I have a unique cable package that is super cheap at $20 a month and that is tailored perfectly to my interests. It has two networks focused on fixing up old homes, which I enjoy because my house is 120 years old. It has MTV Classic and MTVU so I can watch both modern and classic music videos - which is great, because I love music. And finally, it has two networks (BBC America and Sundance) that mostly run old Law & Order, Star Trek: Next Generation, and Dr. Who episodes. It’s a bit eclectic but it works for me.
I was sitting on the couch sipping a cocktail after a long day and flipping back and forth from MTV Classic and MTVU. For those of you that don’t know (and I mean, why would you? Who watches MTV anymore?) MTV Classic is just what it sounds like – videos from the 80’s and 90’s back when music videos and MTV was new and innovative. MTVU is geared towards college students and as such has music videos from modern artists. It’s actually half-way decent and I do find new artists I enjoy even if they play way too much of The Weeknd.
MTVU is supposed to be hip, modern, and aimed at Gen Z but a video came on that was so cringe I couldn’t believe it actually existed. I literally laughed out loud when I read the name of the song - “Treat People With Kindness”.
Was I watching something on MTV or did I get switched over to Sesame Street? The name made me think of songs that you play for small children where everything is bright and happy and they talk about being nice and eating your vegetables.
I read the name of the artist and right away wasn’t surprised – Harry Fucking Styles. I mean – literally everything about this video is as bad as you’d imagine, given it was made by Harry Styles. It starts in black and white with Phoebe Waller-Bridge from “Fleabag” gently touching a man’s face across a desk and then she walks around the desk and walks away.
Why is she touching his face? Who is the man? What happened here? Is she treating the man kindly by touching his face? What the fuck is happening? Guess what – we never find out because the man never appears again. The office and desk never appear again. There is no context ever given or explained.
Also on a bit of a side note, what made them choose Phoebe Waller-Bridge? She’s not particularly talented and have you tried to watch “Fleabag”? I made it through three episodes before realizing I never had to see another one. It’s a comedy billed as “[a] hilarious and poignant window into the mind of a dry-witted, sexual, grief-riddled woman trying to make sense of the world.” Oh, so she’s just a girl that’s fucked up, has no particular redeeming or interesting qualities, and she has a lot of sex? Nah… pass.
Next, Harry walks out on a stage that looks like it was designed by and for your local middle school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” or “Peter and the Starcatcher”. To drive home the sheer mediocrity and “basic bitch” quality of this video there’s a sign that reads “Treat People with Kindness”.
You know, just in case you didn’t get what the song is about because it’s only titled that and the chorus uses the phrase about 8000 times.
I don’t know who choreographed this video but the dancing is… not good. Just the most limp, flacid, boring moves. I literally lol’ed at one scene where Harry does a small jump and Phoebe sort of touches him on his back that in a normal video would have an attempt to lift the person high in the air but just comes off amazingly underwhelming here. I suppose maybe they didn’t want to seem too “abelist”. Look at this and try and tell me it isn’t funny.
The snare drum in this song is like a rock hammer pounding on your ears. For most of the song it just sticks to a 4/4 beat with no variation at all to it other than to just completely stop at the bridge of the song. Other than the bridge, it relentlessly and remorselessly picks at you through every verse and chorus. TAP PAUSE TAP PAUSE TAP PAUSE TAP PAUSE TAP PAUSE. Exhausting.
I guess I’m not surprised by the sheer lack of craft displayed here. Styles got his start by being eliminated from X Factor to only be rescued from irrelevance by Simon Cowell and placed in the boy band One Direction. From there other than dating Taylor swift and wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue our boy Harry just isn’t that talented. The people that write his songs, the people that design his videos, the people that come up with his dance moves are just vapid, boring, and uninteresting. Pop stars used to have an edge to them. Now we just get songs about being nice to people and watermelon sugar.
What else would you expect from a guy that thinks this is cool?