Justin Timberlake has finally unveiled his new Supplies music video – and it’s filled to the brim with hidden symbolism, secret #woke messages and not-so-subtle digs at President Donald Trump. So why has it left the internet so divided?
The second track to be released off Justin Timberlake’s upcoming album, Man of the Woods, Supplies immediately references consent in the first verse – making it feel incredibly relevant in today’s #MeToo era.
“Saw you being cornered by some guy you used to know,” sings Timberlake, before going on to add that he made sure to intervene.
“Stepped in between the both of y’all, said ‘I’m leaving, do you wanna go?’”
The song goes on to reference the end of the world, so it comes as little surprise to learn that the accompanying music video has a decidedly dystopian feel to it. What does feel unexpected, though, are all the not-so-subtle references to President Donald Trump.
Right at the beginning of the video, Timberlake can be seen sitting in a chair in front of a plethora of televisions. Trump is clearly visible on one of the monitors, surrounded by what appears to be protests occurring on the other TV screens.
If you look closely, you’ll note that the signs and placards being waved during these protest marches are directly aimed at Trump and his policies: one reads “STOP GOV’T CRIMES”, another says “WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS”, and a third reads “END RACISM NOW”.
Those are not the only references to Trump though: later on in the video, we see a woman wearing one of those now-iconic ‘The Future Is Female’ tops from the Women’s March.
And, in a crowd scene, a woman wearing a shirt that says “p****y grabs back” – a clear reference to Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape – lifts a car Timberlake sits on while he motions at the crowd.
At the end of the video (which also offers a fleeting reference to Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey), Timberlake is joined by Eiza González Reyna and track producer Pharrell Williams in a post-apocalyptic world, where they can be seen confronting some kind of dark, cultish force.
It is at this point that a dust-covered child directly addresses the camera.
“Just leave. Die already,” she tells us, the viewer. “You’re still asleep. Wake up. Just leave, please.
Watch it for yourself below:
Overall, the video taps into modern protest culture while hinting at upcoming disaster – but the song itself seems to be about Timberlake being a “generous lover” (we’re particularly thinking about that “I’ll be the wood when you need heat” line).
As such, it has had something of a mixed response on Twitter…
Just made a coworker watch that new Justin Timberlake "Supplies" video, to make her experience the awful with me. Her feedback: "It's like the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad of music videos." I agree.— Sam Sanders (@samsanders) January 18, 2018
Also the music has NOTHING to do with the video. It's like when you take a sexy selfie and then make your caption about how Jesus loves all the children of the world— Salina (@sadolphy) January 18, 2018
justin timberlake standing over the cauldron: a hint of social justice.....a dash of blade runner 2049 cinematography...a pinch of weird outfits...and a handful of the banksy twitter account— I hope Stephen Sondheim is having a good day (@GraceSpelman) January 18, 2018
“Justin Timberlake’s new music video is literally him rebranding himself as a male ally,” read one scathing tweet.
Another insisted it was wildly ironic Timberlake make a video about the #metoo movement when he is currently in the process of making a movie with Woody Allen.
“Silence is not golden,” they said firmly.
It is not the first time that Timberlake has been criticised for his role in Allen’s upcoming film, Wonder Wheel: just a few weeks ago, he was slammed for wearing a Time’s Up pin (commissioned by Reese Witherspoon) to the Golden Globes, with many calling it a piece of “pure performative fraud”.
“Feminism is only good when it’s convenient for JT while he’s trying to release new music,” tweeted one at the time.
Speaking about how he got the role in Wonder Wheel, Timberlake previously said: “It felt like classic Hollywood. They would send the script to an actor and go, ‘We really want you for the part. Will you accept the part?’
“I was like, I think he’s forgetting that he’s Woody Allen and that I’d love to work with him, honestly. So yeah, I read the script and didn’t even make a joke to play coy. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m in.’”
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, however, Dylan Farrow penned a powerful piece for the Los Angeles Times about Hollywood’s double standards on sexual assault – and criticised the likes of Winslet and Blake Lively for supporting the #MeToo movement while refusing to condemn her adoptive father (and alleged abuser), Allen.
Farrow wrote: “Discussing Weinstein, Wonder Wheel star Kate Winslet said, ‘The fact that these women are starting to speak out about the gross misconduct of one of our most important and well-regarded film producers, is incredibly brave and has been deeply shocking to hear.
“Of Allen, she said, ‘I didn’t know Woody and I don’t know anything about that family…Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person. Woody Allen is an incredible director’.”
Farrow continued: “It isn’t just power that allows men accused of sexual abuse to keep their careers and their secrets. It is also our collective choice to see simple situations as complicated and obvious conclusions as a matter of ‘who can say’?
“The system worked for Harvey Weinstein for decades. It works for Woody Allen still.”
Allen has always vehemently denied Farrow’s claims that he assaulted her in 1992. He was investigated over the accusation and a state prosecutor said he had “probable cause” to prosecute in 1993 but did not file charges, due to the fragility of the “child victim”.
Images: Rex Features