Entertainment / all

Op-Ed: XXXtentacion’s ‘Look at Me’ Video and the Bigger Picture

by share

You all just got bamboozled. On Sept. 12, XXXtentacion dropped the video for his platinum single “Look At Me.” The controversial, yet talented, artist who started gaining media attention around early 2017 finally provided fans with what they wanted: an official XXXtentacion music video. However, he provided a twist to it, too.

The video starts out in a rowdy way with the distorted track beginning to play along with a sea of “yeahs” and “ayes” while a woman dressed as an angel flies down slowly into the screen. X looks up at her before turning to the camera and smiling with his diamond-encrusted grill shining brightly (the flex is always real).

The scene switches into a classroom where a teacher is slumped on the desk and students throwing paper and globes are doing everything you’re NOT supposed to do in a classroom. The onslaught of rowdiness continues as one scene shows X on a man’s shoulders, charging toward a now-awakened teacher and then proceeding to slap him with a sex toy. The line in the song that says “I just got lean on my Ksubis, aye/ I got an uzi no Uzi, aye” passes, and then the screen shuts to black. The scene that follows is of X and two other black men hanging as the sound of a flute begins to play. The song that plays is no longer “Look at Me!” It’s an older more socially conscious song, named “Riot.”

You just got clickbaited. 

This approach is probably the best decision an artist could make. “Riot” is a lesser known song that’s buried in X’s massive repertoire of songs on his Soundcloud page, despite being the one that has the deepest message. “Look at Me,” on the other hand, recently went platinum and has amassed nearly 95 million plays on Soundcloud and more than 135 million listens on Spotify. Using the song with higher popularity guaranteed the views that were needed, and using the socially conscious song guaranteed the message was going to get out.

The video for “Look At Me/Riot” garnered more than 5 million views on Youtube within 24 hours of its release. Despite its powerful message, X has gotten continuous backlash from the public who are angered about what happens at the tail end of the video. If you don’t know, the video opens with a reenactment of the Emmett Till murder, plays footage of numerous police killings and then concludes with a white child getting hung. Youtube comments and social media backlash has been completely overbearing and insane, to the point where XXXtentacion had to explain the video. Honestly, he shouldn’t have to.

People have called the act reverse racism, but that’s not what it is. The child being hung was used specifically to add the “what if” factor. What would’ve happened if the roles were switched? It was done to make you think, not to hate.

Truth is, most of the backlash isn’t coming because the boy is young; it’s because he’s white. All throughout history there’s tales of African-Americans being hung. Some were children. You learn about this in your history classes. There are literally pictures in some history books that display a black person being hung. So, when you see a visual image of the tables being turned, why does it affect you? Why are you letting that single part of a strong video be the only thing that affects you? There was more to the music video than a white child being hung. There are also parts that recognized all races and those who lost their lives due to racism. But you don’t see that, do you? The video was great. Its message, the follow through, the clickbaiting — everything was played out in an outstanding way. Stop taking that fact away and look at the bigger picture.

Check out what some of our other VOX teen staff members had to say about the video:

Juliana, 16: Everybody is so enraged by the fact that he hung a white kid, but if it was a little black kid getting hung no one would say anything about it. People say the white kid getting hung is the most controversial part, but people are missing out on the fact that [XXXtentacion] was being hung, too, and nobody is calling that “controversial” because they are three black men.

READ  Am I on the Right Track? Breaking Down the Pre-Professional Narrative

Khalil, 17: You think I wouldn’t say anything if he hung a little black kid? I get the point of the video, but I just don’t enjoy watching people get hung. The reason I’m even phased by the video is because he used a kid. I guess that’s cool to shock people.

Kenneth, 17: Art is art. Personally, I didn’t really buy into it, because I know it’s fake. On TV they have to tie a rope around their waste and their spine, so I wasn’t like “ooooh they hung a kid.” I’m not enraged by it. I wonder how many people are going to watch this and ask, “Who is Emmett Till?” I think any black person watching this knew sh*t was about to get real when his name popped up on the screen. I like that he at least talked about it, because a lot of people don’t know that it happened and that it sparked the Civil Rights Movement as a whole.

Kaylynn, 17: The video was upsetting because there is a little kid being hanged in it. I understand he’s trying to get a point across, but by that point in the video I was basically done listening to him [because I was] trying to figure out how it went from beating up a teacher with a sex toy to hanging a 6-year old.

UPDATE: Check out the latest episode of the VOXCast where the teen staff continues the conversation:

Mack, 15, is a sophomore North Atlanta High School. He is a fan of all music genres, however finds himself most inspired by Kurt Cobain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *