Who is the inauthentic woman?: Fractal Recursivity in Charisma’s “King”

The song I’m looking at for my first media response is King by Charisma. I chose this song as it nods to and constructs femininity in a specific way, wherein there is an authentic woman via constructing an inauthentic woman by comparison. This construction isn’t new by any means, and is an aspect of fractal recursivity, wherein “the fact that the differences which are made to be iconic are used in the creation of an ‘other'” (2004, Andronis). That said: this construction is important to consider as a reflection of not only Charisma’s lyrical considerations of women (within the scope of this project), but also how said constructions have come to be (a bit beyond the scope of this project).

For the remainder of this essay I will be using the term ‘authentic woman’ as it is contrasted by the ‘inauthentic woman.’ That said: I cannot agree with the message sent through the lyrics, and actively wish to push back against the idea that there is an inherently authentic womanhood which is contrasted by an inherently inauthentic womanhood.

Image Source

I will proceed with a short analysis of the specific language used in the song by examining the chorus and several verse sections (although I have included the lyrics in their entirety, with exception of chorus repetitions due to brevity). Disclaimer: I do not wish to express negativity toward either the song or Charisma with my analysis, as I know absolutely nothing of Charisma proper and enjoy the fuck out of the song. I also appreciate any and all constructive criticisms and comments made either here or via Twitter.


Chorus:

Oh I
Can’t wait until I become king
say goodbye to the bullshit and shallow things
No more of their plastic and empty dreams
When I become king

Although Charisma sings that one day they will become “king” this is not to say that Charisma is rejecting femininity, but rather that she is associating her own feminine identity with respect to the power and authority attributed to the entextualized title of “king.” Whereas the authentic woman is able to gain power and authority through “say[ing] goodbye to the bullshit and shallow things” the inauthentic woman is trapped by her inability to move away from “plastic and empty dreams.”


Verse, Part 1:

Can you hear me now
Loud and clearly now
I got shit to say
So just hear me out
Look what’s winning now
Are we for real right now?
Building plastic dolls just to make daddy proud

Here Charisma positions herself as the authentic woman, who is subsequently assertive (“I got shit to say”), while calling to attention the contrast between herself and what I have deemed to be classed lyrically as the inauthentic woman. Whereas the authentic woman is assertive in her speech, construction of identity, and concerns over others (“are we for real right now?”) the inauthentic woman is constructed only for the male gaze (“building plastic dolls just to make daddy proud”).


Verse, Part 2:

Turn that bullshit off
Play my music loud
Just be who you are
Don’t let them tear you down
I’ve some self esteem
that’s what’s up right now


Verse, Part 3:

I’m on Skype with my friends like wassup right now
Bless my brother Cal
Cuz he helped me up
Peace to my hometown I’m in
LA now
No injected butts
No injected lips
Beauty lies within
That’s what always wins out

Here again we see that the authentic woman has “beauty [which] lies within” and rejects “injected butts” and “injected lips.” Additionally the authentic woman “always wins out” by virtue of standard deletion (ie. the inauthentic woman who has been modified in some way is the default, and the authentic woman is constructed through a process of trait deletion).


Verse, Part 4:

So if you is tired of fakeness as I am
Then give me the freedom to sing
I can’t wait I can’t wait to be king

I’d like to call attention here to the fact that I have chosen not to include chorus repititions as an aspect of my analysis, but I’d like to note that I do find it very interesting that the bridge (“I can’t wait I can’t wait to be king”) is repeated in addition to the chorus proper (2017, Vox). If I had chosen to analyze this piece on the basis of literary analysis as opposed to a constructive analysis this is absolutely something I would have focused on more.


Verse, Part 5:

Let me clear the air
This is not a diss
This is opposite of all that gossiping
This is common sense
Mixed with consciousness
This is ‘ I love myself ‘ that’s why I’m the shit


Verse, Part 6:

So why would I care?
If it’s not a hit
When was truth ever based on acknowledgement
I’ve got self esteem
Plus my squad is lit
That’s why we’re taking off like a rocket ship

As part of this analysis I cannot discount the effects of the music proper. The song itself is poppy, and uses a popular triplet meter. In using this as an example of the ways in which the musicality turns to other music for genre convention constructive practices it is thus possible to conclude that although Charisma sings that they do not require validation they are influenced by popular genre conventions and are simultaneously willing to influence said conventions. This is another example of fractal recursivity whereby Charisma is “tapping into this great collective artistic movement” (2017, Vox).


Verse, Part 7:

So don’t try to tell me what’s cool right now
I could care less of what’s in right now
The only thing I wanna be right now
Is me


Verse, Part 8:

So we don’t need you for [unintelligible]
We know that we can do anything
I can’t wait, I can’t wait to be king


As has been shown above this song and the language used therein are directly related to the topic of language and gender. Where the authentic woman has access to power, authority, and subsequently prestige the inauthentic woman exists as a “plastic” thing for the male gaze. Repetition is used to great effect in this construction, with specific associations of “king” (obviously) and “plastic […] fakeness.

In completing this analysis I am left wondering whether or this song could function without the foundational premise of authentic versus inauthentic womanhood? I would be interested to look more into the ways in which gender is produced through music (and specifically how music videos amplify this, something which is well beyond the scope of this analysis). Moving forward I would love to see other songs that people think follow similar lines of gender construction in addition to those which fight against gender/ed language in music. In reviewing the course objectives this song allows for a “discuss[ion regarding] the role of language in the construction of gender […] identities” in addition to facilitating my own “critical respons[e] to [an] original source readin[g]” and thus would be appropriate for further consideration beyond the short essay I have written here. I think that there is still consideration to be made here regarding the trajectory of the way/s in which music influences thought as it stands in opposition to the way in which specific people express their own ideologies. While this type of analysis cannot be undertaken on a single source, “King” would absolutely be a necessary aspect of a larger project due to its explicit engendering.

[A few] questions I’m left with:

  • How does racialization impact not only an analysis of the lyrics as they construct womanhood, but also influence further understandings of womanhood therein?
  • How do aspects of racialization of genre convention with respect to specific musical tropes or mores influence an understanding of the music overall?
  • How are trans women excluded from the category of “authentic woman” here? Would it be possible for the lyrics to continue to express their base message of us vs. them without excluding trans women? How?
Advertisements

Fall 2017 Study Playlists

As is perhaps obvious I’m super into making a playlist for every occasion. Since my class playlists for this term have each exceeded 20 songs a piece I figured they’d be good for sharing. Each of the songs in these playlists reminds me of the relevant class/classwork in some way, but elsewise there’s not really a thread running through and these are probably best listened to on shuffle.


 

#ENGL496 Presentation Post

The way I used to do presentations was approximately: write down every word, practice until the script is effectively redundant, but still Do Not Deviate from the script. While that method definitely has its uses (I’ve become pretty good at making a memorized line sound off-the-cuff) it also has downsides: whenever it came to a question and answer period I’d falter. With that in mind my last year-or-so of presentations I’ve been trying very hard to practice without a script, so as to include “superfluous” information into my talking style. What this means for things like PowerPoints and the like is that my notes have become a sparse writing of anything I actually need to say verbatim (ie. shit it would actually be detrimental to fuck up on), and important quotes/Wikipedia entry info (not to read, but moreso as signalling phrases).

The original version of my presentation for yesterday’s #ENGL496 class focused on Launchpad covers via the lens of Brandon Labelle’s “Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of the Voice and Oral Imagery.” “Thanks” (but also: Thanks) to a friend, however, I spent a not-insignificant hunk of time while in Montréal last month [explicitly avoiding “Clinical Encounters in Sexuality” by] reading Barthes’ “The Pleasure of the Text” and “Mythologies,” which eventually turned me on to “The Responsibility of Forms“–the book from which I ended up grabbing all of my signalling phrases/quotes from. This shift was tricksy, because historically the class has tended toward… not enjoying any mention of psychoanalysis really at all. Not sure how my re-skinning worked (if at all), but in the end it definitely wasn’t The Most Convoluted presentation I’ve ever given so at least There’s That.

For anyone curious about what all this meta-analysis actually refers to I’ve attached my presentation slides/notes below the cut:

Continue reading “#ENGL496 Presentation Post”

6/6: discourse

“Discourse and the History of Sexuality” – Will Stockton

I wrote this chapter in 2009, and since then have come to dislike it. This chapter is dated, overly quotational, and altogether inadequate in its reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20. For many years, I believed Clinical Encounters in Sexuality to be defunct, and in truth, I would prefer this piece remain stuck in a desk drawer. I agree to its publication now, in relatively unrevised form, only because I realize that the volume as a whole depends on it, and may indeed depend (although I am not sure, as I have not read the responses) on the way I originally expressed ideas. (footnote, 171)


Works Cited

Giffney, Noreen , and Eve Watson, eds. Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory. Earth: Punctum , 2017. e-Book.


Want more of these ridiculous playlists?

0/6: falling short //

1/6: identity // 2/6: desire // 3/6: pleasure //

4/6: perversion // 5/6: ethics // 6/6: discourse //

 

5/6: ethics

“Out of Line, On Hold: D.W. Winnicott’s Queer Sensibilities” – Michael Snediker

A person’s realness […] isn’t what justifies or necessitates one’s care for them. (146)


Works Cited

Giffney, Noreen , and Eve Watson, eds. Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory. Earth: Punctum , 2017. e-Book.


Want more of these ridiculous playlists?

0/6: falling short //

1/6: identity // 2/6: desire // 3/6: pleasure //

4/6: perversion // 5/6: ethics // 6/6: discourse //