Why Charli XCX's 'Boys' Is The Most Important Video You've Seen This Year
Let us cast your mind back to 2013. We witnessed Lorde emerge from the misty fog of Takapuna Grammar School and into the hearts and iPods of people everywhere. We witnessed Miley Cyrus cut all her hair off but not without hitting #1 all across the globe. We witnessed Beyoncé break the Internet before it was cool as she surprise-dropped her self-titled album that left iTunes so shook it stopped working. But all of that, bleakly, pales in comparison to one absolute plague of an earworm.
When Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. teamed up to give us ‘Blurred Lines’, not even they could have predicted the stratospheric success it was going to earn. Arguably one of the biggest songs of recent memory, ‘Blurred Lines’ was as catchy as it was absolutely f*cked. The creepy repetition of ‘I know you want it’ has pretty disgusting implications behind it and the video, starring a then-unknown Emily Ratajkowksi, amplified what mainstream media has done since forever – treating women as objects, only there to provide pleasure to the ‘superior’ male. While Em Rata certainly consented to the doing the video, despite regretting it now, the video as a whole really pushes forward a dark and seedy message about how men think they can treat women.
Since then, Thicke’s career has taken a delightful dip and people everywhere are realising that feminism is not only the way-to-go – it’s just fkn common sense. Still, we still have a mammoth way to travel until people of all genders are treated with the same respect and dignity that men receive for doing the bare minimum. Until then, however, queen Charli XCX has a compromise.
If you’re a pop nut, you’ll know that there’s so much more to Charli XCX than her monster hit Boom Clap and her ~iconic~ hook in Iggy Azalea’s ‘Fancy.’ Since her debut in 2013, Charli XCX has been a trailblazer for young women claiming their autonomy in the music industry all while dancing across a wide variety of genres. Whether it was the gloomy electro-pop of 2013’s True Romance, the teen dream 90’s pop-punk ruckus of 2014’s Sucker or the digital, sugary sweet glitch pop of this year’s mixtape Number 1 Angel, Charli XCX has made sure that she’s so pop it’s almost not pop anymore.
Now, Charli XCX is gearing up for her yet-to-be-titled third album with a track and video that has made tidal waves all across the globe, and rightly so. Boys is a pretty understated track – with a Super Mario inspired synth lacing the tune as Charli, probably in a pink fur robe with matching slippers, dreams about cute boys. The video, however, is a thirst trap to end all thirst traps as it features basically every famous bloke on the planet acting ~sexy~. We’re talking a shirtless Cameron Dallas fulfilling all your lumberjack fantasies wielding a chainsaw. We’re talking Diplo playing with more puppies than you can handle. We’re even talking Vance Joy trying to eat a piece of cake with as much sex appeal as he can possibly muster, god bless him.
But all thirst aside, the roster of over 50 famous men are there to serve a purpose that might not be as immediate. Why is Charlie Puth washing a car, you ask? Why is Connor Franta posing as the cupid he undoubtedly is? Why are Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa shooting money out of pink guns and having a bloody great time doing it? All these blokes are just doing what girls usually do in videos, right?
If you haven’t made the connection yet, let us help you out: Charli XCX is sick of male wolf-whistles and wants you to writhe in male tears instead. At the very base, she is submitting these famous men to the same bullsh*t nonsense that women are so often subjected to in the music industry – stand still and look pretty. While you may not realise it, next time you’re browsing through music videos just take a look at how women are utilised, as if they’re only tools for the men. It’s pretty gross, huh?
Since mainstream media really hasn’t gotten the fkn point yet, Charli XCX is giving you a major role reversal. By objectifying these blokes, she’s sure to get a few insecure men on the Internet a little upset. But shall we take a bet on how many of those same men get outraged on the reg every time a video like ‘Blurred Lines’ is released? Excuse us while we take a giant gulp of searing hot tea. Sure enough, people on the Internet are already up in arms about the video crying reverse sexism.
I'm pressed abt the fact that if girls got rated whole feminist twitter would go off but cuz it's men gettin objectified people stay put smh
— kyra (@wangjiaersmile) July 30, 2017
I love this.
All the feminists coming out from their protests to tweet about how thirsty they are.
Y'all are embarrassingly hypocritical.
— Odd Oddities (@odd_oddities) July 27, 2017
What’s even better is that even with these guys being here to dehydrate people everywhere, Charli has still given the video an element that many media outlets still struggle with: inclusivity. Contrary to popular opinion, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid are stunning but they’re not the universal peak of beauty. There are too many women out there who feel under-represented and under-appreciated by the very media who claim to be helping them. That’s why featuring a bunch of guys who vary in race, body type and sexual orientation is so important for this particular purpose that Charli’s trying to serve. The patriarchy really champions the alpha male as the ideal male – stoic, chiselled and devoid of emotion as emotion is deemed ‘too feminine’. She is simultaneously giving guys – provided their secure enough in their masculinity to understand the point of the video - from all over the idea that they’re both good looking and worthy.
Look, when it comes down to it, Charli XCX isn’t the only woman to subvert the male gaze in history but she might be the first to shove it in your face as blatantly as this. With 10 million views and counting in a matter of four days, Charli’s taking her in-your-face feminism to a new level and still giving no f*cks about it. It’s not her problem that men continue to treat women as objects solely there for their pleasure. It’s your problem, dudes, and if this video causes you to cry sexism in the comment section then we sincerely hope you’re doing that on every single video that treats women the same way. Might wanna pour yourself a cup of coffee for that one – you’ll be sitting here for a while.
- Jackson Langford