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Disability Representation in Music (Video), You’re Doing It Right: Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope”

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10 responses to “Disability Representation in Music (Video), You’re Doing It Right: Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope””

  1. TheDeviantE

    Wow, that video was awesome. I really agree with your and Cripchick’s thoughts.

  2. Lake Desire

    Janelle Monae doesn’t disappoint! I also love her remake of the science fiction film Metropolis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHgbzNHVg0c

  3. Kowalski

    Thanks for the description!
    *video unavailable in your country due to copyright blah blah*
    I really wish I could see it, sounds awesome.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..How to add buttons and graphics to your blog =-.

  4. Kowalski

    Oooh! I just watched it! (Clicked through Cripchick’s link)
    If anyone else has problems with the YouTube Industrial Complex, here’s the video uploaded to blogger.
    .-= Kowalski´s last blog ..How to add buttons and graphics to your blog =-.

  5. Marquis

    I just wrote a little about her. But this is by far the best critique of the music video. I was looking at the video more on a societal effect of soul and black music, where the asylum represents the status quo, and the song emits a lot of emulation of what soul and dance “use” to be.

    I see the asylum as kind of a purgatory, where the glass grim reaper figures represent the status quo quelling this type of music, of movement.

    My two cents, but you guys by far made me look at it a different way. Thanks!

  6. Kao

    Doing it right for SURE! I love the multiple levels of meaning: Showing how cultural differences are pathologised, self-policing within minorities towards people who break the rules, showing how bleak and sad psych hospitals all too often are. Moreover, I love that an artist who’s apparently making music I really dig (never heard of her before today) is apparently awesome.

    I’ve definitely been a gimp too long. I took one look at the pills on the nurse’s cart and thought “extra strength Tylenol.”

  7. Jha

    Wow! I had completely missed the asylum|mental illness angle of the video! I liked the video because it showed a kind of rebelling against the status quo, but with the angle that cripchick takes, it gives the video a whole new level. Fantastic!

  8. Travis Megill

    I really like Janelle Monae’s music and already have her first full LP pre-ordered, but I found the video offensive and I was wondering if anyone else has a problem with the use of asylums as symbols of the status quo? I like the general message of the video/song, but equating the inability to express yourself because of the status quo with people dealing with a serious mental illness in a psychiatric hospital really seems a bit exploitative.

    The video seems to suggest that the problems the “residents” face are wholly created by the asylum, and that the dancers are subversively freeing the residents by expressing themselves in a way the residents can’t. Or the residents are freeing themselves by dancing, I wasn’t sure which. I think the intention of the video is that the residents don’t actually have any sort of biological/chemical differences, they’re just people that have been “other”-ed by those in power, but I feel like this treatment of an asylum disregards the fact that a person dealing with mental illness isn’t going to be instantly cured when they break free of the status quo (especially when considering the effects of deinstitutionalism in the US in the 80′s).

    I’d love to hear other people’s opinions about this and I hope I’m not completely misinterpreting things.

  9. Travis Megill

    I think I have a simpler way of saying what bothered me about the video. I find it problematic when an asylum/mental illness is used as a metaphor for something else because it seems to downplay the reality of a person in an asylum dealing with a serious mental illness. Oppressive psychiatric hospitals with misunderstood/misdiagnosed patients is a stereotypical pop culture icon at this point, and it feels exploitative.

  10. Via Mia

    Very interesting commentary, and I enjoyed reading all of the above comments. In my opinion, the asylum is just a backdrop, representing any environment where self-policing and self-disciplining is encouraged to fit a ‘norm’. The asylum could easily be replaced with a business office, wherein conservative, traditional behaviors often result in mediocre thoughts and outcome. I’ve found that I personally thrive in situations that allow me to be my true authentic self…. where creativity is embraced and fresh, new ideas are spawned. If society was filled with people who live structurally confining lives, this world would be as dull and bland as the asylum itself. I’m often challenged to align with the norm and yet produce what everyone has come to expect. It’s a delicate balance.. tipping on the tightrope for sure!


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