Video Review: Janet Jackson "If"

In the middle of night, a woman wrapped in her kimono, walks down the street. A security camera built above the door films a young man trying to get inside the club. He yells various words and storms off. The young woman, in the kimono, says the correct password “if” and is allowed inside by the guard.

A second man turns around once the light changes to green. Male dancers, wound tight around ropes, drop slowly from the ceiling. At the entrance, a woman pays at the booth.

On stage, a group of dancers perform a routine. A shirtless young man watches the female dancers on a monitor. Emerging from flowing ruby red curtains, Janet Jackson walks through the doors and joins the routine. The shirtless young man zeroes in on Jackson.

A woman at the bar is amazed by Jackson’s presence, which annoys her friend. A man in a hat observes the performance on a screen while facing the bar. With his cane, his touches the screen, choosing the angles he would like to see.

A brunette young woman realizes she is being watched and sighs. Through the screen, her admirer offers her a drink and she smiles. A group of women watch the routine from the couch, their legs on the coffee table. A couple has sex in a private room. A woman, sitting on another couch, watches the couple on a monitor. Jackson meets the eye of the shirtless young man. The shirtless young man touches the screen.

Rating: 5/5

As a dancer, Janet Jackson no longer sees the monitors. She notices the people who pretend they are not looking and give them an intense gaze in return. In her experience, it is mostly men who are intimidated by her. Through the screen, she becomes real to them.

The innovative club is ahead of its time. Touch screens are available in every corner. Cameras record everything, even if the people take measures to prevent it. Entering the club is implicit permission to give up any privacy. People should expect their boundaries to be pushed and invaded.

On the surface, the club’s purpose is to entertain. However, it’s main objective is for customers express their secret desires through a screen. No true human contact exists within its walls. It provides an illusion of intimacy for those who wish to feel love but do not have access to it. Emotions are repressed and manifest themselves in different ways. A young woman watches Jackson in awe, letting herself fall for her without shame.

Director: Dominic Sena Year: 1993


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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 & 45 Magazine.

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