More than 70 million people have watched two of the world’s biggest pop stars murder a restaurant full of people and slip into a sexy, synchronized dance routine amongst the dead bodies.
While Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s nine-minute treatment for the song Telephone bears the rectangular red “explicit” tag on iTunes — where it sits comfortably as the No. 2 most purchased video — it is hardly the most shocking video to come out in the past few months.
But what is perhaps more shocking than any of the actual clips in question is that they were all made by women.
In Christina Aguilera’s video for Not Myself Tonight, which is No. 3 on the iTunes video chart, she plays a cussing dominatrix, who covers her scantily clad body in what appears to be liquid leather and makes both the boys and girls go gaga, basically by going Gaga.
Other recent controversial videos by women include Erykah Badu’s public assassination striptease in Window Seat and M.I.A.’s epically violent Born Free, in which the government rounds up redheads and executes them.
Marketing strategist Rachel Weingarten worked with Aguilera at the dawn of her career, and says she is disappointed by how derivative of Madonna and Lady Gaga the singer’s latest is. Weingarten also says these women are being controversial only to make money in a dying music industry.
“What they’re trying to do is attract the audience that’s actually still buying electronics and still buying any of these things, and that’s the young guy demographic, sitting in front of the computer and drooling over the video and actually spending the two dollars,” she says.
Weingarten might be onto something: All of these videos were directed by men. However, most of the women have spoken about their extensive involvement in the projects.
Badu, who was charged with disorderly conduct late last month after stripping in the spot where JFK was shot — she pleaded not guilty — says she thinks she was misunderstood.
“It’s about freeing oneself of the layers and layers of things that we have learned as Americans in this country,” she told MTV News.
Steve Waksman, professor of music and American studies at Smith College, seems heartened by the trend: “I think it’s really interesting that you have a group of women who are all making very provocative statements,” he says. “The Internet is allowing video to circulate, and is opening up some different avenues for both male and female artists, but I think it’s interesting women are taking more advantage of it.”