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Opinion

Music videos distort the American image

November 10, 2006

Although I have yet to see the film, just the previews for “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” have got me thinking in a way no goofy comedy featuring a weird guy from Britain should.

In case you don’t have cable TV, Internet or eyes, “Borat” is about a guy from Kazakhstan who comes to the United States and manages to remain oblivious to the culture shock he is experiencing — with hilarious results.

In a commercial that came on while I was getting ready for class one day, Borat says something about our “singing prostitutes,” which struck a chord with me because I had been flipping back and forth between VH1 and MTV trying to find a music video that didn’t have female anatomy bouncing all over the screen. To make matters worse, the guys in the videos almost always wear huge clothes, which make them look like kids trying on daddy’s clothes.

Apparently in these cases daddy is either a professional jogger or a hit man. At least soft porn has a little more for the ladies... or so I hear anyway.

Because TV is the great communicator between countries, people of other nations who see those
videos associate them with American culture. Personally, Diddy is not the ambassador I want representing American values. It seems a little bit hypocritical for Americans to be complaining about how in other cultures women are oppressed and abused and forced to wear yards of fabric in 100-degree weather, when in our own country women are treated as either sperm receptacles or aids in sperm elimination, according to our entertainment industry anyway.

What is the point of making music videos anymore? They all follow the same template -- even the songs are not that different from each other. All they are is a chance for the singers to dress up or down and encourage people to desire the body, riches and lifestyle they will never have. Videos are also a chance for performers to stroke their ego, because even repeating your name over and over in a song doesn’t really show people how awesome you are.

I just want to take this opportunity to say that Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas fame seems to be obsessively finding a way to make her name the highlight of every one of her Gwen Stefani knock-off songs, and it bothers me.

Despite all of my whining, I don’t think Americans should be ashamed of our freedom with sexuality; it’s one of the freedoms we are lucky to have in our country. I just wish the other characteristics most Americans also have, like compassion, ambition and diversity, were given half the publicity as our ability to dance without busting out of our clothing.

Americans are more than sex addicts sitting at a drive-thru reading a Bible, and it is the side that television does not portray that really represents our population and the ideas we want to share with other nations.

Cassie Rodgers is a student at UW-River Falls.

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