HEY, OH WHY YOU LOOKING AT ME ?
(AGAINST THE MUSIC)
HEY, OH WHY YOU LOOKING AT ME
(BABY I CAN USE IT)
Look at Grimes. Really, look at her. Look at Janelle Monae. Really, look at her. Nothing about what you see is neutral. Notice I didn’t say nondescript. I said neutral. See, you’re not looking at these women: you’re gazing. We have a concept to analyze visual culture called The Gaze. The gaze deals with how the people presented are viewed by an audience, with the types of gaze categorized primarily by who is doing the looking. It comes from a 1975 film theory article called ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema‘ by Laura Mulvey. In it, she begins what will be a multi-decade exploration to the contemporary moment of how most of visual culture is created around the straight male gaze. That is, visual culture is shot, filmed, edited and produced to meet the needs, wants and supposed desires of the patriarchal version of the straight male. And this has been proven to be true often despite who is beyond the camera.
WHY YOU LOOKING AT ME NOW?
WHY YOU LOOKING AT ME AGAIN?
Boobs. Asses. All the fleshy, shaky bits. Your eye goes there. Even if it has fuckall to do with the scene. Because the camera leads you there. It defines a woman’s contours and her aesthetics as that which facilitates the male erection. It feminizes, blurs and undefines non-femme queer males as asexual to not detract from the cis-hetero male’s narrative pleasure. not that femme queer don’t exist. They do, and we’re all the better for it. But to the cis-hetero male gaze the more feminized a queer man is, the less risk the Male Gaze has at accidentally titillating the straight male with their presence. The Male Gaze hypersexualizes the queer woman to have them act as a penis pump on a flaccid man. As if a lesbian scene was a Pavlovian response to make cis-hetero males beat it. And this isn’t up for debate. You want to argue this point? Leave this site. I don’t fucking care. Think for a second and you can see it in play in nearly every single one of your fave movies, tv shows and even web series. So what do we do about it? You can look at Art Angels’ entire arc as a direct challenge to it.
WHAT IF I PULLED MY TEETH?
CUT MY HAIR UNDERNEATH MY CHIN
WRAP MY CURLS ALL AROUND THE WORLD
But Venus Fly especially. Grimes wants you to look at her. She dons her Venus Art Angel to really drive home the point. In Roman and Greek Mythology, Venus was the goddess of romance, love, victory, fertility and, oh, prostitution. By any other name her name was Aphrodite. Grimes’s Venus Art Angel is beckoning you to look at her. Like a Venus fly trap, it takes you in hir mouth and snaps your neck. Unabashedly bashes you upside the temple with some truth. Watch as the Venus Art Angel is birthed: she is covered in oil in what could easily skew heavily towards sexual objectification but never strays from the sexual/soul empowerment of this avatar in Grimes’ visionary pantheon.
THROW MY PEARLS ALL ACROSS THE FLOOR
FEELING MY BEAT LIKE A SNIPER GIRL
Notice how her and Monae spend lingering, momentous moments meeting you in the middle of your cornea. And then cut up your conceptions with a flaming sword. Pop your pupils’ preconceptions with fucking fire. And every time you try to go for the jiggly they just say no, deny you. Arms stretch in front of their chests. Legs fold over crotches like a sea of hell nos. But it never sinks them. Makes them a scold. As if such a thing were real and not just the complaints of men whining about having their gaze subverted because some women/queer over how their bodies were visually constructed. Monae and Grimes’ gazes either stare the Male Gaze straight in the eye or have barely an interest in acknowledging it. Why you looking at me, indeed. These song lyrics feel rhetorical as fuck.
HEY, WHAT ABOUT ME?
And the coup de grace to the male gaze? Look at how many of the key players in this video were men. Unlike about any music video, Venus Fly spends a good 3+ minutes of its post-running time running down each of the people behind the creation of the music video. A vast majority of which are men. Plus the song gets remixed in male vocals. All as if to say, ‘see, it doesn’t have to be this way.’
WHY YOU LOOKING AT ME?