John Mayer’s dancing pandas, fake Beyoncés, and captive butterflies
John Mayer’s video for Still Feel Like Your Man dropped this week. I posted about the song last month when he was shooting the video while being interviewed by the New York Times. You’ll recall, there was risk of cultural appropriation but he felt confident that he was “on the right side of the line because it’s an idea for the video that has a very multiethnic casting, and nobody who is white or non-Asian is playing an Asian person.”
He’s right. Nobody who is white or non-Asian is playing an Asian person. There is an Asian man playing the villain though. And all the people of colour (and pandas) are accessories to John’s dance moves. And the object of his affection, so, like, the “dream girl”, is not an Asian woman but a white woman, which means that the non-whites become the background. So, no, there might not be any cultural appropriation but… you know… it’s not like he’s actually advanced the discussion.
If you can’t bear to watch the video, here’s what happens. The song still sucks. I can’t actually believe that he thinks this will be a hit. We open on John going into the club, or the “dojo disco”, as he calls it. There’s an attractive girl approaching him down the hall. So he gives her the douche face and then blows her off. Then, as he enters the room, an imitation Beyoncé shows up:
Fake Beyoncé eventually becomes one of John’s backup dancers because he is a f-cking asshole, HOW DARE YOU.
John starts grooving for the Asian villain who thinks John is a loser which means he represents all of us. The Asian villain is flanked by people holding fans. Because that’s what Asian villains look like when they plot to bring down the world. Behind the Asian villain is a white girl dressed in white, surrounded by butterflies. The message here is that she’s the captive. And John and Asian Villain are dueling over the right to possess her. In the end, of course, John’s dance moves win him the prize – Butterfly Bride is no longer held prisoner in the glass case behind Asian Villain. Asian Villain tosses John a jewellery box. John smug-smiles and leaves. He got what he came for. He opens the box and there’s a butterfly inside. So the Butterfly Bride belongs to him now. Seriously. That’s the video. And I think this is supposed to mean that John Mayer is… romantic? If this is what romantic is, I hate romance forever.
Here's John Mayer performing in New York last night.
Mike Coppola/ Getty Images