Oops Oh My

I really like the new video for “Oops! Oh My!” by Tweet. It’s been playing in heavy rotation on VH-1 Soul and BET…

Tweet is the latest protege of Timbaland and Missy Elliott. I wonder if she isn’t being groomed to fill the spot left by the late Aaliyah, who also recorded under the tutelage of Tim and Miss E. Tweet’s voice isn’t as full and resonant as Aaliyah’s was, but she looks a bit like her, and in the video she does a number of Aaliyah-esque dance moves.

The song is vintage Timbaland: sparsely orchestrated–just a three-note percussion pattern and a single repeated synthesizer motif–with Tweet warbling her vocals above the slinky, insinuating cross-rhythms. I’d say that “Oops! Oh My!” was sexy and seductive, if it weren’t so self-regarding. Because it seems to be a song about masturbation. Tweet comes back late from the club, and feels a touch on her skin as she slips off her clothes: “Oh my! Who could this be?” But the only body in the room is her own, her fine brown skin reflected in the mirror. The song conveys a tingling, pre-orgasmic excitement of self-regard.

The video takes place in an ice palace, which seems to be a kind of hotel. The ice gleams and reflects the light. Ice is narcissistic, I suppose, glistening with a sort of cold, alien beauty.

Anyway, Tweet checks in, and is shown to her room. She takes a shower. That’s pretty much it for narrative. For the rest of the video she dances, sometimes alone, sometimes with backing dancers, dressed in various (stereotypically) sexy costumes. We don’t see her take any clothes off, though we do glimpse her presumably nude body behind an opaque screen a few times. Tweet looks lusciously at the camera at times, offering her face and body up for the delectation of the (heterosexual male) viewer. But it also seems that her smile is mostly for herself; she never loses that sense of being cool and self-contained.

Missy Elliott appears briefly in the video, looking unusually femme-y with a black fur coat and a pearl necklace. She seems to be some kind of fairy godmother figure, morphing out of, and then melting back into, the ice.

All in all, there is kind of a balance between sexual objectification and self-assertion in this video. Tweet is certainly being marketed as a sex kitten, but there’s more to her persona than that. Or maybe not: the hint of sexual self-reliance that she projects may be nothing more than a lure. It’s a kind of reserve, perhaps, that’s calculated to intrigue and draw in the straight boys, while providing a hint (but nothing more than a hint) for the girls. Tweet is displaying herself for herself, rather than for men, and that’s a good thing. She’s insisting upon, and even finding herself awed by, her own pleasure. But this is a stance that ultimately feeds back into male fantasy, nonetheless.

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