Recently I’ve been watching and rewatching a video on Youtube that has rather tickled me. It’s very rude, so do not watch where people are possible to overhear you.
The content is highly messed up and that’s part of why I like it. I see it as a logical extension of what is acceptable if pre-marriage sex is acceptable and is therefore highlighting how disturbing that idea really is. I don’t expect it to be to everyone’s tastes, but this is a world in which we are all different and our tastes very much so. What is acceptable is a very subjective thing anyway, but more on that in a future blog.
One of the main appeals of it however, is the acting. I find both of them so good at mixing the laughable and yet slightly believable acting. I particularly like Justin Timberlake, as this is a complete turnaround from what he was doing when I first noticed him.
That got me thinking though about Mr Timberlake and how his image has changed over the years. He started out as a squeaky clean pop star without a blemish, all handsome looks and tween appeal. This then grew to something aimed at his ageing and maturing audience, with more a focus on his success and talent. After a brief break from music, he came back with the single SexyBack, showing him once again as a confident man well aware of the fact he was attractive to women. He also has focussed on his acting career, appearing in kid’s films such as Shrek the Third and Yogi Bear, in addition to more serious fare such as Southland Tales and the Social Network, reviewed here.
It is the last of these in combination with the video above that have made me think the most. In both of these he plays a complete jerk, someone who believes they are cool and awesome but are really hollow and selfish. I can’t help wondering whether these roles were chosen for him because they show a genuine lesson learned by the man or whether they think that he is this kind of idiot. Part of me thinks the former, as it is a great move to gain new fans. He’s not lost any who found him attractive, as nothing has changed there, but those who couldn’t stand his sell out nature, as that’s what I imagine they call it, can see him attack that type of person. It’s a very clear shift from what he was and marks him as a much more mature person.
The question that naturally follows is whether this is then ok? The question of celebrity image is a large one, that I cannot hope to cover in its entirety in this short blog, but it is worth thinking about. It is common practice for a solo artist to use their own image for brand recognition and to suggest otherwise is almost lunacy. Would Daft Punk have risen to worldwide fame if they didn’t dress up and would you try an unknown new artist if they weren’t willing to show an indication of what their musical style was like? I doubt it, but at what point does this marketing become manipulation? How much of their image should be determined by what they do in real life and how much by their desires of what they want to be?
Consider the case of Justin. With the social network and the mother lover video he is presenting an image of being someone who is having fun and yet also very aware of his own self image and how he affects others. Is this right if he has not genuinely learnt the lesson from his early days that money and success are not everything? If it’s wrong to pretend to be purer than you really you are, and then is it acceptable for the press to expose this fraudulent behaviour, even if it interferes with their private life? In an ideal world, nothing but the truth would be presented, but is this possible when you yourself are the brand? You can’t be wholly honest, else people will see your sinful ways and judge you for it. On the other hand, who has the right to judge that you have hidden too much and not revealed the full picture? It’s a hard call and one any artist wanting to present themselves to the world must think about. You may not be able to answer it fully, but there certainly is a lot to consider.