Cine Suffragette
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Cine Suffragette

Betty Davis: Seeing the Queen through different lenses

Cover of the documentary ‘Betty — They Say I’m Different’ (2017)’, directed by Philip Cox. Photo: Reproduction
Fishnets and slips would become highly popular in grungy Kinderwhore aesthetic in the 90s worn by women like Courtney Love. It is no coincidence that years later she would team up with the retailer Nasty Gal on a collection inspired by this aesthetic. Nasty Gal was named after a Betty Davis’ song.
Members of Betty’s Funk House show up in a touching scene from the doc where they phone her for a jam after a long time to which Betty sadly says no. Photo: Betty — They Say I’m Different’ (2017)
Animated version of Betty Davis suggesting that Miles Davis named his jazz fusion album ‘Bitches Brew’. Her name can’t be a footnote in either the groundbreaking music genre or Miles’ career at the time. She’s more than a muse. She’s a black woman with enough agency to change the course of music History. Photo: The Fanatic YT channel/ Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus
While the animated series reinforces the mystical image of Betty through the adventures of her heydays, the documentary uses Betty’s own mystical allegories to tell her story, although we are left with little objectiveness of what happened to her and if she didn’t want us to know that, it’s our job to understand that and stop looking for answers. What’s left for us to explore is her music and her cultural significance, with all that it implies. Photo: Betty — They Say I’m Different’ (2017)
Betty Davis’ sexual liberation wasn’t so welcomed by her crowds as Ethnomusicologist Danielle Maggio wrote in her dissertation on Betty Davis, which is the most complete source on the singer to date. The opposition to her liberation comes from a racist and sexist society that will only accept a woman’s sexuality when it feeds patriarchy. Radios, religious groups and even the NAACP boycotted her music and unfortunately, Betty struggled to continue in the field that still is ruled by men who hate everything she represented.
When I did my University project on rock stars who shaped modern women, there weren’t many pictures of Betty on Google. It would mostly show me the ones of the white actress Bette Davis and I mistakenly used one of singer Marsha Hunt. Black women’s pictures continue to be mislabeled. ‘Black women are not the same’.(Thank you Sopa Alternativa for telling me that). There’s a famous picture of Miles Davis arriving at Jimi Hendrix’s funeral with Devon Wilson and Jackie Battle and a lot of important sources such as The Guardian, BBC, and even the animated series label either Devon or Jackie as Betty. Btw, this picture of Marsha continues to be tagged as Betty.
My show’s flyer.



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Larissa Oliveira

Brazilian writer, teacher and zinester. Articles related to cinematic content. I also write for