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Justin Timberlake’s Unintentionally Apropos Video For ‘Take Back The Night’

By Alyssa Rosenberg on July 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm

"Justin Timberlake’s Unintentionally Apropos Video For ‘Take Back The Night’"

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Credit: Digital Spy

Credit: Digital Spy

There’s been some controversy over Justin Timberlake’s most recent single, “Take Back The Night,” which shares a title, if not messaging, with the anti-sexual violence movement. Apparently, Timberlake wasn’t aware of the series of events or the general sentiment, which is a decent entry in the ongoing case for why extremely famous people should employ someone to Google things for them as a precautionary measure. But in a way, I found Timberlake’s video for the track strangely appropriate to the ideas behind Take Back The Night in the first place:

In Timberlake’s version of nighttime, the streets yield up only adorably breakdancing children and friends of both genders. Poorly-lit stairwells yield up only genial older Chinese women, all of whom appear to be familiar with Timberlake and eager to see him. Nobody gets sexually harassed in the club where Timberlake’s hanging out–there’s just a lot of happy, silly group dancing going on. It’s an appealing vision, and it would be wonderful if it were available to everybody, irrespective of their gender, race, or class status.

Timberlake could have made a more interesting video that was also a doff of his oft-sported fedora to Take Back The Night if he’d cast a woman in the hanging-out-on-the-street portions of the show, and made her destination a Timberlake concert, setting up an evening as an ideal that isn’t a reality as often as we’d wish it to be. It might have been a radical acknowledgement of Timberlake’s privilege as an extremely rich white dude. But in the current media environment, I suppose I’m just pleased that the result of this awkward little overlap was at least not horribly offensive.

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