In the music video for Janelle Monáe’s song “Q.U.E.E.N.” Monáe is described as a “rebel that time travels” and the notorious leader of a “musical weapons program.” In the beginning of the video, several groups of people who represent different musical eras are frozen in history, and when the music starts, all the people in the exhibit unfreeze and start dancing. The groups in the video each focus on a prominent style of black music in history, where Monáe acts as four different characters, each with a different style. By using McMillan’s article “Performing Objects,” and the idea of black women as avatars, we can see that Monáe portrays several different avatars that break stereotypes of black women. As stated by McMillan, Monáe is able to “rescript how black female bodies move and are perceived by others” when she is described as and acts as a black woman in a position of power. By showing Monáe as a powerful leader in the music video, limitations that are placed on black artists can be manipulated to move black women up the “great chain of being” that typically shows black women as “abject beings.”

According to Monáe in an interview at Fuse HQ,  Q.U.E.E.N. is an acronym that stands for “Q” queer, “U” untouchables, “E” emigrants, “E” excommunicated, and “N” negroid. Monáe stated, “It’s for everyone who’s felt ostracized. I wanted to create something for people who feel like they want to give up because they’re not accepted by society.” By using different avatars paired with the strong lyrics in the song, Monáe was able to create a song that encouraged oppressed people, such as those in the acronym for Q.U.E.E.N., to continue standing up for their rights through whatever means necessary.


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