Since this feature started I have been praying someone would pick a video from my own youth that I could probably draw out the storyboard for in my sleep. Documentary-maker and spectacular director Toby Dye has picked one of the most controversial and utterly brilliant music videos from the noughties, Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty. Wet, wild and weird it’s a hard-hitting David LaChapelle masterpiece and Toby has justified his love for it beautifully. After you’ve stepped briefly into the past with a chap-wearing X-Tina, go to Toby’s site and check out the work he’s done for Unkle and Massive Attack and a documentary he made about dwarves in showbiz.
Toby Dye: Christina Aguilera: Dirrty. Directed by David LaChapelle
I don’t think I’ve ever met any else who thinks this is a good video. When I say to people that I really like it they look at me like I’m simple or some sort of deviant, or both. “How could you like that tacky shit?!” they ask incredulously, “It’s sleazy, it’s voyeuristic, it’s Christina Aguilera AND she’s wearing chaps!” And I have to agree that all those points are irrefutable, but they are in fact all the reasons I like this video – even the Christina Aguilera in chaps bit.
I love this video precisely because it is so gloriously fuck-you unrepentant. It’s joyfully wrong, as the video for a song called Dirrty should be.
It’s also ridiculously well-crafted, from the fetishised, oiled-up casting that appears to predominately consist of extras from gay porn, to the fantastic art direction. Yet the video pulls off that hardest of tricks of feeling spontaneous and unplanned, as if Christina Aguilera could often be found lip-syncing to her songs whilst being hosed down in the men’s toilets, and David LaChappelle just popped over and filmed it for real.
As it happens, just after this came out I interviewed David LaChappelle for a documentary I was making on music videos and I can’t say he had much of interest to say on this which anyone couldn’t work out from one viewing, which disappointed me at the time, but I get it now. There is nothing deep and meaningful about this video, that’s really not the point.
Is it my favourite music video ever ever? No, but it’s up there in those ever changing top-tens in my head and I’d give my back teeth to make a video that made an impact like this. This video took a teeny-bop star the public thought they knew and thoroughly messed with perceptions and in the process made an icon. In retrospect quite a short-lived icon as I’d argue this video is the only reason anyone has ever cared about Christiana Aguilera.
Oh and if you’re watching it again then look out for Redman’s reaction after he punches a man in a bunny suit in the face. I love how pleased he is with himself.
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