Justin Timberlake wants you to know he’s woke. He gets it. He’s basically the best ally a girl, person of color and/or queer could ever hope for. He’s got a handle on all the hashtags–#TimesUp, #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, etc.
And like all the best allies, Justin knows the best way to show support is to appropriate protest and genuine concern for lives at risk for self-promotion. So he did. This week, JT released the second music video “Supplies” from his Man of the Woods album. Despite the album name, which suggests images of Justin returning to the country with all the other white folk, the “Supplies” music video takes viewers to a post-apocalyptic dystopia with sudden glimpses of recognizable protest movements and imagery from our contemporary era. While I imagine both the director Dave Meyers and Justin thought this was going to be a deep radical gaze into the soul of American culture in 2018, it really just looks like they got high and watched Mad Max, Children of Men and Black Mirror back to back.
For a quick wrap-up, the video opens with Justin alone in a room, filled copious television sets, which play an amalgamation of protest footage with signs that read “MeToo,” “End Racism Now” and “The Future Is Female,” as well as images of Harvey Weinstein, Trump and Kevin Spacey. There’s a lingering shot on Justin’s face, with the light from the TVs reflecting in his eyes, symbolizing, of course, his transformation into wokeness.
From there, it’s a hot mess. In fact, the video is actually admirable in its dedication to awfulness. White powdered people intimidate a girl in a black hoodie (with JT coming to her rescue, naturally), people worship a pyramid, a lady in a shirt that says “Pussy Grabs Back” lifts a car and finally, JT and friends wander around a deserted landscape with a child, with big natural hair, telling everyone to “Leave already. Just die…You’re still asleep.” In between this chaos, Justin manages to find time to party in a car and make out with a hot chick. All in a day’s work for woke man!
Naturally, after watching the video, I had to quickly check and see if Meyers was the same director who created the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial travesty. He wasn’t. Which means there are at least two directors that look at protest and see profit. It pays to be woke in 2018.
While I’ll admit to having a soft spot for JT, especially in his crunchy ramen hair, NSYNC days, framing Justin Timberlake as the ultimate ally is, well, a hard sell. First, while the faces of offenders like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey appear in this video, Justin recently starred in Wonder Wheel, a Coney Island-based flick directed by none other than notorious diddler Woody Allen. Whoops!
And then there’s his previous music video for his single “Filthy” (Are you biting our name, JT?), which is mind-bogglingly, skin-crawlingly creepy. With a song that sounds as if Justin was tinkering on an Yamaha keyboard, searching for robotic, futurist noises, “Filthy” presents Justin as a Steve Jobs-like figure, premiering his new and improved cyborg sex machine at a “Pan-Asian” tech conference. Controlling the cyborg from the wings, Justin encourages it to dance and kick a soccer ball, while it is served by a bunch of ladies. Midway through the video, the robot lights up and suddenly, starts dry humping the back-up dancers. Uh uh! Someone call! Olivia Benson! I’d like to report a robot rape! Naturally, the women’s roles in the video boil down to either impressed audience members or objectified dancers subjected to the robot’s unwarranted and unsettling advances.
But, it’s all forgiven because Justin is woke now. So woke. He’s the wokest. Like if there was a woke competition, he would win with flying colors.
If nothing else, the “Supplies” video exists as yet another reminder that nobody learned anything from that Pepsi dumpster fire. Resistance can still easily be coopted by capitalism in the interest of selling a consumerist form of radicality back to an audience. Justin was probably saving all your IG videos from the Women’s March yesterday.
While this is worrisome, it is also seemingly inevitable–transgression has always been short-lived. What can you do other than laugh at it? And with “Supplies,” that’s pretty easy to do. It’s made up of one hilariously bad decision after another, which is why I broke the video down shot by shot:
The video begins with a fast-moving flickering flash of images, from people’s faces to a police car on fire. This is how we know this is going to be *radical*. It’s like it’s 1988 and Justin just heard of NWA.
It’s a person with a megaphone, shot artistically in X-ray vision. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!
Deep, scary, foreboding imagery.
Justin sits in his panopticon, you know, as you do. Paging Michel Foucault!
Do you see what I see? I spot Harvey, Trump and a random brain scan on the bottom right. Is he watching House or ER? I see you Justin–I love medical shows too.
I see that Barbara Kruger-like sign. Does Mary Boone know about this?
Nothing like sprinkling some violence against people of color into a supposedly entertaining video
And suddenly, we’re here. On Wall Street (?) with a bunch of old time-y white folk. It looks like we are, at once, in the future and in the court of Marie Antoinette. Here they rough-up someone in a hoodie.
White supremacy hangs over us like a cloud of white umbrellas.
And who comes to hoodie-wearing person’s rescue? JT!! Of course! He’s the only other person who isn’t wearing white and while, of course, he is white, he’s one of the “good” white people, ok. He’s not like one of those flour-wearing freaks.
No, he wears flannel, because he’s a man of the woods!
But, hoodie-wearing lady doesn’t need Justin’s help as she pounds curly wig man. GIRL POWER!
Of course, a woman in “Supplies” world can’t wear a hoodie zipped-up. She has to show a little skin because while Justin is an ally, he still wants to see lady bits in his videos. Powder twins back there wonder why Justin gets all the chicks.
New scene! It has fire! And lights! And men holding lights! #RESIST
Pharrell appears in this scene–and never again–mainly to chirp. And also prove Justin has a Black friend.
The Illuminati! *puts tin foil hat on*
Uh oh! This lady’s pissed!
Yeah, I’m not completely sure what this entire, as Beyoncé would say, “Illuminati mess” is about.
Ladies still have to be hot in times of protest, amirite?
And they still have to be carried away from crazy cult people by men
And lift up cars with Justin Timberlake wailing on top of them
Get your ass back in the car, Justin.
Totally wild and crazy, dude!
Women hang on the ceiling because they’re trapped by misogyny. Get it? Get it?
But who cares about all those ladies held prisoner like a bad X-Files episode! It’s make out time.
True fact: All protests stop for hot and heavy hook-up sessions.
Wait…what? Yes, from Justin canoodling with some lady, we suddenly are here–at another fast-paced montage of protests signs. Nothing says, “I care about the rights of immigrants” like cutting to this sign directly after Justin sucking face.
Justin even cares about the Opioid crisis, except that after this video, I’d gobble down any downers I could get my hands on in a futile attempt to forget this trash.
Welcome to Mad Max. When did the apocalypse happen, you ask? Who knows! Apparently, it occurred while JT was in his room watching TV, but it looks like he missed something major.
The post-apocalypse is dusty.
Justin wants you to know that children are the future and he also wants you to know that he has kid buddies of color. Never mind that he makes them speak the lines like, “Just die,” rather than putting his ally ass on the line. No. He doesn’t need to because he’s WOKE.