Fergie the Enigma

This brings me to an unlikely enigma of popular music. Fergie. Child performer on Kids Incorporated, straight-A student, spelling bee champion, Girl Scout cheerleader Stacey Ferguson. Her brand of power mixed with degradation is nothing like I’ve seen before. My mind tumbles as I try to figure out which aspect of her comes up on top. In some ways she is the epitome of self-respect and autonomy, flaunting her sexuality while demanding to control how and when she uses it, “you could see me, you can’t sqeeze me/I ain’t easy I ain’t sleezy/I got reasons why I tease ‘em/boys just come and go like seasons/Fergalicious!” She is so strong and tough and cool and ... Fergie-like, yet sometimes she slips easily into “just another object/whore” role and really lets me down. In the great Black Eyed Peas song I Gotta Feeling, members of the band are shown getting ready for a fun night on the town. I see Fergie putting on her makeup, etc and I’m thinking she is going to kick butt tonight, but all she ends up doing is sitting around in a bar surrounded by men looking board. As if that’s the most fun a woman like Fergie could come up with?

Unfortunately, her lapses get much more significant. When I listen to Fergalicious I find it fun and clever: “Fegalicious, so delicious/but I ain’t promiscuous/ and if you were suspicious/ all that shit is fictitious – I blow kisses.” However, the video images are disturbingly abusive in their use of little girls as a fetish. Fergie is pictured in all kinds of sexualized little girl scenarios. The setting is a Willy Wonka/Candyland world where bodies and candy lie in kaleidoscope piles and people wrestle in chocolate pudding. Fergie is shown in tiny “babydoll” dresses that make her look like a young child but with a woman’s breasts and hips. She and her dance troupe of women wear Girl Scout uniforms that have been redesigned to serve as lingerie. Even as Fergie says, “I’m tryin to tell that I can’t be treated like clientele,” her images show the opposite and worse. While the song is great, this video is part of a body of work that makes the rape abuse of little girls not only acceptable but marketable.

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