In the grand tradition of audience blue-balling, Justin Timberlake has released a 45-second teaser video for his upcoming single, "Take Back the Night." The monochrome clip shows Timberlake gliding out of a convertible like the fine white chocolate he is and holding up signs (because words are exactly what I want to look at when I see Justin Timberlake). The signs display the release dates of his past music videos and as well as his most recent album, The 20/20 Experience. But the second to last sign reads “Take Back the Night” with the last (presumably the release date) blurred out. Oh, Justin, you just love to keep us guessing.
The video is innocent enough. But the name of Timberlake's new single is problematic. After all, it shares the namesake of a deeper movement.
“Take Back the Night” (originally “Reclaim the Night”) is a foundation established to end sexual assault, relationship violence, and all forms of interpersonal violence. Its mission is to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness and various initiatives. According to the Advocacy Center at Syracuse University, "Take Back the Night" hosts annual events, observed throughout the United States as well as internationally, that bring community members together to speak out about the violence against women.
Meanwhile, in his version of "Take Back the Night," Timberlake croons "use me up until there’s nothing left." His music seems to stand in stark contrast to a movement that is fighting the "using” of women.
So, what gives?
In my view, there are only two possible rationales for the song's title:
1. Timberlake, who is a reported advocate for women and children, is using the single as a platform. When hormonal teeny-boppers (and admirers from the tragic, curly-fro days) Google "Take Back the Night," they may stumble across the movement and gain awareness.
2. Timberlake just thought it was catchy.
Time will tell which scenario is true but both represent respective problems. If Timberlake is as clever as the first option would have us to think, search engine optimization results may bury the real movement among the prolific number of articles about his single.
If Timberlake isn’t aware of the movement, then his single does not just compromise its Internet visibility. It highlights how removed our culture is from the plight of women. Not good either way.