Selena Gomez has probably “shocked” more expertly with other music videos of hers in the past, like the Alek Keshishian-directed “Hands to Myself” or even the obsequious “Good For You.” Her latest single, “Bad Liar”–supposedly about The Weeknd, who seems far closer to Lana Del Rey these days–seems to be attempting a higher level of “surprise” with the concept behind her new video.
Maybe after all that time spent around the cassette tape medium from Thirteen Reasons Why, Gomez felt inspired by the aesthetic of the era it was popular in, opting to take the narrative of “Bad Liar” to the 1970s, when P.E.-chic was the height of sophistication–tube socks, baseball shorts, the gamut. To add to the cheesy style of it all, Gomez, in true Britney Spears in “Lucky” or Mariah Carey in “Heartbreaker” fashion, plays multiple characters. Her worst portrayal, of course, is as a glasses-wearing male teacher, the one we initially think that the high school student portrayal of Selena Gomez is lusting after. But that wouldn’t be nearly as covert in its predictability. Except for the fact that, these days, the route Gomez ultimately goes in with her crush is far more predictable in mainstream pop culture.
In any case, as she walks into her house to encounter yet another character played by herself–her mother (it’s all very psychological for a pop video)–she runs up to her room to dance around in a way that suggests imminent masturbation before lying down on her bed next to a picture of who we assume is the teacher. But no, no it ain’t so. The “twist” does, however, prove that same-sex desire is still supposed to be scandalizing and devious. Nonetheless, the video would at least make the likes of Richard Linklater proud over its 70s set design and costuming.