Lessons in Youth “Culture”: Volume 2

It’s that time again.  Time endure the judgment of the ten men working out on the machines behind me while I tune into MTV.  If I continue this series on about the aftermath of culture’s downward spiral – as in, today – I am going to invest in white tee-shirts and a Sharpie pen; the back of my new gym shirts will read “RESEARCH”.  With any luck, the aforementioned gentlemen will be staring at my ass and not at my tiny screen filled with Ludacris, half-naked girls, and commercials for Proactive.

Let the games begin.

It All Goes Downhill from Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber – Never Let You Go

I’ve been meaning to write about Justin Bieber for some time now.  I caught this video during a previous “research” session, but I already had too much hysterical fodder for the blog that day.  That, and though I hate to admit it, I had to process the fact that I am in love with Mr. Bieber.  Dear Justin, let me count the ways.

–       The video is loosely reminiscent of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.  Think stormy beach, makeout sessions by a fish tank, etc.   This might not be what the director intended, but when I see a boy in a white button-up shirt with sleeves rolled up and a neo-90s interpreted bowl cut, I think of Leonardo DiCaprio in that pointy collared, I-wanna-be-Prince-the-symbol-not-the-name dress shirt.  It is quite possible that I am projecting all of my long lost unrequited middle school hormones on Justin Bieber.  I am aware that this is weird.  Moving on.

–       Now, call me crazy, but Justin Bieber strikes me as an entertainer with staying power.  The kid is fucking charming and adorable, and unless he throws his life away on hookers and drugs a la Lindsay Lohan – though she turned into a hooker and didn’t bang hookers herself as far as I am aware – I think he’ll do just fine.

–       His wardrobe brings to mind the early fashion faux pas of a young Justin Timberlake, all of which the public took in pop culture stride, embracing his pseudo white kid jerry curl look and turning a blind eye to his head-to-toe denim ensembles.  Why?  Because Justin danced like a dream and sang like a little girl.  That’s why.  You know who else specialized in that?  Michael fucking Jackson.  And this kid’s got it, too.  He just do.

Sincerely, Justin Bieber’s Number # Cougar

Sex Ed with Ciara

Ciara – Ride

The video opens with Ciara’s insanely muscular body writhing around in silhouette. At this point, I know that “Ride” will not be about her ’67 Cadillac; it would be impossible to drive a vehicle moving around like that.  The lights come up, revealing a Janet Jackson inspired version of Ciara, fucking an invisible man while wearing yoga pants and a baseball cap.

It is interesting to see what the music industry is doing for music videos these days without the big budget days of yore.  Long gone are the times when a whole crew of dancers could be featured humping the air in unison.  Perhaps that’s what makes Ciara’s whole video so awkwardly intimate: you have no choice but to just stare at her and only her.  Her butt, her crotch, her snarling lip curl.  Had I been in a strip club, this wouldn’t faze me, but at the gym I am concerned that the people behind me think I am watching taped rehearsals for porn.

To clarify what Ciara is “hinting” at, she hops up on a mechanical bull, fake sweat transforming white her tee shirt into transparent cotton saran wrap while she, well, rides.

The entire 4 minutes and 39 seconds is a visual manifestation of TMI.  I don’t personally want to know what Ciara looks like having sex.  I don’t need to be able to make comment on the quality of her recent bikini wax.  I’d just rather let sleeping dogs lie.  On a positive note, she could definitely make a buck turning this dance into the Tae Bo of 2010.  Those moves look pretty intense.

We’ll be a dream…or possibly your nightmare

We the Kings – We’ll be a Dream

Two seconds into the song’s opening guitar riff and I already hate my life.  Whiney, cutesy wootsey, rock “influenced” pop music.  Anthems for white suburbia.  Here it comes.

A group of kids hurl themselves down a wooded ravine in slow motion.  A hand plays a guitar in ambient lighting.  Pull back to reveal…a fraggle.  I almost die laughing when the band is shown in their full, over-stylized glory.  The hairdressers should really be shot.  Seriously.  Like, no one hire these people.  Ever.  The lead singer looks like the love child of Beast from Beauty and the Beast and Animal from the Muppets.  In case you were wondering what that looks like, it’s not a Jolie-Pitt baby, I’ll tell you that much.

The concept of the video is pretty much this:

Get a ton of white kids.  Throw in one Asian girl for good measure.  Put them in a forest.  Give them pillows.  Watch them fight.  Let them raid craft services.  Watch them fight.  When you run out of food, give them water balloons.  Watch them fight some more.  Film their plastic smiles and plaid shirts.  Feature a generically attractive female singer I’ve never heard of and have her walking through the pillow fight.  Feathers, yeah, feathers will make for a beautiful visual cue.  Floaty things in the air are always beautiful.  Make sure to include more shots of the folliclely disturbed gentlemen on stage.

By the end of the video I feel like throwing up.  I just can’t take it anymore.  May God strike me down.

In case Ciara didn’t teach you anything, here’s sex ed with Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxtina

Christina Aguilera – I’m Not Myself Tonight

It seems that Lady Gaga has opened the floodgates for the heightened version of music’s long-standing commitment to “anything goes.”  Dress like a tranny hooker.  It’s okay.  For whatever reason, Lady Gaga somehow pulls it off.  This is probably because her introduction to the world was already knee-deep in Crazy Town.  It’s hard to take Christina Aguilera seriously as a sizzling, sexually uninhibited maniac when just ten years ago she was making Christmas albums with Lil Bow Wow and wearing heavily padded bras

The video is a badly done homage to Madonna, another musical icon who was somehow able to push the boundaries of bad taste without looking disingenuous.  To accomplish this, you need cash and backup dancers.  Fortunately for Xtina and myself, it appears that she is one of the few remaining artists still given a budget for her music videos.  That much liquid latex in one video is expensive, surely.  Also commanding a high cost these days are bondage masks, stripping lessons, and a computer-generated closet inferno.

Each individual scene is like a little shop of sexual horrors.  If I were a man, all of this would terrify me.  That much glitter and sexuality is enough to render a man impotent, in which case I am pretty sure Madame Xtina would probably just eat you for dinner instead.

I patiently allow the video to play out despite the fact it’s hurting my ears and burning my eyeballs.  The song essentially legitimizes getting shit housed and batting both ways.  Deep, Xtina.  Real deep.  Oh no, not like that!  Jesus!

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