The music video for “Sexy and I Know It”, by LMFAO, was originally flagged for sexual content on YouTube. I wonder why. This was the reaction of many who watched the video when it was released in September 2011, primarily due to the part where the lead singer, supported and joined by friends, strips to his speedo and begins dancing, the bulge in his pants flopping around correspondingly. But despite the, frankly, disturbing part mentioned above, there is actually a proper story in this video.
The song that the video is made for is about what it looks like it’s about: somebody knowing that they’re sexy. This is reflected in the story for the video. The video itself is set and filmed at Venice Beach in California, a place famous for its bodybuilders and image-obsessed people, often both. It depicts the lead singer of LMFAO, accompanied by several friends and a robot, stealing the girlfriend of everyone on the beach via dancing, followed by a dance/’wiggle’ off to determine the victor. The video gives a message that a perfect body image is not required to be sexy; the singer and friends range from scrawny to slightly overweight, but they easily manage to steal girlfriends by dancing and ’being themselves’. The story is fairly simple, although there is action and conflict towards the end, in the form of the aforementioned ‘wiggle off’. The video as a whole is fairly upbeat and enthusiastic; no real aggression or violence is used during the narrative, and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves towards the end.
The world depicted in the video is a happy one. The surroundings of Venice Beach are already welcoming, due to the iconography and lore of the place. The feeling of a holiday in the sun is well and truly present, part of the Venice Beach image. Added to that, the lighting throughout start of the video is high key, natural sunlight, which brings forward the aforementioned ‘holiday’ mood. Towards the end of the video, although the lighting is relatively low key, soft lighting and warm colours are used to make the club feel welcoming and a fun place to be: it feels intimate rather than claustrophobic, despite the crowds and low ceilings. The fighting shown is almost entirely without malice; dirty looks are the most ill feeling really demonstrated here. All the ‘fighting’, additionally, actually looks quite fun to take part in, provided you like stripping to your underwear and shaking your crotch at the opposing team, while shouting “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah!”
The ethical aspect, however, is less positive. The makers of this video have taken care to include minorities, so racism is not this video’s problem. It could be argued that they are ageist, since there’s nobody there over about thirty, but it could be argued that anybody of an older age should probably have grown out of this sort of thing, or is just too old to do so. There is, as previously stated, no violence, so that isn’t an issue. The attitude towards women is what could be considered problematic. The women in the video are, of course, almost all half naked, but this takes place on Venice Beach, so scantily clad women are to be expected. However, they also all, without exception, follow the leads as soon as they remove their shorts, leaving whatever current relationship they are in immediately upon seeing his schlong bouncing around. The implications of this are uncomfortable at best, and downright misogynistic at worst. The final scene, where the robot leads women off to a dark room before turning to the camera in a reference to the end of Thriller (more iconography for you) is particularly uncomfortable in its implications.