From the Bronx to L.A., they’re just girls from the block

07 Jun

After talking about and watching so much J-Lo in class, I suddenly had the desire to watch more of her music videos. As I was looking through YouTube, I came across a classic video of hers from the early 2000’s, Jenny from the Block. In fact, Pitbull references her song at 1:12 in Live It Up when he says something along the lines of “Here is Jenny from the block”.

            First, I thought it was interesting that the advertisement on YouTube before the video was completely in Spanish. I actually noticed this for three other J-Lo videos I watched. Clearly, the marketing section of YouTube has found or thinks that more Spanish speaking people are watching Jennifer Lopez videos.

            The video starts out with a semi blurry, green colored shot of Jennifer walking around in her apartment. It cuts to a closer shot of her and Affleck on a couch talking and then kissing. The video then moves into the actual music video portion which feature J-Lo on a platform, alone, in the middle of what looks like New York City. I think 75% of the video consists of the paparazzi shots in comparison to her dancing.

            In the music video dancing scenes, J-Lo is consistently pulling up her shirt in order to show her sculpted abs (1). Occasionally, she will also grab her boobs, turn away from the camera and sassy walk a short distance with a hand accentuating her butt.  When she is on the yacht with Affleck, he also strokes her butt and proceeds to take her bikini bottom off. The most upscale part of the video is when she participates in fashion shoot where she is only wearing a fur coat, a bikini bottom and red lipstick. She strikes a pose where she slowly bends down and once again, strokes her butt and accentuates her abs. Here, Jennifer Lopez is playing up her sexuality by accentuating the attractive parts of her body (2). The scene with Affleck also underlines the attention that her body and particularly her butt gets from men.

            This song and video are clearly a reference to Jennifer being from a middle class family from the Bronx in New York (3). It does not say anything about her Puerto Rican heritage until close to the end of the video, where she says one word in Spanish. It’s a call to say that being famous hasn’t changed her and that she still stays grounded even with all the money and fame that now surrounds her. I wonder if this is actually true or if it still stands today. It is also interesting that she chooses to play up her class upbringing but say nothing about her Latina culture, especially since that is what made her in Hollywood and the music business.

            I looked at the YouTube comments below the video to see what people were saying about the video. Almost all the comments that weren’t spam referenced another song called “Becky from the block”. This is clearly a rip off of J-Lo’s song, which is evidenced at the very beginning of the song. The biggest difference between the two are that J-Lo is decked out in nice clothes as well as wearing nice jewelry, and she is also shown having a fashion shoot and relaxing on a yacht. In Becky’s video, she is shown in a run down neighborhood. Becky focuses on her struggles with how she has grown up. She wants to be famous but still wants to focus on her culture and family. J-Lo on the other hand seems to be defending herself. The contexts of the videos’ lyrics as well as the scenes that are shown have an interesting contrast to them. Both J-Lo and Becky highlight their Latina culture, although J-Lo does it very minimally. J-Lo does this at the 3:05 minute mark where she says boriquas/boniquas in the house. It was kind of hard to tell which one According to google, boniquas means any person being partially black or partially Hispanic/Latino in racial background. Boriquas means Puerto Rican. So she could mean either. At the end of Becky’s video she says a line in Spanish. She also says “Latinos stand up. Shout out to Jennifer Lopez”.

            I highly recommend watching both videos to see the difference between them. I honestly found them to both be a little funny with all of the belly showing as well as what sounds like auto tuning in Becky’s.


1.  Frances Negron-Muntaner, “Jennifer’s Butt” :180-193, 1997, 190

2. Mary Beltran, “The Hollywood Latina Body as Site of Social Struggle: Media Constructions of Stardom and Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Cross-over Butt,’” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, 19:71-86, 2002, 76

 3. Mary Beltran, “The Hollywood Latina Body as Site of Social Struggle: Media Constructions of Stardom and Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Cross-over Butt,’” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, 19:71-86, 2002, 74

1 Comment

Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


One response to “From the Bronx to L.A., they’re just girls from the block

  1. kelseyjk

    June 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    As you said, Mary Reagan, even though JLo asserts throughout the entire song that she remembers her roots and hasn’t changed, she explicitly acknowledges her Latina culture very minimally. At 2:02, she sings “can’t forget to stay real”, which reminded me of the times on the press junket for Selena when she was asked “¿Todo eso es tuyo?” (“Is that body for real?”) about her butt and she responded “Todo es mío” (“It’s all mine”). Negron-Muntaner explains that focusing on her physical attributes, chiefly her big butt, was one way for the Latino community to check her authenticity as a Latina. That seems to be the case in this video as well–even though she talks very little about “the block” she’s from, quite a lot of attention is paid to her butt in this music video: JLo often touches it when dancing, and Ben Affleck rubs it, kisses it, etc. Though that definitely serves to accentuate her sexual attractiveness and her sexuality, I think it is also meant to show that she is still a “real” Latina because she has that “authentic” butt.


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