The latest video from Shakira, “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” vacillates between provocative and politically contrived from one moment to the next. Featuring Rihanna, it goes without saying that the content tends toward being sexually charged. But it raises the question: Are pop stars embracing lesbianic behavior for the sake of being incendiary or to appeal to a certain audience? Either way, the motives behind the caresses and oh so closeness between the two chanteuses are clearly geared toward self-aggrandizement.
Directed by Joseph Kahn, who has directed everything from Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) and Foxy Brown’s “Hot Spot” to Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia, the seasoned director proves his penchant for generating as much eye candy as possible in every frame. The barely there outfits, sultry glances and yearning gyrations are just some of the ways in which Shakira makes it a point to be sexually ambiguous.
Somewhat derivative of Britney Spears’ and Madonna’s “Me Against the Music” video, there is a lot of groping against walls to try to break through to the other woman behind it, as well as plenty of cigar smoking to represent both androgyny and a phallic symbol.
Although the song is presumably about a man Shakira can’t seem to make herself forget about (e.g. lyrics like “I’d give my last dime to hold him tonight), the tone of the video indicates a none too subtle appetite for women. Perhaps this is simply because the man in question Shakira can’t remember to forget isn’t around, and Rihanna will have to suffice.
Adopting a masculine rocker aesthetic as the video concludes, Shakira seems to embrace letting go of her old relationship in the wake of spending so much time with her newfound “friend,” Rihanna. However, the message may still be lacking in positivity in that it is essentially saying: Be with any gender, just don’t end up alone.