To resist or display resistance is to hold one’s ground and go against the norm. In theory, it is the perfect outlet to express one’s beliefs and break down societal boundaries. However, in reality, going against commonly held ideas on topical issues such as gender roles and representation is often paired with adverse response. For instance, music is an effective tool to tell stories, share perspectives, and voice opinions. Many music videos today focus on breaking free from perpetuating feminine stereotypes. This controversial topic brings rise to criticism, especially surrounding the fine line between whether artists are reinforcing or destroying negative stereotypes. Pink’s video “Stupid Girls” is one of many that resist common conventions on what society considers womanly by attacking superficial pop-culture role models. This approach both disrupts stereotypes through the emphasized femininity of women while highlighting women’s agency and choice.
Pink’s music video “Stupid Girls” is intended to bring rise to a problem many young women face: the pressure to waste time, money, and energy trying to fulfill society’s definition of ideal and beautiful. This comedic video begins with a young girl deciding whether to follow the devil on her should and conform to society’s expectations for women, or trust the angel and resist by being true to herself. The plot then changes to various clips of Pink making reference to Paris Hilton’s sex tape, Mary-Kate Olsen’s shopping sprees, Lindsay Lohan’s car crashes, and various other foolish Hollywood moments (Vineyard). Pink also upholds superficial women stereotypes by spray tanning herself orange, and buying a pet accessory in an attempt to “stay younger longer” as indicated on the cage. All meanwhile, Pink periodically features her true self in the video and her struggles with attempting to change herself to fit the molds society has created for her. She gives up her body to plastic surgery for unnecessary modifications and runs on the treadmill to achieve the “ideal” body. However, Pink subtly implies her disapproval of each of these typecasts through her “Die Hipster Scum” t-shirt, and more obviously at the end of the video when the young girl ultimately choses to not be a “stupid girl” by going against the norm and picking football over dolls.
Each of the previously described stereotypes fit into the term of emphasized femininity. As described by Professor Tolmie, emphasized femininity is an exaggerated form of femininity where women must conform to the needs of men. Auletter and Wittner also define it based on film, where women are displayed as young, thin, conventionally beautiful, and heterosexual (10). This term is often viewed in a negative light as it typecasts and discriminates against women. While it is valid that the stereotypes Pink presents are inappropriate and “emphasize femininity”, Pink uses them to emphasize the need to see past, eliminate, and resist conforming to conventional standards. The images illustrate her view about the utter stupidity of Hollywood trends, which mustn’t be followed. Pink also severely lacks intersectionality in her video, however I think that was the intention. She showcases the idea that society inappropriately sees the ideal as a young, white, able, upper class women.
“Stupid Girls” also particularly focuses on women’s agency and choice. Professor Tolmie and Auletter and Wittner define agency as the act of seeking change by riding existing notions and implementing new social practices (11). While it is true that women have agency and free choice, people often find themselves pressured to act and look a certain way by society. There are unwritten guidelines that many feel they must follow in order to fit in. The question is, why do women feel so inclined to modify their bodies? Who are women changing for, themselves or others? In Pink’s music video “Stupid Girls” she emphasizes the need to change the women’s stunted development of their agency that causes them to conform to societal stereotypes instead of choosing their own path. Pink exhibits this idea by showing the obvious lack of agency in the “stupid girls”, compared to the young next generation girl who successfully declines the “stupid girls”. She uses her agency by choosing football over dolls, emphasizing the idea that girls should not feel inclined to pursue any path that they don’t want merely in fear of stepping outside hegemonic norms.
It is crucial that the flaws of this song and music video are also mentioned. For instance, Pink does not present many alternatives to being a “stupid girl”. She simply shows what stupidity looks like and demands that young women stay away from it. The only alternatives she presents to being a “stupid girl”are a female president or an outcast who prefers football but remains envious of other females. This narrow scope doesn’t give women many realistic or attainable options. Being a female president or football player continues to be rare, and thus, unreasonable. Pink also places all the responsibility on women for why they are depicted as they are. She doesn’t consider external reasoning or historical past; rather she attributes female celebrities and their flaws as the instigator for female stupidity. Considering each analyzed flaw, I understand the ways this could potentially limit female agency. However, I believe Pink made his song and music video in a relatable way for young women by comparing it to current celebrities and their faulty behaviour. With this, I believe Pink’s message is that young women do not need to repeat these same mistakes to be seen as desirable in society’s eyes. Rather, young girls must create their own path, make their own mistakes, but be true to themselves.
Overall, Pink’s video “Stupid Girls” is a form for resistance as it goes against the norm and emphasizes the need to dismantle commonly held stereotypes about women as they are negatively influencing adolescents. As mentioned, this music video is not perfect; it features many controversial and questionable moments. However, I think the larger message within the song and music video highlights the importance of women’s agency in the present day society where emphasized femininity and stereotypes prevail.
Auletter, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. Print.
Tolmie, Jane. “Lecture 2.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 21 January 2014. Lecture.
Tolmie, Jane. “Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 4 February 2014. Lecture.
Vineyard, Jennifer. “Pink’s ‘Stupid’ New Video Features Fake Breasts, Fake 50 Cent.” MTV. Viacom International Inc. Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.