Electropop star and sonically gifted artist Charli XCX released her single entitled “Boys” off her highly anticipated upcoming third studio album which is set to be released next year. The bubblegum-pop track is infused with fizzy and bouncy instrumentals, accompanied by lustrous dreamy lyrics setting the stage for XCX to be too preoccupied by the thought of boys to text her girls back. The songs release, via BBC Radio 1, coincided with the release of its music video directed by XCX herself. Though enchanted by the pastel tones of pink and the plethora of cameos within the video, Charli XCX took initiative to use her platform and artistry to convey an artistic strike against the male gaze.
The “Boys” music video took what is known as the “male gaze” and turned it into the “female gaze.” Modern day pop culture glamorizes females and the female body, interpreting their existence and contribution to society as merely sexual objects and something less than human. Charli XCX’s approach towards directing the music video placed a number of celebrities such as Diplo, Mac DeMarco, and Joe Jonas into male gaze-enforced spaces along with suggestive sexualized attires and mannerisms to insinuate on this “female gaze” concept (a concept that is less predominant than the already present male gaze).
Mac Demarco is seen in multiple shots shirtless licking guitar necks in a provocative manner, while other artists are seen having pillow fights (in slow motion) with one another. The Fat Jew and Tom Daley are seen drenched in water in several shots, primarily The Fat Jew where he is pouring water on himself in a kitty pool while wearing only a shirt and underwear (the pool/wet t-shirt – a classic environment for women to be sexualized). Gender role reversals are demonstrated almost throughout the entirety of the music video, such as Laurie from The Slaves tending to a baby and Charlie Puth washing, though more so playing with, a car covered in soap and water. The only visual of a female seen in the video is a brief 3 second cameo of 5 girls (one of which is Charli XCX) dressed up in white button downs and drawn on mustaches emphasizes on the gender role reversal.
Pastel pink backdrops, roses, and boys flood each and every shot in the music video, demonstrating Charli’s stance on both boys and the male gaze.
Words by Shahin Rafikian, photos from the video