Saturday, March 24, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Back Dead

In 1980 I was ten years old. It was the birth year of MTV and I began my adolescence when it began its toddlerhood. It formed my formative years. I wanted my MTV and got it. Sometimes, I still get it. Despite my advanced years, I still skip on up to MTV just to check it out, just to keep up with, of course, the dance music (you know how I love "the dance"), and just to see what's up with those crazy kids these days. Largely I just end up getting roped into one of those True Life or Made shows. Amazingly I've yet to succumb to The Hills or Laguna Beach, but I have been known to sit through an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen, which always makes me thankful that I've decided not to reproduce. And let's not forget the fact that I watched the first ten seasons of The Real World. By MTV's standards, I'm so old that one of my college suite mates was asked to be on the first season when we were seniors. Actually, we're so old that she was a Club MTV dancer--before Julie Brown wubba, wubba, wubbaed as the host.

But sometimes, lo and behold, I get to see a video.

I'd been waiting for Justin Timberlake's What Goes Around Comes Around video for several weeks. Not only did I read about Scarlett Johansson's starring role and was most curious to see how that would play out, but also, put plainly and simply and unequivocally proudly, I am a ginormungous JT fan. And I don't mean just because he brought Sexy Back. I mean because he was Justified (I thank the Girl from Hickopolis for buying the cd for my birthday that year, against her wishes at the time. She's since come around to the wonder that is JT.). I suppose I should be able to say that I've been with him since he was 'N Sync with the teeny boppers, but I wasn't doing much bopping in my mid-late twenties. However, if during those years I had been forced to identify the cutest member of a boy band, I knew enough to know his name and pick his blond fro out of a line up. But ever since the Mouseketeer grew up, got duped by Britney, and cried a river, I've been there. Oddly though, my passion for JT is not like the desire I have for anyone on my "list" (Clive Owen, Sean Bean, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon). There's just something I like about the entire JT thing. I like the whole of him: the music, the image, and it goes without saying, the dancing. Of course, always, the dancing.

I had purchased Future Sex/Love Sounds (I still don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean) the day it was released, and like everyone else, immediately went right for the melodic What Goes Around, yet another Brit dis, which gives one pause as to why JT still feels the need to have another song that laments his being cheated on since he already wrote an album full of bitterness on the last go round. Clearly he's still working through something and perhaps there is more to the the Diaz debacle than Justin's needing to be free to be with Scarlett and Jessica Biel. But no matter. I love the song and couldn't wait to see what was sure to be its sultry visual rendering if the advanced shots of Scarlett in her lusty attire were any indicator.

I've finally managed to catch the video twice now and after two viewings, even though I graduated cum laude from a fine institution, I'm still not quite sure what (open air quotes) "message" (close air quotes) JT is attempting to convey.

The song section of the video shows Justin singing in some high end, upscale 1930s circus scenario. Actually, there's nothing circus-like about it except that there are women in clown-like unitards, dancing with flaming hoola hoops. It's nuanced, and yet, not nuanced at all. What goes aROUND comes back aROUND. Hoola hoops are ROUND. Is this song not about a cycle, a circle, the circle of love, life, fidelity, infidelity, and ultimately death, the end of all cycles and/or circles? We shall see...

As for the narrative of the video, the first verse establishes that JT and Scarlett are hot and heavy (as well as living in some decade that is suffering from an identity crisis between the present and the 1930s in which Justin is continually performing). But perhaps, Scarlett is a bit-- unbeknownst to JT--unstable. As she drowns in a pool, apparently deceased, JT rushes into the water to save her only to find that it's a joke. Scarlett bursts through the water's surface, assuming she has been delightfully amusing by playing dead. Not so much for Justin. He is not amused in the least, but his anger is short-lived because of course, when someone tries to mash her lips against yours while you're attempting to yell at her for giving you a coronary because you thought she had lost her life in an untimely and tragic drowning, making out will immediately quell your fears. Hot sex with a psychotic can be very distracting.

In the following verse, Justin is out with a male friend at a club when Scarlett approaches. She kisses Justin passionately and greets the friend. The chemistry between Scarlett and JT's pal is palpable! Scarlett's vampish stares kinda give it away as well. More singing and threesome chatting ensue until we cut to Scarlett in a make out session in a stairway with...NOT JUSTIN! Is it...why yes, it is none other than Justin's buddy!

Justin casually enters this stairway, which seems odd as it looks like some strange warehouse stairway that no one would ever casually enter because I don't think it actually leads anywhere. But enter nonchalantly JT does, and naturally, stumbles upon his unfaithful girlfriend and apparently not-all-that-good-of-a-friend friend. Justin is rightfully livid and begins to pummel his amigo. Scarlett tries to put a stop to the violence but gets palmed in the face like a basketball during March Madness (so appropriate or perhaps Freudian as Stu is downstairs watching the Tennessee/Ohio State game right now). She is upset and dashes out of the stairwell, out of the building, and into to her sports car. And I can't tell what decade that thing is supposed to come from either. Justin runs after her and speeds off behind her in his own timeless sports vehicle.

The roads are dark. The cars are moving too fast. The drivers are reckless with heightened emotion. If memory serves, Scarlett crashes into a car that had previously crashed and is now in flames--and one might have thought Scarlett could have seen that from a mile away. Well, as Bill Murray says to the squirrel in Groundhog Day, "Don't drive angry!" In slow motion, Scarlett's car is air born and tumbling through sky, Justin looking on in terror.

We then come to the vocal breakdown wherein Justin sings/talks of "paint[ing] a picture" of a cheating KFed for Brit. When the brief monologue is over and the song draws to a close, we see that Scarlett is dead on the road. Unlike her earlier play at drowning, she does not revive herself, and oddly enough, despite what looks like a particularly horrific car crash from which she was thrown through the windshield, she lays with her perfectly alabaster skin sans a single scratch (where were last week's Top Model make up artists?), which leads me to the following conclusions about the video's intentions and message:

If you scare the crap outta your boyfriend by pretending to drown in a pool and then he catches you cheating with someone he introduced you to, you'll probably get into a flaming car wreck and end up dead for real.

So even though the song is about Britney's screwing with Justin romantically, we're really bypassing the issue of infidelity and taking on mortality. Don't mess with the gods. If they see you play dead, you might actually end up dead. What goes around really does come around!


Jaime said...

Hmm...I haven't seen the video myself yet, but from your play-by-play, here's what jumps out at me. It's a mish-mosh of Britney video references.
The drowning in the pool references the video of Britney's own ode to missing JT, "Everytime," in which she "kills" herself by taking pills and drowning in a bathtub. Because the video got so much bad publicity for being pro-teen suicide, she changed the ending so she wakes up out of the water.
The car crash is similar to the one that is faked in Britney's "Stronger" video. In that one, she leaves a party after finding her guy cheating on her. She is shown speeding along on a highway and her car comes to a screeching halt. Not a crash, you get the idea. (Justin killed her this time for cheating!)
As for the warehouse stairwell kissing stuff, nobody knows for sure except Britney, JT and the other guy (Ben Affleck, was it?) how JT found out about the infidelity. But Britney's "Crazy" video features a dance party and a bar in...a warehouse.

gigi said...

Jamie, if this evidence doesn't further prove that What Goes Around Comes Around, then I don't know what does! I'm so glad you broght these points and references to my attention. Clearly I have not been paying nearly enough attention to Brit's videos. Which is odd. Cuz I love the dancing. Regardless, this even further points to JT's inability to get over Brit's adulterous behavior. It might be time for him to seek professional help.

ceal said...

Well I have no MTV (no TV - gasp!) and couldn't pick a JT song out of a line-up but damn this is a good post!

Gigi said...

No TV, huh, Ceal?! Needless to say, I can't relate, however, I can understand and respect the circumstances under how such a thing might have occurred. And hey--if I can watch TV for you and accept compliments about my posts, I'm there for you! And of course, I thank you.