Watermelon Sugar: Reifying and Resisting Heteronormativity
A queer reading has allowed for the unravelling of meanings created by the representations of genders and sexualities, and by the influence of both intended and inescapable intertextuality. To conclude, Harry Styles’ music video Watermelon Sugar both reifies and resists a heteronormative framework. Depending on a viewer’s gender, sexuality, and knowledge of other media texts surrounding Styles and the video, different subject positions can be adopted. This explains the variety of reactions that viewers have had to the music video.
Seeing as Styles – at least according to his statements in interviews and concerts and his continuous empowerment of the queer community – arguably seeks to resist a heteronormative framework, one could wonder why certain aspects of his video may be read as reifying hegemonic conceptions of gender and sexuality. One possible answer may be the video’s production context of the video. Indeed, the video was directed by the duo Bradley & Pablo (male, white), for Styles (male, white), who is signed to Columbia records, whose chairman and CEO is Ron Perry (male, white) (“Harry Styles”, n.d.). Relations between the production context of a media text’s production context and its content have been proven time and again (Krijnen & Van Bauwel, 2015). Therefore, a piece of advice to Styles, if he wishes to achieve more diversity within his videos, would be to have that diversity reflected in his production team.