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Commentary: Artistic creativity not pornography
Published on January 25, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Mickel Allen

Recently, while browsing a social media site, I stumbled upon a video clip. The video was posted in January of 2014, the beginning of a new year, a period when many vow to do better, change or improve.

The reggae music video begins with a warning; however, given the usual nature of the Jamaican dancehall, one is inclined to believe that there will be excessive gyrating and perhaps a little skin. What instead was witnessed was what I view to be hypocrisy, derogatory, tasteless and all in all pornographic.

Mickel Allen is a native of Jamaica, previously employed by the MOE as an English Linguistics and Literature Teacher. She is presently assistant communications coordinator for a diverse organization and a law and society Bachelors candidate. Mickel is an active women’s advocate and volunteers as a counselor and adult educator with Yes We Are Women. She is a supporter and volunteer with COFI Inc.
Jamaican entertainers are known for the most part to be out of the norm, talented, lyrical amongst other things and although numerous videos have been made that are derogatory in nature this is the worst by far. Who and where will a video such as this be aired other than on sites that host illicit material? Doesn’t the entertainer think the words uttered and now the images portrayed convey a distasteful message and representation of our musical heritage? Isn’t this taking artistic, creative licence a little too far?

In my opinion, such an occurrence helps to further mar Jamaica’s image and the many positives, specifically in the music industry, that abetted in ending 2013 on a high note for Jamaica as a nation.

As individuals, industries and a nation what we say and do paints a picture of who we are. Will Jamaican stations play this video? Certainly copious amounts of censorship will be exercised and it will become a video of bleeps and black boxes as there is not a moment of civility or propriety. What has been perhaps created is sending, perhaps unknowingly, an extremely negative message to the world.

Mind you, perhaps it’s some deeply embedded desire of the involved party(s) to be famous; perhaps it’s a publicity stunt, but either way it does so much damage in the process… It further stigmatizes and devalues women and suggests that our women and women in general are mere vessels waiting to be filled by a man’s tool and her worthiness is based on her ability to perform fellatio… And let us not shine a light on the level of hypocrisy.

Jamaican society and, by extension, Jamaican dancehall is homophobic in nature, yet a video such as this surfaces out of a homophobic culture and industry. Proving that homophobia, like time, is a social construct manipulated and altered when necessary. The trois certaine Demarco and two masked females find the women not only performing sexual acts with the man but also with each other. What this therefore says is that two women sleeping with each other is okay once it is to the pleasure of a man -- and this is coming from the homophobic dancehall. All this while Rickardo 'Shuzzr' Smith, a known dancehall publicist is ostracized for coming out this year as bisexual and as a result is also unemployed.

So many parallels could be drawn but, regardless, the hypocrisy and pluralities pervade Jamaican society. Our island has and continues to permeate the world with its rhythmic, diversity. We should be mindful that, that which builds has the ability to destroy and not allow our artistry to slowly evolve into outright secularity, and pornography fueled and coloured by our cultures inconsistencies and bias. One thing is obvious: the dancehall’s stance on homosexuality has once more been blurred… and so does the paradigm of the society in which it exists.

A song and video based on these women as enacted in the private sphere -- the bedroom -- should not be publicized and considered appropriate and artistic. True artistry ought not to be confused with pornography, which is exactly what Demarco’s “Ride” video depicts.
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