Gender Politics in a Cheerleader Jam….Maybe?

During last weekend’s Pop Music Symposium at SUNY Clinton, I heard for the first time Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” and late Wednesday night, reader Cactus William sent a/the music video, which will serve as this week’s Jam.

There’s a lot at play here. First, the song itself: I’ve only listened to it twice, and for different reasons, neither listen was a careful one, but it seems to be comprised of two fairly devastating pop hooks cycled as many times as three minutes and change will allow, and one less interesting bridge-ish segment with lyrics confusing in light of the purported plot. As for the singer herself, I’ve never heard of Jepsen before, and I can only assume that she comes from the Rebecca Black School of Corporate Music Manchurian Candidates, a vehicle to deliver said hooks and smile as her creators reel in the money.

Still, the financial circumstances of a song’s conception need not dictate its real value, and here I think we may have something of broader importance. I wrote earlier that Brad Paisley’s channeling of Arthur Conley with “Old Alabama” signaled country music’s arrival as America’s popular music genre, and I think something very roughly analogous is happening with “Call Me Maybe” vis-a-vis dynamics in popular gender politics. The thesis is that this song stands for a tipping point in male-female relations that sees a woman asserting herself, though just barely, as the first mover in the courtship context, contrary to traditional expectations. This thesis doesn’t ignore strong, demanding women of the past (Janis, “Tell Mama”) or even aggressive women of the present (e.g., Carrie Underwood, “Before He Cheats”), but it is operable to the extent it can bracket such apparent counterexamples as being either out of the mainstream or persistently reactionary despite their aggressiveness and focus its comparative backdrop on the likes of Taylor Swift, ALDLAND’s favorite anthro-feminine alien. On the other hand, this paragraph may have set back gender relations by a few decades or at least demonstrated my ignorance of contemporary popular music. Moving right along.

Next is the video, which stars members of the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad. The first question here is, what motivated this? Was this just a sunny day romp around South Beach after cheer camp let out? Or, in Bring It On/Mean Girls fashion, was this a response to the leaked photo shoot of Lauren Tannehill, wife of Miami’s rookie quarterback and number eight overall draft pick Ryan Tannehill (who, if he didn’t outkick his coverage with his bride, certainly did with his draft position), in varying amounts of Dolphins-colored gear? To the extent this is knowable, determining the answer would initially involve comparing the dates of the leaking of the photos and the posting of the video, something I’m not going to do. Precision like that likely becomes less important when you’re striving for attention and HBO’s cameras are rolling.

To the extent that there’s any sports angle here, this video eventually will make you remember that, whether it’s the Hard Knocks curse, the implications of merely having cheerleaders, or the fact that Miami actually drafted Ryan Tannehill, the Dolphins are not going to be good this year, so enjoy this while you can, which is forever, because the internet is forever, unlike Dan Marino:

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2 thoughts on “Gender Politics in a Cheerleader Jam….Maybe?

  1. Carly Rae Jepsen has been around for a long time (at least by top 40 standards). She’s from Mission, BC, and is a Bieber-protege. Didn’t realize she had actually made it out of Canada until, well, this post.

    I don’t like this Miami Cheerleaders video. It’s creepy. The real video is much cuter. Carly Rae!

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