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