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Music Videos and Revenge May 16, 2007

Posted by Melissa in Before he Cheats, Carrie Underwood, controversy, Dixie Chicks, domestic violence, Eve, Kelly Clarkson, music video.

I wanted to continue our discussion of music videos and our earlier discussion of the “revenge narrative” by looking at two hugely popular videos released by Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Both women came to fame as winners of the American Idol competition and have subsequently built their careers in both the pop and country music markets. Clarkson released “Since You’ve Been Gone” in 2005; Underwood’s single “Before He Cheats” was released a year later in 2006. In their videos’ both women exact revenge on philandering partners by destroying property both men cherish.

“Since You’ve Been Gone”

“Before He Cheats”

After watching these videos and thinking back to “Goodbye Earl” it dawned on me that female performers hardly ever discuss serious domestic violence issues in their music. Its fascinating that “Goodbye Earl” was such a popular song considering our society’s unwillingness to discuss domestic violence- a problem always dealt with behind closed doors. Because of our tendency to want to remain removed from situations of domestic violence, female pop stars focus on less pressing issues…like cheating boyfriends. According to our standards, it is okay for a woman to attack a cheating boyfriend -we even find that funny- but it is not okay for a woman to even discuss domestic violence with anyone outside her home. Aside from the Dixie Chicks, the only other artist who has addressed the problem is Eve. A few years ago she released “love is blind,” a song about a friend who was killed by an abusive partner. She too thinks of killing her friend’s husband, but never goes beyond dreaming.

“Love is Blind”

I think what is most interesting about Eve’s “discussion” of domestic violence, and its consequences, is that it is much more based on reality than “Goodbye Earl.” Honestly, in this case specifically, how many people actually think of and get away with murder? Women are more likely to continue suffering at the hands of their abusive partners than to build up the courage to leave or kill him. The fact that tolerating the abuse or killing the abuser are the only two options viable for women is a disturbing reflection of our judicial system and society. The entertainment industry has the power to change society’s relationship with domestic violence, but has shied away from the responsibility. I wonder why, considering musicians- past and present- have never shied away from controversy.  


1. More Revenge Music Videos. « Girlpower + 1 - May 16, 2007

[…] domestic violence, Power, music video, controversy, Ethics, video. trackback I wanted to continue Melissa’s point about the popularity of the “revenge narrative” in music videos, yet a complete avoidance of […]

2. Self-Recognition is the Best Revenge? « Let’s read some popular culture… - May 21, 2007

[…] is the Best Revenge? 21 05 2007 Both Melissa and ajaramillo on GP+1 have pretty awesome posts on female power, popular music, and the revenge […]

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