Justin Timberlake has jumped the shark
Last week, Justin Timberlake dropped the video for ‘Supplies,’ the second single from his forthcoming album Man of the Woods. I didn't think I could get more confused than when I saw the video for his first single, ‘Filthy’, but then I saw this one and that theory was blown totally out of the water. In an attempt to understand what the F is going on, I've tried to unpack his latest visual offering…
Aaaand we're in. Okay, so straight away I’m getting strong end-scene-of-Fight-Club vibes from this abandoned office building. I’m thinking maybe Justin Timberlake is fashioning himself as the real life Tyler Durden. He’s woke now, he wears a #MeToo badge to award shows. He’s probably anti-capitalist too - maybe he'll blow some buildings up to prove it. I’m half expecting that timeless Pixie’s riff to come in but it doesn’t. Oh that it had, tbh.
The beat hits and we see JT slumped in front of a pile of TVs each flashing different American atrocities across their screens. Each screen is tinted red and white like the stripes of the flag, which - and I don't know if you knew this - is symbolic. We’ve got Weinstein, we’ve got Spacey, we’ve got police brutality. JT is watching all this unfold, and I’ll bet he’s not going to bloody stand for it.
Okay I seem to be onto something here. Out of the darkness we go and into the light in a very literal way. We’ve got a white street, a white building, white cars, white…crocodiles? Is that a Peter Pan metaphor about time being up? I kind of hope so but who's to say, there’s a lot going on here. Some extremely white people in extremely white clothes with extremely white hair are harassing a hooded woman dressed all in black. Her attackers are inexplicably dressed like they’re on the set of Marie Antoinette, but she’s dressed like she’s on her way to the shops. Old-guard white-nationalists with outdated principles versus the new generation of activists? Maybe, I guess. One of them has a ruff made out of hand-guns, because fashion is violence. Or because white nationalism is violence. Or because guns enable violence? One of those, probably.
Things are looking like they’re about to get out of hand for this woman in black but guess what? Just in the nick of time JT - our very own white knight (though wearing dark colours to show that he’s down with the oppressed) - steps in. The woman punches her attacker and she and JT saunter away hand in hand. Down with the police!
JT seems to have lost the woman and, instead of looking for her, is dancing down a dark street, followed by his shadow which is moving independently (maybe I was onto something with that Peter Pan thing?). It's no ordinary shadow though - it’s glowing! Before I can even begin to unpack what this says about what JT thinks of himself, out of nowhere a girl wearing a trilby lifts up the wall like it’s cloth. Suddenly we’re all in a bad Banksy mural, which is actually a bang-on reference for them to have made, tonally speaking.
Oh God now Pharrell's inexplicably here and JT is singing the chorus maniacally into the camera. He looks deranged, almost as though he knows how bad this all is. Suddenly he’s watching on as a crowd of shirtless people bow to an Illuminati pyramid. Didn’t Jay Z and Rihanna make this video 9 years ago for ‘Run This Town’? No! Unlike Rihanna, who was out there making Illuminati triangles with her hands, JT’s gonna burn that pyramid down! In fact, it’s his sexy bikini-clad girlfriend who actually does the burning, because women are more than just sex objects in THIS video. Did you think JT was going to be the one to do it? Wake up, Sheeple, women have agency too!
With that task complete, they need to make their getaway. The nameless woman who's probably JT's girlfriend drives them out of danger in a scene that is so derivative of Mad Max I laugh out loud. After a lightning-speed drive, they arrive in a warehouse where lots of people are floating with halos of light around their heads. JT pulls a halo off one of the floating people and they crash to the ground, free. He's unshackling minds with his music, you guys. Then the middle eight hits and he snogs the girl for a bit.
If there’s one thing this video stays true to its a flagrant disregard for making any sense whatsoever because now JT is inexplicably rising out of some sand like a Bobbit worm. The shot widens to show a barren, terracotta-hued landscape, and it becomes clear that in addition to Fight Club, The Matrix, and Mad Max, JT and his team have also recently seen Blade Runner. There are some children running about - because *innocence* - and one of them directly addresses us, the viewer, exhorting us to ‘wake up!’
Yeah guys, wake up. You wish you were as woke as Justin! He’s standing up for the oppressed, railing against the police, burning pyramids. He’s wearing black at the Golden Globes, rocking the #MeToo pin, tweeting the hashtag. He’s out here…oh yeah, working with Woody Allen, describing working on his forthcoming film as a ‘dream come true.’
Perhaps he should have sat in front of those screens a little longer.
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