Let me start by saying I don’t know how I feel about this.
All I know is that was the most uncomfortable 3 minutes and 16 seconds I’ve had in a long time.
At first, I thought my discomfort was housed in the fact that I was at my day job when I first viewed the video. Clark Kent doesn’t normally bide his cubicle time watching visuals typically reserved for late-night Skinemax. But the more I sat with my feeling of ickiness, I realized it had little to do with the setting.
What the $%^& was that?
I’ve never met Chester French. I first heard of them when Talib Kweli’s song hit the airwaves during the heated Democratic primary of 2008. Seeing the cosigns from hip hop heavyweights, Pharrell and Kanye, I made a point to check them out. I downloaded the Get Familiar Clinton Sparks mixtape (Jacques Jams, Vol 1: Endurance) in which our very own Janelle Monae guest appeared, singing about her love of “reading comics in the dark.” I even copped the debut album, Love the Future, and tried to turn friends of mine onto the band even though they would eventually dismiss the group regardless of their meritorious rise in the music industry or their long list of professional relationships. All this is to say, I generally enjoy their music. My Wondafam knows DA and Max well (see what I did there?) and can certainly attest to their character much better than I. But well-intentions aside, this video is bullshit.
“This ain’t no fetish/ ain’t objectifying no one, I reject your deconstruction of my taste.”
That is a bold way to start a pop song if I ever heard one. It was this line tweeted by resident any1man, George 2.0, that brought the song to my attention. I mean good opening lines are part of my life-force. I imbibe them as a necessary step in harnessing my chi.
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’
‘There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from…’
‘I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…’
If you have a good opening line (as in “Black Girls”), half the battle is won. You have me at ‘hello’. I’m yours to be lost at this point. And loss is what happens.
The song and the video are not saying the same thing. In a song said to be a “celebration” of black women (as well as “feminine beauty” and “interracial love”), we have a video where nude models, in the mold of Daryl Hannah and Grace Jones respectively, move from examining one another’s wisdom teeth with their tongues to performing similuted cunnilingus not seen so passionately in a public space since Black Swan.
I’m not sure DA and Max have a thing for black girls as much as they have a thing for interracial lesbians.
And if they do, hey, that’s fine! Some of my best friends are interracial lesbians. No judgement here. More power to them.
But don’t veil it in a celebration of black women. It’s not like it was this. In a world where even the Secret Service has a penchant for brown skin, let’s not pretend like this is a courageous act. The visuals, which cannot be divorced from the tune at this point, move the entire presentation closer to the field of Hangover 2, frat-boy fantasy in which the wish fulfillment for the exotic can only be quenched by the Other. I couldn’t escape the feeling that this was John Mayer’s playboy interview set to music.
So you have a thing for Black girls? Cool. So did Thomas Jefferson.
Looky there…as it turns out, I do know how I feel about this.
How do YOU feel about it?