If you follow me on twitter, you may have read my tweets about a fascinating profile of musician D’Angelo that Amy Wallace wrote for the current GQ. It is one of the most compelling profiles I’ve read in years, definitely worth your time.
D’Angelo may have new material out soon (fingers crossed), that remains to be seen. What Wallace shed light on, is some of what tormented him during his decade long absence from the music scene. It was triggered, in part, by feeling objectified by fans after the wildly popular “Untitled (How Does it Feel?)” video propelled him to sex symbol status.
Wallace writes in GQ:
D’Angelo felt tortured, Questlove says, by the pressure to give the audience what it wanted. Worried that he didn’t look as cut as he did in the video, he’d delay shows to do stomach crunches. He’d often give in, peeling off his shirt, but he resented being reduced to that. Wasn’t he an artist? Couldn’t the audience hear the power of his music and value him for that?…
“One time I got mad when a female threw money at me onstage, and that made me feel f*****-up, and I threw the money back at her,” [D'Angelo] says. “I was like, ‘I’m not a stripper.’ “
To varying degrees, that objectification is something women experience daily. Whether it’s inappropriate comments from perfect strangers, or tabloids ripping women to shreds over their looks for gaining five pounds, women and girls deal with this everyday.
Jezebel puts it this way:
The idea that D’Angelo was subjected to the level of physical scrutiny that’s built into every woman’s life and then immediately went insane is…interesting. I mean this in the most sympathetic way possible—D’Angelo comes across as deeply endearing in Wallace’s profile—but it makes me feel proud of women in a dorky way. Somehow, we handle it without taking an 11-year hiatus from our jobs. We’ve been conditioned to handle it because we have to handle it. And it shouldn’t be that way, but right now it is, and we can deal.
I suspect there are men reading this who think they would welcome the attention, but respectful compliments and objectification to the point of devaluing a person are not the same.
And anyone want to be the first in line for D’Angelo tickets if he ever tours again? I’m. So. There.