is a sultry female pop/rap star from Trinidad and Tobago, who seems to be more silicone-implants endowed than natural.

While trying to analyse the nudity trend in musical videos, especially, the ban on some Nigerian artistes’ videos on local TV stations (these banned videos are available on Satellite decoders for all to watch), I read an article by one Angela Odah titled “the rising objectification of women in Nigerian music videos.” This article, published on Monday, the 17th of December 2012, hit and hammered home several poignant points.

According to Angela Odah to say Nigerian Hip Pop or Afro Pop or whatever you choose to call it has grabbed the attention of millions across the globe is to put it mildly. This is no doubt our time to shine. Our musical artists both male and female have raised the stakes notches higher and achieved recognition and acclaim within Africa and beyond.” But she went further to opine that “the sexualisation, degradation, objectification, commoditisation of the Nigerian female in some of these lyrics and their videos is alarming and worrisome.”

What she found most worrisome was that “in these scandalously vulgar videos some beautiful intelligent looking girls are rigorously dancing their hearts out virtually nude (Nicki Minaj’s video mentioned above is a perfect example.) While the male leader singer (s)   is/are fully clad in his/their designer clothing and accessories. Wait a minute, must dancers strip to their bare necessities to aid our appreciation of the lyrics of a song?”

She went further to opine that “besides, if these videos are adult films, shouldn’t the male singers also bare it all? No, they are the super stars, they are well dressed but the female dancers are literally nude. For how much if I may ask. Even if it’s a million naira or dollars is it really worth trampling on the dignity of those dancers?”

She advised female dancers by stating that “please think through these questions before you bare it all in your next music video. Is money everything? What good would this music video inspire in its viewers? Will it advance respect for girls and women in our communities and country at large or will it further the view of girls and women as objects of pleasure and abuse? Will you be proud to show this video to your parents and in future your children and grand children? Is this really a comprehensive expression of your talents and contribution to the development of the Nigerian music industry and the world at large?”

Still on the same theme, I read another article that aptly describes this pertinent issue of music and denigration of women. Dr Boyce Watkins who is the author of a book titled “Commercialised Hip-Hop-the Gospel of Self-destruction” and who lectures at Syracuse University in New York opined in an article that- (nearly every hip-hop song on the radio encourages men to have a slew of women).  So, the fact of the matter is that when you share yourself without thinking it through, you make yourself vulnerable to those who are not careful about their health.

An advice from the greatest boxer ever-Muhammad Ali, to his daughters encapsulates this article perfectly. An incident transpired when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were quite revealing. Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Leila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.

My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.

Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.” He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

And back to the article by Angela Odah, she had this appeal for Nigerian musicians, “keep up the good work but please keep it positive and inspiring. Please sing songs that would inspire our children and youths for positive change, Songs on love, faith and hope. Songs promoting protection of the environment, respect for human rights, anti-corruption, politics, creativity, economic empowerment etc. Songs that can change the world for good!”

When it pertains to music (audio and video), content and value have been discarded. Enormous and vague meaningless sounds and ramblings are what are available. But one can not but wonder if what children and teenagers watch on the silverscreen is not a recipe for something untoward in the near future. Try going to children’s parties and see how they shake “what is not there” or “twerk” hips that are not strong enough to suggest anything.

 Some of the dance steps leave spectators scratching heads and wondering how their parents could applaud such. If such parents feel there is no harm in such “indoctrination”, they should kindly search and watch the video of the MTV Video Music Awards on youtube, where Miley Cyrus had a filled day dishing out extremely provocative steps. During the MTV awards on the 25th of August Miley Cyrus’ performed at the MTV Video Music Awards. The 20-year-old former Disney star danced suggestively in a nude bikini with singer Robin Thicke.

Dan Isett of the Parents Television Council said “MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ (a sexually suggestive dance) in a nude-coloured bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?”

Others defended and would probably still defend Cyrus. Some say and would argue that “Could it be that we are simply threatened by a woman who expresses herself in such an obnoxiously sexual way?” While some would argue and support such, they should look back at all the child stars of Hollywood who missed it along the way and evaluate their present state of mind. The most ready example would be Lindsay Lohan; who the reader can’t but feel remorseful for.

Coming home, one was “flabberwhelmed and overgasted”-pardon the juxtaposition when, Beverly Ada Osu (one of the Nigerian contestants at the just concluded Big Brother Africa) stated on a private TV station that “she proudly represented Nigeria” during the reality show. It would appear that someone, probably, half-baked public relations “mis-experts” have gotten in touch with her to render their “disservices”. In 2006, a British journalist opined that Big Brother was the showcasing of all the ramifications of crass. Beverly who seems to be in a state of phantasmagoria epitomised it in the reality show.

Reverting back to the theme of the article. What is the essence of semi-nude videos where ladies are scantly dressed but the men in the same videos are properly dressed? While Miley Cyrus was scantily roped, Robin Thicke was properly dressed. The BBC World Have Your Say Programme posed a question on one of their shows on the Tuesday, the 27th of August, 2013 which goes thus, Did Miley Cyrus go too far? Or is it up to her how she performs?

This can’t be difficult to comprehend and proffer an objective response, since this article wasn’t written in Français-pardon my French.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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