This song took much of my classroom attention last week. In each of my three college classes we watched the music video. Dynamite is a relatively well-known, currently popular song. Most of my college students had heard it, many of them had danced to it in the clubs. But only one or two had seen the music video.
If you haven’t heard it, let me introduce you to a representative sample of the lyrics:
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Saying ay-oh, gotta let go.
I wanna celebrate and live my life
Saying ay-oh, baby let’s go.
Cause we gon rock this club
We gon’ go all night
We gon’ light it up
Like it’s dynamite.
Cause I told you once
Now I told you twice
We gon light it up
Like it’s dynamite.
There is slightly more to it than this, but not much. It’s a relatively family-friendly pop song (particularly when compared to some of the other surprisingly sexual and sexualizing material available). It’s played on Radio Disney even! (My students tell me this is the gold-standard for family-friendly-ness.)
Now take a look at the music video:
There are so many issues it’s hard to even know where to begin!
A couple of questions I generally start my classes off with: How many men are in this video? How many women? Is that appropriate welding attire?
The images of women doing strong, typically masculine work is uncommonly supportive of strong women. But this strength is immediately overrun by the ridiculously scantily clad women.
It is relatively easy for young people to see the sexualization and objectification of the women in this video. However, it is even better if they can come to the realization that the women are represented as more than objects, they are the man’s servants. They carry his things, they set themselves up in montages that he might find pleasurable, they put themselves in dangerous settings without proper attire in order to please him.
There is much more to say – about the individual actresses themselves and why they choose to participate in this sort of video – about the need for all media to include sex – about society’s approval of female-female sexuality as a side note of male heterosexuality – but this movement beyond an understanding of objectification to an understanding servanthood that I focused on last week. The students were surprised by the depth of the issues, once they started really talking about it.
These conversations are great ones to have with people of all ages. Learning to deconstruct the media around us merely a matter of practicing, in conversation, with the people around us. Ask each other to think critically about what we’re seeing and hearing. It’s important to do.
Thanks for sharing this slice of popular culture. As I watched, I recognized how vastly things have changed since I was a teen, lo these many years ago. I think I would be terrified even more than I was back when I was living it. Things that seemed so “out there,” like the Rock Opera “Hair,” which was basically my sex education, are laughable now. Thanks for the deconstruction; it’s so helpful. Your students are lucky!
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