Mastotwerker Defends Mastotwerking

  • Axl Rosenberg

mastodon twerker jadeEarlier this week, Mastodon released a video for their song “Motherload,” which depicted a cadre of women engaging in the trendy activity known as “twerking.” The Internet hadn’t found anything to be mad about in thirty seconds, so, of course, people cried “MISOGYNY!”, and drummer Brann Dailor was forced to publicly defend the clip. Admittedly, though, Dailor’s argument, which basically amounted to “lighten up,” wasn’t necessarily the strongest or most convincing.

But this one is a little stronger: one of the twerkers in the video, identified only as “Jade,” has posted the following message on her Tumblr:

“This week has been an interesting one. At the end of August, I danced with some friends for Mastodon’s new video, ‘The Motherload.’ We were stoked about it. Twerking in a metal video?! Unheard of! We came from varying backgrounds, classical dancers, pole dancers, strippers all nervously waiting in the common area wondering how we’d all fit in. Well that was a piece of cake. As soon as the music played, we felt jazzed—in fact, they asked us if we’d prefer to dance to some hip-hop instead and then they’d remove the sound and add their track. We declined. We all waited patiently by our machines for weeks, waiting for the video to drop. It dropped Monday.

“Within minutes of the video dropping, there was a serious backlash. While most people seemed to ‘get’ the band’s shout out to their hometown, Atlanta, others called it racist and sexist. Some people even called us dirty niggers and whores. Funny, the most sexist and racist sentiments came not from filming the actual video, but from a subset of metal fans who thought we simply didn’t belong. If anything, the video shoot was welcoming, the band clever and pleasant, and the girls bonded almost the second the music dropped. Much like the band, we weren’t concerned with thin, knee-jerk reactions to asses and twerking.

“We came across from different walks of life. Real deal ATL strippers joked with me—I’m a pole dance student with a background in African American literature and cultural theory, while my ballet dancer friend laughed with the other ladies, doing pirouettes in between takes. If you read the interview in which the band says that we were having fun with each other and not for the male gaze, you should know he was totally right. My other friend who is the best conglomeration of every dancer there—pole dancer, stripper, PhD in women’s lit and African American lit focus, and a dance instructor—could be the poster child of what this was. Women having fun with each other. Praising each other. A glimpse into what we do and that we are bigger than what we do.

“One of the reasons this video, for me, is garnering so much attention is that truly the women are not just asses—and there are a lot of fantastic asses in the building—but shown as 3D people, which scares folk. Another is the concern for cultural appropriation. From us and from them. The fear of metal being ‘tainted,’ the fear of the band using a dance form associated with black culture for their own gain. These fears boil down into my one response: we all belong. This band made it such that by the time the shoot was over, we all went home and got the track. (I’m playing it on the jukebox at my local bar as I write.) This video wasn’t a spoof or mocking or satire, in my opinion. The guys are ATL homegrown. As much as metal is in their bones, so is trap music, so is Old Fourth Ward, so is Magic City. They repped Georgia not out of exploitation, but because it resonates with them and is a part of them. This video proves that metal can reach out and can be reached out to without parody, without hierarchy, and it is a good thing.

“Ask us if it was racist or sexist. We were the ones right there experiencing it. I’ll tell you from my view: no.


My snarky comments about the internet being unnecessarily outraged aside, I do understand why some have taken offense to the video — I mean, anyone else see this segment on The Daily Show last night? If you somehow think sexism is a non-issue in the modern world, it will set you straight right quick.

That being said… it’s very hard to level accusations of persecution when the allegedly-persecuted party claims they weren’t persecuted. There’s definitely an argument to be made that a metaphorical refusal to press charges doesn’t really negate the crime, but these women weren’t exactly the victims of unwanted attention. None of these women were duped into shaking their money makers for the camera.

You are, of course, free to disagree with me, Mr. Dailor, and Ms. Jade, though — and I definitely think this is the kind of debate worth participating in. So keep the discussion going in the comments section below. Does Jade’s statement settle this issue once and for all, or do you think her defense is completely misguided?

[via Lambgoat]

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