Lily Allen “Hard Out There” and Agent Provocateur “Control Yourself” Videos


Lily Allen’s video for her song “Hard Out Here” has caused a social media frenzy to fill copy. Sexist, racist, banana oral fixation and champagne on the mammaries of gyrating dancers.

Lily does try to mention “if you’ve missed the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood” and while briefly talking about it on twitter the question asked was how do you parody something objectionable without depicting it?

Lily Allen – “Hard Out There”

I sympathise with Holly McNish’s points, her post is well worth a read, and makes the case:

So some of you say that she has further perpetuated the problem by again sexualising girls and having them all twerking in slow motion with champagne pouring down their lithe bodies.

But How else can you show what you are revolting against, without SHOWING IT? When we see movies about War, Murder or Crime, we don’t kick off that they showed the perpetrations. We understand that we are being told a story clearly to identify the evils.

When we watch films about Murder and Kidnapping, we know that we are being shown the horror of an act. We don’t expect Liam Neeson to just sit there for two hours and describe how bad it is… We need to SEE it. For Impact. [Source]

Take the last “Rambo” film. It depicted horrific human rights abuses in Burma, and showed what a human body goes through via land mines, bullets, shells and heavy weaponry. It kept showing that to such an extent that the violence was the reason to watch, not just to add realism to make a message on Burma resonate with the audience. The gore became a star in it’s own right, and morbid compulsive viewing.

We hold the Lily Allen video to a higher standard than other pop videos because it sets out to satirise sexist anti-feminist gender stereotypes. Instead it uses them to ensure it will receive airtime on music video channels. It cashes in the same way the other videos do. The song is brilliant but Lily’s “if you miss the sarcasm you’ve misunderstood” message is lost in the poor concept of a music video that plays into the things the song takes to task.


Agent Provocateur “Control Yourself”

The reason for mentioning the Agent Provocateur video “Control Yourself”, which stars Melissa George, is because the concept is to satirise the fashion world, while still making lingerie sexy to be bought. The art direction, and being bold about challenging human body and anti-gay attitudes, is well told in the video.

It is the narrative of the cinematography dealing with the subject matter that it resonates with the audience. There is no misunderstanding Lily Allen’s song for the listener, but it is the pop video director and story teller who misunderstands Lily’s song.

Which is why the video for “Hard Out There” is pants while “Control Yourself” is lingerie.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Filed under British Society, Culture, Poetry and Music, Uncategorized, World

5 responses to “Lily Allen “Hard Out There” and Agent Provocateur “Control Yourself” Videos

  1. Mark

    Forget “nuance” and “cinematography narrative”…..they are both wank material for young boys. In fact the Agent Provocateur video falls further into that category – and it was made for women! (or men who buy lingerie for how they want their women to dress). Patronising? I dunno, I’m not a woman, but I certainly know who they aimed at with the lesbian scenes. Blokes(!) if that wasn’t obvious. Perhaps, perhaps not, in image they both ultimately fail because of those reasons. Allen’s video has the lyrics to back it all up, plus the stage-balloons of “Lilley Allen has a baggy pussy”.
    I might guess that Allen’s video would simply confuse an uninformed 14 year-old boy. While the Agent Provocateur video will have them bashing one out. 🙂 That’s the subtle nuance for you.

    • A key hole is wank material for young boys …

      The contrast is Lilly’s video is crass, simplistic, at odds with the message of the song.

      Melissa’s is sexy, well told, about being confident as a woman – missing from Lilly’s.

      Both will sell – but forgive me if I prefer lingerie to pants. I’m not a young boy anymore.

  2. Mark

    You’re using the (usually male) advertising Exec’s excuse here. “This is how you should be confident as a woman – size 10 (or less), perfect, and wear very sexy underwear.”
    I honestly fail to see how that is going against the grain, apart from their underwear might be a bit different. That is why I think the AP video is not satirical, but in fact, absolutely cynical selling.

    • Let me list the AP points:

      Way women are forced into clothes too tight even for the models to wear normally

      Restrictive eating habits

      Tyrannical fashion leaders that do not understand what women want

      Rebuke at same sex attraction – which is challenged

      A woman who is *not* a size ten looking damn good in the sexy underwear

      Underwear that I have bought for past girlfriends and who absolutely loved it

      Now you can say all these things are just put into the video. But it fits the narrative of the story. It creates a message that I and other women want to buy into.

      That is in contrast to the Lilly Allen video – it repulses in the same way other pop videos it takes off do too.

      Think we will just have to disagree – but style and substance vastly different in the two videos. Sure both commercial – as I mention – but one is crass same old demeaning the other is sexy female empowering.

      Note how the old music guy in Lilly Allen is not defeated but his whims played along with, unlike the AP video where he is challenged and defeated.

  3. Mark

    Interpretation, in all forms, has a lot to answer for.

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