Blog Assignment

Dear all, and welcome to the day AFTER you completed your papers. Make sure you celebrate! Well, since your assignment comes in a bit later than planned, you have until Sunday 9 p.m. to complete it this time.

Go to Youtube, and look up Beyonce’s Run the World (Girls). Watch it a couple of times, at least, and note down what you see. How does the video use signs? Or to put it differently, note down your observations about the semiosis (meaning making) elements of the video: costuming, mise-en-scene, location, camera distance, angles, editing cuts, lighting, framing of shots, juxtaposition of images with words. Think about the ways we have analyzed gender representations on screen (intersectional approaches, women as to-be-looked-at-ness, voyeurism as one of the dominant mechanisms in commercial Hollywood films, Orientalism, among others). What interpretation do you find for the music video?

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50 Responses to Blog Assignment

  1. dluoo says:

    Concerning Beyonce’s music video, “Run the World (Girls)”, I never realized how deliberate particular costumes, scenes, dance moves, and etc were. For example, the beginning of the music video, she wears a “gladiator”-like costume, very juxtaposed to a feminine image and also, the video takes place in a desert-like environment with smoke, heat, and leather. And because it is set in the desert, it causes the viewer to feel “hot” and perhaps even stuffy. We must also keep in mind that the women usually have full body shots and if not, the camera focuses on the face of Beyonce and the various sexual movements she does such as touching her lips. Additionally, the choreography is anything, but masculine. In fact, crotch thigh, and buttox thrusting are all in her dance sequences, which depicts an overflowing sexuality and lusting. Not only that, but despite this “female empowerment” we may interpret from the song, the video is chock full of skin and revealing costumes as well as grotesque gazing, making the females in the video seen as objects of desire. Most importantly, the lyrics of this song creates an image of a manipulative female- saying that they can make a guy do whatever she wants (so she “runs the world”) rather than saying a woman is strong, thus she can “run the world”. This music video seems more and more grotesque as I see it. I don’t think it represents a feminist view of women at all, but rather it’s almost a self-justifying and self-demeaning song, created to show that women rule the world, not because of their strengths, but because the men are enticed and seduced by them. Playing on stereotypical femme fatale, it’s video full of eye candy, but not for the right reasons.

    • Kayla Wigley says:

      I also felt this way when watching the video of Beyonce. The more I watch this video, however, I am confused about what is to be interpreted from her appearance. Yes she is half naked, and her dance moves are provocative, but she is doing it because she can. This in a way is the power we women have and Beyonce is a proud promoter and example of this uniqueness. It may not be the greatest way to express oneself, but she is empowering to women nonetheless.

  2. ananunez3 says:

    In the video the scenery and costumes of gladiator times give the women a look of power. The way they are all in a group as if ready to battle the men that are dressed up as soldiers and even carry shields as if to protect themselves from the women. The men seem to be the weak ones here since they are no match for the women’s charms and seduction. These women are dressed in very provocative attires as for the men to be distracted from their goal to overpower women. In the lyrics it emphasizes how women run the world through their persuasion this meaning that they have the “weapons” which is their body to protect them from men power. The video focuses of the women’s bodies specially Beyonce’s when she is making sexual face expressions, touching her lips, crawling under the males open legs, and sticking her tongue out; all sign of sexual desire the men have. It also focuses on the males face expressions which are at first defiant as if ready to attack but later to into faces of awe and then fear in the end. The men in the end hold their shields up to their faces for protections as to not fall into temptation which would lead to their defeat. Even though the video mainly focuses on female attributes and their sexual empowerment over males, the lyrics do mention women’s strength in terms of working hard even after bearing children and being mistreated by men.

    • Maria Salazar says:

      I agree with your focus on the costuming aspect of the video. The outfits do give the women added power because they were traditionally seen on men, like the gladiators.
      That part of the video I did find empowering because it reminded me of the powerful ancient empires. The main one being the Roman Empire, which essentially did “rule the world” at one point in history. Through these images, I feel Beyonce is able to empower women because she is giving them the equal position of power that the empire and emperors had.

  3. rsicilekira says:

    I found it very interesting how they used a juxtaposition of the empowerment lyrics to the over sexualized images. It is obvious that sexual videos attract more viewers than others, yet it seemed to contradict the overall message of the song. I noticed that they used a lot of visuals such as the big chained animals, the old beat up car, and the giant flames to link the women to more “masculine” things. Like other people said on this blog response, there was a lot of emphasis on the sexuality of the women through dancing and touching. It was as if they were using their sexuality as their “weapon” in order to defeat the men and become the “superior” gender. They were able to effectively visually portray the idea of power with the gladiator suits and even the shot when Beyonce climbs and attacks one of the men. They made the point clear with the video, yet I feel the over-sexualized images were a little too excessive.

    • Lisa says:

      I agree with you. The sexualized images were to me, not only excessive but also worked against the very message, as the way in which they expressed themselves as sexually desirable contradicts a sense of agency. What I mean is, if one has to depend on the masculine gaze, or really any form of spectatorship, in order to assert power, than that power is entirely dependent on others, and that does not seem to be a true power at all. Further, I think the male reaction to their sexual exhibitionism was framed as one in which they were powerless out of a necessity to resist sexual urges. What kind of message is that? I don’t think I can even fully dissect it, but it seems to me that the road to gender equality should not rely on or even touch upon sexuality as an enabler (or diffuser) of power.

    • I agree with you. I also feel that the sexualized images of women are sharply contrasting the song’s deeper meaning. The lyrics and the images don’t match up. The song is about the empowerment of women, but the fact they they are overly sexualized in the video, shows that they really do just live in a male-dominant world.

    • GwynSims says:

      Yeah, that seems to be pretty much how these things work. The only way a woman could REALLY have power over a man, after all, is to turn him into a drooling idiot, or, on the other end of the spectrum, by being a completely sexless, emotionless robot.

      So the video does in fact still cater to stereotypes about women. It does it in such a way as to make the female viewer FEEL empowered, but it’s pseudo-empowerment–just like wearing a certain jeans doesn’t really help you express yourself.

  4. Steph. says:

    First of all, the costumes were outrageous and looked fierce. The dancers wore black (corset?) and leather like outfits that resembled typical dominatrix costumes along with a boys cap. Example picture: http://www.flagshipfancydress.co.uk/ekmps/shops/flagshipenterp/images/the-punisher-dominatrix-costume-876-p.jpg
    Dominatrix is a woman that takes dominant role, and this element seemed to have been added into the dancers’ costumes.
    The animals used in this video included hyenas, black horse and a lion. The hyenas and lions are known to be fierce predators and they were shown to be under control by the women in this video because they were chained up. It might symbolize that the power women have.
    Beyonce was touching the other men sexually and crawling on the ground while the men were seen to be hypnotized by her beauty and sexuality. The dance moves included a lot of saluting as well. That might be another symbol. The video seems to focus on women’s sexuality and how that becomes their “power” over men who seemingly think they have control with weapons and etc.

    • Iris says:

      The last point you made about how ‘women’s sexuality is the power over men’ is not a bad point to make, and it’s something I’ve heard very much in defense of much sexualized imagery in the media.

      However, I’d like to present another perspective on that. For this video, the notion of women’s sexuality being ’empowering’ is very complex, because we must consider the ‘male gaze’ and the ‘exotifying gaze’ that is placed upon Beyonce and her dancers. But based on the fact that the lyrics are pandering to the object of desire ‘hope you still like me’, as well as how Beyonce is dancing sexually and the men are supposed to be ‘dumbfounded’ – it still panders to men. This is the stereotypically patriarchal idea of female sexuality, as in the woman is so sexually stimulating that the men feel themselves ‘lacking’ or ‘losing control’ and being stunned by her presence.

      But considering that the male gender has ‘run the world’ – wouldn’t the fact that it’s Beyonce using her sexuality to attract men to be within her power, still plays into the oppressive power structure that does dominate women? From my understanding, it is a very narrow way to look at female empowerment. Yes, the sexual stunner has some power over men, but what happens once she loses her overt sexuality? How much does the imagery and song content really back up the idea of Beyonce being ‘stronger than her oppressors?’ Is she really being empowered, or is she playing to a concept that both men and women have learned to accept as ‘female empowerment?

      Also, do her other attributes allow her to gain respect or equal grounding with men? “Run This World” isn’t necessarily feminist if we consider that feminism’s goal is to be on the equal ground with men, not to take over the world, which would flip a matriarchal power system upon men, and just be a reverse form of oppression. This is all some food for thought, but I think we should be careful to examine what is ‘female empowerment’ rather than what the media wants us to think ‘female empowerment’ is. I am all for women’s sexuality and the free expression of it, but the mainstream media often makes shallow its many colors and complexities.

  5. Kayla Wigley says:

    Having seen Beyonce’s music video, “Run the World (Girls)” many times before, I thought I could identify the main message of the film quite easily. Originally, I only identified the signs of sexual domination through provocative dancing and lyrics. Beyonce’s masculine power reminded me of the infamous image of Rosie the Riveter. She surrounds herself with weapons, dirt, fire, and subordinate men throughout the entire video to portray herself as manly and capable of intimidation. Beyonce also expresses the sexual desires that men have through her physical hints of intimacy. In example, she dances slowly while opening her legs and touching her lips at close camera shots. After watching this video multiple times more, I am confused of whether or not this is a positive of negative representation of women. In one argument, the song lyrics suggest that women will run the world based on their sexual dominance. Opposingly, she takes on the roughest aspects of the video (fire, weapons) and makes them look inadequate. Both negative and positive representations are made in this video.

    • Nikki Mahmoudi says:

      I totally agree with everything your saying especially about how in the video Beyonce is trying to portray herself as manly and capable of intimidation. I think the biggest problem with the video and this idea of feminism is that she is trying to be masculine and from that she expresses that women rule the world. From what we discussed in class, I also feel that women should run the world through taking their characteristics and femininity and making that equal to masculinity. Women should not have to act like men to be equal to men. Women should be considered equal through what they offer to the world. On the other hand, I feel that the video is giving a negative representation of women because women should not be fighting to rule the world, but first strive towards quality. Also, the video in my opinion gives a negative representation of women because the video shows Beyonce doing sexual moves that imply that women can become equal to men through sexuality.

    • rsicilekira says:

      I agree with what you are saying. She makes both positive and negative representations. I don’t think she was trying to be disrespectful or intentionally crude just for the sake of doing so. In today’s day and age over sexualized videos are the ones that get more views and “likes”, so it is obviously a marketing tactic as well. I do not feel she was trying to create a negative message or image even though her actions aren’t always positive in the video.

  6. Audrey says:

    There is a lot of irony between the lyrics (“Who run the world? Girls!”) and what is actually being shown in the video.

    For instance, the video shows the girls clad in skimpy, skin-revealing clothing while doing promiscuous dance moves such as crawling between a man’s legs. They are also literally being stared at by the men, showing us that though Beyonce is singing about female empowerment, this sort of empowerment is a very specific type of empowerment (not intellectual empowerment, but sexual empowerment) catered towards the men and the “male gaze”. So, in a way, the girls don’t “run the world” at all as they are technically still a visual representation of what men want to see in girls/women.

    Also, I’d like to point out that at the very end of the video, the girls salute the men. Saluting is usually initiated by the more subordinate of the two parties. So the fact that the girls end the number by the saluting the men serve to suggest that they are still inferior.

    • xxxjo says:

      I agree with Audrey that the pictures shown in the video and the lyrics do not fit together. However I wouldn´t put it as “irony,” because this world implies that there is a conscious decision behind it. And I don´t think that Beyonce is aware of who she actually contributes to the subordination and objectification of women. How can one fight for the continuation of existing power structures?! I don´t think that this was what she wanted. Anyway, the question which comes up here is who produced the video and how much influence has Beyonce to decide about the video and the lyrics? I Could not find out about that, but the fact that she has no own label, leads to the speculation that she has not much to decide about her videos and lyrics. As far as I know is it very common that artists have not much to decide about their art in big U.S.American music business world. It is important what sells – and sex sells, feminism does not. Unfortunately!

    • Steph. says:

      I agree, I don’t get why it was so sexual. I mean their breasts were not super exposed, but still considered as sexy. The dancers were wearing corsets. I thought women didn’t like to be seen as sexual creatures only, but I guess in the end sex does sell. I honestly did not understand why Beyonce crawled in between a guy’s legs, that part really confused me.

    • michelley says:

      I agree with Audrey, in that the girls don’t “run the world,” since they’re pretty much putting on a show for the men. Even if Beyonce is trying to be intimidating with her large posse of women dancers in front another large group of men, her provocative dancing and costumes are what the men would want to see for the “male gaze.” The women seem as if they are using the want-to-be-looked-at-ness to lure the men into watching them, but really that’s what the men want, to be watching the women in a sexual manner.

      I also agree with the salutation. One usually salutes another when the other is honorable and is of higher class/order than them. If the women “ran the world,” then they would not be saluting the men, the men would be saluting the women. This makes it seem like the men are still superior to the women. Maybe the whole song is about the women thinking that they’re more superior than the men, but they really aren’t and that’s why the women salute at the end.

    • katherynevu says:

      I really enjoyed your observations and your insight on this music video.

      In some way, I do believe that beyonce and the women are using their sexuality as a weapon for an advantage. Is it the right way to gain control over men? Possibly not. However it is an edge to get above. In my opinion, men gain their dominance with masculinity violence, and strength. Who says that being masculine and angry all the time is the only way to gain power? It’s worked for the majority of the leaders so far, and for some reason this is seen as something positive in the public eye. It’s only positive because the media and the public makes it positive. But it seems that to the public eye, women using their sexuality is considered bad thing. Its not classy for a lady to show a little skin to gain advantage, but if you think about it, men use violence as a source of dominance and is that clean either? It’s written in history that men are the ones who are in power and made the decisions, but can you say with confidence that men have never been influenced by women with sex? The saluting at the end does feel as if the women are handing over their power to the men, but I feel there is more meaning under it. To me its saying that the women are appearing to be submissive to the men, but all they are are puppets to the women who can have control over them underneath it all.

  7. xxxjo says:

    With a very superficial glance the video appears like a feminist video, because it is about strong woman. The topic seems to be how women fight against men and want to taker over the power.

    Women are those who are showed as dangerous – mainly because of their beauty and their strong dancing and shouting. We can see Beyonce and other women dancing in groups. Their outfits are sexy and short. Main colors are black, gold and red. Beyonce seems to be the queen of this female „gang.“ In one scene she has jewelery, made out of gold and mirrors. We can see her face from near. In comparison we cannot see the faces of the men and the other woman from near. The video includes several fighting scenes, where the men seem to defend themselves. It is noticeable that the women never have weapons, military uniforms or protection shields whereas the men have. At the beginning of the video we can see Beyonce on a black wild horse, which she controls. Besides this scene, several other animals underline the strength of the women: a lion, a bull, and two hyenas. They are only in the pictures where „the women“ appear, but they do not act. They seem to be simply symbolic. Also we can see red flags in the background of the women, which suggests that there is a joint identity “among” women. The “red flag” is usually a symbol of the socialist and communist movement, but I do not think that it is used with that meaning, because Beyonce does not seem to affiliated with that movement, rather her values conform with the capitalist values of beauty, materialism, money, personal success, individual identity etc. Also, there is a B. written on it, which probably stands for Beyonce. She is presented as the queen of all the women – always in the middle of everything and the most beautifulst.
    At the end of the video the women are again dancing, doing all the same moves often. We can see legs, tights, asses, female bodies moving lascivious on the ground, a lot of light from the back (as if the sun comes from the side where the women are), fists in the in the air (as if ready for revolution). We can here military drums. At the other side there are the men standing in black military outfits. The camera shows their back and how they women are coming nearer. The women look like, here and in the most, scenes, like aggressive Amazons, which are in the process of an attack. However then suddenly the women stand at attention in front of the men. This is how the video ends.
    I think this video wants to be about strong woman, but instead it shows and represents men addicted objects who have no own military or political powers. To-be-looked-at-ness is what the video is about. Almost naked, sexy women moving their bodies for the male spectator, fulfilling the image of the aggressive, but sexy Amazons. Clearly a male fantasy about women, which can be seen in this video. The video conveys the message that the strength of the women is their sexiness and their impact on men, but not their physical power. Men in comparison are represented as those who have the real power and at the end women show that very clearly, because they stand in attention.
    The refrain of the song “Who run the world – girls?” and the symbols of power (fists, animals, flags, shouting) seems to be a paradoxical, because women are only presented as sex objects. Where is the female power? Where is there influence? The answer of this can be find in the lyrics of the song. “Boy im just playing, come here baby. Hope you still like me, If you hate me. My persuasion can build a nation. In this our, our love we can devour. You’ll do anything for me.” This citation reminds me on what Virginia Woolf stated in her book “Three Guinees” about the power of women in the early 20th century. They have no direct political influence, but they can talk to their husbands and make them change their minds.
    I conclude this video is very patriarchical, because it puts women in a hierarchy to men. Women are not even called “women,” instead they are called “girls.” The video is made for a male gaze (to-be-looked-at-ness of women). It is for the spectatorship of men and not made to represent strong womena,
    Besides the video includes “Orientalism.” The way women are dressed (jewelery) and the landscape looks like (desert) it reminds on stereotypes about the Middle East and the Far East in the western world. It reinforces western images about the beautiful and “willing” women in the harem.

  8. kimcmull says:

    This video had some very contradictory aspects. The most glaring is the message that women are powerful and yet in the end they end up saluting a group of men. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but when you salute someone in the military, it is usually out of respect for them because they out rank you. If women are supposed to “Run the World” in this film, they would not put others as their superiors. Also, after expressing the female dominance in the world, the lyrics worry “hope you still like me.” I personally thought it was a very strange thing to worry about. I don’t think this video expresses what feminism is all about and I think it actually shows a lot of the stereotypes of feminism we discussed in class. Just because these women want more power, doesn’t mean that they have to completely dominant in a relationship, like when they say “you’ll do anything for me.” All feminism is about is having equality and not just wanting to be on top. Through the suggestive dancing, it also suggests that the only power women have over men is sexual power. This is also a contradiction because in the lyrics it talks about graduating college and working hard in order to get the respect women deserve. One other thing I thought was interesting, was that to me, the opening scene with her on a horse, seemed just like Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting of Napoleon Bonaparte, on a horse. I don’t really know what it means, but Napoleon was a very powerful man that attempted to “Run the World.” I was just wondering what you all thought of it or if I am just grasping at straws?

    • hahn chiu says:

      I think you’re perceptive about the Napoleon Bonaparte imitation. The horse in the video is a different color but there is about as much subtlety to this comparison as the woman on the cross (possibly to Jesus). These images along with the Ancient Roman getups suggest some kind of rewrite of history. I don’t know what point they’re trying to make but there is that parallelism.

      It’s silly how shameless this video is in promoting misandry and chauvinism. Overall I think it’s counterproductive and perpetuates the feminist stereotype.

      As for the salute, my impression is that the women’s sexual power is above the barbaric power provided by masculine strength. The salute is done perfunctorily with taunting overtones.

  9. Maria Salazar says:

    There are many aspects to Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” video that shot out at me. First and foremost was the use of color and historical symbolism. In the opening scenes with Beyoncé on the horse, I instantly drew a tie with an image reminiscent of Napoleon Bonaparte. Many depictions in art of Napoleon are images of him on top of a rearing white stallion, he himself being cloaked in a black manteaux. Reflective of that is the scene with Beyoncé astride a rearing black stallion dressed all in white, this immediately triggered a sense that she was to portray the power of women as imperialistic; which she did in the following close up shots of her wearing a Babylonian-esque head piece. In her video, mainly through her use of costuming in armor and jewelry similar to those of ancient empires, Beyoncé is making a connection of the power women have as equal to that of those all-powerful ancient empires and emperors. For example the Napoleon reference with the horse, the head piece symbolizing the Babylonian Empire and her almost Marcus Aurelius/ Roman Empire armor. There is also great significance in the colors used in the costuming. Many shades of purple are seen, symbolic of ancient royalty because purple was a color reserved for those of noble birth. The next most prevalent color is red, symbolic of the struggle of war, and also great power. Lastly is the use of gold, a color symbolic of the triumph and riches resulting from winning wars, commanding power and essentially “running the world.”
    Now how does Beyoncé suggest that women have this power, you ask? The answer is sexually. Well, at least that’s how she portrays it in the video. When the entourage of men come after Beyoncé, the audience sees close up scenes of her seducing the men into subordination, getting them to do what she wants. She submits them to her will through seduction and sexual temptation. The next instance of this seen in the music video is a tight frame shot of Beyoncé where she sings “You’ll do anything for me,” where the lyric has two different connotations. One context is where the man will essentially do anything to obtain the woman, the other is where the woman has all the power over the man and he will do anything she commands. Beyoncé’s intention is of the second interpretation; illustrated by her facial expression after saying the lyric, where her face is serene and inviting which is also another form of luring in men. She then follows that facial expression with one that gives off self-acknowledgement of a deviant sense of the power she has over men, which is only further emphasized with the chorus, “Who run the world??…Girls!” Although the song is meant to empower women, the video does not give justice to the message Beyoncé is trying to give her audience. She wants to portray women as powerful human beings equal to or stronger than men, yet failed in her follow through with the video. She left the audience lacking in the sense of feeling empowered.

  10. Iris says:

    To me, it’s firstly important to consider the time continuum in which “Run the World” was created in. American Top 40 is already accustomed to ‘ethnic flavors’ through music like M.I.A. and Slumdog Millionaire, and M.I.A.’s music style is known for combining several different influences from her travels in South Asia, along with her own political background as a daughter of a Tamil Tiger, while Slumdog Millionaire was a mainstream American success that was not a foreign film contender. All of these give a sense to the American public of what ‘foreign music’ should sound like. However, instead of it providing an access to new, really awesome forms of music and seeing the world, Beyonce’s “Run This World” becomes a homogenization of the vastly different cultures that did influence MIA’s (and many other artists) music before that, ultimately putting unique cultures into a blender and Orientalizing the final, bland product. It is not much unlike an “Oriental Chicken Bowl,’ especially with the usage of bland ‘whirr-whirr’ trills that is an auditory trope for ‘ethnic music.’

    This music video is almost a running parody of what Orientalism and tokenization is like, except unfortunately it’s quite serious. Here is the obligatory ‘ethnic opulent warrior jewelry’, white tigers, ‘fantastic colored’ clothing material, lots of non-white men, lots of sand, ‘Bollywood-style’ dance numbers. I thought it was absurd how she was handling chains to white tigers, as if she’s supposed to be so powerful by controlling these fetishized oriental beasts, and the same goes for the imagery of how she seduces a background dancer by taking out his handkerchief pocket…but that makes very little sense in this context. That is a visual trope that is inspired by Golden Age Hollywood and Broadway dance numbers, so it feels like a mishmash of what is supposed to be ‘culture’ and ‘class’ but it ends up being an empty void of neither.

    There’s also consumer-fetishized ‘revolutionary’ imagery, which basically completely, and ironically, commercializes the whole idea of anti-consumerism, anti-police, anti-establishment, with riot police, anarchy signs by making it ‘cool.’ But we see no direct confrontation with the riot police, and instead it’s very passive posturing by the very sexualized women. The background dancers are even wearing garter stockings, evoking a ‘seduction’ feel, and several dance moves used are quite frequently recycled from other ‘sexy’ videos that Beyonce does, and are not unique to any culture except for Beyonce’s performance world.

    The utter directness of how all of these symbols are displayed shows just how embedded (and possibly stupid) how culturally rich symbols are appropriated and misused, for an audience that could really care less for the meaning, since it just looks ‘pretty’ or ‘cool.’ My interpretation is that it’s rather symptomatic of the bad side of the ‘American melting pot’ – where instead of respecting and introducing very rich, very old cultures to modern understanding, they just take the most shallow, most exterior parts and combine it all together to make it look palatable to a potentially xenophobic audience. This is all in order to make it friendly and sell it to a very large and unaware audience, who also may not have the resources or the interest to even understand the roots of the cultural appropriation.

    While I am all for influences from other cultures in music and visual media, which is how many great genres and concepts have come about (acid jazz, reggae, even several different forms of classical music, etc), Beyonce’s Run This World concept, in all forms, does not strike as a new way of looking at the world. Instead, it’s an utterly modern reinforcement of how Westerners have looked to the ‘exotic’ for many, many centuries.

  11. kjg07 says:

    Looking at the video this time I noticed a lot of things that I never thought of before. The costumes, locations, and lyrics all have some type of message. At the beginning, Beyonce comes out on a black horse and is wearing white. During that part everyone else is in black too except her. The way she tames the horse and comes in white clothing makes her look pure and powerful. Concerning the lyrics I noticed that even though they were powerful the video was still very sexual. I know that videos that are more sexual attract more people but the video is very much focused on Beyonce and the dancers bodies, which seemed to take away from the message of the lyrics. This focus on the bodies and having males stand in front of them strengthens the ‘male gaze’ idea and not only for the men standing in the video but also those who view it. In some places it puts Beyonce right in front, making it seem like the audience is standing in the location where the men are. The locations in the desert and throughout the video also look like harsh environments with fire and weapons, which again can show that these women are tough. After viewing this video I can’t tell if it is a positive or negative image because the lyrics are positive and some parts of the video are too, but at time the sexual gestures and costumes seem to give a negative image of women. Another part I noticed was that at the end they saluted the men. I think that gesture made it seem like the women were inferior to the men because people usually salute those who are higher in rank than them. If they were going to do the salute then both the men and the women should have done it.

    • dluoo says:

      I agree with your assertions. I never realized that the salute could still signal their inferiority, or at least have it interpreted that they are still of “lower rank”. I interpreted the salute as a compromise as a sign of respect. Beyonce does send mixed messages throughout the music video and this “negative image” of women is noted. However, her actions throughout the music video could be seen as social commentary (women appealing sexually rather than intellectually/ with their strengths).

  12. daniellelong90 says:

    Beyonce’s music video for Run the World (Girls) begins with Beyonce in white riding a black horse and different women on different types of what appear to be battlefields. I found the contrast of Beyonce in white on a black horse interesting. White traditionally represents purity and innocence, but juxtaposed with her placement on a black horse makes her look strong, like a hero going into battle. The women on various battlefields is interesting to me because it set up the idea that the song will be about female dominance in a stereotypically male dominant world.

    The song lyrics include,
    “My persuasion can build a nation
    Endless power
    Our love we can devour
    You’ll do anything for me,”

    These lyrics are paired with images of scantily clad women dancing provocatively in front of a bunch of men who they are “fighting.” This action is a sharp contrast to the song’s message about strong independent women. The actions suggest the women get what they want and are strong when they are sexualized in the eyes of men. The video ends with the women saluting the men, further showing this male dominance again, even when the women are trying to assert themselves.

    • ananunez3 says:

      I agree with you on the fact that the lyrics and the video itself seem a bit contradictory since the video shows the women very sexual not only in their moves but their clothing. This shows us how the women are able to fascinate the men and in a sense hypnotize them but through the use of their body rather than going with the lyrics which state womens power not only being in their persuasion but also in their strength as workers and mothers. The salute in the end might represent the women showing the men that they are at their same level rather than being an aspect of male dominance. Maybe an attempt to demonstrate that females can also show their strength in more physical terms with the salute.

  13. Nikki Mahmoudi says:

    Like most people before me, I also noticed many things this time around watching the video that I had not seen previously. First off, the video has many symbols that embrace this sense of power and overall this general concept of girl power. There are many animals in the video that embrace this power such as horses, bulls, and dogs. They are used in the background or as accessories to further add on to this sense of girl power. The video starts off with the women wearing warrior outfits and so the video has this militaristic feel. Throughout the video, there are flags waving in the background as if this is a battle of the sexes. I almost took it as a show down of the sexes of some sort. However, this is a show down where the women are the ones making their mark, while the men are in the background or used as accessories to the women. The men who play the role of riot police in the video seem also intimidated and apprehensive to approach. On the other hand, the women’s movements indicate this sense of attitude and power. The women are quite militaristic in the video as they are wearing warrior outfits and are quite coordinated in their movements. Although the shot of the women dancing never really closes up on their faces, one can see the women all have fierce faces and are quite aggressive in their movements. Also, we see the use of fire in the background in some of the shots, which also gives this sense that a battle between the two genders is going on. The closer shots in the video normally feature Beyonce making fierce faces or giving off this sexual feel through the use of movements with her upper body. Most of the video features full body shots and in general shots with a lot going on in the background such as the use of fire, animals, and flags. Overall, I don’t feel that this video really gives off this sense of girl power or really strengthens feminism in any way. The song mentions this idea that women “run the world”, however, I feel that the song is giving off this feel that women run the world in terms of sexual power. Plus, it is not really an ideal concept to mention that women run the world, when women are still considered a minority in the United States due to the fact that we are still not equal to men in terms of rights. It would be more ideal to strive for equality in the lyrics then women running the world. Furthermore, the women’s mannerisms are very sexual through their body language, and thus the video is giving off this sense that women run the world sexually instead of women running the world due to their accomplishments and how far they have come.

  14. Michelle says:

    The song “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyonce ultimately presents female empowerment through telling women they are indeed powerful and letting men know women have more power (and over them) than they think. The setting is a desert looking place, full of havoc. There are exploding cars, smoke, broken objects scattered on the floor, and battles of the sexes. This can all be interpreted as a symbol of the hardships women face, but the strength they possess which allows them to fight back and be tough. There’s even a lion in the video which I think represents the ferocity of women. And since the lion is also representative of male dominance, its presence could also be a symbol that they “own” the alpha male. There are upward angles showcasing Beyonce to exalt the authority of women.
    Nevertheless, what struck me about the video were the costume and choreography which were both intricate and seductive. There are many costume changes, and Beyonce’s costumes in particular are very elaborate and detailed. She is the central figure after all, and entrances the spectator with her beauty. There are also plenty of full body shots, especially during the dance sequences. And there also shots of Beyonce’s beautiful face and her seductive gaze. There is a lot of midriff, short shorts/skirts and heels. There are also themes to the costumes. They are warriors, they are tough, and they are feminine. They dance for the men, as if to seduce them. It seems to be their strategy of defeat. The dance moves get aggressive at times, possibly insinuating the hidden wrath of women. I agree with the posts that argue that this video perhaps sends the message that the power of the woman comes from being able to successfully dominate men, and she does this through her sexual appeal. I think the concept of voyeurism is present here. The video has almost 122 million views on Youtube. It’s a spectacle of a music video, full of fierce dance moves and beautiful women. And it’s offering (though well intentioned) some false sense of empowerment to women who, after watching the video could be encouraged to not just embrace, but utilize their sensuality and their bodies to be able to “run the world” and succeed in life. The sense of “to-be-looked-at-ness” is what brings in people to watch it, whether men or women.
    I also thought the ending was interesting when the women abruptly salute the men and I don’t know what to think of it.

  15. michelley says:

    In Beyonce’s “Run The World (Girls)” music video, Beyonce is singing and showing that women are strong and powerful. The lyrics are all about how women “run the world” and have more power over men. Visually, in the video, we see her and her women dancers provocatively dancing in skin-bearing costumes in front of an army of men dressed up as soldiers with shields. The women’s costumes and dancing make them look like they want to be women who want to-be-looked-at. It seems as if the women are putting on a show for the men. The women’s costuming, dance moves, and exposed bodies make them look like they’re flaunting their bodies to tempt the men. They look as if they’re supposed to have a war, but the men are getting distracted by the women’s bodies. In the end the men put their shields up, possibly to protect themselves from the women? It seems as if the women are using their bodies as their weapons against the men. It is curious though at the end that the women salute the men. Salutations typically are given when one is inferior to another and out of respect. If the women “run the world” then they shouldn’t be saluting to the men.

    • Damien says:

      I agree with Michelle that everything in this video seems to be done by women to tempt men. They are in a war against each other but only girls are fighting with their dance, moves, bodies, … Men stay passive and only try to protect themselves with shields. The visual impression of this video, by focusing on body parts, reinforce this felling.

  16. Christina says:

    In the video “Run the World” I find it interesting how instead of using the term “women” she says “girls,” however maybe that’s due to the fact that it sounds better in the song. The word “girl” brings connotations of characteristics such as naive, silly, and young which are not characteristic of what you would think running the world would entail. As for the outfits, they are all quite revealing exposing their mid drift section, cleavage, and thighs; basically lingerie with long slitted dresses. Their sexuality seems to be their “weapon” in this supposed war in the dessert that’s taking place. By using their bodies and provocative yet dominant dance moves the women in the video assert their superiority over the men who seem to be unable to fight them or stand their ground as well as the women. Although the men have actual weapons and armor, the women are winning the battle by revealing their bodies to them making them ultimately powerless.

    • kjg07 says:

      I agree with your reply to the video. I actually didn’t think about how they used the word, “girls”, instead of “women” until you mentioned it. The word “girls” does seem to be contrary to what the video is trying to portray. I also agree that the women in the video seem to be using their bodies to defeat the men. As we discussed in class, it’s like they are almost hypnotizing the men and defeating them.

  17. pamnonga says:

    Beyonce’s video Run The World is supposed to be about female empowerment. In the opening shots, we see her riding horseback through a desert-like area. She is wearing all-white, riding a black horse. The scene is reminiscent of a knight-in-shining-armor moment, excpet that she is a woman and she is in charge. The costuming used in the video is ornate, borrowing from both African and medieval styles. It is elaborate, yet revealing at the same time, which is a staple in Beyonce videos. It reinforces the idea of the “male gaze” as the women’s flesh is emphasized through the clothing and framing of each shot. When Beyonce is “fighting” the men in the early scenes, she is still writhing around suggestively, caressing the men and dancing around them. I found this to be paradoxical, yet revealing. Even as women strive to reclaim their independence and strength, they subconsciously and unknowingly continue to emulate the prescribed gender behaviors dictated by society. At one point Beyonce poses with a lion, which is the “king of the jungle.” The lion symbolizes the theme of the song: power and dominance. The video uses different kinds of imagery, from fire to smoke to dust to create a chaotic feel. This can be interpreted as symbolizing the chaotic and difficult path women walk down when reclaiming their power in a “man’s world.” The choreography of the dances produces jerky movements that make the women look almost like robots. Although Beyonce attempts to inspire and uplift women in this video, she unintentionally reaffirms patriarchal dominance.

    • jane go says:

      I haven’t seen a lot of Beyonce’s music videos, but I think that almost all music videos done by popular female artists contain at least some level of seduction of men. I definitely picked up on the theme of female empowerment and reclaiming dominance in society, but I don’t think that there was much of a reaffirmation of patriarchal dominance. I saw it more as teasing and “you can look but you can’t touch.” When Beyonce ripped a badge from one of the men at the end, I interpreted that as an achievement for the girls in the video. They established their power and the fact that they can’t be contained by the men. I agree that the elements of the location created a chaotic environment. When two groups of people are facing off for “world power,” chaos can be expected.

      I also thought that the dancing of the girls was very loose and wild. It didn’t seem very robotic; the most robotic thing about it was that the moves were performed in unison, which is usually expected in a music video. They were always flipping their hair around and waving their arms around. There’s also a part where all the girls sway back and forth in front of the men. It was like a scene of hypnotism and seduction. I don’t know if you or anyone in class would be familiar with this, but the part when Beyonce clasps her hands together in front of her chest as she’s dancing in that green dress simulates Bela Lugosi’s role as Murder Legendre in White Zombie. The gesture was used in the movie to signal Legendre’s control over the zombies by way of hypnotism. When Beyonce did it, I think that she was showing that she was controlling the men with her body and movement. My point is that the video seemed to show the girls having more control over the men than the men using the girls as spectacles. The men were powerless over the girls because they became lost in their own gaze. It’s kind of like a “looks can kill” theme.

  18. sueeeeeet says:

    The visual rhetoric of this music video is very strong and powerful. So powerful that it can really send the wrong message out to impressionable young girls. The video opens up with a scene of Africa struck with famine and everything in ruins. Then Beyonce enters gracefully in her black horse and emerges as the new leader. She calls out the all the ladies and women scurry to come together to make an army. As the two sexes are about to battle, there are short cuts to images of women being bounded and persecuted (woman in a cage, woman crucified on a cross) to show that they will no longer take abuse and will fight for their rights. Also, throughout the video we see images of a black car with the word REVOLUTION painted across in red.

    In the beginning of the video it visualizes how the women have been treated and we hear Beyonce repeatedly singing “Who run the world? Girls!” She’s sending the message that women are no longer kept in their homes and forced to be housewives. Now the women have the power and can control men. With what you may ask? With their sexuality. Throughout the entire video the women, and Beyonce herself, are scantily clothed, flipping their long hair, and making sexy gyrations. They entice the men with their assets and cater to the fantasies of men. She seems to be implying that you must surrender your sexuality to men in order to have power.

    I also want to talk about the juxtaposition of images with the words being sung in the video. Beyonce sings,
    ” This goes out to all my girls
    That’s in the club rocking the latest
    Who will buy it for themselves and get more money later”
    She gives credit to all the working women and that we made it all on our own…we can be independent and buy pretty clothes for ourselves. While she sings this, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that Beyonce was stealing the money from the man’s pocket. This is so contradictory because her actions are saying that we cannot make the money on our own.

    The video, with its strong beats and voices crying out that girls run the world, gives us a false sense of achievement and blunts the reality of the oppression that is still going on today. As if the work is all done and that female dominance has happened (which is still not the answer to all the social problems in the world.)

  19. In the video Run the World by Beyonce, I noticed the use of animal symbolism. I think the video is about power, domination and maybe even some evil. For example, at the beginning of the video Beyonce come out riding a black horse dressed all in white as the music beginning with the use of drums and symbols, a very dramatic entrance. The black horse representation reminds me of the something evil, a mysteries night, or death. In the contrary, being that she is dressed in all white, reminds me of an angel, light, truth, something good. Together, in context of the lyrics, I would say it could be a representation of a false illusion, a way to lure men into her trap that could end in a negative direction for them. There was also a bull, two hyenas, and a lion. A lion, the king of the jungle, represents leadership, ruler, or power. While bull can represent strength and the hyenas wickedness, lies, or deceitfulness. Nevertheless, the girls in the video continue to stand against the men saying “Who run the World? We run this motha.” At the end of the film, with their sexy lingerie and revealing outfits, there’s a scene where the boys are completely stopped, kind of shocked looking at the girls. When the camera comes back to the men, the reflection of the girls marching forward towards the men is seen through their shields. Once Beyonce is in front of who looks like is the “captain” in charge, she take possession and rips off his badge and puts it on herself. the video ends with the group of girls in formation, saluting the men. Here the girls take charge of the “world.”

    • kimcmull says:

      I really liked how you mentioned all the animal symbolism, but I was just wondering if you thought Beyonce as an artist was aware of the negative stereotypes of feminism she was presenting? Does she really think that women should take over through distracting the men and through the lies and deceit that these animals represent? I definitely had never thought of this video except as one of empowerment before this class, but I really liked how you mentioned her ripping off the badge and putting it on herself, because it definitely show snot a solution, but a replacing of one oppressor with another.

  20. bnvue says:

    Beyonce’s video, “Run the World (Girls),” makes some really interesting statements on femininity and masculinity. The opening scene that shows Beyonce riding on a horse around an abandoned land convey some sort of awakening for feminism. This discovery that she made can be seen as a metaphor for how feminism started. Although most of the people behind Beyonce during the “battle” with the men were women, there were two male back up dancers that stood in front of Beyonce. In a sense, these two men portrays a protection from the other male enemies. During most of the beginning “battle” dance, the camera centered itself on Beyonce and her full body while cutting off half of the faces of the two male dancers. This could possible indicate that despite the protection that these two male figures may offer, the significance of Beyonce leading the battle overrides their roles. But then again, this whole protection image is debatable because these two male figures standing on the female’s side can also indicate that there are been some male support in feminism.

    One other interesting thing that I noticed about the video is the presentation of animals. The lion that sat down on one of the “battle” scene demonstrates power and pride. The hyenas that were on a leash demonstrates dominance and tameness. All of these characteristics are some implicit comparisons and meanings that the producer wanted to put into the film to scare the opposing gender.

    • bjvanhorn says:

      I would have to say that the two male dancers likely are meant to portray your second idea, in that they are men supporting women. In the song she says:

      “This goes out to all the women getting it in,
      Get on your grind
      To the other men that respect what I do
      Please accept my shine”

      So, while women may run the world according to Beyonce, they in no way hate men nor need their protection. In fact, they love men who respect them, men who allow the women to be agents to themselves rather than dependent on the man, emotionally or financially, or somehow just an attachment of the man.

      As to your idea that the hyenas represent tameness, I would have to disagree. Hyenas are vicious animals that hunt and have been known to steal food from lions and leopards. They are wild animals, hunters, killers. I’m sure if Beyonce didn’t have them on the leash, they would sit meekly at her feet, it’s why they’re in leashes in the first place. However, I do agree that the scene represents dominance. Something tells me though, if it does mean to represent the gender binary and the relationship therein, it doesn’t place men very highly.

  21. Damien says:

    The very first scenes of “Run the World” seem very important. They put Beyoncé and the other women in a powerful position for the rest of the video. Beyonce is wearing a white costume, symbol of the pureness, while riding a black worse during the sunset, symbol of a very strong power. We are used to see male warriors in this situation., on paintings for instance, to illustrate their superiority. The video is in a way using “opposite stereotypes” to express the female domination, to illustrate how women “run the world”. It is the same process throughout the video with for example the roman costumes, the tamed lion, …
    Moreover, I think this show focuses on the importance of the body by the way it was shot. Indeed, women are dancing in a very sensual way to dominate men for who the only protection seems to be their weapons. I think it is kind of contradictory that, in a very male dominated world, women only have to use sexual moves, temptation to take control over them. The only way women have to “run the world” is to use their bodies, temptation, attraction.
    I am still confused about the last 10seconds of the video when every women salute the men. The whole video was about how girls dominate the world, and so the men, and this last move let the spectator think that women are, in the end, inferior.

    • I was a little confused about the last few scenes in the video as well Damien. Like you said the entire video was about how “girls ruled the world” and so why do they salute the mass of men? I thought maybe one reason was to mock them? You know since Beyonce snatched the badge from the guy who seemed to be the “Captain.” She was still wearing it, yet they still gave them all the salute. Therefore, it kind of reminded me of that saying, “behind every man is a string woman.” You know like the whole idea that in reality women are in charge but women let men think they are because it’s the “manly” thing. I’m not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing, it’s just an idea.
      I think you make a great point about the begging of the video. Both women are put in an important setting reinstating the dominant role they both play. With the “knight in shining armor” dressed in white scene, Beyonce represents power. The importance of power given with body image that brings about attraction and eventually temptation in order to control men, I think it’s an significant aspect illustrated throughout the video. I agree with you thoughts about the men’s weapons and how the only thing women need to dominate them is sexual moves, their bodies, and temptation.

  22. hahn chiu says:

    Intellectual and mental strength of women are promoted in the lyrics of Beyonce’s “Run the World” (e.g. getting college degrees and bearing children), but the images in the video are strictly of sexual empowerment/to-be-looked-at-ness. In the beginning the camera is focused on a girl’s hair from behind, as if to keep ambiguous whether the horserider is a long-haired male (e.g. fabio or braveheart) or female. She has full control of the horse, as women have dominion over the animal kingdom in which men behave like animals as well (e.g. male lust and aggression).

    Sexual power is implied by the revealing outfits worn by the women. The men are all dressed in black and look similar while the women are diversely styled and beautiful. A woman rises out of a cage and another is sprawled on what looks like a crucifix, to symbolize overcoming persecution. The gladiator costumes along with the crucifixion might also suggest disapproval of Biblical attitudes toward women, but I could be overanalyzing.

    Non-violence is emphasized, so perhaps Beyonce is not claiming sexual power is optimum, but it’s better than physical force. The men are in riot gear but they are powerless to the intangible charm of women. The salute to the men at the end also shows women do not need the brute strength of men to have dominion.

    As Beyonce moves around the men they are blurred to further diminish the individuality of each guy. The camera glides over the men as strictly a group. She toys with the men like they are subordinates.

    What’s ironic about this video is that despite the women flaunting their bodies, the men don’t show any arousal or attraction. It’s as if the makers don’t want to concede that men get something out of the women’s overly sexual behavior, which raises the question of who really wins from it.

  23. jane go says:

    The location of the opening of the video looks like a revolution just took place. There are animals, abandoned bicycles, fire, and broken crates. I think that the crates are used to show that the women have broken out of their cages and are revolting. Considering how much power women have gained in modern times, I think that the video gives off the message that women can no longer be caged, and that they will challenge who ever tries to keep them from running the world. The animals also represent a lot of power, and Beyonce is shown to be taming them. A lion is lounging next to her, she’s riding a horse, and she’s holding the chains to a couple of hyenas. A lot of the costumes seem like they’re part of the whole revolt concept. The materials and the designs of the outfits that Beyonce and the other girls wear look very modern and empowering. In some shots she’s wearing what looks like gold metal. It reminds me of royalty and someone who possesses a lot of strength and power. As I watch the video segment at a time, I notice that the revolution theme is kept in the foreground. At one point there are hoses spraying water from armored trucks. The hoses seem to be directed at Beyonce (who’s standing casually), as though the men in the video are trying to contain her. I think that the close ups of Beyonce are used to show off her beauty and to try to fool the men into thinking that she’ll obey. In one close up she’s smiling and bringing her finger to her mouth, but then she suddenly grits her teeth and looks like she’s growling. And then the next shot shows her full body and a car blows up behind her. The video as a whole seems to be about the girls gaining their own power [of persuasion] over the men. I also think it’s interesting how the girls are wearing heels, garters, and dresses while the men wear protection and keep shields in front of them. The men are presented in a defensive police line, while the girls are dancing seductively and keeping the men at bay. The way the girls are portrayed is that they look like they’re inviting the men to get closer, but at the same time they seem to have a kind of danger to them.

  24. katherynevu says:

    I find this music video to represent a strong sense of dominance in women through femininity and as sexual beings. The women in the video are wearing very proactive clothing: short shorts, bras, and fish-net stockings. In short, showing a lot of skin. All these pieces of clothing have been related to fetishes. At the same time, they are wearing hats that are similar to what leaders, captains, or militia men would wear. This gives off a strong sense of dominance and leadership. By combining these two articles of clothing, it is saying that women are the dominant roles in a relationship by using their bodies against men’s desire for them. Beyonce and the women are crawling on the ground, sprawled, and moving proactively, and at the same time they are inviting the men to come, but they’re being pushed away. This shows that women in this video call the shots. They tell when the men come to them and when they leave.

    • pamnonga says:

      In class we talked about sexuality as being an indirect source of power, which kind of contradicts what you’re saying here. I agree w/ the idea that sexual power is only secondary because it is dependent on another person and does not stand on its own. Even though the women in the video appear to be dominant and strong, their dominance only comes from the fact that men can are mesmerized by the female body. Say the men in the video did not care for the crawling and the provocative movements, then they would have no problem fighting back and coming and going as they please.

  25. bjvanhorn says:

    The music video’s imagery starts out strong, with lots of fast cuts between different sets of sorts. The first image to really pop out at me was at 0:08 where the music video cuts to a wall posted with a large picture of what appears to be a face of a woman of African descent. Her face is juxtaposed against smokestacks and factories, which connotes some level of power, or work involved with this woman. This goes along well with the lyrical theme of getting checks, power, and money. Next, around 0:11, you see Beyonce in all white riding a large black horse in a sort of post-apocalyptic looking outdoors set. This color choice could refer to the gender binary, especially when you consider than Beyonce is on top of the horse, riding it, controlling it. This goes well with the lyrical repetition of girls running the world. As to the choice of having the video set in a post-apocalyptic setting, I feel this could simply be an aesthetic choice considering how it seems to be a very popular setting. My reasoning for this is that if it was meant to represent something, I would think it would imply how whatever state the world in, it’s either going to crap, or went to crap already, considering it would be post-apocalyptic.

    Next there’s lots of frenzied action of girls running, a cut to Beyonce on her horse again, a cut to a wrecked car, a cut to a bull under a freeway, and then boys running. While Beyonce on her horse is likely meant to attract interest and analysis, I am personally more interested in the bull. It’s a short scene, around 0:19, but it confused me quite a bit. Why randomly put in a bull? Well, in thinking about it, it goes well with the girls and boys running. Beyonce, on her steed, is calling the people to action, to war, war of the genders, while everyone stampedes forth like bulls in the streets of Spain.

    Around 0:26 you see a woman literally uncaging herself, which both reminds us of the theme of animals in the video, but also of the liberation and reign of woman in the video. At this point the video starts to make itself clear about how Beyonce feels about the issue of women juxtaposed with the world. She’s calling women to arms, to take what’s theirs, to show they run the world.

    At 0:29 though, there’s a woman on a cross, which signifies sacrifice, but from my perspective this goes against the grain of the video: from what I can tell, there’s no scenes of sacrifice, nor does she seem to mention it as something the women are doing. The song seems to be more about uplifting, rather than sacrifice; elation and dominance, rather than sadness and loss. The highly energetic dances would seem to support this assertion.

    While this is only a brief look into the video, I can say that over all the video seems to attempt to be feminist, but I’ll be honest in saying I don’t know how genuine that attempt is. The video is unnecessarily sexualized at certain points, which makes me wonder if the song and video is more of Beyonce trying to cash in on the girl power concept, a theme she’s used over the years for a number of her singles, rather than a real attempt at illustrating a feminist issue.

  26. gayathriwms says:

    The opening scene of Beyonce’s “Run the World” has a woman wearing white clothes riding on a black horse. The scene is victorious and strong. Then when the beats begin an image of fire and later a portrait of a black woman appears. I did not understand the image of the black woman, but I believe the fire was shown as a sense of power. Randomly a woman is on top of a car and during this introduction scene a bull is shown. I am unclear of the reasons why these short (few seconds) scenes were presented. I am assuming they all represent power in some manner. Before the song begins there are other key scenes. After the video shows the policemen running, there is a girl coming out of a cage and another girl lying in a cross-like pose, to me seemed similar to Jesus on a cross. These women are wearing skimpy clothes. Then women are shown in gladiator outfits and the song starts with Beyonce, wearing revealing clothes, and dancing. The girls’ side has two men. When they are dancing with Beyonce their heads are cut off from the screen during most of the dance. I am not sure if this was intentionally done or just to focus on Beyonce. Throughout the song, Beyonce is very sexual and wears exposing clothes. The group of men are all wearing black and are holding shields. The shield seemed very disturbing to me; the girls were not holding any weapons. Through most of Beyonce’s dance in the beginning, the girls in the back seemed uncomfortable and were almost still as if posing for a picture. Their posture was also sexual. During some instances in the song when Beyonce sings the word ‘girls’ her face turns dark and almost evil-like. Also, the number of girls increased throughout the song and during their dance sun is shown through indicating power. One interesting comment on the youtube link was “This music videos real meaning and images represent the four hoursemen of the apocalypse. The four horses are white, red, black, and yellow or green. They represent conquest, war famine and death. Beyonce appears in those colors in the same order and her video has all the images and symbolism that the prophecy speaks of.” There were scenes in the music video were barbed wires were shown, empty land, and women in cage. Strangely and surprisingly, the final scene’s shot shows the women saluting to men…?

    Thus, in my opinion, Beyonce’s video is not properly conveying the message. First of all no one should have the intention of ruling the world. The entire concept behind feminism is to have equal rights as men. Women still don’t have that equality in today’s society, so why go about ruling the ‘world’! Also the power in the video is blinded by the over sexual images. The main focus seems to be Beyonce’s dance, her body, and face. Instead of showing women’s true strengths, the video tends to give the message that women have sexual power over men. In one scene, Beyonce falls enters in between a man’s feet. The final scene shows the women saluting to men. So, is this video finally indicating that no matter what women are still inferior to men?

  27. cschoeon101 says:

    Throughout Beyonce’s video, I detected a lot of symbolic imagery used within the type of objects the director has chosen as part of the video. As many of you guys have stated, the broken bicycles, and barrels indicate a cage or threshold that the women in the video have been liberated from. Unlike the typical choreography found within pop music videos, in “Run the World” we get to see snippets of the dancers stomping the ground, expressing dominance and agression towards the male counterparts in the video. Beyonce embodies a character in which she holds this manipulative power over both genders in this video. As in the scene where she goes over and physically seduces and tackles each dancer, we get to detect the director’s intent on expressing that women can reach an equilibrium of both sexual and physical dominance over the men. I thoroughly enjoyed how the attire was not too provocative or skimpy, but showed a level of beauty that evoked sexual female empowerment. The subtle exposure of skin was a clever and yet appropriate touch to the overall dynamic of the video.

    -Chloe Choe

    • Christina says:

      I agree how the provocativeness of the women’s outfits was not overdone in the video. Although the women were indeed showing a fair amount of skin including their thighs, cleavage, and stomachs, there was still just enough to be left to the imagination so that these women did not appear “slutty” as do alot of women in other racier music videos. They were still elegant with their long flowing skirts/dresses and pretty classy makeup as well. I think that this was to ensure they were enticing the men however were still able to maintain their respect so as not to be seen as trashy. I feel this is an important factor to be concerned with in the video because if the men did not respect these women, then the women would ultimately have nothing if their looks didn’t have power over them and the men would easily be able to physically over power them at any moment.

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