“What’s your definition of dirty, baby?”: Sex in music video

Abstract

As sexuality in music video becomes more intense and more frequent, it requires more attention by scholars. This essay summarizes the findings of two decades’ worth of research on music video, most of which focuses on sexual and violent content in the videos. In addition, we suggest a typology of how sexuality is indicated and used by artists—especially female artists—to define their images and attract audiences.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Anderman, J. (2002, October 29). Aguilera sells “Dirty” image, but will her fans buy it? Boston Globe, p. C1.

  2. Andsager, J. L. (1999). Contradictions in the country: Rituals of sexual subordination and strength in music video. In M. G. Carstarphen and S. C. Zavoina (Eds.), Sexual rhetoric: Media perspectives on sexuality, gender, and identity (pp. 224–237). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Andsager, J. L., & Roe, K. (1999, winter). Country music video in country’s year of the woman. Journal of Communication, 49, 69–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aufderheide, P. (1986, winter). Music videos: The look of the sound. Journal of Communication, 36, 57–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baxter, R. L., De Riemer, C., Landini, A., Leslie, L., & Singletary, M. W. (1985). A content analysis of music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 29, 333–340.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bennett, H. S., & Ferrell, J. (1987). Music videos and epistemic socialization. Youth & Society, 18, 344–362.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Boucher, G. (1999, May 6). The Twain have met in Shania: A country contradiction, the singer sounds and sells like pop. Los Angeles Times, p. 6.

  8. Brown, J. D., & Schulze, L. (1990, spring). The effects of race, gender, and fandom on audience interpretations of Madonna’s music videos. Journal of Communication, 40, 88–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Calfin, M. S., Carroll, J. L., & Shmidt, Jr., J. (1993). Viewing music-videotapes before taking a test of premarital sexual attitudes. Psychological Reports, 72, 475–481.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Carey, J. T. (1969). Changing courtship patterns in the popular song. American Journal of Sociology, 74, 720–731.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Garrity, B. (2002, October 19). Web premieres log on as key marketing tool. Billboard, p. 168.

  12. Greeson, L. E., & Williams, R. A. (1986, December). Social implications of music videos for youth: An analysis of the content and effects of MTV. Youth & Society, 18, 177–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Gundersen, E. (1987, June 3). Radio stations shy away from “Sex.” USA Today, p. 1D.

  14. Hansen, C. H., & Hansen, R. D. (1988). How rock music videos can change what is seen when boy meets girl: Priming stereotypic appraisal of social interactions. Sex Roles, 19, 287–316.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hansen, C. H., & Hansen, R. D. (1990, April). The influence of sex and violence on the appeal of rock videos. Communication Research, 17, 212–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Hardware Uncensored.com. (2003). Accessed May 28, 2003.

  17. Johnson, J. D., Adams, M. S., Ashburn, L., & Reed, W. (1995). Differential gender effects of exposure to rap music on African American adolescents’ acceptance of teen dating violence. Sex Roles, 33, 597–605.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Johnson, K. C. (2002, August 11). Child stardom: It’s a rare Stevie who can shed a “little” and survive. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. F1.

  19. Jones, S. (1989, winter). Cohesive but not coherent: Music videos, narrative and culture. Popular Music and Society, 12, 15–30.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Kalof, L. (1999). The effects of gender and music video imagery on sexual attitudes. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 378–385.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Leming, J. S. (1987). Rock music and the socialization of moral values in early adolescence. Youth & Society, 18, 363–383.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Longino, M. (2000, October 1). Nashville’s makeover. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, p. L1.

  23. Lynch, C. (2001, April). Ritual transformation through Michael Jackson’s music video. The Journal of Communication Inquiry, 25, 114–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. McKee, K. B., & Pardun, C. J. (1999). Reading the video: A qualitative study of religious images in music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 43, 110–122.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Pardun, C. J., & McKee, K. B. (1995). Strange bedfellows: Symbols of religion and sexuality on MTV. Youth & Society, 26, 438–449.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Peterson-Lewis, S., & Chennault, S. A. (1986, winter). Black artists’ music videos: Three success strategies. Journal of Communication, 36, 107–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Rich, M., Woods, E. R., Goodman, E., Emans, S. J., & DuRant, R. H. (1998). Aggressors or victims: Gender and race in music video violence. Pediatrics, 101, 669–674.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Roberts, R. (1991, fall). Music videos, performance, and resistance: Feminist rappers. Journal of Popular Culture, 25, 141–152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Segal, D. (2001, August 1). Arrested development: At 20, the music channel refuses to grow up. The Washington Post, p. C1.

  30. Seidman, S. A. (1993). An investigation of sex-role stereotying in music videos. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 36, 209–216.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Signorielli, N., McLeod, D., & Healy, E. (1993). Gender stereotypes in MTV commercials: The beat goes on. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 37, 91–101.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Singletary, M. W. (1983). Some perceptions of the lyrics of three types of recorded music: Rock, country and soul. Popular Music and Society, 9, 51–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Smith, S. L., Nathanson, A. I., & Wilson, B. J. (2002, March). Violence in music videos: Examining the prevalence and context of physical aggression. Journal of Communication, 52, 61–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Sommers-Flanagan, R., Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Davis, B. (1993). What’s happening on Music Television? A gender role content analysis. Sex Roles, 28, 745–753.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Strouse, J. S., Buerkel-Rothfuss, N., & Long, E. C. J. (1995). Gender and family as moderators of the relationship between music video exposure and adolescent sexual permissiveness. Adolescence, 30, 505–517.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Tapper, J., Thorson, E., & Black, D. (1994). Variations in music videos as a function of their musical genre. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 38, 103–113.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Toney, G. T., & Weaver, III, J. B. (1994). Effects of gender and gender role self-perceptions on affective reactions to rock music videos. Sex Roles, 30, 567–583.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Andsager, J., Roe, K. “What’s your definition of dirty, baby?”: Sex in music video. Sex Cult 7, 79–97 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-003-1004-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Sexual Attitude
  • Female Character
  • African American Adolescent
  • Music Video
  • Sexual Content