In this video, African American women are portrayed as a rebellious side show in a museum on display because in their mind they are trapped in a box for the world to see. I will show you how the context of the video does not align with the message in the song. The real question for “am I a freak for getting down” should be, why am I on display as a sideshow freak? Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae are known for their type of music being afro-centric and being the revolutionist in the music industry. The song expresses their concern and feelings toward stereotypes and people judging them. However, the video does not. As (Beaulieu, 2006, p.552, para. 4) states “Black women often have been described as headstrong, rebellious and rarely submissive”.
At the beginning of the video, the commentator explains that “it’s hard to capture rebels that time travel”. This sets the tone for whoever is watching, that we are about to see some type of rebels. She then states that they pride themselves in capturing rebels and freezing them in suspended animation. This evidence shows that what we are about to see visually are the rebels that they have captured through time. The rebels are then shown as Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae. These two are African American women who are leaders in the afro-centric music community. Here we now see that African American women are presented as rebels. You then see two other African American women walk into the museum as spectators where the commentator mentions Janelle Monae as an accomplice another way of saying rebellious. We then see one of the African American women pull out a record and starts playing music. The record player was on display. It is as if the two women came in to disturb the environment bringing the characters to life being rebellious to the museum. They then tie up what looks to be a guard in the museum showing their rebelliousness toward the security of the display in the museum. So as we see right in the beginning of the video the image of rebelliousness in African American Women is what’s shown.
Throughout the video, we see that the characters are inside the museum on display which represents being trapped in a box for the world to see. The entire video is located in this museum from the beginning. It shows them in this museum on display and enjoying themselves in it. You would think that if you were captured and you are a rebel when other rebels bring you to life so to speak and ties up the guards there is freedom, you would think that they would escape and take it to the next level in what they are trying to express. However, in this video nothing in that nature is displayed. Instead, it shows a group of people enjoying their new environment even though they have access to leave, their mind is still trapped in the box or the display in a museum. This leads me to think that this videos true message is that even though you don’t want to be judged by who you are, you don’t mind being labeled rebellious and being put on display trapped in a box.
This video shows African American women the main characters frozen in time on display trapped in a box for the world to see. According to (Davis, 2013) African American women were on display in what back then were called human zoos. With this video, the museum would be that zoo. The video shows their rebelliousness and a group of people not trying to escape from the prison of their own mind. Although at the end she is alone with what looks like an eye made up of light expressing to me in the video that she can see outside of the box but still exist inside the museum unable to free herself from the bondage that she is trapped in. As they are caught in time animation for being rebels just wanting to be queens and not judged among her peers. Throughout the video, we see these main characters enjoying their display as if circus clowns. They are rebels who can’t escape their side show being on display as freaks for the world to see. Queens are rulers not circus freaks or rebels on display in a museum.
Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu. (2006). Writing African American Women. Retrieved from Google Books website https://books.google.com/books?id=ZbyBKRvoot8C&pg=PA552&lpg=PA552&dq=african+american+women+labeled+rebellious&source=bl&ots=crYtkvFiWB&sig=ZgdSWCQ6QtPxn98T5Bo1xqDRyTw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=N2KQVej0NcPXoAT3q4K4BQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=african%20american%20women%20labeled%20rebellious&f=false
M.B Davis. (2013, February). Deep Racism: The Forgotten History of Human Zoos. Retrieved from Popular Resistance website https://www.popularresistance.org/deep-racism-the-forgotten-history-of-human-zoos/