Justin Bieber’s latest music video, “What Do You Mean?”, tries to invoke an air of sophistication, but falls flat as the plot veers off the rails. Maybe he thought that if he called his music video a film it would automatically elevate its status to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Perhaps he thought that featuring John Leguizamo would turn a run-of-the-mill video into an art film. At best, it’s bizarre. At worst, it’s disturbing.
Now far from his original, wholesome image, a mature Bieber kicks the video off by exchanging a wad of cash with John Leguizamo, with the parting words, “Promise me one thing … make sure the girl doesn’t get hurt.” The next scene devolves into the normal music video fare: singing into the camera and making out with a supermodel (played by Xenia Deli).
After an ambush by The Purge-esque masked men, who tie the two up and leave them in a warehouse, Bieber saves the day without any complications. Justin and Deli fall from a door several stories up—into a party thrown by the masked men.
The video is also a thinly-veiled advertisement for Calvin Klein, with Bieber’s white waistband standing out starkly against his grungy jeans. And as it turns out, the whole affair was orchestrated by Bieber himself, to give Deli the chance to prove her devotion to the Canadian pop star.
Justin Bieber, and director Brad Furman, clearly wanted to create an interesting and unique video, but ultimately, the story is just that of two pretty people experiencing a bizarre trauma and laughing it off. The song’s message, focusing on the uncertainty of a relationship status, seems either lost among the action or overplayed with the extreme lengths Bieber goes to find out what his girlfriend means. Nothing says romance quite like a fake kidnapping.
Featured Image by RBMG Records