All I could gather before I watched Keke Palmer‘s video for “I Don’t Belong To You” is that it would be in black and white and presumably about a controlling relationship. But thanks to the perpetually entertaining comment section of The Shade Room on Instagram, I quickly found that I would have a lot more to look forward than just seeing Palmer writhing and cooing in lingerie and getting into a lover’s quarrel.
In the video, Palmer plays a sultry young woman who is libertine about making her own rules and decisions. It begins in the morning with her putting on her clothes, as who seems to be her boyfriend, played by POWER’s Rotimi, watches and reaches out for her arm, all appalled. She looks at him as if all her feelings come and gone like the orgasm we hope she had hours before as the tracks plays in the background: “Baby you know we don’t want the same things. While you caught up in your feelings. Have faith there’s a day, yesterday. Baby we’ve been through and I feel the same way. I know you don’t wanna hear this. And I hate to say it, babe…” *sips rooibos tea* Damn. So Keke is flipping the prototypical script of a guy using a girl for his needs until he’s fulfilled whatever void he has in lame life to go with his lame behavior? *sips more* I’m with it. (I mean, the male lead in “I Don’t Belong To You” never translates as a douchebag, but you feel what I’m saying!)
After Keke then goes home, showers up and puts on some new meow attire, she gets chauffeured to a mansion and look who opens the damn, opulent door? A girl (played by the annoyingly pretty Cassie) and homegirl was waiting at the door for Keke as she welcomes her in Calvin Klein undies and a plain crop top. Keke lets her know in return its grown people time by opening up her fur coat and showing off a Bordelle-esque bodysuit with hanging garners. What is the Miss former Akeelah doing? Is Keke now an astraddle woman in having both Rotimi and Cassie wrapped around her wily finger? And the lesbian/bisexual twist at the end?
*pours another cup* Girl, let’s talk…
The song is obviously Palmer’s most mature release yet. The lyrics showcase a strong but unpredictable character with an appetite to obtain all the options she can in the romance department. But even with the video, we still can’t quite confirm if when she sings “we don’t want the same things” and “keep it on the down low” as a call for the freedom of sexuality and sexual fluidity or in just being a freebird. Shit. It seems to be everything and more here. If you’ve been following her on Instagram with her sensual selfies and occasionally tantalizing red carpet outfits, it’s been coming, her “Dirrty” or “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” moment. She is 22-years-old, so the tide is here for her to explore who she is and along the way figure out what sticks and what’s not her personal forte.
But the bisexual/lesbian twist at the end of “I Don’t Belong To You?” What’s that about! A classic artistic, fuck with the viewer’s mind gambit or a headway to the real Keke? Palmer has never hinted at sapphic experiences or thoughts in interviews. And obviously, her and Cassie and were just acting. But social media followers wanted answers. Go to Palmer’s, Cassie’s, and even Rotimo’s Instagram pages, and you’ll see tons of comments asking if Keke came out the closet. But the other question is, should Keke have flirted with going in and out of this “closet” in the first place in her video? As “hot” or “unexpected” as the ending was, it also brought back the once very popular notion, and stereotype, of the “hot lesbian.” Non-LGBTQ members of society have heterosexually approved this type of dystopia where women are attractive, successful and dangerous and are of course only or more sexually drawn to girls over boys and usually just as cute women. We saw this at its height in the mid-2000s via reality shows and also shows like The OC and the more thoughtful and raw The L Word. The “stereotype” has since returned through acclaimed series like How To Get Away With Murder.
When Cassie opens the doors to Keke and they’re both wearing little to nothing and giving each other the eye… Yes, they both looked great but really, the hot lesbian thing?! Would it not have been more sobering of their situationship to have Cassie at least be in sweatpants, a bun in a humble abode of an apartment? Like, damn, that house is her crib? (And she was biting her lips like she was Dakota Johnson‘s portrayal of Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades movie). But yes, one purpose of the video was to provide a fantasy of sorts and that included amazing decor housing and desires to fruition.
*nods and finishes tea*
And look. I’m not going to sit here and say I would not have done the same thing if this was my video. Someone would’ve likely had to suggest the whole bisexual climax. And not because I’m shy of hypothetically exploring. But I just would’ve been so obvious and probably instead feature some dude “finer” than the last. So I give Keke credit for doing something outside of what we would not have concluded her to do at this point in her career. The video clearly had a treatment and it was accomplished well.
So watch the video below and see if it’s just plain inviting as hell or Palmer running around the classic circle of “So this is what sexy is supposed to be, right?” game. Another sidenote about this project is that it reminded me of Lady Gaga‘s lyrics for “Do What U Want” where in the chorus Gaga says: “You can’t have my heart. And you won’t use my mind but do what you want (with my body). Do what you want with my body. You can’t stop my voice cause. You don’t own my life but do what you want (with my body)…” This is basically what Keke Palmer, looking to identify herself while willingly acknowledging her sexual eagerness, informs Rotimi’s clueless lead (even if that means being bicurious. Does anybody still use that word?).