The pop star takes us on a dystopian ride in a different world, where women are centered as powerful beings and whiteness is appropriately characterized as adversarial.
The video opens up with Timberlake sitting in front of several TV sets with headlines of some of America’s biggest stories and scandals; including Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent #MeToo movement. Other headlines depicted Black Lives Matter protests, police brutality and, of course, Trumpism.
The art of it
Despite the visual, the song (which is produced by Pharrell Williams‘ Neptunes) doesn’t appear to be political at heart.
Timberlake croons to his female suitor, “I’ll be the light when you can’t see/I’ll be the wood when you need heat” and “The world can end now/Baby, we’ll be living in The Walking Dead.”
Without question, Timberlake’s artistic take on the Dave Meyers-directed video was an intentional one.
Though Justin Timberlake may get a nod for touching on social issues like sexism and racism, he isn’t exactly in lockstep with Black America as of late.
The 36-year-old singer became Black Twitter’s public enemy number one after he was announced as this year’s Super Bowl halftime show headliner.
The news reopened old wounds, as the last time Timberlake performed at the NFL event, he and Janet Jackson got caught up in the 2004 scandal in which Jackson’s nipple was exposed on national television.
It was a PR disaster for both artists, however, many argued that Jackson took more of the blame while Timberlake went on to enjoy even greater musical success. For that reason, many called for a boycott of this year’s Super Bowl festivities.
But in a recent interview with Zane Lowe, Timberlake said he and Jackson have made peace.
“I stumbled through it, to be quite honest. I had my wires crossed and it’s just something that you have to look back on and go like, ‘Okay, well you know, you can’t change what’s happened but you can move forward and learn from it,’” he said. “And I don’t know that a lot of people know that [he and Janet are on good terms]. I don’t think it’s my job to do that because you value the relationships that you do have with people.”