I was busy thinkin' 'bout boys, boys, boys
July 28, 2017 8:17 AM   Subscribe

British pop singer/songwriter Charli XCX, on the video for her new single Boys: "I just want to flip the male gaze on its head and have you guys do the sexy stuff." Starring Joe Jonas eating pancakes, Riz Ahmed telling secrets with teddy bear, Jay Park lounging on an inflatable flamingo, Chromeo having a pillow fight, and 50+ other boys.
posted by everybody had matching towels (44 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
OH MY GOSH, this is sooooooo cute and silly!! I love it!! Yay for summer songs and puppies and teddy bears and pancakes and hilarity.
posted by leesh at 8:22 AM on July 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


The song's awfully hypnotic. Or maybe the visuals. I can't tell which anymore, it's just been on repeat play for a while now.
posted by anem0ne at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Haha, I just noticed the note on youtube that says "NO BOYS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS VIDEO šŸ’•."
posted by leesh at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2017 [12 favorites]


Here's another (NSFW) video with a guy doing the sexy stuff. It only seems ridiculous until you realize that he's only doing the sorts of things women are asked to do in videos all the time:

Pete Parkkonen - Kohta sataa
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:40 AM on July 28, 2017 [11 favorites]


OK, I've already seen that still of Riz Ahmed snuggling with that teddy bear on Twitter like 50 times, and I was wondering where it came from. I didn't remember a scene like that in The Night Of.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm going to be honest, it felt a little... dirty? to watch this without the sound on in my office. I had to get up to close my door! I never knew boys eating cereal and brushing their teeth could be so nice to watch!

(Also, it felt strange calling them "boys" and not "men" in the previous sentence, even though the video is called Boys.)
posted by sockermom at 8:53 AM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


I gave birth to boys. One wants blokes.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am this thing's target audience. A+ boys.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:07 AM on July 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


Agh I can't decide between sexy chainsaw and sexy pancakes! I am clearly this video's target audience.
posted by corb at 9:07 AM on July 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


If watching Boys at the office made you feel dirty, definitely wait to get home before watching The Joy Formidable - The Last Thing on My Mind
posted by ckape at 9:09 AM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Th..th..thank you, Card Cheat. I don't know what he's singing but does it even matter?
posted by amanda at 9:21 AM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't know, either...a Finnish friend of mine brought that video to my attention.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:39 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but next time pls let Riz Ahmed take off his sunglasses? Just once? 'Cuz baby deer eyes?
posted by redsparkler at 9:55 AM on July 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Previously.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:09 AM on July 28, 2017


When I first saw people talking about the video, I saw it and thought maybe it's a testament to my shallowness that I don't find most of these guys very hot. But I see that apparently these are other music artists (I don't keep up with pop), which now makes me think I'm both shallow and also it's easier for guys outside of the ideal looks/age bracket to make a career in music, because I'm preeetty sure a video with all female stars would be like a string of 20-something skinny girls that all look exactly the same and doing way sexier things. And the equivalent of that is How To Be A Heartbreaker.

Or, alternatively, any K-pop boy band.
posted by picklenickle at 10:37 AM on July 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Amusingly enough, one of the boys in that video is Jay Park, who was part of the K-pop boy band 2PM.

He's the Asian one with the sleeve tats.
posted by anem0ne at 10:40 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I noticed him, chainsaw guy, a couple others and thought, maybe those guys are female-targeting artists, and some of them might be former female-targeting artists who have gotten older and now target a general audience (which happens cyclically every generation). Idk about the rest.
posted by picklenickle at 10:53 AM on July 28, 2017


I don't know if the women would be a lot younger/look the same. Most of the successful women in pop right now are over 30. even the ones who aren't - charlie xcx being one of them - aren't particularly same-y in look/presentation. Also I'd have to see a full list and check ages, but I am pretty sure more than half are under 30 in the video.
posted by radiopaste at 11:57 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Ok, I turned the sound up, and that little Nintendo "coin" blip sample is fantastic. This video has it all!
posted by sockermom at 12:20 PM on July 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


Charli XCX is maybe the only artist I've ever been able to say "I liked her before she was cool." (But I'm not smug about it, I'm just super-excited everybody else likes her now too because that means MORE CHARLI XCX MUSIC!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


In a similar, lower-rent-but-maybe-more-fun vein from a few years ago, Vancouver's The Pack A.D. (two women whose sound evokes the White Stripes) did this in the video for Crazy, but with a more typical looking cross section of young men.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is this where I get to link Charli XCX's 2015 Glastobury set which is 40 minutes of joyous girl pop punk in the tradition of Shampoo and Fuzzbox? I've had a huge soft spot for her ever since You're The One and that Glastonbury set is just perfect for dancing around the kitchen late at night.
posted by kariebookish at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


I feel like if the male gaze were (hetero) gender-flipped, the "boys" in this video would have been wearing less or tighter clothing and doing sexier things. Or is this what women find sexy in men (at least Charli XCX)? Gay videos are a lot less subtle (nsfw).
posted by AFABulous at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


apologies for that last video, which is problematic in 1000 different ways but hey, guys in thongs amirite
posted by AFABulous at 1:45 PM on July 28, 2017


In watching Boys, Kohta Sataa, and The Last Thing on My Mind, I noticed another thing about gendered gaze that I think is still not really flipped in either Boys or The Last Thing on My Mind.

Women who are the objects of the Male Gaze often don't look directly at the camera, if they even look at it at all. They're caught unawares, or they look out of the sides or top of their eyes rather than face straight on.

Men who appear as subjects in Male Gaze videos *do* look at the camera directly while the women around them don't at all.

In Boys, most of the men are actually looking straight at the camera. There are a few exceptions; some don't look at the camera at all, and at 1:49, we get a side-eye gaze, plus the classic over-the-glasses at 2:03. And the uh, guitar-tongue guy at 2:14 does side-eye too. But on the other hand, one of the women (the last at 2:13) gives us side-eye, even though she should be looking straight at us if she's the gazer.

In The Last Thing on My Mind, the men mostly don't look at the camera at all (and so are being good Objects of the Gaze). The singer does give us some straight looks, and from the words is clearly talking to the audience as a peer. But she still gives us a non-straight look -- it's just with head tilted down looking up, instead of side-eye. I think she'd read less complicatedly as Gazer if she never did indirect gaze-towards-camera. As is, it seems to give her a bit of a "hey you caught me being a Gazer" towards the audience, which isn't what Male Gaze videos do.

As for Kohta Sataa, that seems pretty straight up man-as-gaze-object. Regardless of the gender of the watchers (not speaking Finnish I have no idea if that's specified).

Ok, so this is what happens when an academic has a glass of wine and watches some music videos on the way home from a two week conference. (Also I'm still kinda annoyed about the photos my institution made me take a couple years ago, where the camera dude kept trying to make me do side-eye, and I hate side-eye so it didn't go so well.)
posted by nat at 2:30 PM on July 28, 2017 [8 favorites]


is this what women find sexy in men

Women contain multitudes!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 2:36 PM on July 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


I never knew seductive pancake eating was something I found attractive, but ... it turns out it is!
posted by ChuraChura at 2:41 PM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Women contain multitudes!

Of course, but it's pretty easy to define the male gaze even though not every guy is attracted to the same type of woman (or other guy). Body types in music videos are fairly consistent (as is amount of clothing relative to the man/men in the video). So my question is really whether this is the analogous female gaze. Asking honestly because I have no idea.
posted by AFABulous at 3:12 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


FWIW, AFAB, while I'm male, I prefer the Charli XCX video.

There's a delicacy there that's missing in the clubbier gay videos.
posted by anem0ne at 3:18 PM on July 28, 2017


So my question is really whether this is the analogous female gaze.

I certainly don't know. In part because we have so little media that mines the female gaze. I'd say, since the video was created by a band of women, it's a female gaze. But it's a female gaze in context of many years of male gaze media. And if it ignored all that media context, we might miss the point.

I also think that there is a different way that women look at men (and vice-versa) that is due to power imbalances. So, until our powers are equal, the gaze will be different and its meaning will be different.
posted by amanda at 3:21 PM on July 28, 2017 [9 favorites]


I mean, maybe phrasing it as subtlety is better?

There's also the fact that with the Charli XCX video you do have a much wider variety of body types and smiles are seen, whereas in the three you listed it's all the same really hard, cut shape and not as many smiles? I mean, don't get me wrong, the bodies are really nice to look at, but what really gets my knees a bit weak are the goofy smiles towards the end of the video when they crack up a bit.
posted by anem0ne at 3:25 PM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


Has Ingrid Michaelson's "Girls Chase Boys" been posted yet?
posted by amanda at 3:26 PM on July 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


(sorry AFABulous I should have given a less flippant response there! I think amanda and anem0ne have it though)
posted by everybody had matching towels at 3:29 PM on July 28, 2017


Yeah, I agree with amanda and anem0ne too, I think what I find so appealing is not just cute boys being entertaining for my benefit, it's that they seem like they are having fun, they are lit softly with lots of pink and puppies and are non threatening. It's not like aggro at all, it's really sweet and fun. That might just be me though.
posted by leesh at 3:39 PM on July 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


I just rewatched Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" specifically to look for smiles or fun because Michaelson's take on it starts off with the super-straight faces and seriousness but gets more fun as it goes. There's a tiny micro-expression on the model/dancer's face right at the beginning ā€“ blink and you'll miss it ā€“ where she almost looks like she might laugh but then it's super serious through to the end. It makes me think of that saying, "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them." So, part of the female gaze is (or might be) an acknowledgement that these men are "up for it" and won't kill us.

I love seeing men having fun in a joyful and non-threatening way. It's amazing how rare that is in typical straight-male-gaze media, let alone in a sexual representation.
posted by amanda at 3:52 PM on July 28, 2017 [24 favorites]


amanda, yes!!! I wish I could favorite that twelve more times.
posted by leesh at 4:01 PM on July 28, 2017


I know lots of straight women who really dislike super cut studly jock type men. Also, because the guys in this video are famous, there's the extra attraction for people who were already attracted to the stars.

I'm really only disappointed that D.R.A.M. didn't bring his puppy, idnit.
posted by radiopaste at 4:06 PM on July 28, 2017


I'm pretty lukewarm on Vampire Weekend but Ezra Koenig's little eyebrow waggle with the tooth-brushing kills me every time. Jay Park is also flawless. And the track is a bop too!
posted by en forme de poire at 11:23 PM on July 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, Vice (of course) brings a ranking of every boy in the Boys video.

(My favorite quote: "No idea who this is but his haircut makes him look like he'd ask me for nudes and then stop responding, making him exactly the sort of man I find attractive." LMAO, BYE)
posted by en forme de poire at 11:25 PM on July 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


I came across Boys on bust earlier. A mefite alerted me to this thread.

I do not know who pete is or how he gets that champagne in his pants so often but I am now very firmly convinced I do indeed like men.

Well I may have to watch it again for research purposes. Possibly many times. You know how research is.
posted by sio42 at 8:37 AM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


I personally feel her ranking is unfair to Tom Grennan, who is wearing dangly earrings and lipstick that matches his jacket and I am here for it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:21 AM on July 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'm still mad at Diplo for treating MIA so terribly, but I will concede he looks good pressing a puppy.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:22 AM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Women who are the objects of the Male Gaze often don't look directly at the camera, if they even look at it at all. They're caught unawares, or they look out of the sides or top of their eyes rather than face straight on.

Oh, I've noticed this in selfies lately! I'm not sure if there's a gender split or not and I don't think it's too much of a generational thing (under 50, at least). Here are some where the person is posting what they consider to be a flattering pic (I'm not saying they're not, just taking my opinion out of it). Obviously these are cherrypicked from my twitter, but it seems representative to me.


woman looking away
woman looking away

non-binary person looking at camera

man looking at camera
man looking away
man looking at camera
posted by AFABulous at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2017


Charli XCX singing Rollercoaster is like, the platonic ideal of dreamy teenage summer jams. It's what Dazzler would sound like in a PROPER 80s set X-Men movie.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 PM on July 30, 2017


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