Given their youthful audience, music videos can, for better or worse, go a long way in shaping young people's attitudes about issues like sexism, homophobia or transgenderism. Two recent videos take different approaches to the latter, with some telling results.
The Gossip's latest, for a remix of the "Listen Up!" single, has the right idea. Two young people, including New York nightlife personality Murray Hill, head out for a night on the town. It's a celebratory, matter-of-fact approach to gender diversity that's in keeping with Gossip singer Beth Ditto's progressive, and often outspoken, politics.
In contrast, this recent video for Robbie Williams' "She's Madonna," a jokey song about the Material Girl, makes drag queens at a nightclub look like patients in a mental ward. It doesn't help that Robbie intermittently appears in a dress to talk about his "multiple personality disorder" -- a condescending riff on fame that seems to equate cross-dressing with mental illness -- or that the video shoots its subjects like a Diane Arbus photo essay.
-- Thomas Rogers