People think there are no positive role models for young women out there, especially in the music industry. And it’s true that most of the ways women are portrayed in music videos, even if they’re the star, is less than ideal.
But there are great, inspiring, strong women out there – we just need to pay more attention to them. Just like in the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony where, to really let us know that it was all over and done with, we were supposed to once more bow down and worship the vacuous and ridiculous Spice Girls and supermodels, instead of the fantastic, dedicated, strong (in every sense of the word) sports-women who’d wowed us for the past two weeks. We’re doing ourselves a massive disservice by focusing on only one kind of role model, not to mention one prescribed notion of beauty and success. So long as we’re all looking at Miley getting the most out of her tetanus shot by chafing her foo-foo on rusty construction equipment, we’re missing people like Janelle Monae, over in the corner, just getting on with the business of making great music, and having a fucking ball doing it.
The best thing about Janelle Monae is that she hasn’t even had to make a big protest about it – she’s just having too much fun. There’s no angry ironic videos or raised eyebrows. It just doesn’t play a role in the little fantasy world that she’s constructed around her music, the Archandroid, Cindy Mayweather, the Droid Control. She’s too busy pretending to be an android, dancing like James Brown re-born in the body of a tiny, tuxedo-ed, be-quiffed woman.
Of course, Monae’s lyrics and the imaginary world she has created around her music is all about empowerment, destroying stereotypes and fighting back against an oppressive society, but it doesn’t come across as sermonising because she’s having so much fun doing it.
Anyway, I’m smitten. Check out her albums The Archandroid and the recent Electric Lady.