Bet UOENO Her Name: Bottomlines for BeTTy BuTT

Ms. Jamie Adedra (“Betty Booty”) Moore

Born: Wed., Feb. 14, 1990
Died: Wed., Nov. 12, 2014

OI35000142_JamieMoore

Jamie A’dedra Moore was born February 14, 1990 in Queens, New York to James D Moore and AnnetteTownes. The date is significant for my research because YouTube launched its domain name on February 14, 2005. YouTube would launch Jamie and her two friends from ATL into online user-generated fame. On June 9, 2009 she and two other local twerkers uploaded their 3rd attempt to broadcast themselves as the Official Twerk Team on YouTube.

On Wednesday, November 12, 2014. Jamie was involved with a failed drug deal where she was accosted and shot in the head over $1115. Jamie better known on YouTube as BeTTy BuTT, the capitalized “T”s stand for “twerk team” which they made famous as a colloquial expression and a cultural meme. Twerk teams of lil’ sisters and cousins and later cheerleading squads and white girls in San Diego high schools led to a kind of moral panic following the appropriation of twerking by Miley Cyrus in a  YouTube video in April 4, 2013 (that date is probably of no significance to Miley and her handlers–it’s the date MLK was assassinated). The video titled Miley Cyrus Twerking Video has over 6.7 million views to date. 

My students and I since last summer have been learning about CPMs. The cost per thousands YouTube uses to calculate the monetization of a channel. According to several sources (will update later when I have time), the average subscriber today makes only $2.09/CPM minus a 45% cut for YouTube. To put the $1115 that Jamie was shot in the head for into CPMs, she died for 500,000 YouTube views.

Her top upload on her personal channel @BeTTy BuTT had only 4 videos. She had left the Official Twerk Team. More about that in another post. The video with the most views had only over 200,000 views. She died for twice that number and some. #bottomlines  YouTube ain’t as lucrative as everyday folk want to make it out to be. When I tell folks I am studying twerking, black girls’ twerking on YouTube, one of the initial responses is always they are making money on YouTube.  Pardon the vernacular but…NO THEY NOT!!  At least for the millions of views she got with the Twerk Team and her own site she could have at least been remembered for her born name, her government name, in death. Not one news report claimed her real name. She was just some “dumb bitch” (pardon the expression) who twerked on YouTube. RIP.

Here’s more from her obituary online.

She was …

full of life, she enjoyed swimming, sewing, music, dancing, volunteering and spending time with family and friends.Jamie graduated from Chapel Hill High School in Douglasville, GA. She had many talents including fashion desiging, modeling and teaching dance. She was a the true daddy’s girl. She mirrored and enjoyed every minute of swimming, motorcycling and other thrill seeking activities with her father. Additionally, she loved making arts and craſts with her mother. Theyenjoyed sewing, crocheting and knitting many items which inspired her aryistic ability as a fashion designer. Recently, she was helping her mother create a website for her craſt business. Jamie had an awesome relationship with her stepmother and they enjoyed attending theater productions. Jamie’s affinity for travel was inspired by stepmother and she loved traveling with her grandparents and aunt Curly. Jamie was a water lover and the beach was her best friend. She was also an ovarian cancer survivor.

YouTube Creator: Shake it Baby (No Music, No Twerking)

Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”
Albert Einstein

banksy_quote1“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

I learn so much more from creating content than writing about it some days. Action not reaction. Production not consumption. But analysis make my creative vision sharper.

About to start writing a book about all this work. The name will likely be

Digital Seduction: Black Girls, Twerking and the #Bottomlines of their ‘Net Worth on YouTube

Here’s a new version of the video my students and I produced last summer. I monetized my YouTube channel causing the initial version to be disqualified. Why? The student who did the production thought it was great idea–I did too as well as did the other students–to set the video to Lil Wayne’s “Make it Rain”. But the music politics of copyright got us.  As Banksky reminds us we are forbidden to touch the advertisers and marketers of our pop culture, while that touch every aspect of our lives it seems. No twerking without music. No music without girls dancing. But who’s making top dollar on making it rain? Not black girls or women. #misogynoir #mileygate

Black Girls’ ‘Net Worth: Owning Their Own Creativity and Content

There is so much to be said, I don’t always know where to begin. but begin I will! And hopefully I won’t drive my students crazy in the process. This ish is complicated!

Here’s the new version with music by a commercial artist but this time a woman. I played with the pitch and the bpm. Maybe it will get past the bots. Tell me if you recognize the artist, if the beat works, and if the content sings!

The Black Girl Project’s Sisterhood Summit 2014: This Weekend

“You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.”  ― Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her

Sisterhood Summit Image

 

BEEN A MINUTE…

October has been an incredibly fulfilling and intense month so far. Aside from writing and teaching, I’ve been updating my blog here with a new header that speaks to my work on YouTube.  I’m on the job market seeking a full-time position in digital media studies, ethnomusicology and/or African American/women’s studies.  I attended the critical and intense Town Hall for Girls of Color hosted by Girls for Gender Equity and Kimberle Crenshaw’s African American Policy Forum at Columbia Law School two weekends ago in honor of The International Day of the Girl. And there’s a lot of new things happening with my collaborative ethnography team of undergrads. We start collecting new data on adolescent and teen blacks girls who broadcast while they twerk for my research and their Anthropological Analysis course and training.

All that said, this post is about another project that has inspired my work.  This weekend, Saturday October 25th, 2014, Founder and Executive Director Aiesha Turman and the advisory board of The Black Girl Project hosts the 4th annual Sisterhood Summit at Empire State College from 10am – 6pm.  I would love it if  shared this post on your Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or your Twitter!!

THE BLACK GIRL PROJECT: SISTERHOOD SUMMIT #BGPSS14 

View the day’s program here.  The theme is “Treat Yo’Self: Healthy, Whole and Free Black Girls.”  Come volunteer for the morning (10-2) or afternoon (2-6pm) sessions! The girls and women attending need your support!! If interested, DM me at kyraocity at gmail.

Love, peace and hairgrease! All the ladies say “He–alth!”

 

Our Indifference to the Private Parts of Girls’ Twerking

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

Rosa Luxemburg

The Right to Protect Your Embodied Self-Expression

This talk on privacy from TEDGlobal in Rio last week is one of the first talks made public. As I shared about the Watching Black Girls Twerk on YouTube data about the ways girls images are essentially being “trafficked” by 44% of the 168 videos we collected, a woman said she wasn’t on social media but then added she made her first selfie the other day. If you carry a mobile phone, you are being surveilled with your phone itself, your calls, your photos and your microphone in ways you surely are just indifferent to.

As women and people of color, the lack of privacy could and probably will be much more harmful and detrimental to us when others perceive our actions of “bad” — whether that’s the state or fellow citizens who ability to flag or dislike your uploaded content, tweets and updates can perhaps lead you to lose your job these days. Factor in the discriminatory biases of race, gender and age, and you might see why I am studying the videos of black girls who twerk on YouTube. I am trying to understand the media ecology of surveillance by other consumers and by corporations like YouTube and VEVO and the possible implications all this has on black music culture, girls’ musical behavior and the social construction of our digital self-presentation. This work is bigger than black girls. It applies to us all.

Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to write about the Edward Snowden files and the US governments surveillance of its citizens. His TED talk begins by talking about what I am most passionate about these days–digital self-presentation–and the indifference teens and adolescents (much less the rest of us) have when uploading images of ourselves made in private settings in front of a webcam. The moment initially leads to sense of “context collapse” or a sense that you don’t know who you really talking to out there in Internet land–you lose control of your image the moment you upload it. Greenwald begins:

0:00   There is an entire genre of YouTube videos devoted to an experience which I am certain that everyone in this room has had. It entails an individual who, thinking they’re alone, engages in some expressive behavior wild singing, gyrating dancing, some mild sexual activity — only to discover that, in fact, they are not alone, that there is a person watching and lurking, the discovery of which causes them to immediately cease what they were doing in horror. The sense of shame and humiliation in their face is palpable. It’s the sense of, “This is something I’m willing to do only if no one else is watching.”

0:53  This is the crux of the work on which I have been singularly focused for the last 16 months, the question of why privacy matters

Educating Black Girls: Their Privacy Matters

I posted this comment after the video:

As a digital ethnographer studying how black girls’ images are being “trafficked” more or less to feed their adolescent desires to fit in through social media/online video or to feed the markets of objectifying female body parts, this talk speaks directly to an issue that I find most African American adults–parents, teachers and elders of any age–tend to be indifferent to. Our privacy…We give it away with YouTube in the name of some fake democracy or self-expression that will later be used as data to limit access to education, to jobs and more.

Thank you Glenn Greenwald for your passion, commitment and integrity to journalism’s core values in any society. Your work as a journalist reveals what is often hidden from us by others and by our own words that defy our lived realities. This is why my intention now is to help black girls learn what their elders are not equipped to teach yet.

 

Do Feminists Have to Be Beautiful, Youthful or Famous to Matter?

“It irks me that we more easily embrace feminism and feminist messages when delivered in the right package – one that generally includes youth, a particular kind of beauty, fame and/or self-deprecating humour.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 11.48.37 AM

…It frustrates me that the very idea of women enjoying the same inalienable rights as men is so unappealing that we require – even demand – that the person asking for these rights must embody the standards we’re supposedly trying to challenge.”

- – Roxane Gay

Read more on “Fame-inists” in The Guardian, Oct 10, 2014

#DayOfTheGirl 2014

#dayofthegirl
October 11, 2014

All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one.
Malala Yousafzai

How rare is it for twerking to be discussed…or actually anything involving what Black [girls] do, think, say, write, create, believe or are…without bigotry, and sloppy, one-dimensional bigoted ideas as the basis of the discussion or the “critique?”  Gradient Lair

quvenzhané-wallis-at-event-of-tarâmul-visurilor-(2012)

In English and Portuguese. For Español, click here.


For the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala. Congratulations!!

For black girls/women who twerk and those who don’t! Back that thing up but make sure you own your content fully! #MissKimari, #GetItIndy, and all the nameless teen and adolescent girls who don’t get a fair shake for their exploration of their self-identity on YouTube.

For breaking the silence of girls of color in NYC today!! Join us for the Town Hall at Columbia sponsored by Girls for Gender Equity, Inc. The event will be moderated by Columbia Law School Prof. Kimberlé Crenshaw will be moderating the event.

She defined “intersectionality” for us:

The need to split one’s political energies between two sometimes opposing groups is a dimension of intersectional disempowerment that men of color and white women seldom confront. Indeed, their specific raced and gendered experiences, although intersectional, often define as well as confine the interests of the entire group. For example, racism as experienced by people of color who are of a particular gender – male – tends to determine the parameters of antiracist strategies, just as sexism as experienced by women who are of a particular race – white – tends to ground the women’s movements.

The problem is not simply that both discourses fail women [and girls] of color by not acknowledging the “additional” issue of race of patriarchy but, rather, that the discourses are often inadequate even to the discrete tasks of articulating the full dimensions of racism and sexism.

Because women of color experience racism in ways not always the same as those experienced by men of color and sexism in ways not always parallel to experiences of white women, antiracism and feminism are limited, even on their own terms.  ~ Kimberlé Crenshaw [quoted from the brilliant blog Gradient Lair. Please subscribe to Gradient Lair!!]

 

“Half the story has never been told.”
To Toni Blackman and her #rhymelikeagirl mission!!

RIP #LeftEye

#Freedom the rap version

“How Can I Have 1.9 Million Followers and Feel…This Alone?”

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. – Upton Sinclair

The intrinsic troublesome and uncertain quality of situations lies in the fact that they hold outcomes in suspense; they move to evil or to good fortune. The natural tendency of man is to do something at once ; there is impatience with suspense, and lust for immediate action.      – John Dewey,  “The Quest for Uncertainty” (1929)

Assata Shakur

The Lust and The Salary It May Depend On

A fellow black feminist scholar pointed this video of by a so-called professional twerker who appears to be “white,” and claims to the the “most famous booty shaker.” Why? Because she earns 6-figures making videos on Vine. When non-black women make this symbolic move and earn capital, I wonder if they ever consider that there are ethics involved in how their moves will impact those who came before them. It’s never necessary if those who came before are black and female.

While I am expanding my research to include videos by non-black teens and adolescents, I’ve chosen to limit my study to YouTube though I’d surely would have as much to figure out and analyze if I expanded the data set to video from WorldStarHipHop, Instagram and Vine. I want to thanksto Qiana Curtis for bringing this video/short film on the professional twerker to my attention on FB.

The line that strikes me most in the 4-minute short film I used as the title of the post. Does one have to make 6-figures to learn that money can’t buy you love or eliminate the animosities of race? Jessica says as her voice starts to crack as if performing on cue for the camera, “How can I have 1 point …. nine million followers and feel…this alone?” Generation Like meets the chicken that always comes home to roost in the old and new attention economy of the entertainment business.  (Check out the PBS documentary of the same name if you haven’t already. What are Teens Doing Online?).

 

This copy about the short film appeared below the original FB post:

Twerking 9-5: ‘Vine’s Most Famous Booty Shaker’ earns 6 figures

Jessica Vanessa is a professional twerker, who’s making big bucks by shaking her booty…in fact, she makes a 6-figure sum by shimmying her bum!

22-year-old social media superstar Jessica captivates audiences from around the world with her hypnotic assets. The former teaching assistant is now paid by companies to mention their products to her 2m online followers, who tune in to watch her twerk, jerk and crack jokes in comedy short videos on Vine.

Jessica now makes more money from a six-second Vine vid than she did working for four months at the nursery. It seems her bottom is taking her to the top!

Barcroft TV bring you a new short film every weekday – from the fascinating to the funny – plus two amazing full-length television shows every week.

#Twerking #Twerk #JessicaVanessa #JessiVanessa #Booty #Bum #Squats #Fitness #Dancing #Buns #VOTD #Video

Can Twerking Be Your Profession?

I don’t study adult twerkers and while Jessica Vanessa calls herself a “professional twerker” some critics/haters might consider the moniker an oxymoron. There are those who will liken it to “sex work” though there is no sexual touch or intercourse involved. The visual economy of twerking flips is like a free “peep show” that lures advertisers to solicit Vanessa’s “assets” to sell products.

In American culture and society associating earning money with having a profession is a common practice. If I earned a living off of making music, I too would call myself a professional. Google defines the term as:

pro·fes·sion
prəˈfeSHən/
noun
  1. a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.
    “his chosen profession of teaching”
    synonyms: career, occupation, calling, vocation, métier, line (of work), walk of life,job, business, trade, craft;

    informalracket
    “his chosen profession of teaching”
  2. an open but often false declaration or claim.
    “a profession of allegiance”
    synonyms: declaration, affirmation, statement, announcement, proclamation,assertion, avowal, vow, claim, protestation;

    formalaverment
    “a profession of allegiance”

 

The Oxford English Dictionary, a definitive and professional arbiter of definitions in the English language, defines “profession” as:

A paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification:
his chosen profession of teachinga lawyer by profession

This definition gets complicated when it comes to mixing work with anything sexual…outside of hollywood or any industrialized complex of music, TV or film. Then your profession is questioned….rappers, DJs and dancers esp. from hip-hop included.

For me, the question keeps coming back to who profits from the social or economic capital of the cultural performance known as twerking? A cultural practice that began with black dance behaviors outside the marketplace dating back to New Orleans in the late 1980s and linked culturally throughout the African and Afro-Latin and Caribbean diasporas for decades if not a century.

The fact that race is never mentioned in the short film seems curious to me. The following viral meme from 2012 suggests that race was attributed to the before Miley Cyrus took it to the top of Google searches. But such practices in dance and music have always been extracted from the rich bottom of black creativity in our culture for centuries. Erasing the contestation is troublesome but such practices go beyond the hood.

Meme - So this is what Negro Girls Do

Questioning Who Profits

I was chatting with Hannah Giorgis after inviting her to speak to my students yesterday and we both dwell in and pondered a few related questions. Most of the ideas of these questions I attribute to Hannah. I embellished on them. She’d probably say my previous blog post on who profits from the counterfeit culture of stereotypes about black girls inspired some of these ideas:

  1. How are people who do not identify, who are not socialized or perceived to be, black girls affected by black girlhood? Do other girls or transgender folk get to explore sexuality through its prism or as a way into and out of popular adolescent/ youth culture?
  2. What does it mean to put symbolic elements of black girlhood upon yourself (without the symbolic codes of skin color and its incumbent stigmatization)?
  3. What does it mean to adopt (as well as adapt to) “black femaleness” and at any moment back away from it, return it, shed it when no longer value-able?
  4. What does it mean to have black girlhood imposed upon you because you look the part because of skin color even though you didn’t necessarily sign up for the part (Cue music: “Mama’s always on stage“)?
  5. Can these tensions be in conversation with one another in our contemporary discourse or debates or must we always take sides (black or white, booty or not)? (Cue music: Which side are you on? #michaelbrown #ferguson)
  6. Ultimately, who is profiting from black girls twerking on YouTube (way back in its beginnings in 2006) as a performance?A performance that can “make it rain” in 6 figures for some and not others (particularly not adolescent/teen black girls themselves)?

The questions need to be lived with before we simply jump off on some conclusion or result. There’s research and study to do first. I’ll leave readers with this. Some  commentary about a bell hooks talk at the New School earlier this week. In a piece called “bell hooks Was Bored by ‘Anaconda'” featured in The Cut, writer Kat Steoffel wrote:

According to hooks, reducing female sexuality to “the pussy” raised questions about “who possesses and who has rights in the female body.”

the booty is a more visible, PG-13 stand-in for female sexuality, easier to represent (and sell) in pop culture, but freighted with more racial connotations.  A booty-centric vision of female sexuality, hooks explained, asks, “who has access to the female body?”

Broadcasting while your twerk has consequences and differential consequences for non-blacks than for black girls themselves. There’s a lot to unravel before or while shaking your butt in the webcam.

My First Vlog: Upping My Content #bottomlines

The more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us…After years of much struggle and little recognition, many older women feel burned out; after years of taking its light for granted [feminist progress], many younger women show little interest in touching new fire to the torch.                           – Naomi Wolf, US writer, The Beauty Myth (1991).