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Challenging the Phallocentric

Dance March 13 2014

Do you remember the drama that went on in regard to pictures of Beyonce’s performance on Super Bowl in 2013? The ones showing her in the heat of the moment while dancing? Here’s what happened (skip to paragraph 2 if you’re familiar with the story): once these pictures were published on BuzzFeed, one of Beyonce’s publicists asked the blog to take down the unflattering pictures. BuzzFeed disobeyed, and soon after the word went out about the attempt to take the pics off, the Internet made even more “fun” with those pictures and photoshopped them to make Beyonce look like a body-builder, she-hulk, performance enhancing drugged Beyonce and some more entertaining versions of her.

PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY/ AFP

PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY/ AFP

It’s been long since Laura Mulvey’s essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ (1975) has been published, but the concept of “the male gaze” can still be used when discussing various cinematic and visual experiences. In 2014, the feminist filmmaking is still in the making, and Hollywood and various other cinemas and visual landscapes across the world are still mainly patriarchal.There are still numerous examples for women getting sanctioned in various ways for attempting to disobey some of the unwritten, but known cultural rules.

While it was BuzzFeed which started mocking Beyonce’s fierceness, poking fun at how fierce her performance looked like (and supported these with various photos), it was the photoshopped pictures that took the matter to even greater measures. Beyonce’s “mistake” was that while sporting a feminine look that’s supposed to be sexy, she went just a wee bit over the top and tipped over to become ridiculous, rather than traditionally sexy. All this makes a lot of sense, because a woman’s face is not supposed to be showing signs of effort. Her facial expression should be ironed and flattened out, it should resemble a 2-D picture of a porcelain doll. Her expression should not, by any means, reflect strength and physical power. Because these are areas that belong to men, and any attempts to enter that man’s club will end up in ridicule and harsh judgement. Because how dare she.  We all know what a woman is supposed to look and act like.

Now what does this have to do with the women’s dance group Juck? Juck (Swedish for hump) has a clear mission statement – ‘to bring forth freedom of expression, sexuality, having fun and expanding perspectives on femininity and gender’. In short, Juck stands for all the ideals the above mentioned example fails to accomplish (despite Beyonce’s alleged feminism). Everything matters in this video by Juck, from how this dance video was shot, how the camera behaves, to the symbols used in this video, including the choreography and the costumes. These are all elements of a finely tuned concept which aims at destabilising the phallocentric ownership of the camera. There is a different quality to sexiness these dancers emit and the way camera captures them isn’t focused on traditional representations of desirable femininity.

Screenshot, JUCK
Screenshot, JUCK

Every scene matters. The pelvis thrust dancing moves shot in front of a school in Stockholm suggest a challenging of phallocentric view of power. The bubbles being blown in front of the camera are supposed to be suggesting naive girliness, child’s play and infantility that women are often associated with (names baby, shorty – ring-a-bell?), but juxtaposed to the scenes of fierce dancing challenge that effect. This list can go on: the squeezing of the fruit – a display of power, their facial expressions suggesting effort and using their physical might, their moves that seem like a crossover between krump, hiphop and random club dancing, as well as the chaotic group dynamic as opposed to organised group dance.  And let’s not forget the school uniforms.

Screenshot, JUCK

Screenshot, JUCK

Enjoy this video and let your girlfriends explore being themselves, rather than fixated versions of ideals too strict and unrealistic for anyone who wishes to achieve other things in life as well.

JUCK

Idea and concept: Cajsa Godée – Emelie Enlund – Tarika Wahlberg

Production: Cajsa Godée – Emelie Enlund

Camera: Linus Enlund

Editing: Linus Enlund – Cajsa Godée – Emelie Enlund

Dancers: Shirley Harthey Ubilla – Feyona Naluzzi – Tarika Wahlberg

Cajsa Godée – Emelie Enlund

Music – Dschinnjah – Kotellet & Zadak


FOLLOW JUCK ON FACEBOOK

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Tutteslice
March 19 2014
9:56 am

Downloading photoshop, let the editing begin!

Andreas
March 20 2014
7:48 am

I think its probably because she tried to take the picture down. Theres a lot of memes with funny arnold schwarzenegger expressions etc out there too- but Im sure they would also have exploded if he tried to get them taken down as well 🙂

Its sort of like the Kanye memes when he interrupted taylor swift- Im convinced it wouldnt have been a different backlash if a female artist had done the same.

That said, cool dance, but I dont think you need to construct a reason for it, a dance doesent need to be about “saving” anyone or fighting something.

It was sort of like my gf dressing up as a “sexy prostitute” to somehow convince people prostitution was bad in a photoshoot. Im all happy with her expressing herself visually and enjoying her beauty- but if she really wanted to make a change she would make a much better point by using the dark backside of the prostitution business rather than using the sexual allure and facade that drives that business!

http://dailynewsdig.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Professional-Photography-Pictures-Of-Athletes-Pulling-Funny-Faces-2.jpg

Ravijojla Novakovic
March 20 2014
1:06 pm

Hi Andreas and thank you for commenting!
I would like to summarise that all I had wished to do was to draw a parallel between various representation of female bodies in dance, and for this the backlash was a handy example.

I was not able to view the pic you have attached for some reason, unfortunately.
Nice of you to drop by and I agree, her publicist requesting BuzFeed to take the photos down was a defining moment for what followed afterwards.

Artist
March 25 2014
9:56 am

I was missing the fake hair and tacky outits ?

Fucking Feminists
May 20 2014
5:27 pm

I think I am going to have to call bullshit on this. Now, I am a well educated, liberal college girl. I have participated in feminist courses and am almost too well versed in feminist literature and literary criticism. I’ll tell you what, it drives me absolutely nuts.

They are not making fun of Beyonce because she is a woman, they are making fun of her because her intensity is through the roof. It is the same reason that the Terry Crews Old Spice commercials are meant to be funny. The problem with some sects of modern feminism is that they like to draw gender lines where none exist. Poking fun of a silly picture of Beyonce isn’t sexist, it is just funny.

As for these girls, I have to say that I am not overly impressed. They don’t seem as though they can dance very well, and if they can then they are doing an awful job of displaying it. If they were all replaced by men and did the exact same moves I would still hate it. I dislike it because it is bad, not because they are women.

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