Okay, so, like, a few weeks ago, Jack White, a man for whom I’ve made my appreciation quite clear on multiple occasions from nearly the beginning of this blog, came out with a new music video, for the song “Freedom at 21” from his solo album. Predictably, Rolling Stone magazine, a publication I have an ambivalent view towards but continue to subscribe to and still take some sort of masochistic joy in flipping through, has nothing but praise for the video in the “Playlist” section of its latest issue (August 16, 2012). Less predictably, the same video has utterly failed to impress me. Which means that Rolling Stone magazine would actually bend down further to kiss Jack White’s ass than I would. And it’s not just because I’m significantly shorter than the average adult journalist, either.
I’m not about to call “Judas!” or anything on Mr. White, but what the hell? Frankly I expected better from the guy who was allegedly unhappy with how the video for “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” turned out. I mean, what is this? Sexy lady writhing around on the hood of a car? Oh, like that’s never been done before (okay, full disclosure here: I actually really like the Rihanna and Whitesnake videos. And no, even I don’t have any explanation for the Whitesnake one. As for the QOTSA vid, it’s probably one of the most unique uses of this trope. That being said, it’s also one of the most mind-screwy, plus the animation style kinda creeps me out). Some kind of weird jailbird fantasy with sexy half-naked inmates? Maybe not quite as cliché, but Gaga did it better (not to mention tweaked the script by making out with a fully clothed, non-heterosexual-male-gaze-targeting butch babe. You know you’re pushing the audience’s suspension of disbelief when Lady Gaga’s videos start looking more true-to-life than your own. How did Jack end up in a women’s prison, anyway?). This isn’t even the first time Jack White’s busted outta the big house in a music video (see “Hands” by The Raconteurs. Which is, in my humble opinion, better than “Freedom at 21” in every conceivable way. Also, it’s an abundant source of warm fuzzies). And no, I’m not about to let you off easy just for putting a woman in a position of authority, as the police officer who chases Jack down, pulls him over, and informs him that he’s under arrest for (from what I can tell, anyway) being a very, very bad boy. And that’s fine (and not completely dissimilar to some Jack White-related fantasies I might have. Hey, I’m only human). But why is she wearing short-shorts when all the other (i.e. male) cops in the music video get to wear pants? I mean, it’s not really fair that the guys get to be cops while the woman’s job as a police officer is secondary to her function as eyecandy. And then you get to the jail scene and — oh, look who it is? Apparently Officer Halloween Sexcop is from a set of identical triplets, and the other two just happen to be Ms. Prisoner O’Love and Lady Hood Ornament. And they’re all allergic to pants! Seriously, though, I’d maybe be the slightest bit more okay with all this superfluous ladyflesh if only Jack got more naked in this video. And not just for my own perverted pleasure (although, well, I have needs too, y’know?), but because enough already with this double standard. I’m sick of these tired, boring-ass music videos where women’s bodies are constantly on display while the men get to wear clothes and have some semblance of a personality, and who might be sexy but that’s just incidental to who they are as a whole, while women have to be sexy before they can be interesting, even in cases where they are the artist who’s starring in the video. And sure, that may be enough to attract a certain demographic (i.e. horny entitlement-poisoned heterosexual male douchebags who can’t be bothered to think critically too much). But the rest of us (i.e. the majority, believe it or not, of the music-consuming public) are going to get real bored real soon if this is all the already dwindling music television industry has to offer us.
Yeah, I know, I went off on a huge feminist diatribe once again, but this crap really irks me as a fan of music who is also a feminist, and who doesn’t understand why most of the music-related media (i.e. music videos; Rolling Stone and its ilk) continue to cater to the dudebro culture instead of the general masses of music lovers, most of whom don’t fall into that category and don’t care if our music and music-related media comes with a shiny pair of tits or not. And while I’ll continue to love Jack White, I find his latest video to be a particular disappointment, because I expected much, much more from a man who has been in some of the most innovative videos of our time, has always been an extremely vocal supporter of women in the music industry, and was THE FIRST MAN TO GET HIS OWN COVER OF GODDAMN VenusZine, for fuck’s sake! So I find it kind of difficult to comprehend why such a man (a certain man, who for the poor you can b— damn it, why doesn’t anyone stop me?) would ever stoop to involve himself in a video chock full of meaningless T&A and other tired tropes and that’s custom-made for the lowest common denominator (i.e. unimaginative douchewanks). It just doesn’t make sense. I will say this much: I think the song rocks (I’ll let the iffy lyrics slide. This time); I love Jack’s Mickey Mouse gloves; and the chromatic idiosyncracies here are kind of interesting. It’s a shame they had to be wasted on such a dumbass video.