Friday, July 23, 2010

Blog Post 2: Analyzing a Subversive Music Video

The video and song by Beyonce “If I Were a Boy” describes what a woman would do if she were a boy in a relationship. The norm in media outlets shows a man cheating on the women and not being truthful with her, while the woman does no wrong and loves and cares for the man with everything she has. The first two thirds of the video goes against hegemonic ideas and shows Beyonce getting too close with another man. This image subverts hegemony in society and the image portrayed by women in music videos.

The video opens up with the man making breakfast for Beyonce’s character. This is a rare thing to see in a patriarchal society and goes against the norm. Also her character is shown as a police officer while her husband works in an office. In most media productions a man is usually shown as the police officer and the woman would make him breakfast which is the typical hegemonic belief. Lull defines hegemony as, “Dominance and subordination in the field of relations structured by power. But hegemony is more than social power itself; it is a method for gaining and maintaining power” (61).  The social group that normally holds power over women is men. This as explained earlier in not the case in the video and continues in the video.

As the story goes on Beyonce’s character is shown making arrest, drinking and making jokes with fellow police officers, and flirting with her partner.  While her love interest is shopping for jewelry for her, getting his calls rejected by her, and denying advances from his attractive secretary.  Typically the woman is seen as the victim in a relationship and being taken advantage of. Lull states “Dominant ideological streams must be subsequently reproduced in the activities of our most basic social units-families, workplace networks, and friendship groups in the many sites and undertakings of everyday life” (62). This shows how normally the dominated group or women are put down in a wide range of social settings and must conform to fit in. Beyonce in the video does the opposite and she is the one in control and the man is the non typical victim.

These examples of the female character in a hip-hop video going against the hegemonic society but also go against what the music industry thinks of women. Cole and Guy-Sheftall discuss when talking about music say, “…the music frequently communicates a general hostility , distrust, and disregard for black women as anything other than atomized body parts and sex objects” (102). In the video the woman isn’t taken advantage of and is further proved when the video changes

After Beyonce’s character is seen getting real close with her partner by her significant other and they have a discussion the roles change and Beyonce’s Character is the one left in the dark. The video changes and the man is the cop and has a female partner and Beyonce’s character is the one making breakfast. Even though the images change and go back to being what a patriarchal society looks like, the lyrics change saying how the man will wish he did not lose what he wanted and that he will never be a better man because he act like a boy. Cole and Guy-Sheftall help explain this by saying, “It appears that too many of our young men are blaming young women and treating them as part of the problem, rather than as cherished lovers and potential life partners” (100). Beyonce reinforces this in her lyrics and is trying to change the hegemonic structure in our society and the women are seen in the world of hip-hop.

Beyonce in the song and video subverts hegemonic norms and how women are seen in hip-hop. She starts by being the one in control and doing things that men are typically depicted as. She breaks the mold and shines a different light to some ideas. She then is reversed back into a typical role of being the one taken for granted but still is seen as a strong character and tries to change the way women are seen in media culture.

Works Cited

Beyonce. “If I Were a Boy.” I Am…Sasha Fierce. SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. 2008. Music Video.

Cole, Johnetta, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall. "No Respect: Gender Politicts and Hip-Hop." Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2006. 99-105.

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publication Inc., 2003. 61-66. Print


  1. Great job, Dan!

    Areas where you excelled:

    -I think you picked a great video to go along with the topic of the blog post. It showcases the kind of gender disparities that we have been reading about.
    -You picked out a lot of good examples in the video where the idea of "feminine" and "masculine" characteristics were being played with and reversed.

    Some areas that could be improved:

    -I noticed a fiew grammatical errors and awkward sentences.
    -I think you could have expanded more on how the lyrics also relate to dominant ideaologies about gender and what they mean in the context of the video.

  2. Dan-
    I really agree with Cara's feedback here. However, I wonder if simply reversing the gender roles is subversive? If women are objectified, then men are posed in an objectifying way, doesn't the message that it's okay to objectify people stay dominant as an ideological construct (think about Johnson's piece on's not just a man/woman issue, it's also about the hierarchies).
    The quotes you chose would have been better used for defining the terms of the analysis than backing up your points. It would have helped to use specific quotes from the readings on the music industry here to back up your claims about this video by Beyonce.