Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fantasy is Truth, Truth Fantasy

Lloyd teams up with premier rapper of the moment, Lil' Wayne, on his new single "You." Unfortunately he still ends up with a fairly silly-looking video, but one that is nevertheless culturally revealing…

VIDEO: "You" directed by Fat Cats

Young Lloyd’s “You” begins with epic soaring synths and a collection of slow motion shots of the singer exiting a red sports car. Then we get Weezy’s verse, which isn’t the traditional macho flow we might expect, instead it’s bravado mixed with a lamentation of celebrity - with the rapper conceding that he puts no effort into relationships and instead settles for those who women who are “desperate” enough to text message him at the end of the night.

On one hand it’s typical misogynist posing to expect women to come crawling to men, but on the other hand it’s also very pitiful that this superstar rapper doesn’t even entertain the possibility of a relationship with a woman. Conversely Lloyd sings, “stop wait a minute, the way you move, you done got my heart all in it, and I just want to be with you,” apparently he’s constantly seeking new “love.” While Wayne is firmly planted in the real world (at least his real world, not really ours), Lloyd is up there with the synths, making grand gestures to a girl he just met.

The video emphasizes the contradiction in Lloyd’s proclamations by the fact that he follows the girl into a pseudo speed-dating gathering where a number of couples are randomly paired up. Lloyd and his date leave the place quite quickly, apparently escaping the short-term fate of those pairings. Yet in the song itself we already see the foreshadowing of what’s to come, “she’s fine too, but I want you” isn’t the most reassuring way to tell someone you love him or her.

But there is an immediate attraction between the two and thus they flee to escape into the whimsy of one-night love. So we get these silly shots of Lloyd (with his shirt off) and the woman standing in front of clouds, as if they are soaring on cloud nine. But the clouds don’t just represent extreme joy; they are a reminder of the fantastical nature of the whole affair – the scene almost looks like a glorified cover of a trashy romance novel.

It’s Lil’ Wayne, though, who really puts things into perspective with his second solo scene in the video. Sitting on top of fire-emblazoned car he speaks once again about the advantages of his celebrity and then proceeds to give his own version of Lloyd’s sweet nothings. Not surprisingly his words aren’t very “romantic” (though, honestly, either are Lloyd’s), but what does surprise, is the disappearance of the woman who is slowly inching her way towards Wayne’s body during his flow. Once again we get a sort of lament - shining an emotional light on the sexually free lifestyle these artists may lead. Wayne and the director are fully aware of the downside of having so many different partners so quickly, and so superficially.

Yet following that disappearing act there is the climactic kiss between Lloyd and his lover, an actual consummation of the flirtation that dominated the video. In the end, how can one really doubt the authenticity of feeling, just because it is short-lived? Regardless of how you meet someone, or how long you’ve known each other, or even what words (or lack of words) you exchange – you can possibly still feel deeply for them. And even if you don’t, even if it is purely a lustful desire that motivates you, this video reminds us of the joy we get in at the very least pretending there is something more there.

But it also laments the depressing quality of that fact, because for many (like Lil’ Wayne in this video, and even Lloyd, who confesses to being a “playa”) the possibility of romantically connecting with another seems almost impossible, and all you are left to choose from is a mythic ideal or a sexually pleasurable emptiness.

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