Ariana Grande released her "Thank U, Next" music video on YouTube earlier this week, leaving us shook as we watched the pop diva reenact some of our favorite movie moments. The video arrived shortly after Grande defended nudity against Piers Morgan, so basically, we couldn't love her any more right now.
Following the release, Grindr’s lifestyle magazine, INTO, posted a think piece on Grande’s music video, which accused her of transmisogyny, transphobia, and being generally anti-queer. You can read that article here and watch the video below.
The video, which references films like Legally Blonde, 13 Going On 30, Bring It On, and Mean Girls is meant to be fun and inspire a nostalgic reaction from viewers as Grande looks back on her past and acknowledges lessons she's learned from her ex-boyfriends. The theme of the video is nostalgia — nothing more — and how better to do that than to honor films most women love?
After intense backlash, INTO apologized for the piece and claimed the article did not meet the magazine's "editorial standards," adding it should have worked with the writer more before the piece went live. The lifestyle website also published a rebuttal written by another author. However, the original piece goes to show how obsessed our culture is with finding issues in something when there are none.
In the article, the writer points out key moments in the video to support their argument, like 16 seconds in when Grande's backup dancer, Scott Nicholson, appears in a blonde wig and women’s top. This moment is made out to be phobic, when in reality, it was probably Grande's way of acknowledging her enormous fan base, which includes people of all sexual orientations, genders, and backgrounds. Why can’t a man dress up like a female pop star he admires?
Another example is the final moment of the video, when Kris Jenner’s "cool mom" yells "thank you, next, bitch!" to the audience at the faux Mean Girls Christmas talent show. The article makes this out to be an insult to Jenner’s ex, Caitlyn Jenner, who is transgender. This did not go over well at all with people on social media.
Lastly, the article pointed out a line at the very beginning of the video, which was stated by Troye Sivan: “I heard she’s a lesbian now and she’s dating some chick called Aubrey. It’s f**king sick.”
According to the piece, this was Grande's way of shaming her LGBTQ+ fans and expressing disgust at the thought of being with another woman. To the contrary, Grande is in touch with her fanbase and understands people misheard a lyric in her song, so she made a joke out of it (if you missed this hilarious mistake, get a crash course here). How is that wrong? Why would it be wrong for the singer to take a joke from her fans and incorporate it into a song?
In the video, Grande and Jennifer Coolidge’s Legally Blonde character, Paulette, also discuss the rumors about her ex-fiance, Pete Davidson, and his “huge tooth.” Paulette asks Grande if she’s ever considered being with someone with no teeth, which is yet another joke related to the "Aubrey" misunderstanding. It’s really not that deep.
Grande’s video is an ode to classic rom-coms, which are written for young women, and are constantly degraded. In fact, most entertainment made for young women (the top consumers in the entertainment industry) is ridiculed.
Instead of celebrating a young woman’s achievement (Grande’s video was the biggest video debut in YouTube history), INTO pieced together various threads and created non-existent issues.
TBH, INTO’s piece on this video was probably one of the worst takes on pop culture we've read this year. It’s a shame people can't come together to genuinely enjoy something anymore.
The only positive outcome of this negativity was the solidarity that fans of Grande and non-fans alike shared as they defended the video and discredited the claims against the performer and her team.
When it comes to this piece, we've got three words: Thank you, next.