Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beso De Desayuno and Masucline Disturbance

So I'm late and I didn't know that Calle 13 had released a video for "Un Beso de Desayuno" off their last album. I was speaking to someone the other day and she said that she actually thought the video was disappointing compared to their others, but also that it takes the form of the typical hetero-masculine-fantasy music video.

While I have to agree that the video isn't as clever as their other videos and does fall into some hetero-masculine-fantasy scenario at moments I thought the video wasn't necessarily the ultra saccharine corny song/video that she did.

My initial reactions to watching the video was that more so than fantasy in the traditional sense the narrative, and perhaps Residente's masculinity, are frustrated and interrupted repeatedly. There are moments where the fantasy is disrupted by insects on Residente and on the women revealing the illusion of the video and creating a counter narrative of disturbance to the ultra saccharine lyrics of the song where there is seemingly nothing wrong in paradise. There are also moments when he seems confused, disoriented, or disturbed at the scene he is participating in like he is out of time and place.

Also, yes, its very wack that at the end it turns up being a house of like 25 women who just can't wait for Residente to come home and are so overwhelmed by emotion or sexual longing that they jump into the water to meet him before his boat docks...BUT there was something potentially a little queer about this house of 25 women, a potential intimacy and affinity that I read into it that was subversive. I wonder whether his masculine-fantasy is repeatedly interrupted by this queered female intimacy in the video and that is why he looks repeatedly disturbed at various moments throughout.

And lastly, although the lyrics are nauseatingly sweet there is some undercurrent in the video that upsets that that I'm very much into and that redeems the song and the video for me because they rely on each other to work in a more complex way that we're used to seeing from Calle 13.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like Residente reads a lot of Lacan and Judy Butler after you watch his videos?



raquelzrivera said...

Thanks to the Jennifer C. Nash article you recommended to me ("Strange Bedfellows: Black Feminism and Antipornography Feminism")... I've been thinking a lot about how our interpretations are so contingent (on perceptions, experiences, politics, what just happened this morning or last night...). I can't get out of my head the part about Kobena Mercer reversing his first reading of Mapplethorpe's photos as being steeped in "racial fetishism" because Mercer didn't want "a black gay critique to be appropriated to the purposes of the New Right's antidemocratic cultural offensive."

And that all came to mind again as I read your thoughts on "Beso de Desayuno." You make good points regarding the potential queer intimacies among the women. And also regarding the disruptions in the traditional hetero masculine narrative. (That's one of the points Alfredo Nieves Moreno makes in his chapter "A Man Lives Here: Reggaetón’s Hypermasculine Resident" from the Reggaeton anthology) And, yes, either Residente and/or folks on his team must be very familiar with Butler, Lacan et. al.

I agree... the video lets us know he(Residente)/they(his team) know it's the usual fantasy being portrayed. I might even be tempted to say "awwww..." at the end when the women going crazy over his arrival just disappear below the water and become little floating lights on the dark river that he's traveling on... alone.

But here's my VERY contingent reading/gut reaction to the images: having been consistently burned in real life by the "I want them all" mentality, makes it very difficult for me to focus on the sweetness/disruptions/unfulfilled desire that IS in this video but does nothing for me as a viewer except remind me of "jewels" of popular heterosexist wisdom like "there's many churches but only one cathedral" (i.e., men wander off but love only one woman) and the campo nickname for the vegetable apio (they call it "mujer propia" because it has no flavor... no sabe a ná).

Thanks for the food for thought!

raquelzrivera said...

Here's an excerpt from a Primera Hora article (April 21, 2006) where Residente actually mentions Judith Butler. First the original in Spanish, then my translation into English:

Aunque se pudiera interpretar que la lírica de Calle 13, sexualmente cargada, podría clasificar a la mujer, René Pérez descarta por completo tener una actitud machista.

"Las personas que estén en ese viaje están queda'os pero bien pega'os. Ya eso pasó de moda. Les recomendaría que se lean a Judith Butler, que ella defiende a la mujer sin ser feminista. Ella piensa que ser feminista es estar queda'o a estas alturas. Tengo cuatro hermanas y los roles masculinos y femeninos los tengo bien claros en la mente", asegura.

¿Cuáles son esos roles?

Yo pienso que la gente no debe estar tan consciente del rol que están asumiendo en cuestión de género. Deben hacer las cosas como sientan y como fluyan. Las mujeres pueden hacer cosas de hombres, y los hombres cosas de mujeres. Aquí en Puerto Rico y en (el resto de) Latinoamérica, en especial, es difícil bregar con los géneros y la gente todavía no acepta a los homosexuales, pero eso se va trabajando.

Even though Calle 13's sexually charged lyrics can be interpreted as [] classifying women, René Pérez denies having a sexist attitude.

"People who are on that trip are far behind. That's out of style. I would recommend they read Judith Butler who defends women without being feminist. She thinks being feminist is being behind the times at this point. I have four sisters and the masculine and feminine roles are real clear in my head," [Residente] says.

And what are those roles?

I think people should not be so conscious of the role they are playing in terms of gender. They should do things the way they feel and the way they flow. Women can do men's things and men can do women's things. Here in Puerto Rico and the rest of Latin America, specially, its difficult to deal with gender and people still don't accept homosexuals, but we can work on that.

Kosmos said...

Ok, so, finally I find critique of Calle 13 and am so glad for the comments written by Raquel Rivera. I just today wondered if I was not hearing Un Beso De Desayono incorrectly. As all good writing, there can be several levels of meaning, and I wondered, further, as I madly hopped around the city in mass transit, whether the sweetness of this song is no sweetness at all. Wondered if perhaps this is no love song but a song about male obsession and fantasy, inner vision as opposed to seeing the woman. I wondered if, like Sting's Every Breath You take, it is no love song, but a song (also?) revealing a projection of the woman this man wants as opposed to who she actually is. Maybe not. Maybe it is just another sweet song of praise to a woman, or maybe it is both that and the need for the man to not have a projectionist vision but one that is observing not pronouncing.

In any case, I have to actually think more about the song; but I am very grateful for the Judith Butler intro, as I was not aware of her work.

Thanks to the both of you.