Video Review: Liz Phair “Why Can’t I?”

Someone puts a quarter in the jukebox and picks a song. The machine pulls out the record and places it on the player. The person, stands at the jukebox, trying to figure out which song to play next. The person stops at Liz Phair’s “Why Can’t I?,”

In the moving photograph, Phair sits on white steps and plays her guitar, wearing garish lime green oversized, sleeveless t shirt. The splattered graphic image is a far more restrained Ed Hardy knockoff. Meanwhile, the band plays in the background. The person flips twice – one is Phair, against a lavender background, singing into a microphone. Another one features her in face, singing into a silver microphone and white tank top on stage. One is titled “Liz Phair goes swimming,” which seems to be more like a newspaper article, but ok. Each title is a song lyric.

Phair whips her hair around in a grainy, sepia-toned photograph. One photograph is her face painted white, with a shade of pink and yellow added. On the stage, in big, red letters it reads “LIZ” while she plays her guitar. There is a brief glimpse of her acknowledging her indie roots by wearing a blue CBGB t-shirt and jeans in one of the photographs.

Back at the Liz Phair jukebox, the person presses numbers and chooses another song and the photos return with almost the exact styles (but with different lyrics) from the last time. Phair’s body is shown in silhouette as she is behind a maroon background with a cream trim. Liz’s lips are shown against a multi-colored background of black, white, pink, and baby blue. She kicks the air with her legs. Then it’s back to a variation of the same clips as before. The cycle repeats again with more variations. The person walks away from the jukebox, tired of the repetition.


Rating: 1/5

With the slow motion hair flipping, Phair is prepping for an audition for a L’Oreal commercial while pretending to be a cool, credible rock star. However, in actuality, she is a cool, credible rock star except she’s vying for mainstream success with a younger audience. And therein is the problem.

The photographs have a 60s-70s aesthic to them. Far too many flip by to really appreciate it. It’s simply there to be cool and unfortunately, it only ages Phair. She’s older trying to be younger by acting older to fit in. However, she doesn’t have to fit in. She’s Liz fucking Phair and it seems that even she has forgotten it.

    Director: Phil Harder  Year: 2003


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Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit ,Greatest City Collective, 45 Magazine ,Fevers of the Mind, Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kirstofia anthology. and forthcoming in Scrawl Place

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