So what’s a problematic song without a problematic music video to go along with it? Granted, Mama’s Little Girl didn’t have one. But this song does and while it’s easy to pick it apart, the video is mostly lacking in the complex images and statements that the song actually makes. Girl pop groups are often used in videos like props. While the song tells a story or has something to say, even something problematic, the video is just the girls in different revealing outfits looking pretty. Girls Aloud was was notorious for this, unfortunately.
Anyway, the video has four main parts, which I will discuss in the order at which they appear:
1. Desperate Housewives
The band is first shown in front of houses in a supposed suburban neighborhood, performing yard work. Una is watering her bushes with a gardening hose, Vanessa is mowing the lawn, Mollie is hanging clothes on a clothesline, etc. The girls start singing the song, their yard work is punctuated by eye rolls and dismissive gestures towards the content of the lyrics and also the other girls.
It’s strange to show the girls doing yard work as that’s often associated with masculinity and the outside sphere. Women manage the home and men manage the yard. Even though it’s right outside of the front door, it’s still in the outside realm. This is either showing that the girls filling in for their men and performing their gender-assigned tasks in their absence. As the song is talking about these horrible men, what better way to show that they’re useless if not that the girls have to step out of their gender binary in order to get much-needed yard work done?
Of course, this also could be that the video’s director wanted to see the girls interacting with each other and that would be difficult to show if they were inside their houses. No impossible, mind you. But difficult. Either way, this section takes up the majority of the video.
2. The Poker Game
While the band sings about their useless, cheating men, scenes begin to get show up from a poker game. At first, the camera seems to attempt to show that the players are male, but there is nothing masculine about these players at all. As the video progresses, it’s revealed that the table is actually surrounded by The Saturdays in suits. There is no attempt to even style the girls as men though. They have their shirts unbuttoned to reveal cleavage, their hair is styled, they wear full makeup, their curves are shown through their clothes, and eventually they’re pictured wearing high heels.
It doesn’t make much sense in the storyline of the song to use The Saturdays as their male counterparts. These “men” are neither masculine, nor engaging in the behaviors that they are accused of. The main complaint issued in the lyrics that the men are not faithful and they are only shown with their peers, playing poker. There is a mention of men staying out all night in bars, and while there is undoubtedly what is supposed to be alcohol on the table, it doesn’t look as if they’re actually at a bar. It should be noted that there is a shot of car keys on the table. That will come into play later.
3. Black and White
The bridge of the song shows headshots of the girls in black and white while they perform spoken word about the kind of men that they want to date. It’s worth noting at this point, that no actual men have appeared in the video, only these five women. I always find it sad that an entire form of media can revolve around nothing but men without actually showing any of them. Just like the film The Women, it just shows that women’s lives are so engrossed with men that even when they’re not there, that’s all women have to think and talk about.
4. The Meeting
At the end of the song, the five “men” arrive in a product placement car and confront the Desperate Housewives from earlier in the video. The women look upset and confrontational during the beginning, but then the men produce flowers or candy or the car keys shown earlier in the video. They give their female counterparts the presents to the girls’ delight. The final show is of Male Frankie giving Female Frankie a Swarovski ring that was shown during the poker game. Female Frankie is giddy to accept it.
As the song finishes, the men and women dance together. The final shot is of all ten of the characters leaning in for a kiss. So apparently, the women who were complaining about men buying them things instead of being good boyfriends/husbands are overjoyed at the material items that their partners give them so much that everything they were bitching about for the last three and a half minutes is just forgotten. Which makes me question why the song raises all of these points while the video contradicts them.
I would definitely accept that there was little of any thought that went into the video and the entire idea behind it was to show the girls in ball gowns and sexed up suits and then have them meet each other. But it’s this kind of thoughtlessness that makes me wonder why people are producing such pointless media when they could be doing great things.
There are awesome, strong, encouraging and daring lyrics to be written and just as adventurous and empowering videos to go with it. But instead, the media being produced is this horrible song and accompanying video. We know that people will buy it, that has been proven. So put a little more effort into some song lyrics and video direction and produce something that isn’t passing on pointless gender identities and encouraging problematic cultural ideals.
To read more in this series, click here.