The emptiness of Justin
February 16, 2007
I don’t often wonder what the current king of blue eyed soul thinks when he goes to bed at night. If this video gives any kind of insight into that unasked question however, it sure ain’t pretty. In the maturity challenged entertainment market of 2007, Timberlake probably gets more money for his film projects than Francis Ford Coppola. So his video – sorry, mini film – for “What Goes Around” is definitely slickly produced, expensive looking, totally money in all the ways you’d expect. Visually it’s gorgeous, and he’s gone and bought the best young talent he could fine, or perhaps he’s simply pressed a few of his famous friends into doing some cool shit with him. Except there is nothing cool about this. This video is a steaming pile of horse shit.
I’m not Stanley Crouch. I don’t think pop music, or any music, is required to be moral or moralistic. But even with his ghetto pass firmly in hand, Timberlake’s audience is almost exclusively teenage and younger girls and I wonder exactly why one would want to tell that audience that Justin Timberlake will kill them if they cheat on him. And that is the basic message behind this horrendously boring horror flick. That isn’t tension and foreboding building up, it’s pretty pictures with a totally predictable story arc. The unexpected violence and misogyny of the conclusion is the only surprise to the video, showing just how the deep the death/violence porn fantasias of a privileged white boy run. Movies like Larry Clark’s Kids and Bully, or the Jackass crew’s flicks ensure that you’ve always known this existed. It’s just funny to see it show up in what ought to be the saccharine sweet world of pop/R&B. I wonder if all the guys that participated in this thing sit around in a circle and jerk off to it.
And what of the other participants in this thing? I know Scarlett Johansson was trying to get away from playing ingenue along side dirty old man and having that carry over into her real life, but is the solution to that really to jump the movie star bullshit bandwagon? When she was sitting in bed with Timberlake after a night of super stylized yet safe sex and he said to her, “hey baby, want to be in my video,” did she not think to herself that there might be some Sophia Coppola laundry she ought to be doing instead. I mean even that would have to be more interesting work than this is.
Really the biggest crime of this video is simply how fucking bland it is. All that money, all the world as a personal stage, all the talent that money, matinee idol looks and man of the hour status will buy and what you produce is an infantile revenge fantasy that shows you have no more imagination than a thirteen year old boy? Might as well change into a green leotard and appear as Peter Pan for an encore. And it’s doubly (or triply, who’s counting?) offensive gracing an album on which Timberland pretty much converses with the aliens in breaking the mold of what a pop song ought to be. I guess this definitely answers the question of what end of this partnership the ideas come from.
I kind of like that MTV is getting back into the Music video business by playing them automatically on their website even if said website is still a heaping pile of slow loading, over saturated dog shit.
Somebody get No Doubt back together and pull Gwen Stefani back to this here rock before she’s too far lost in space to ever be reclaimed, although watching the video for Sweetest Escape it seems she’s already too far gone in her luxurious mad house to be saved. I mean, Gucci cabs in her video? Wow!