My Cup of Tea: How to Use Nudity in a Music Video

I saw in interview with Sarah Silverman the other day. It wasn’t about anything important, but there was one point she made that I really liked. She was talking about how we are in a time where people think that if something is not their “cup of tea” that it shouldn’t be anyones’. I can be like this sometimes but am trying to express myself in a less pushy manner. This is why I am going to title my opinion pieces as “My cup of tea”. This is my way of telling the reader that it is just how I feel, don’t take it as how I think everyone should feel. Maybe you’ll agree with parts and it will inform your opinion and maybe you can leave a comment and help me inform mine.

So….

Here is my first Cup of Tea blog about, “How to Use Nudity in a Music Video” 

Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus have made Nudity in Videos a hot topic again. And I say again because this comes up in a major way pretty much every time a Disney star decides to shed their “good girl” image. This is not a new topic but a juicy one none the less.

Now let me start by saying that I am in total support of nudity. I Love being Naked! I was choked that I couldn’t spend the whole summer at Wreck beach this year for fear that I would be induced on the stairs and have my bouncing baby boy do his best impression of a slinky. Nudity is Awesome, when it is not used in an exploitative fashion, and this is why I think nudity in music videos still ends up being talked about.

Nudity can be very effective in art. It can be used to grab the audiences attention, it can be used for humour, to inspire or to just get us all hot and bothered. It can be very tasteful and make the audience think or it can be pointless and make the audience uncomfortable.

Now I have been thinking about why I like some Nudey videos and hate others and have come up with points to make a Nudey Video that is My Cup of Tea. In the points I will include examples of videos that do not make my cut and at the end I will show videos that do.

Point 1: Write a good song.

First things first. The song has to be able to stand alone as a work of art. The song should not NEED nudity to make it interesting. Kanye West’s Bound 2 is a good example of a song that would be less successful without the crappy video. I am linking the side by side version with James Franco and Seth Rogan because they made the video “cool”. Kanye Fails point 1.

Point 2: Make sure your lyrics are not Rapey.

You can write a killer melody and have amazing production and then ruin a song completely by have rapey/disrespectful lyrics. Now sometimes an artist includes harsh and racy lyrics to make some kind of a point; and sometimes they are just gross and wrong. Robing Thicke’s Blurred Lines wins the prize for this. Maybe instead of claiming that you actually mean “I hope you want it” when you say, “I know you want it”, just say it! And maybe instead of parading naked women around fully clothed men, YOU should get naked and have the women treat YOU like a dog if you want to try to claim the song is “empowering” for women. Creepy fail on point 2.

Point 3: Think about whether the nudity has a point. (other than a cry for attention)

When coming up with ideas for music videos one should think of images that are relevant to the song. This  one is even more subjective than the other steps. What made me think about this one is how every so often it seems that pop stars try to “out -nude” each other. It’s usually the young female stars who are desperately trying to prove that they are “edgier” than the other female pop stars. For example Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball and Kesha’s Dirty Love. Me thinks that maybe they were jealous that Lady Gaga had the nudey pop star market monopoly. Now I don’t think either of these videos are particularly bad, I just don’t think they’re that good. It feels like they were making the videos and were like “This isn’t powerful enough. What can we do to make it better? Oh screw it! Just get naked!”. BUT at least they used their own nudity and didn’t feel the need to objectify someone else right? Which brings me to my final point.

Point 4: Use your own nudity

I may not particularly like Miley’s and Kesha’s videos, but I do give them credit for using their own nudity. I think that many music videos would be less offensive if the artists would just get naked themselves instead of hiring a bunch of models and dancers to strip down and be objectified. There are too many examples of music videos objectifying women, that it almost seems pointless to mention them. Almost, but not quite. The two I mentioned in steps 1 and 2 are perfect examples.  Hip Hop as a whole genre is pretty famous for this as well. My example is going to be Nelly’s Tip Drill. I chose this just because I was a fan of Nelly’s when I was in high school even though his videos are incredibly misogynistic. Ah high school… so many naive, misinformed times….. And yes I am aware that it can be objectifying even when a woman is naked in her own video, but that is another argument for another blog.

Since I have put up links to 5 videos that were not my cup of tea, I thought I should put up 5 that are. So here you go. Here are 5 nudey videos that meet all four points. Enjoy!

These were just the first 4 points that came to mind. Comment below with your own points and let me know if you agree with mine. And while you’re at it, let me know some of your favourite Nudey videos.

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10 responses to “My Cup of Tea: How to Use Nudity in a Music Video

  1. Interesting post. The D’Angelo video was something, but it did mess him up for many years after, keeping him from performing in public or releasing anything new. There was so much attention because of the video, and not in the way he wanted. He went underground and is just recently beginning to be seen on stages. I wonder if he would do it again if he had the choice to go back in time…..

  2. I think you nailed with your points on this. I grew up watching some 80’s/early 90’s glam metal videos that also showed girls in some nudity degree with no point at all except saying “hey boys, nude girls, come and see them!”, but later, and I mean, late 90’s and in these past years I’ve seen bands like Rockbitch using their own nudity to promote their views on feminism/religion, or bands and artists using nudity on their videos on a very natural way: The Flamming Lips, Sigur Ros, Hello Ocho, Erykah Badu, and Amanda Palmer to name a few, other than those you show as winners on this subject.

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