The “Fuck You!” Answer video: The OTHER Side of the Story?

I remember back in the day a hit song might inspire an answer record, putting the original in conversation with another track that either exposed a different side to the story’s narrative or just commented on the first. The most famous one I recall is Shirley Brown’s melodramatic “Woman to Woman,” which inspired Barbara Mason‘s answer, from the other woman in the triangle, “From His Woman to You.”

Well, Cee Lo’s increasingly popular “Fuck You” has turned into one my favorite records so far this year, as arch and clever (and catchy) as it is, dnagling in that odd space between old-school throwback and novelty song. Perhaps it’s the novelty of it that has inspired its share of answers and covers, including a version by 50 Cent.

Now comes the female answer. Called “Clearly Obsessed” and perfomed by a singer/actress named Whitney Avalon, the record imagines Cee Lo’s original narrator as a stalker who won’t adhere to the restraining order imposed upon him. It’s funny, a little creepy, but quite a successful moment of quick-fast, Internet-ready pop culture…But a question: Has anyone noticed how the original Cee Lo video for “Fuck You” (which you can see here if you haven’t seen it already) is directed squarely and solely at the woman in question, rather than, as in the song’s lyrics, the guy who’s taken her from Cee Lo? Is it my imagination, or is there a bit of a disconnect there? Was this shift made for purely aesthetic reasons? Or is there some deeper question needing to be asked about gender and representation? I’m gonna mull on this and return to the subject at a later date. Stay tuned y’all…

Til then, here’s the “Fuck You” answer record, in all its fantastically vulgar glory!:

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The “Fuck You!” Answer video: The OTHER Side of the Story?

  1. JJ

    Hey Scott; I was wondering about that too; they only show Cee Lo’s romantic “rival” as a young boy during the young kid phase, and then “you” seems to shift back and forth between the rival and the girl from then on, it’s a lil confusing.

    Based on my own memories it seemed to represent the confusing emotions when in that situation: Do you blame the one you loved, or the one who “stole” the one you loved, or both? And similarly, Cee-Lo shifted a bit back and forth at the end between the justifiably angry spurned lover, and the cartoonish self-pitying fool stuck in the victim role and later plotting revenge and vindication. So although the tone was both angry and funny, I think the piece actually touched on the complexity of this particular dynamic between men and women involving money, sex and gender as power, womens’ affections as “property” to be bought, etc.

    My sense from his previous work and also in Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley, is that this artist is highly intelligent and complex, sort of ahead of his time, so I doubt he was simply advocating for material success and emotional retaliation as a solution for rejection and insecurity, as he seemed to be somewhat parodying all that at the same time.

    What wasn’t addressed directly in “Fuck You”, though he may have intended to suggest, (at least I felt it was suggested to me), is that there are forces at work, not pictured in the video, such as the powers that be in the media and corporate/retail world who profit both financially and politically from inciting and exacerbating the natural war between the sexes in general, and between black men and women in particular. We all allow these forces to exploit our hopes and fears and divide us along lines of gender, money, power, and material possessions.

    All that said, I love the song and there’s no denying the satisfaction in singing along and licking my old wounds. Whitney Avalon’s comeback is similarly clever and I’m sure that those who have been in her position feel a similar satisfaction upon hearing it!

  2. Nice try Whitney Avalon, but “Clearly Obsessed” is a one-note joke that can’t lay a finger on the original. For a real answer song to the creepy stalker motif, albeit in a different musical genre, try “Change the Locks” by Lucinda Williams.

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