Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Riding in cars with girls

The Portland Mercury, an alt weekly I write for now and again, started up its own music blog yesterday. You can trust these people; they realize, for instance, that the Lil' Mama remix of "Girlfriend" was better than the original. Lil' Mama offset Avril's smarminess, broke up the "Mickey" pep rally claps into beats with breathing room, and made it possible to do some pretty interesting queer readings that don't require transplanting the song's entire context into a drag bar the way the original did.

Make no mistake--an Avril Lavigne drag queen squealing I don't like your girlfriend...I think you need a new one would be great. But the remix video scraps the Preppy Avril v. Punky Avril face-off in order to concentrate on the rag-tag homoerotic misadventures of Avril and Lil' Mama. There may be boys in the back of Lil' Mama's drop top, but they barely register; they're just groping, disembodied hands reaching out of the back of the frame. Lil' Mama is the one in the driver's seat, picking up Avril and throwing an affectionate arm over her shoulder maybe a couple more times than is necessary.

Forget boys. The remix video is all about the watermelon Bonne Bell coded lesbian union of LIL' MAMA AND AVRIL LAVIGNE (as the lyric reminds us over and over again, and their vaguely romantic graffiti project attests). Doodling hearts around their joined names is optional. "Hey hey! You you! I could be your girlfriend!" Avril shouts at no one in particular, only to have Lil' Mama reply enthusiastically, " I'll be your girl, Lil' Mama be your girlfriend!" Who, exactly, is being girlfriends with whom here? Any kind of explicit boy love object is so missing from the video, it's tempting to elide him altogether.

In its crypto-lesbo subtext, "Girlfriend" is but a step away from that masterpiece of crossover collabo dyke-baiting "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," in which Eve offers Gwen Stefani a ride on her...erm...dune buggy (note the replay of the pickup scenario from the "Girlfriend" remix...apparently, a la Thelma & Louise, demi-erotic sisterhood is all about car travel), wears a black PVC jacket, fedora and suit top and scandalizes the naffs at a swanky party with her unapologetic, deviant Eve-ness. The glares and whispers that ensue make a lot more sense when you assume Gwen and Eve are holding hands when the camera's not looking. At the end they both get arrested and jailed, naturally.

The original "Girlfriend" runs on the narcissistic double performance of its star, but it ultimately goes the way of Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker" rather than Britney Spears' "Gimme More." The two Mariahs duking it out over Jerry O'Connell in a movie theater ladies' room was all good satirical fun, but the video it left it at that. "Gimme More" seemed to be after something...well, more. Britney I, in a blond wig, giggles at a bar with a couple of ladyfriends and watches black-haired Britney II execute a sloppy (if slightly sinister) pole dance. "I see you!" Britney II slurs, and Britney I looks up, fascinated. The entire video seems to be about getting off on watching Brit-Brit getting off on watching herself. If there's a better metonym for the Spears trauma industry, I can't think of one.


mitchco said...

I love you SO. MUCH. i'm at work watching the remix video for "Girlfriend" and thrilled beyond words.

smelly mcsmellsmell said...

this is much better than my go-gurt idea.