What effect are these having on the children and youth watching the videos?
One Saturday afternoon I was watching Teen Summit, a program on Black Entertainment Television (BET) when the host asked a group of teens if the music videos affect the way they relate to each other. One of the boys blurted out, "Yeah, man. I'm still looking for the girls in DMX's videos" - hence the title of my essay. The others laughed but understood what he meant.
I think he meant that the girls in the videos represent a lifestyle that blends money, power, respect, material wealth, and beautiful women. This lifestyle does not just dominate music videos; much of the "curriculum" in mainstream media focuses on this lifestyle as the essence of the American dream. However, the music videos that I watched are particularly dangerous because they expose young Black men and women to a range of negative images. These videos, then, have a range of potential effects on young Black men and women, as well as on the African-American community as a whole. In addition, there is the issue of promoting stereotypical images of African Americans among young white men and women - a topic beyond the scope of this essay.
Healthy, respectful, and equal relationships with women are certainly not promoted in the images that I saw. Young Black women are present more as ornaments and objects than as human beings. They are often in the background and virtually never have anything to contribute besides big breasts and butts.
Although the artists, lyrics, and story lines were different, the basic message for African-American young men was that money can buy you beautiful, sexy, and seductive women. For example, many videos had one similar scene in particular: the camera scans a seemingly endless stream of beautiful women. They are all dancing seductively with their "come get me" expressions. Simply put, if you were ballers and shot callers like these male artists, you could have your pick; all these women wanted and longed for them. The reason these women were attracted to the men was not because of their looks, intelligence, or sense of humor. It was because of their money and the things that this money could get them.