Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Backup Dancers From Hell: Willow Smith - “21st Century Girl”

We start off in some desert-like area that could be anywhere, from the African plains to Dallas on a really dry day to that place where U2 did the photo shoot for the “Joshua Tree” album cover. Some older woman comes tromping along in a billowing black outfit, navigating about the sand until she spies what looks like a pelvic bone just lying there in the dusty nothingness. Most of us would steer clear, because who wants anything to do with dead body parts, but the woman drops to her knees and snatches up the whatever thing with cackling enthusiasm. (These things happen when you don’t get out much.)

Granny then proceeds to do something ceremonial with her find, muttering incantations and burying little tidbits in the sand, objects she just happened to have in her mysterious satchel that grannies always have because they remember the Great Depression and never throw anything away. Then we learn that Granny has some pretty awesome superpowers, because she waves her hands just right to make the sand shimmy and suck up her offerings. I’m thinking I don’t ever want to get on this woman’s bad side. Just sayin.

So the ceremony continues for a bit, then we see the sand re-open and a pretty floral scarf gets belched out of the ground, making it very clear that this is not your average safari. Granny mutters further voodoo somethings and the scarf appears to be taking human form. (This is the point where I would run screaming to the nearest bar and order everything on the top shelf.) Granny whispers something into the Scarf Being’s ear, which causes Willow to wake up and look around sleepily like a cat who is really not impressed with having her nap time interrupted by pointless humans.

Granny mysteriously disappears, which allows Willow to take center stage and grab a handful of sand. Said sand begins to percolate in her palm, another indication that decent people should be running for the border. But Willow thinks the odd sand behavior is pretty hip, especially when a butterfly bursts out of the sand and her latest single kicks off on the soundtrack.

Then Willow, because she’s all about the drama, rips off her scarf outfit and starts strutting around in a quirky-cool getup that is reminiscent of, well, nothing we’ve ever seen. She tromps around for a bit, belting out the song, until she gets to a special place where she can reach into the sand and pull out a guitar. (What is going ON in this desert? Why are people burying so much crap?)

Willow decides it’s time for a track meet, so she and a bunch of wolves race along the sand to get in a good cardio workout. Then, for whatever reason, the wolves turn into a bunch of Willow’s gal-pals, all of them sporting creative outfits that indicate some people have WAY too much time on their hands. (Seriously, did they cut up a bunch of clothes and then run through a wind tunnel with glue on their skin?)

Short bit where Willow channels Rihanna, Kesha, and anybody else who thinks couture trumps everything else. Then Willow’s little friends (why is that one girl wearing balloons on her head?) also start digging in the sand and pulling up very interesting artifacts that have nothing to do with reality in the desert. Skateboards, bicycles, parking meters, David Hasselhoff’s career. (Okay, fudged a bit on that last one.)

Then things go a little crazy. Now people are pulling really BIG things out of the sand, like cars and buildings. I guess it didn’t occur to any of these charming but too-exuberant urchins that you’re really screwing with the time-space continuum if a 9-year-old can casually drag the Statue of Liberty out of the ground. (And really, why would they want to? Is this a skill that they learned from watching “High School Musical 17: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Glee?”)

Anyway, the youngsters keep pulling on chains and such, managing to erect a city of skyscrapers in the land where Simba once ruled and Jane Goodall made a lot of people uncomfortable with comparing chimpanzees to humans. Willow struts about with her friends, happy to be involved with municipal redistricting. Then Willow gets bored and changes outfits.

This prompts some street scenes with Willow and her posse dancing about in what should be a really busy intersection, but all the traffic has been conveniently re-routed so musical expression can take place. Willow and friends do a lot of energetic dance moves, which is all very uplifting, but I’m more concerned with the slogan on Willow’s t-shirt that I can’t really read because she won’t stay still. “Boys Need”… something. Well, yes, boys need a lot of things, but I can’t understand your particular concern if you keep pirouetting about like your sugar intake is out of control.

These youngsters dance for a really long time. I haven’t had that much energy since Jimmy Carter was President.

Eventually, Willow’s peeps hoist her on their shoulders, and there’s an all-out celebration of the freedom that comes from, well, having parents that have the financial resources to protect you from reality. (Sorry, tried to steer clear of that issue, but I slammed into it.) To balance things out, Willow then introduces a cute little toddler and whispers something into her ear. Said toddler then produces a butterfly from the sand in her hand, and then chases after it. And that is a mighty fine way to end things…

Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

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