Dismantling the Stereotype

Guy Franklin, 2010

And in celebration of Women's Month, here's my take on Kimbra's feminist song, Settle Down. Kimbra, in my opinion, is kinda like the sober and sane version of Lady Gaga. Born in New Zealand, this underrated singer is mainly popular in Australia, focusing more on her music as an art, not as a means of worldwide fame.

I happened upon one of her songs, Settle Down, when its video was used as a promo for a music festival here in the Philippines, in which Kimbra is the main performer.

Settle Down has a sardonic undertone in it, implicitly saying that not all women want to get married, at the same time dismantling the stereotypical notion of "a lady housewife."

The song's video perfectly translates the song's very meaning. The video starts with Kimbra harmonizing with her eyes closed. Then like a coin-operated doll, she suddenly opens her eyes, as if she just woke up from a spell or something.

Kimbra's scenes are intercut with those of the child housewife (Erica Rankin) lip-syncing the song, as well as the scene wherein the child housewife sees her "husband" with another woman (Lilya Hansen). Later the child housewife and the other woman join Kimbra, and together they dance.

With some surrealistic and bizarre moments, the video intelligently conveys what Kimbra intends to say in her song: there's more to a woman than being a housewife.

The '50s setting is perfect because that was the time when women were boxed inside the gender stereotype: graduate from college, get a husband, then make a lot of babies.

Being a housewife is undeniably one of the toughest jobs of all. You manage a household by attending to your kids (husband included), then you are also obliged to keep the house as tidy as you should be, and then there's the laundry. Oh, and don't forget to cook, milady. Being a mother and a housewife is a no-salary-no-day-off job.

With our society's double standards, being a woman ain't that easy, let alone be a housewife. On the other hand, I'm grateful that we have gone far from the '50s mentality of an "ideal woman." Most women today are not forced to become what they don't want to be, although some religion and tradition still hinder women's rights.

Going back to the video, choosing child actresses as the housewife and the other woman is genius. Women back in the stone age of the '50s were seen as children: fragile, innocent beings who "can't think for themselves."

The husband is played by a mannequin, almost like a Ken doll. And a Ken doll is what Mattel thinks is the ideal husband for the ideal woman that is Barbie. (Gee. Those ideals suck.) "I don't care who I'm married to, as long as I'm married." That's the pressure most women had back in that era.

Run from Angela Vickers
I saw her with you
Monday morning small talking on the avenue
She's got a fancy car
She wants to take you far
From the city lights and sounds deep into the dark

Angela Vickers is Liz Taylor's character in A Place in the Sun. In that '50s movie, high society woman Angela Vickers is a bit of a non-conformist, the kind who doesn't want to throw away her freedom. So when the child housewife in the video tells her husband to run from Angela Vickers, she's basically telling him not to swerve away from society's standards.

This is a smart video, in my opinion. Every detail is detailed: from the actresses to Kimbra's black dress opposing the girls' white dress, up to the burning of the baby dolls. Every scene has one thing to say: f*ck the stereotype.

Settle Down:

DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don't own or claim to own any of the photos used.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...