The Mild to Medium Offensiveness of NSYNC’s “I Drive Myself Crazy” Video

Perhaps 1999 was a more tolerant year to mock those types confined to loony bin life. Surely before the advent of Bush and the PC police, groups like NSYNC were allowed far more freedom to express themselves in a music video–even if it meant poking slight fun at a certain sect of the subculture.

Acting the role of mental patients
Acting the role of mental patients

Set inside a vibrantly hued mental hospital (this is still a pop song, after all), each of the five members of NSYNC reflect on the relationship that landed them there. For Chris Kirkpatrick, the cause of his “insanity” stems from neglecting his girlfriend by talking to someone else on his cell phone. Irritated by his lack of consideration (even though it would be considered commonplace today) his girlfriend, in her distinctly pre-2000 garb walks angrily away from Kirkpatrick, whose frustration can’t be taken all that seriously whilst he’s wearing decidedly Dawson’s Creek apparel.

Going "crazy"
Going “crazy”

Elsewhere, Justin Timberlake goes crazy as a result of giving his girlfriend a necklace that she promptly rejects (maybe because it’s a cliche heart pendant) and then runs over to her new boyfriend instead. We then see JC Chasez being forced to remember his own trauma when a Maury-esque talk show appears on the television in the main room and rehashes how his girlfriend lured him onto it to confess she was cheating with another man.

Lance Bass has a tamer, shorter scene in which he removes petals off of a flower and attempts to have his girlfriend join in, only to have her leave the scene abruptly. The brevity of the backstory retrospectively makes sense when taking into account that Bass has zero interest in women. Finally, we have Joey Fatone being slapped by Clueless essential Elisa Donovan (a.k.a. Ambular) after another girl kisses him in front of her. For some reason, this event leads him to wear a Superman costume in the asylum, which apparently turns on his female therapist, who tries to make sexual advances on him during a session.

Trapped by the confines of love
Trapped by the confines of love

Acting more autistic than crazy, each member of NSYNC portrays a “crazy person” in a way that’s offensive at best and egregiously stereotypical at worst. Sure, we get that the band is trying to convey all the ways in which jilted love can make us non-functional, but the extremism in their “artistic” decision to go the booby hatch route seems unnecessarily over the top. And then there’s the conclusion of the video to consider. Tinged with subtle sexism as the five men walk out and their exes are forced in, the message turns from one of lamenting unrequited love to taking vengeance against any woman who would ever deign to leave them. All in all, it’s fortunate these boys just made the cutoff for “avant-garde” videos (let’s not forget that 1999 was also the year of Britney Spears’ “Born to Make You Happy,” Nas’ “Hate Me Now” and Eminem’s “Role Model”).

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