Do Music Video Producers Discriminate Against Dark-Skinned Black Girls?

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A million years from now, what will scientists be digging up in order to get an unfiltered, “straight from the horse’s mouth” view of today’s values, beliefs and aspirations of urban culture?

Music videos, of course.

Music videos are perhaps the ultimate barometer for what is desirable, in vogue and current within popular culture. From slang, fashion and beauty ideals, music videos both reflect and influence what the masses envy and lust after.

So how do the movers and shakers within the industry decide what and who to include? A short feature video just out, “Complexion Obsession” by JoyDailytv.com host Joy Daily, addresses a controversial issue of music video casting that isn’t talked about much, but clearly comes into play: light-skinned vs. dark-skinned models.

In this video, rappers Rick Ross, Cassidy, Paul Wall, video vixens and industry insiders shed light on why dark-skinned girls get less love in the casting world for music videos.

Some say it is an attempt to portray a “multi-cultural look” in order to appeal to a wider audience. Others claim it is a lighting issue: it’s allegedly harder to make out facial features and expressions of darker-complexed girls in video. So dark girls are used for body shots, and light-skinned girls for the “pretty features”.

In my opinion, it’s a truly ridiculous standard set for the definition of beauty, and I can only wonder what today’s darker complexioned girl thinks about all of this. Anyways, check out the video below (10 minutes long):

Says BET producer Thembisa Mshaka:

“When people are cast, it’s very specific… [the music video producers’ and artists’] preference is not diverse, their preference is for light-skinned, bi-racial or women with long hair. There’s nothing wrong with that but don’t hide behind marketability… you’re just casting what you want.”

This starts to get annoying when you start to really dive into the issue. Will a foul be called if a dark-skinned girl doesn’t show up every time in your favorite artist’s videos?

You could argue that skin color preference is determined by society as a whole and it’s been an issue previous to the days of hip hop, even going back to when the first slave traders arrived with their cargo. So if men (aka consumers) want to see mixed/Spanish/white girls, that is what will get shown. To me, beauty starts within yourself anyways: if your type isn’t displayed on the TV, you are still beautiful if you believe you are beautiful.

Part of me thinks that the media jumping on this juicy topic and fanning the flames is the reason for this beef in the first place. Surround yourself with positive things and you will think positive about yourself and others. But easier said than done though, without a doubt!

In another related segment, Joy Daily breaks down a popular and very relevant music video “Pretty Girls” by rapper Wale. Wale’s lyrics often address his experiences as a son of African immigrants. Ironically, Ms. Daily lights up Wale for depicting approximately two dozen women throughout the video who are mostly light-skinned and appear to be of mixed or Spanish descent.

“From a light skin girl to a dark skin brotha
Shade doesn’t matter, heart makes the lover
Boy, you so beautiful, boy, you so beautiful
Shade doesn’t matter, heart makes the lover”

–Chorus from from “Shades”, Wale

Last but not least, it’s probably better anyways that our sistas aren’t in some of these exploitative rap videos! Though I do understand the need to protect our own, I think people are crying foul a little too much. But let’s hear your thoughts in the comments!

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