In this image we see a detergent ad with the face of performing artist Drake photoshopped over the teddy bear mascot. The light blue background with snowflakes in the background, the text Snuggle, the brand of detergent, but also suggestive to act of snuggling. The white and soft body of the teddy bear, is holding white sheets up to Drake’s face. His facial expression could also be described as soft; his lips are pursed and his eyes are half-opened seemingly staring off into the distance. The text within the image reads like a slogan “THE SOFTEST IN THE GAME.” This could be referring to the detergent or to Drake himself. He has taken the place of the soft teddy bear mascot, and is being presented as cuddly and soft, words that are not typically described as masculine.
Drake is notorious for writing rap lyrics, considered to be very sappy or emotional and focuses mostly on his relationships with women. This contradicts the subject matter of a lot of rap music since centered around tough masculine posturing. Often containing explicit lyrics regarding the endless ways they would copulate with women, tales of selling drugs and criminal activity and aggressive and threats towards their enemies and authority figures. A lot of this is hyperbolic and an art form that might reflect only one version of the black experience in America, but it is popular. This cultural capital promotes a certain version of masculinity, it’s a version that Drake does not ascribe to in his music. Some interpret his music as not only soft or un-masculine, but even go so far as to say that he is feminine.This image is pretty straight forward. Drake is standing in front of a white background, wearing an off white jacket with a white t-shirt underneath. This is ripe with racial symbolism and as much as race, gender and socioeconomic status are all intertwined and related I have chosen to focus on gender. Drake’s expression is his typical serious but somber and kind of blank expression. The joke within the image speaks directly to gender roles and proposes that Drake is so feminine that he would gender roles with his female partner. The ideology that a woman must take her husbands last name speaks to a history of ownership and patriarchy.
As this joke is trying to make fun of Drake and insult his masculinity I think it begins to touch on a social change happening in contemporary society. As much as Drake is mocked for being soft, weak or feminine that fact is, he has been one of the most successful recording artists in the last 3 years. So what ever image of himself he is putting out to the public is being widely accepted through radio play and album downloads. His lyrics may be open to a wider and younger audience as they are not as gratuitous or as violent as a lot of other hip-hop artists, but they still warrant the parental advisory sticker. (If that still means anything to anyone?)
I think that the success and self-presentation of Drake might be signifying a slight shift in social ideologies and expectations around the male gender. Like most celebrities he is well aware of his public image and branding. A recent New York Times, centered around his music video for “Hotline Bling” article comments on his tendency to be made into a meme and using it as a form of self-promotion. “For the celebrity, it’s about letting go of unilateral top-down narratives and letting the hive take control. For fans, it’s about applying personalization to the object of adoration (Caramanica 2015).” He is embracing and utilizing a self-image that is much more fluid and I think that is why he has such a strong attraction to his fandom and the public in general. With the rise of the internet our perceptions of self are also becoming more fluid and individually dictated. Online there is not one form of masculinity, femininity or gender there is a wide and almost infinite spectrum of identities to choose from and the choice is yours.