Not so much anymore, but there was a time that styles, opinions given, and performances on televised awards shows were often thought ‘edgy’ and outrageous, courted some controversy. In the past year, audiences all but gone from the theaters for the broadcasts or shows rendered across claustrophobic virtual-only showings, the diminished return of super-low ratings, (see here), and lackluster performances have left more than one viewer wondering, ‘Why bother?’
This year’s Grammy’s tried their best, with attendees sadly matching their alt. couture to the masks they wore, keeping-up a ‘new’ anything-but normal approach. But this award show was, as they have been growing too, even before the pandemic… kind of, well, ok, at best. What passes for outrageous costuming (which is just women showing skin) and cultural/political statements fall under the big umbrella of virtue-casting at best, maudlin retreads at worse. And this year’s big Grammy’s controversy was not much more than a big-staged stripper routine.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation called out Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s performance of “WAP” at the 63rd Grammy’s, saying it “….could have been cut from a hardcore pornography film” and “…contributed to the sexual exploitation of women by glamorizing prostitution and stripping.” It seems the NCOSE did not like the silvery skin-showing outfits the ladies wore (for Cardi a big bikini, Megan a silver bodysuit) as much as how close the women got on top of an oversized-bed set piece.
But watching the performance once again, I have to think; this is what’s got the NCOSE up in arms? This is what I heard conservative radio condemning? This is what makes the news these days?
Man, are we ever starved for something to talk about!
As it always is with stuff like this, one man’s poison is another man’s; what you consider naughty I consider tame; what I think kinky you might regard as your usual Tuesday night. Sure, the NCOSE has every right to call out that which they want. But can any of us rightly imagine that what those divas got up to at the Grammy’s last Sunday “contributed to the sexual exploitation of women by glamorizing prostitution and stripping,”? I’m not so sure.
First of all, if the ladies were indeed “glamorizing prostitution and stripping,” what’s so wrong with that? Plenty of women and men strip for a living. Furthermore, if this country was a little less Puritanical (ok, a lot less) in its views on sex and certainly if we could have national legalization of prostitution, that profession could be regulated (and taxed) and the people who work in it infinitely better protected. Of course, I am all for our lawmakers searching for and taking down sex-trafficking at every turn, and against the abuses of non-consensual engagement of any kind. But adults engaging in prostitution (whether the buyer or supplier) and stripping should be allowed to follow those pursuits legitimately.
As for Cardi and Megan, I think I might be so bold to offer the oft lambasted heterosexual male p.o.v. here. As they do in the WAP video, I believe Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion were making a statement, through lyric, costuming, and gyration on the current state of female empowerment, both the many strides ladies have made recently and those they have not.
And I’d venture a guess that these two powerhouse performers of the current music business are comporting themselves precisely as they want.