The My-Stery: Mythologies in Popular Culture

Myth is all around us; it structures our societies, cultures and realities. Despite Nietzsche saying “God is dead,” the myths of various cultures still are embedded throughout our own cultures to this day. To understand most of the imagery and symbolism in our culture, we must study myths and stories. While doing research on various traditional religions, mythologies, and spiritual practices for my thesis and my poetry collection, I have come to realize how much these have influenced our cultures.

My first example is the Hype Williams-directed Busta Rhymes and Janet Jackson video, “What’s It Gonna Be.” Studying the images in the video, it is a cyborg version of traditional mythological gods or archetypes. Water is an important part of life and many religions have had water gods to reinforce its significance. In this video, Janet Jackson represents the mother water god (Mami Wata, Ayida Wedo, Venus, Virgin Mary, Isis, Erzulie, Oshun) and Busta Rhymes represents the snake god/water god/sky god (Damballah, Agwe, Shango, Zeus, Snake in garden of Eden, Moses, Yahweh). Jackson is wearing purple/indigo, a color that symbolizes royalty and fertility, while Rhymes is a transforming figure who turns into a snake-like character as well as a band leader, leading the way like Moses with his staff. Since the song is about sex (“gonna make your body wet”), it makes sense to use these gods because they tend to be fertility deities.

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