Watching Ne-Yo’s latest:
…and remembering Usher’s “You Remind Me”:
…could make you forget just how disturbing the original video actually is:
The video for “The Way You Make Me Feel” makes explicit the song’s depiction of male insecurity – a man who can’t control his dick blaming it on the woman.
The capacity for violence in this video is palpable and fits beautifully with the almost violent lead vocal. That opening riff – “You knock me offa my feet now baby. WHOO” – is like a punch. And Tatiana Thumbtzen, here playing the love interest, is genuinely scared throughout much of the video.
We forget that sex and love were often very twisted in Michael Jackson’s work, largely because those who mimic him are probably far more well-adjusted than he was. Indeed his genius might have been his ability to make the whole world fall in love with some crazy shit. Which, of course, means that his downfall makes perfect sense because how long are you going to listen to songs like “Billie Jean,” “Dirty Diana,” “In The Closet,” and “Human Nature” before the ideas therein start to disturb you?
So it is interesting that the concept has become so romantic now. Both Usher and Ne-Yo strike playful notes, but they also play up the romantic vibe considerably: Usher chases three girls but ends up with his one true love at the end and Ne-Yo floats a rose to his intended (which is genuinely inspired). But there is no element of danger even though you are watching men chase a woman around, ignoring her protestations to be left alone.
It is an open question whether the loss of that realism is good or bad.