Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Cappella Group Does Dre

(Via Sociological Images)

"The appropriation of the song works on so many levels: the all heavily-white, all-female group, the sweet choral arrangement, the pastel prep fashion, the strategically placed tennis rackets. They use race, class, and gender contradictions to force us to see and hear the song in a new way. All serve to mock the original, taking the teeth out of the language at the same time that they expose it as grossly misogynistic. Awesome."

Except that I don't think I'd call this "awesome." On one hand, young women singing a pretty, choral arrangement of a blatantly misogynistic song takes some of the power out of the words "bitches and hos," but that it's a largely white chorus in prep school clothes and carrying tennis rackets -- symbols of privilege -- makes me a bit uneasy. It sort of fails at being subversive, though I'm not sure this was their intent. It also bothers me that people are probably posting this video without considering its larger cultural implications. The discussion over at Sociological Images is worth reading:

"I think the point here is women reappropriating their own image as presented by popular media. A bunch of young women sweetly repeating something intended to debase them should make us rather uncomfortable, particularly when you consider when the original track was released and that these women were very young girls at that time but were still most likely exposed to that content one way or another."

"But I’m struggling to articulate what’s bothering me about it, or maybe not the video itself, but reactions to it. Is it funny because it’s using/subverting the idea that rich preppy white girls are purest fragile sexless porcelain, or is it trading on that stereotype?"

"My issues with this are, as others have well expressed, that it is specifically the privilege being exaggerated in this performance that makes me give this the hairy eyeball."

Edited to add:
*The subject of Dr. Dre's original was fellow rapper, Easy E. (Eric Wright)
*The a cappella choir is using Ben Fold's arrangement, which you can listen to here.

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