Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jonté :: Bitch You Betta


A friend sent me this song, and I immediately knew I had to blog about it. He needs no introduction, however. You know Jonté through his choreography in Beyonce's Freakum Dress.

The only accurate description I can give
Jonté is fierce. There's all sorts of gender-transgressive work being done here in both dance and dress. His HX magazine interview in late March 09 described him and his choreography as unapologetically fem. Nigel Lythgoe, famed for his homophobic, transphobic, and sexist comments as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, would explode if he ever saw Jonté's artistry.

Now after watching the music video 28 times, I realize there's nothing particularly spectacular about the song, or his vocal skills. Full disclosure: I haven't heard his other songs, but the excerpt of Candy Sweets on his Myspace page sounds promising.

What I love about it is the shameless genderfucking throughout the video. The only time he presents as male is in the 16 seconds at 1:00 through 1:16. That clip shows male dancers, wearing "dude clothes," moving in what is traditionally recognized as masculine dance. But even those precious 16 seconds is queered in the way he says:

back up cuz i'm black and i'll give your ass an attack bitch, you try and come on crack your face can make you look wack cuz you really up to that i am really cute in that i am in high heels you're in flats

I mean, yes, he really did just say, "I'm in high heels, you're in flats." And come on, he's in bright blue skinny jeans! My favorite example of his gender-transgressions is at 1:56, where he's donned a pink, nearly bottomless, 1-piece, thing (I don't even know how to describe it!), doing the infamous Beyonce booty-bounce, talking about how he's going to "make your pussy pop." At 1:56, he has two women in flower-print bathing suits drumming on
Jonté's crotch, heralding an orgasmic (CGI) explosion.

What's interesting is that Jonte has appropriated this hyperbolically feminine gender expression, which is no barrier to his song and dance servicing the sexual needs of his female partners. To me, it reads as a clever critique of representations of girl-on-girl love. That despite the theatrics, costumes, and the flying cats, the final thing the clip cuts to is the orgasmic CGI explosion--marking sex as the focal point for your attention, not the caricatures of femininity and lesbian sexuality.

To some degree, however, I have to also believe that not all is queered.
Jonté, in fact, protects part of his hetero or homo normative identity at 1:00 - 1:16 by presenting (in both dance and dress) masculinely. When he says, "back up cuz i'm black, and i'll give your ass an attack." I mean, butt sex? or is it vagina sex? With a nebulous audience, Jonté can enjoy an unidentifiable sexual identity, which demonstrates the limits to which he participates as a genderfucker. Secondly, his appropriation of feminine gender expressions can be read as an affront to female identities. But more importantly, in the pussy-pop clip, Jonté is still a male bodied individual providing sexual pleasure (i.e., "i'm gon' make yo pussy tickle") as opposed to approaching sex as a mutual experience.

And I've not even thought about how "bitch" is used in the song, or how
Jonté is racialized in the video. Nonetheless, the song is fun even past its layers.

1 comment:

tpaperny said...

Holy crap, you just deconstructed the fuck out of that shit.