Thursday, October 26, 2006
MySpace As Art
VIDEO: "Shortie Like Mine" Bow Wow feat. Chris Brown
The insane popularity of MySpace, especially over similar peer-to-peer competitors, is largely rooted in the easily customizable format of the MySpace “profile.” Users can add everything from hand-drawn backdrops to music videos from their favorite artists. While much of the motivation for making such profiles comes from a desire to connect with others, add new friends (sometimes just famous friends) and often to promote one’s own career, it’s also essentially about expressing one’s individuality simply for the sake of expressing it.
This video explores the concept of individuality by focusing on the unique nature of a number of different girls from around the world. While Bow Wow and Chris Brown each proclaim there is no girl out there like “mine”, we meet a number of beautiful girls, many times simply through an actual profile picture. And though we simply get surface descriptions of each girl, it mirrors the way in which MySpace does provide some insight into a person’s actual life despite remaining an inanimate web page.
Bow Wow, Brown and even Jermaine Dupri all reveal an individualized “page” that is meant to represent them in someway. These pages come to life, and the singers are literally almost brought into the homes of the girls. At some level this simply about promotion, a clever visual trick to get all their fans to run to the computers and obsess over the music and the celebrity status of the performers. But unlike almost every other video these days that is about promotion, the artists here actually find a way to relate to their fan base rather than alienate them with images of extreme wealth and sexuality (on a side note, Chris Brown always looks like he’s having so much fun when he dances). And in the particular emphasis on promoting their “profiles” they do capture the strange phenomenon of adding musicians and celebrities as “friends,” as if the label somehow proves the truth of the relationship. But in fact the addition of celebrity friends is just another aspect of the profile, another expression of individual taste and thought.
The video also delves into the idea of online dating, and the ways in which it can be both successful and frustrating. On the one hand the excitement of “messaging” and online flirting is exemplified in these exchanges, but at the same time we realize that Bow Wow is simply playing games with most of these girls. In the end he chooses the one that he can see in person and directly pursue – looking at each other’s profiles all day isn’t always enough for a relationship. But it would seem that most people are already aware of that.
We don’t use light green font or a hot pink border to just get a date or receive some message from a superstar, we do it simply to express. The visuals of the video, which is a MySpace profile come to life with it’s scrolling text and floating heart-shaped icons, underlines the truly artistic nature of “profile” creating. It’s not just about choosing the right backdrop or having a lot of friends, but everything from the quotes in the “about me” section to the formatting of the “comments” box is about self-expression. And whether we are aware of it or not, there is something truly cathartic in putting together a representation of oneself. Though it also promotes spending hours upon hours on perfecting one’s own image, the creating of “profiles” allows for an artistic outlet that anyone can participate in and everyone can enjoy. Some may argue whether or not its really “art,” but that’s beside the point, what really matters is that people are expressing themselves to each other all over the world – and that’s a good thing.