Music Videos as Black Feminist Thought – From Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda to Beyoncé’s Formation

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Abstract

The article examines two recent music videos by Black female artists, Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda (2014) and Beyoncé’s Formation (2016), and the heated online discussions around them about whether they are feminist or not. The article argues that the epistemic habit of asking this question often works counterproductively and stabilises the boundaries of feminism. Instead, the two music videos are considered as creative works of Black feminist thought, following Patricia Hill Collins (2009). Collins suggests that in order to challenge traditional forms of white male knowledge production, other forms of expression than academic writing should also be considered theory. The key question then becomes: how do Anaconda and Formationparticipate in, re-imagine and work as Black feminist thought, understood as complex and dynamic? The article outlines three main critiques directed at the videos: selling out to white people and capitalism; promotion of white, heteronormative body ideals while appropriating queer of color culture; and involvement in so-called ‘reverse oppression’. Anaconda and Formation can be seen to answer each these critiques respectively, when seen connected to and employing strategies of Black feminist theories of pleasure, queer of color critique, and Black feminist politics of coalition among marginalised subjects.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1–13
JournalFeminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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