Just Dance is the absolute favorite game of my little friends group. Every once in a while we all come over to my house and have a Just Dance marathon. Over winter break, I got Just Dance 2014 for the Kinect.
These games, since their conception, have had a huge problem with both the content of their songs, as well as the oversexualization of the female dancers. I’m gonna break it down song by song (in no particular order) and give my honest thoughts on the game and the songs.
Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man after Midnight)
I don’t have much to say about this song. The dance is generic and boring. The song itself is about a woman who is sitting all alone and falling into depression, and needs a man to feel complete. It’s a feminist’s nightmare.
The Way, Limbo, and Careless Whisper
Again, I haven’t played The Way that much, but the dance is a male/female duet and, like practically every other mixed-gender duet in this game series, they follow lovely 1950s gender roles. The man (presumably Mac Miller) is the dominant one and the girl (probably Ariana Grande) is dainty and cute.
And when I say man and girl, I mean man and girl. You can’t actually see the faces of the Just Dance characters, but Mac Miller has a full beard and Ariana Grande is in a cute pink sundress—she looks like a little girl. Squick squick and more squick.
Limbo is another male/female duet. The dance itself is mostly fine—it’s kind of suggestive in nature but there’s not actually anything wrong with that. Dances can be sexual, as long as they aren’t gratuitously so.
The problem comes in when we have the man dressed in your average business attire, and the woman dressed as a…sexy librarian? Sexy schoolgirl? Sexy paralegal? I don’t know and I don’t want to, but she looks like she’s wearing a shitty Halloween costume. This game is and always has been absolutely shameless with its depictions of women and this song is no exception.
Again, there is nothing wrong with a “sexy librarian” outfit on its own. The issue is that nothing happens in a vacuum. The sexy librarian and the sexy schoolgirl and the sexy paralegal outfits (a sexy paralegal, is that actually a thing?) are used to objectify and dehumanize the women who wear them. They are literally reduced to nothing but the sex appeal of their bodies.
Then we have Careless Whisper. There’s not much to say about it that I haven’t already said about the previous two songs. The woman gets dipped a lot and is in a slinky red dress (and again, there is nothing wrong with a woman dressing “slutty.” The problem lies with the fact that we don’t see any of the male dancers with all of their skin bared). It’s a fun and difficult dance but overall, I could do without it.
Could You Be Loved
Yo. Man. Bob Marley? He’s, like, the future, man.
Wooooaaah, I’m so deep, man. Woah.
She Wolf (Falling to Pieces)
God, I love this song. I love the singer’s voice and I love the dance—it’s the exact sort of stuff I do in contemporary dance class.
I mean, the lyrics aren’t the greatest. “I was caught like a deer in the love lights” isn’t exactly The Grateful Dead over here, but I can let it slide in favor of the song’s other qualities.
This is definitely my favorite song in the game.
Isadora and Gentleman
These songs? They’re just weird. I don’t actually know what the lyrics are due to them not being in English. The dance, the background, the coach—all of it is just weird, weird, weird. However, these dances are incredibly exhausting and enjoyable and are, in my opinion, some of the better dances of the game.
I could probably do without Gentleman. I really don’t need Psy telling me he’s going to make me sweat over and over again, but whatever.
Fine China and Blurred Lines
I actually don’t have MUCH of a problem with Fine China. It’s a generic and boring pop song and the dance is okay, but besides the fact the guy is literally saying he will treat his woman like an object (fine china, if you didn’t guess) it’s an okay song. I mean, at least he’s saying he’ll be gentle and respectful, the same way you would be gentle and respectful with fine china.
Except, OH WAIT. It’s by CHRIS BROWN. You know, the same Chris Brown who BEAT HIS GIRLFRIEND. Seriously, what the fuck?! Who does he think he’s fooling with this song—and what in the name of god does JD2014 think it’s doing including it in the game?!
And then we have Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. This song makes me sick every time I hear it. In it the singer literally compares a girl to an animal who was “domesticated” by her last boyfriend. The speaker then says that he can “liberate” her. Yeah, because NOTHING says romance like objectification and/or bestiality!
This is made intensely worse by the dance itself. You literally whip and spank an imaginary girl. The first time I played the song I almost turned it off.
Seriously, what the actual fuck with these two songs?!
Nitro Bot and Just a Gigolo
And the WTFery continues. What could these two songs possibly have in common, you might ask?
Oh, just the fact that they’re both duets between a human woman and something most definitely not human. Nitro Bot is an anime-style duet between a human woman and a massive transformer-esque robot, whereas the dancers in Just a Gigolo are a woman and…is that a hippopotamus?
Seriously, it’s like one of the producers of this game lost a bet and had to slip as much fetish material in under the radar as he possibly could!
Feels So Right, Rich Girl, and Where Have You Been?
Ubisoft. Ubisoft, Ubisoft, Ubisoft. What were you thinking?
These three songs are some of the most difficult and intense in the game. Why? They involve excessive twerking, thrusting, and body rolling. The dancers are showing more skin than they have covered.
Now, there isn’t a huge problem with this on its own. These dances are also really enjoyable and some of my favorite in the game. But nothing happens entirely in isolation and in these songs lies the biggest problem with the Just Dance series.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the sexualization of the female dancers. There is nothing wrong with them wearing outfits considered “trashy,” nor is there anything wrong with songs about sex. For many people, sex and sexuality are a part of life as natural as breathing.
But when you combine the oversexualization of the female dancers with the disgusting objectification of women in other songs, when you combine it with the fact that there is not and probably never will be a dance where a male dancer “twerks,” when you combine it with the fact that the men are almost invariably the dominant dancer in any song they are in? All of that adds together to create a clusterfuck of rampant sexism.
And it’s not like this is necessary. I’m sure Just Dance 2014 would make the same amount of money if there weren’t half-naked women shoved in our faces. There’s a massive difference between sexualization and gratuitous objectification, and this game absolutely crosses the line.
Pound the Alarm, Prince Ali, Ghostbusters, #thatPOWER and In The Summertime
On a more pleasant note, I really love JD2014’s four person dances. They’re all incredibly enjoyable and great to play when I have all my friends over. Since they aren’t duets, the four person dances in this series are always a lot more fun and a lot less angering.
I don’t have much to say about each individual song, besides the fact that the costumes in this game continue to be weird as hell. The dancers in Pound the Alarm look like cabaret dancers from a seedy town in fairyland. Prince Ali and Ghostbusters have a genie and a slime monster, respectively, as one of the dancers. #thatPOWER is like a bad LSD trip. And the dancers from In The Summertime, the cherry on top of the what-in-the-name-of-god sundae, are, drumroll please, humans in fruit suits. There’s a banana, a strawberry, a pineapple, and a watermelon.
I’ve given up on trying to understand these games. I truly have. They shouldn’t be called Just Dance. They should be called “Just Dance And Also Laugh Uncontrollably While You Play Because Everyone At Ubisoft Does Drugs While They Make Their Games.”