Just wanna circle back on this J.Lo video real quick?

The confusing politics of an anti-billionaire (?) short film (?)

Just wanna circle back on this J.Lo video real quick?

Hi, okay, look. Sorry! I know that there's a lot of interesting J.Lo news right now, mainly that she's broken off her fifth engagement, this one to fellow New York-based abbreviation A. Rod, and started a fling with her ex-fiancé, Boston-based embodiment of human misery Ben Affleck. It's all very chaotic and juicy.

It seems like the pandemic restlessness and post-vax joie de vivre that so many of us are experiencing gets magnified a thousandfold when you have a lot of money and private planes at your disposal. The celebrities are out of control. Kourtney Kardashian is dating Travis Barker and Kat Dennings is engaged to Andrew W.K. Olivia Munn is dating John Mulaney and Olivia Wilde is dating Harry Styles. Olivia Rodrigo, one can only assume, will probably start dating Pete Davidson any day now.

However, I'm not here to talk about this trend in general, or even about Bennifer 1 part 2 specifically. (Not to be confused with Bennifer 2, which refers to the coupling of Ben and Jennifer Garner and only has one part, so far.) I want to talk about something much less topical but much more perplexing. Sorry. I know no one cares, but pray tell: what is going on in this two-part music video?

On paper, the clips for "Pa' Ti" and "Lonely" aren't that weird, as far as music videos go. Part 1 is a star-crossed lovers story with lots of shots of beautiful locations, which is all pretty standard. Part 2 is a criminal-on-the-run story with a full Cellblock Tango. Sure.

Mostly I'm confused about how there seems to be a clip of Bernie Sanders in the first 30 seconds???

No one is talking about this!!

Billboard claims that this collaboration "broke the internet," which might have been true on Spanish-speaking parts of the internet, but I didn't know of its existence until skimming J.Lo's socials this week. Now I'm scrambling to do research and can't find anything but hype for two songs from J.Lo and Maluma. But no critical analysis exists!! I must step in!  

I cannot untangle the politics of this short film, which came out in September 2020. In the waning days of the Trump administration, with a $4.5 million 20-carat engagement from Alex Rodriguez in her trailer, Jennifer Lopez made a two-part music video about billionaires... being bad? I think?

still from the music video: hands hold a newspaper with two images of J.Lo above the fold under the headline "BILLIONAIRE UNDER INVESTIGATION"
shoutout to the props designer who wrote "Mostly Bad News" as the slogan for "The City Times"

The opening voiceover – which, again, features either a clip of US Senator Bernard Sanders or a soundalike meant to evoke US Senator Bernard Sanders – alludes to egregious corruption by Wall Street executives, while newspapers reveal that J.Lo's character is a billionaire under investigation. So J.Lo is a scamming Wall Street executive. That doesn't sound right to me, because this is what she wears to the office, but okay.

image of J.Lo in the office in a midriff-revealing halter top and leather gloves
this concept was better executed in the costumes for "Womanizer"

My guess is that J.Lo and her team were worried that the lyrics to this song about opulence ("Tengo un closet full de Christian Dior") would come off as tone-deaf in a year when thousands of people lost their jobs, so the videos recontextualize the speaker as a villain. But of course, we still get envy-inducing shots of her character's gorgeous estate and fleet of high-end cars. At the end of part 1, J.Lo gets busted by the FBI because her bodyguard-turned-lover Maluma was an informant all along. But in part 2, she escapes prison (by blowing up her jail cell somehow?), flees to Abu Dhabi, and rejects Maluma, so she still comes out on top. The video wants to have its cake and eat it too and avoid the guillotine when it says to let the poors eat cake as well.

screenshot of a prison cell exploding
why didn't epstein think of this

"Pa' Ti/Lonely" is the latest in a lineage of J.Lo videos with a confusing message about wealth. In "Love Don't Cost A Thing," released in 2000, J.Lo shows that she's not materialistic by throwing a designer handbag, a fur coat, and gold chains out onto the highway after a furious ride in her Mercedes Benz. Director Dave Meyers had the good sense to put J.Lo and Ja Rule in humble settings for his 2001 "I'm Real" clip, allowing the visuals to back up the song's thesis despite Ashanti's vocals in the mix, but J.Lo learned nothing from this approach. 2002's "Jenny From The Block" showed off the rocks that she'd got without even attempting to convey that being real, to her, was "like breathing." Surely they could have inserted a clip of Jenny eating a Twinkie amidst the shots of Ben simping.

I think J.Lo is a fantastic actress, and I'll be salty forever that she didn't get an Oscar nomination for Hustlers. But she can't convince me that she's real or that her love don't cost a thing. Why is she trying? I hope Ben is back for her next video, resting a Dunkin' iced coffee next to his Oscar statuettes while J.Lo oversees a bitcoin mining empire, and the two can fly off in a private jet over burning rainforests. Just play the heel, Jenny! You know you want to!  

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