Posts Tagged ‘rhianna’

QUEENS UP, HOES DOWN

June 15, 2009

michelleobamavogueMichelle Obama’s presence is a welcome, seismic shift from the stereotypical image of women of color as accessories to their own exploitation in media. In her non-celebrity post as the Most Influential Woman of the Free World, Mrs. Obama is covered by media daily around the globe, giving her the power to unravel the thread of negative perception about Black women in a way that even the mighty Oprah could not.  Dealing a major blow to the video ho, Mrs. Obama is the only First Lady to make Maxim’s 100 Hottest Women In The World, holding her own at #93 with starlets and models.

This awesome power now has a name: The Michelle Effect.

As far as I’m concerned it’s about time the hoochie fell out of fashion. She’s been pop culture’s go-to stereotype for long enough. BET Uncut was cancelled. The Girls Next Door had their final season. The window of fame for Tiffany Pollard of I Love New York appears to be coming to a close and the KING is dead. KING magazine, that is. He lost his crown this March.

Somewhere along the way the hoochie became a crutch, a distraction to draw attention away from subpar talent. The hoochie used to ensure a quick buck no matter what was being sold. The same could be said about all the music clogging the airwaves loaded with digital trickery. Autotune, like the video hoe, is overexposed. Jay-Z heralds the death of Autotune. Me? I’m trumpeting the Death of Video Hoes.the-vixen-manual

Even video vixen-turned author Karrine Steffans has turned over a new leaf. She now rejects Superhead, her former nickname. Steffans is living proof that skin can only get you so far before your brain has to kick in. Now, she’s turning her past into The Vixen Manual, a tutorial for women seeking to keep their men from…you guessed it—hoochies. Another nail driven into the video ho’s coffin.

But where’s the line between loving your skin and showing too much?

At one end of the spectrum you have Michelle Obama, who is scrutinized for exposing her arms. On the on the other (dare I say deep) end of the skin showing spectrum, we’ve got leaked photos of pop princesses Cassie and Rihanna showing it all. The jury is still out on whether these Internet leaks were publicity stunts or real violations of their privacy.

What we do know is all their “business” is out in the street now. Once simply sexy and provocative, both are now also viewed as indecent. As the ripple effect of their overexposure continues, so does the debate.

Will Cassie and Rihanna’s endorsements suffer?

Have they fallen from grace?

Were they really just hoochies with microphones to begin with?

In this new era of the user-generated sexting, are leaked nude photos the marketing strategy du jour for female celebrities? Media plays along by running these leaks as top stories, reinforcing that nudity gets girls attention.

Go nude. Create Buzz. Repeat.chrisette-michele-epipany-billboard-no-1-debut

But where’s the payoff? Both Cassie and Rhianna lost points with music buyers. According to Billboard, in the subsequent weeks after the leaks, single sales were flat for Cassie and down for Rihanna.

In another match-up, Ciara posed nude (on purpose) on the October 2008 cover of VIBE only to find her third album, Fantasy Ride debut at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. Coming in at the top spot was Epiphany, the sophomore set from the fully clothed, full-figured and lesser-known Chrisette Michele.

Keep clothes on. Go #1. Repeat.

Even Drake, the hot rapper of the moment and former star of hit teen drama Degrassi muses, “sweat pants hair tied chillin’ with no makeup on. That’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong”. No offense taken.

The Michelle Effect is transforming the image of womanhood in America.

Queens up, hoes down.

By Thembisa S. Mshaka, Author of Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business

Cassie & Rhianna: Nude Gal Massive

May 13, 2009

By Thembisa S. Mshaka

After 17 years of working with many a superstar in the worlds of music, advertising, and television, I’ve seen a lot of skin. I must say, however, that the concentrated display of nudity by females in the entertainment business over the last week has been very interesting to watch.

First, images of Cassie topless and spread eagle surfaced online. She denied leaking them for publicity purposes, brushing them off to a degree, saying, “it seems that someone has hacked into my computer. That’s real foul and evil. Now stop acting like you haven’t seen a titty before”.

I recently released a book that addresses how to succeed in business without using one’s body as an all-access pass. During an interview with Mike Street  of WBTJ-Richmond I was asked to comment on Cassie’s nude photo leak. Here’s what I had to say about it, “if nudity is the route you choose to take, you still need to handle your entertainment business!” I mean, even Brangelina sold photos of their babies and gave the money to charity!

Branjelina and the Twins

Then, not 24 hours later, nude photos of Rhianna pop up! No one’s claiming responsibility for this act of career terror either. But after some discussions about this, I submit that a generational shift has occurred with how young women perceive ‘compensation’ for nudity, the value of their bodies, and their relaxed relationship to decency, privacy and technology. Chicks are uploading their own clips of themselves making it clap on social networks–and I mean literally clapping their asses, not their hands. Teens are performing oral sex yet don’t see it as sexual intercourse. They are also ‘sexting’ by sending and sharing provocative images through phones.

In the digital age, privacy has taken a hit. Identity theft is rampant. Even former President Bush was listening in on your cell phone conversations. Your employer may even be following you on Twitter. So whether you want a third party observing your life or not, it’s happening–and this generation by and large, has accepted the fact readily. My generation by and large, wants our right to privacy back in full, not in part.

Perhaps this is not so for Cassie or Rhianna. Perhaps they’ve forfeited their right to privacy, or see that right as less of a big deal. Maybe the consequences of being seen as less credible recording artists, less admirable role models to their peers and young girls, and less marketable pitch women for corporations aren’t that big of a deal either.

**************************************************

ADVERTISEMENT

CLICK THE BOOK TO ORDER YOUR COPY

This book is ‘Mentorship In A Bottle’ for the entertainment industry

ADVERTISEMENT

**************************************************

Maybe these leaks are their assertion of power over their bodies; maybe they did consent to the leaks and were in control of how and when they came out. Maybe they know it will help them sell records or get movie roles. Maybe Cassie’s half-shaved head didn’t get tongues wagging fast enough.

cassie-ventura-shaved-head

Maybe Rhianna’s relationship violence coverage needed to be one-upped. I truly can’t call it. I’d love to talk to them and find out directly from them. I would have bet that as a successful working model, Cassie knew the value of her exposed private parts. I would also have bet on Rhi Rhi leveraging her Good Girl Gone Bad image (after her Cover Girl contract expired of course) to pose nude for at least seven figures to launch her new album.

rhianna covergirl

Either way, I would have lost both bets. Taking nude photos is choice; I’m not knocking it. I simply wonder: Are Cassie and Rhianna handling their business, or getting screwed in the transaction?

Back when I was coming up, posing nude for the world to see was held at a premium and done in magazines for adults, like Playboy, Hustler, and Penthouse, long before lifestyle skin books like Maxim, Straight Stuntin’, Smooth, and the now-defunct King existed.

stacey-dash-040808

These nude spreads were major media events. The cover girls got paid handsomely for baring all. If you happened to be a star with nude photos floating around that got leaked on you, the word ‘scandal’ pretty much became your second surname. And for the woman in question, they were tremendously difficult to bounce back from.

Vanessa Williams speaks to this in the foreword to my book. She describes one of many obstacles she faced after the appearance of nude photos led to her losing the title of Miss America. “Not many songwriters were eager to give me good songs; they wanted to keep them for other artists who were proven, and of course they’d never bank on my success coming fresh of a scandal.”

Vanessa Williams Penthouse

I have signed copies of it waiting for Cassie and Rhianna. Looks like these Nude Gals could benefit from some industry mentorship in a bottle. What did they teach me this week? That when it comes to how a pop princess shows her ass, it’s a new day.

Thembisa S. Mshaka is the author of Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business available now from Business Plus/Grand Central Publishing.