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Musical savagery: masculinity in contemporary music videos

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  1. The sexualized black female stereotype
  2. A patriarcal image of dominance
  3. Comparison with "This Love", Maroon 5
  4. The racist ideology according to which blacks are more savage and aggressive

Music videos in general, it is true, are usually intentional exaggerations of tropes or clichés. The worn-out images make easy shortcuts for listeners and viewers looking for a quick visual accompaniment for a song and don't demand much more. However, these intentional exaggerations help to reveal an unintentional assumption about the proper gendered and racial roles in our culture. By examining the specific case study of the Beyoncé video for her 2003 song "Crazy In Love", I will show how certain masculine roles are played out and strengthened through this medium, further establishing themselves as the dominant tropes about masculinity in our culture.

[...] However, enough has already been written about the role of women in contemporary hip-hop music videos. As Liesbet Van Zoonen has pointed out, feminist theory has long underemphasized masculinity and its tropes in the media (Van Zoonen 47). For this analysis, the ?Crazy In Love? video is interesting due to its scenes with Jay-Z. Jay-Z, who was Beyoncé's boyfriend at the time of the video's shooting (they have since been married), appears first at the beginning of the song. His spoken-word rap is the foreground while Beyoncé struts around in her red heels and foreshadows her sexualized dance moves later on 0:30). [...]


[...] Van Zoonen, Liesbet. [...]


[...] That is, these tropes merely validate reactionary masculinity against the perceived threat of female dominance. In this sense Beyoncé's sexual prowess is a kind of "irony" that supports the patriarchal structure (Mayer 456). So whether Beyoncé's subservient dancing around and worshipping of Jay-Z, or Levine's girlfriend's willingness to accept a role naked in the background of his more important vocals, is meant ironically or not, both images serve to strengthen the image of the dominant male in the music video. [...]

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