SoulBounce Roundtable: Beyond Justin & Ciara

In light of our recent post entitled "How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women And Get Away With It?" and the ensuing reaction, we thought it would be a good idea to dig deeper and officially claim ownership of our position. Present are myself, Butta, ill Mami and the author of the infamous post, Ro. Fave of the Friday Favecast is on the production. Here's a sampling of what we discussed and learned:

  • The intention of the op-ed was never to take the focus off of Black rap artists that have committed similar (and worse) acts in videos. Choosing to believe that one dialogue isn't already in progress in order to nullify the one on the table is counter-intuitive.
  • Even if Ciara herself made an "executive decision" to portray the Antebellum Whore in her own video, that doesn't make her any more empowered than the white man with a chain around her neck.
  • Quite often, people are not ready to receive the perspective of a Black woman unless she's solely speaking on behalf of her experience as a person of color, or her gender. Never both at the same time. It's like spilling hot coffee on a robot--it.can.not.process.the.information.
  • The presentation of Black female sexuality in our media and culture is already a shaky situation. Although Justin Timberlake isn't the problem, adding him to the equation doesn't make it any better.
SoulBounce Roundtable: Beyond Justin & Ciara [download/subscribe]

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28 Responses

  1. This was an excellent dialogue and I look forward to hearing other Roundtables. There were so many issues raised, I'm not sure where to begin, so I'll ask some questions in hopes to add to the thought process.
    1. There is a lot of focus on JT. Would the video have been more acceptable if it had been a different white male singer?
    2. The video was crazy and I listened to the lyrics closely. The video brings the lyrics to life and makes sense, she is a stripper in the song & portrays that in the video and JT plays the "John" has he does in the song. What are your thoughts on the lyrics, which I consider more offensive than the video?
    3. What about the artistic value of the video? I'm ALWAYS going to support an artist's right to free expression. Is not one of art's purposes is to illicit a reaction? We may not like it, our likes & dislikes doesn't make it any less artistic or does it?
    Open discussion is always good and I look forward to hearing others.

  2. NICE yayyyy .. wait didn't I just see you last night.
    Good interview...I need ur podcast again 🙁

  3. @ Shannon Renee:
    1) There is a reason the focus was on JT. He was involved in the Nipplegate fiasco. I think one of Ro's assertion in her posts is that this is the second time he has been involved in a hypersexualized portrayal of a Black female artist. It's too coincidental to not have bearing.
    IMO, this would have been just as offensive if Robin Thicke or any other white male singer had been in the video since there is still the chain around the neck of a Black woman with echoes to the whole slavery dynamic going on.
    2) I think Ciara is overrated myself, and I find the lyrics to be provocative. They don't offend me since sex is in the title of the song.
    3) I'm always one for provocative, albeit disturbing images. It generates dialogue that may not have occurred otherwise. However, the forum that this art is displayed is a big factor, too. Was this video only going to be shown after-hours? Is this video going to reach a demographic of people, i.e. children, for whom S&M images and sexual slavery overtones are just plain inappropriate? These are factors that were ignored when it came to this video.
    This is just my opinion, however. Other particpants from the Roundtable may have other thoughts.

  4. I didnt agree with the op ed piece at all. It left me totally unmoved and unconvinced.
    I get the general principle and the point that it attempted to was just lacking for me on so many levels in this context.
    I relate with Nova's take on the subject much more. While I agree there is some jacked up stuff going on with the way women of color are depicted in not just music but in the media - period....
    I DON'T for one nanosecond think JT has an agenda or is getting over on black women or being allowed any dubious privilage to exploit them.
    Simply put: He's the lazy "go to guy" the way Beyonce is the uber predictible "go to girl" and T Pain is the token "go to voice box".
    Ciara - whether we agree with her or not - this is HER brand. She's been strategically pushing her career in this direction since the dawn of Goodies.
    The shoddy way JT handled the Nipplegate fiasco doesn't automatically make the very next percieved "incident" w/ a woman of color proof of something sinister.
    And I am in no way a "Fool" (as it was stated in the roundtable) for not aggreeing with that assertion.
    There IS an issue with pop culture dulling people's sensitivities around hypersexualized portrayals of black woman without acknowledging the complexities of race. And just socialized misogyny in general.
    But Justin Timberlake is not the culprit. His biggest offense is being "the white male Beyonce".
    The Empowerment vs. "Regurgitating what the Oppressor wants" discussion is a lot more relevant and provocative IMO.

  5. p.s - Kudos to Butta! Agree 100% with your take on accountability across the board.

  6. Great discussion.
    I also like to point out that the video was directed by a woman named Diane Martel.
    So I don't think that Justin Timberlake should be the only person castigated for "objectifying" Ciara in the video.
    If you are going to jump on JT then give a tongue-lashing to Diane and Ciara, as well. They all co-signed on it!
    It doesn't make it right, but it makes you wonder . . .
    Did anybody on the set say, "Hey Diane, do you think its cool that JT is holding a chain around Ci-Ci's neck? Think about the kids, dammit!"
    Just an observation.

  7. Thanks for clearing everything up 🙂

  8. i will listen.....
    but first i had to comment on Ciara being an antebellum whore. wow. that's so harsh and cruel.....
    let me go listen now

  9. it is very appropriate to discuss, and bring up, how black men demean black women. because the ultimate issue should be the way black women are portrayed in the media. plain and simple. black women need to think about what image they are portraying. at some point, we need to start taking responsibility for ourselves. that should be the issue.
    again, why are we saying 'once again' when it comes to Justin Timberlake. Once again Justin Timberlake is in a sexual video, or song? It's like you're saying its premeditated. I, in no way, think that Janet did not know what was going on, or what was going to happen.
    Lastly, I wonder why no one is bringing up the fact that Snoop Dogg had two black women on chains walking on a red carpet. Would we say he is trying to embody the image of a slave master. Ok, he is not white, but isn't this just as degrading????
    This post is blowing my mind.

  10. I don't think Tannie listened to the show.

  11. Antebellum whore? Doesn't that a) give this video way too much credit for subliminals and b) kind of send a message that any black woman who is in an IR relationship, sexual or committed, is also an antebellum whore?
    I think calling her that shows an ulterior motive behind why Timberlake is even being discussed. If it were Britney or GaGa would she be a White Trash Whore? Gaga, being Italian, would she be an Italian Guinea Whore?

  12. I agree Tannie Lee. The bottom line is that black women are willingly choosing to be portrayed in a humiliating manner. Willingly! No one is forcing them to do these things. Everywhere you look, this is what you see. If we want to improve our image, we need to stop doing this period. The bottom line is you can't expect others to respect you if you do not even respect yourself.

  13. Hi, Faith. That's EXACTLY what Butta said at the end of the show. ill Mami made that point as well.

  14. @Seattle Slim:
    This is strictly my opinion, but as someone who has been in an interracial relationship on several occasions, I feel qualified to say this:
    The fact that JT and Ciara are not in a relationship, the fact that he has seemingly managed to reap the benefits of getting street cred while simultaneously not doing anything to show that he appreciates that respect the Black community has given him, and the fact that he has never given a substantive reason for his reaction post-Nipplegate (even though we all know his skin color afforded him the opportunity to escape it) gives me reason to believe that JT may not have had any premeditated reason to do this video, but that doesn't mean that a light bulb didn't go off in his head that this video's imagery may have been interpreted a certain way by the Black community.
    I can't lend any credence to the notion that there we are giving too much credit to the subliminals in this video. I. Just. Can't. Again, there are many people who feel otherwise. As of yet, I haven't yet seen an argument on this site or others that have picked it up to convince me otherwise.
    The bigger picture has to do with racism and sexism and their ability to make many feel so uncomfortable that bringing other arguments into the fray helps to diffuse the situation. Which is what I and others deal with when you are in an interracial relationhip daily. But that situation involves love, adoration, and mutual respect. Even when leather and whips and chains are involved. I don't see this dynamic when I look at JT and Ciara in the video.

  15. @Tannie Lee Like @Mac stated, did you listen to the complete podcast? I mean seriously. Clearly you could not have since your comments were 23 minutes apart and the podcast was an hour long. Because if you had listened to the entire discussion instead of beating the dead horse that is "well what about the black men who do it" then you would have heard that being addressed. And at the end of the podcast, which you didn't listen to, I made it clear that Black female entertainers need to take responsibility for and stop objectifying themselves. But you only heard what you wanted to hear. Oh well.

  16. i listened to every second of this highly engaging podcast, and it looks like i'm in the minority in that respect. there really shouldn't be too many more questions or loose ends to tie up. certainly lets continue the discussion, but people are acting brand new to this, and/or offering redundant commentary and questions. listen to the whole thing, then holler back. you won't regret it.
    i got so much more insight on this subject from listening to the roundtable discussion. it was a well-spent hour, to be sure.

  17. "The presentation of Black female sexuality in our media and culture is already a shaky situation."
    1. This is what ultimately disappoints me with BET. Here was our(Robert Johnson's) opportunity to take some control over black images in the media. To show more positive images and control the discussion about how we are portrayed as a people and infuse TV with better images to contradict the stereotypes most often shown by mainstream networks. But we(Robert Johnson, etc) squandered the opportunity. I mean, where can you go after showing 'Tip Drill'?
    2. The images and reputations of black women aren't afforded the same 'protection' in the media as is white women (or some other races). For example, it's been 5 or 6 years now and they are still talking about Natalee Holloway as if she disappeared yesterday. I don't wish this on ANY parent and I hope the person is brought to justice...but I notice how when white women go missing or are harmed they are always painted by the media as 'helpless', 'defenseless', 'innocent', regardless of what they may have been doing at the time of the incident. Natalee Holloway was getting drunk at a bar and left with THREE men she did not know to go have sex on the beach. This does not justify what was done to her, but when you make this take a big risk that something may go wrong. I am convinced that if Natalee were black or latina, we wouldn't still be talking about her. She would have been label some misguided whore and the story would have been over 5 years ago.
    I gave that example to point out that the images of white women are protected by the mainstream media no matter what they do. Black women don't enjoy the same level of protection. So like Butta and others said, black women have got to start taking responsibility for what they put out there b/c if the image goes wrong...they will have to bear the burden for it. Look @ Janet.
    3. Justin gets a "pass" b/c he and his PR team did an excellent job of making the black community comfortable with him. He's the "black/white" boy. He's down with the brothers and the sisters. He's "one of us". He can "talk black" on cue, etc. So these pop-tart princesses feel comfortable with him and think their reputations are safe with him and they can do whatever. I mean can you imagine Ciara doing that same video with Adam Levine from Maroon 5? Or Chris Martin of Coldplay? I don't think so.

  18. you're so right....i did not listen to whole thing.....because just as Blue Telusma wrote early on, this was completely unengaging dialogue. a lot of the valid points and questions that i believe were being made by novamatic early on, were so disregarded by this banter of "Justin doing this again" and asserting that people who don't see the racism are fantasizing a "color-blind" society.
    as i wrote in the first post, the initial post about the video, i think the issue is their taget audience: the youth.....across the board.....despite racial issue.
    I'm a graduate of African American Studies.....understanding of the issues that one could possibly see with this video. But realistically, this, your initial post, is simply an attack on Justin.....if it was really 'beyond than Justin and Ciara' then why attack her and label her the "antebellum whore?" how encouraging is that to begin any dialogue about protecting the image of black women? in addition, why even question why justin is the "go to guy" with music. and questioning his "value to music"....
    decided to go through the whole thing since there was such an uproar about my comment.....i'm still unmoved.....and i appreciated the two or three references to how black men are held accountable...and the lack of dialogue about the subject.....
    overall, i still adore this sight......and will continue to visit.....

  19. and just to be clear, my initial post was about ur bullet points....after 23 minutes of the podcast, i decided to comment.....needed some clarity about that.....
    as we do about this situation

  20. Well, Tannie, "antebellum whore" isn't referring to how I feel about Ciara. It's referring to how she played a role and played herself, and if we want to look beyond pointing the finger at Justin and Black men for that matter, can we start by telling these sisters that they are too beautiful to even reduce themselves to this in the first place? Because honestly, part of holding the women in question accountable is also telling them that they are worth more. I think if we want to make this dialogue bigger than Justin, then that's the place to start--not by blaming this person or that person but by celebrating Black women by letting them know they're beautiful. Hopefully that's something we can all agree on.

  21. If fostering positive images, dialogues and aspirations to personal pride are important then so is the need for respectful handling of provocative historical references (and thus implicit atonement for residual shame), that's just good manners.
    Ro's post focused on a few trees on the fringes of a very big wood, I'm not sure we saw the trees for the wood or vise-versa?
    Sometimes, in these times, I wonder if the problem isn't actually too little self-esteem but too much?
    I enjoyed that thoughtful and very funny round table, I look forward to hearing new voices which move beyond, and further "nuance".

  22. @ Nova. Ok, I didn't listen to the show. I just read your recap and the comments posted.

  23. Ill Mami,
    Good points to be considered and I def feel what you're saying.

  24. @Tannie
    Still cherry picking and missing key points I see. That's not what Blue Telusma said at all. Blue's comment "It left me totally unmoved and unconvinced" was in regard to the initial op ed piece not the podcast, which you're so quick to disregard. But that's neither here nor there. I'm not trying to personally attack you, just wanted to get that straight.
    We definitely appreciate your contributing to this dialogue and we can all agree that people--regardless of race and gender--have to do better and be better.

  25. Ciara's video with Justin was one of her worst. She is trying too hard and really needs to fire all of her handlers! The numbskulls responsible for encouraging her to participate in this awful, tacky, classless endeavor need to be pumping gas! She has her legs open like the local 7-11 in a most unseemly fashion. Its like the budget rate Beyonce! I don't think even Bey would participate in something as greasy as Ciara's "video." She will forever be on the B or C list turning out sludge like this. Show some class Ci-Ci!

  26. props to my man fave on the production and capturing this for posterity. please, Please, PLEASE more roundtable discussions. this is the type of critique that separates Soulbounce from the rest. felt like i was back in my Africana studies class and nobody wanted to break up the session. 100% real talk from all participants involved. accountability is key. thank you for continuing to hold all artists accountable.

  27. I think that she is trying to be too sexy. In the end the whole video looks horrible. Do you have to degrade yourself to sell a couple hundred albums?

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