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If I Were A Boy (continued)

pejordan's picture

This is a remix of "If I Were a Boy" featuring R. Kelly. I don't think it's any less problematic than the original because it still puts the man in this traditional position of power ("how I work and pay the bills," etc) but at least it gets a male perspective in there a little bit. The song also points out that Beyoncé is making some broad categorizations about men in saying that women are always the victims in relationships. The one line I really like is "you are not a perfect woman, and I am not a perfect man". I thought it was interesting because we talked in class about how the video was one-sided and not entirely fair to men, and I saw this as a response to that.

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dchin's picture

pejordan, I also liked the

pejordan, I also liked the line "you are not a perfect woman, and I am not a perfect man." Actually, that's the only line from both singers that I liked. This acknowledgement that both men and and women are flawed runs counter to the rest of the video, which just reinforces gender roles. The gender switch in Beyonce's original video questions the double standard and makes you think about your own perceptions of gender roles, but it doesn't go far enough. It isn't just men who possess the qualities that Beyonce disparages and it isn't just women who possess the qualities R.Kelly sings about. People possess those qualities--why do we have to keep putting everyone into boxes? Although I understand that Beyonce was bringing attention to a double standard based on a certain set of gender expectations--which is useful--it isn't as subversive as it needs to be.

epeck's picture

Wow.  I find this remix a lot

Wow.  I find this remix a lot more concerning than Beyonce's original.  Lines like "but you're not a boy/so you don't have a clue" put up so much of a divide.  At least in the original, Beyonce seems to be making an attempt to understand or look at men.  Other lines like "So I go to clubs with the guys/and sometimes flirt with the girls/I should be able to roll out/as long as I'm coming home to you," and " I work and pay the bills/girl everything I do is for you" are SO frustrating to me.  I like that R. Kelly responded to the song, but he seems to be playing the part of "(but you're just a) BOY" that Beyonce laid out.  The relationship dynamic of a male feeling like it's acceptable to do things that make his partner feel uncomfortable as long as he's not "sleeping with the girl" (as Beyonce said) is one that R. Kelly perpetuates with his assertion that it's okay for him to do certain things because he is still coming home to his girlfriend, plus he's paying the bills so...

I wish R. Kelly's remix had been more of a satisfying response, perhaps trying more to understand gender and power dynamics in relationships or explain male behavior that is often stereotyped in popular female accounts of men and heterosexual relationships.  Or R. Kelly could have come to the defense of men and tried to explain that identifying as male does not make one the stereotyped male protagonist (or antagonist) in a relationship story, and that there is more depth to men than Beyonce may have accounted for.  With so many options and so much promise in a remix, I found myself very dissapointed and feel like R. Kelly at best stayed at the level that the original did in looking at men and women and gender politics.      

Also, what is going on with him having a church scene as a background?

Anne Dalke's picture

The Man

You say that "identifying as male does not make one the stereotyped male"--
yet cf. what Cal understands when he returns to Detroit, and notices that
"the tilt of [the dude's] head communicated defiance and even hate.
"I realized a shocking thing. I couldn't become a man without becoming
The Man. Even if I didn't want to" (p. 518).

epeck's picture

Oh actually I think the

Oh actually I think the church scenes must be cut from another music video...nevermind!

S. Yaeger's picture

I can't definitely see how

I can definitely see how this re-mix could be read as a potential way to address some of the problematic aspects of the Beyonce song and video, but, setting aside for a moment the ridgid birarism of the lyrics in both versions, I find the idea of R.Kelly being included here extremely troubling.  I'm not sure how many people in the class are aware of Kelly's pat legal issues, as much of the media coverage of him occured 10 years ago, but Kelly has faced several charges related to have sex with, urinating on, filming, and even marrying minors.  In 1994, he married Allyah who was 14 at the time. The marriage was later annuled by her parents. This ABC news article touches on that, as does Allyah's wikipedia page.  In 2002, Kelly was arrested for allegedly fiming himself having sex with and urinating on an underage girl.  Though he was aquitted, his past and some of the evidence in the case is pretty damning. In addition to having been arrested in Chicago for the alleged tape with the underage girl, Kelly was later arrested again in Florida for possesing child pornagraphy in the form of photographs, as well as additional sex tapes showing himself with young girls.   Though everything aside from his marriage to Alliyah is alleged but not convicted, I still find his involvement in this particular video to be disturbing.  

My discomfort stems from the fact that discussions of hip-hop and R&B as problematic often center around the use of sexist, violent, and vulgar language, while ignoring the seemingly more important questions of artists' behavior.  As was pointed out in our class discussion of gangsta rap, that language is often used as an outlet for frustration in place of violence.  In the case of R. Kelly, this seems to me to be inverted.  He's not using such overtly sexist language as 'bitches and hos" (though I do still find the language of the song problematic), but he is someone who has engaged in predatory and allegedly violent behavior toward young women.  With that in mind, perhapas a more fruitful discussion of language as outlet versus problematic behavior could be had?