This essay examines musician and style icon Janelle Monáe’s signature suit of clothes—her tuxedo—and argues that the tuxedo and its accompanying styling create productive tensions between restraint and abandon, typicality and queerness, captivity and freedom. For Monáe, these tensions fuel her creative work on the musical stage and also in the realm of fashion and style; they become a way of naturalizing the oddness and radicality of her liberating and liberatory rhetoric concerning racial stereotypes, gender norms, class assumptions, and perceptions of sexuality. Examining the mythology surrounding Monáe’s public presentation, as well as the styling of the videos for “Tightrope” and “Q.U.E.E.N.,” I argue that Monáe insists on a playfully clad and performative “embodied knowledge” as a basis for her android revolution.
Research Article|November 01 2015
All Hail the Q.U.E.E.N.: Janelle Monáe and a Tale of the Tux
Nka (2015) 2015 (37): 62-69.
Monica L. Miller; All Hail the Q.U.E.E.N.: Janelle Monáe and a Tale of the Tux. Nka 1 November 2015; 2015 (37): 62–69. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-3339728
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