Rewind: If (Janet Jackson)
Welcome back to rewind! where we share our fave music videos to kill some time to :)
This week's segment takes a look at another legend. Starting her career as a superstar at age seven, Janet Jackson has conquered and influenced the art and entertainment scene over and over again throughout her decades long career. When it comes to music, Jackson's flavour and style is truly unique and all her own. The same can be said about her dance style and vision when it comes to music videos. Honestly, there are too many incredible music videos in her catalogue to count, but one particular one that we cannot get enough of is for the song, If, from her studio album, Janet.Where to start. Firstly we should probably explain the song a little - even though the lyrics are WELL self explanatory. If is the culmination of Jackson's thoughts on lust at first sight in a nightclub setting. She sees someone she fancies and proceeds to fantasise about how she would pleasure and be pleasured by this person. However, Jackson can see they have a partner and so caps her intentions at thoughts only. The accompanying music video amplifies this narrative via now-legendary choreography and a nightclub scene driven by sexual fantasy and voyeuristic themes.
Set in a nightclub, the video follows the patrons via webcams and broadcasts the footage on TV monitors placed throughout the establishment. Guests can access the footage of other club-goers in provocative scenarios using the hi-tech touch screen system. Meanwhile, Janet is presented as the club's main performer, bursting onto the club's centre stage with her dancers in tow. As Jackson moves seductively, she eyes one of the male patrons in the audience who in turn watches Janet via his personal monitor as well as the stage. On top of the insinuations provided by the lyrics, the choreography itself clearly describes Janet's ideas and wants via suggestive positions. The video ends with the male viewer lightly caressing his screen which is focused on Janet's face.
Anticipating the potential hesitation to air this video due to its erotic nature, a second one was made that was purely dance focused. However, the original video was mostly accepted and completely praised for its promotion of a woman's sexual desires, and also for its futuristic vision. This music video was well ahead of its time AT the time of its release in 1993, but even now in 2021, it feels like the world has caught up to its ideas. To have a touch screen system and webcams live streaming activities of the club's patrons is completely our now - predicting pretty much to a T of how the future would be. Janet herself said of the video to Billboard in 2013, "I don't think people really realize what we were showing in that video that wasn't available with technology then. The video featured futuristic technology, specifically high definition touch screens. I wanted the actors in the video to use these screens to communicate, and relate with each other in the clubs. Similar to what we all do with our smartphones and tablets today."
An outstanding music video that has been referenced time and time again, Janet has been exalted for her contribution to highlighting women's sexual desires as relevant and needing just as much attention. Watch this incredible piece of art and let us know what you think!