Why I think this music video is so great: Jenny by Studio Killers
Sometimes, the imperfections we see in something ruin our image of it. Sometimes, these "imperfections" are actually qualities that can make you love a masterpiece.
It's been a while since I re-watched one of my favourite music videos ever: Chubby Cherry, by Studio Killers. But this time, I wanted to write down my favourite parts of the video and the qualities that make it so likeable for me.
One of the first things you'll see is that this video is, from start to end, professionally edited electronic music and top quality animation and art. A lot of resources went into making it.
In terms of the art, most unimportant elements are pastel coloured and very faintly saturated tones, while the main elements and characters are more saturated. Everything being boldly coloured, there is always a risk in art to fail at some parts, but the colour artist for this animation did a wonderful job. I particularly love the lipstick reds and how lips seem to be the shiniest and juiciest thing in the whole video.
In terms of character design and body features, it's funny how overly exaggerated and sexualised the characters are, but at the same time the consistency creates a balanced out representation of how the narrator sees the world. Chubby Cherry in particular, the fictional lead singer of Studio Killers, is an insecure round-faced redhead who uses a ton of makeup. One of the features I like the most about her is how even though her makeup seems to be perpetually ruined, the actual colours on her face are very artistically pleasing.
Cherry's facial expression portrays her as a bit of a narcissistic lunatic, and rightfully so, in consistence with the story told in the lyrics. In the story, Chubby Cherry is extremely jealous and possessive and disregards all social norms and ethics to plot an escape, with her crush Jenny. You'd think that this goes against the principles of trust in friendship, the basis for romantic relationships. However, the media is already filled to the brim with normal rule-abiding relationships. This video being so exaggerated and showcasing such a seedy personality, Cherry's sordid actions are oddly funny and fitting.
Cherry's actions are definitely the polar opposite of what the ideal woman is supposed to do, but at the sime time, they portray an alternate view to feminity: we are not what the guidelines say we are; we are what we are. She sees her desires, her world and the paths she wishes to take, and then simply goes ahead and does whatever she wants.
Another sign of internal stability outside the norm is the characters' unusually chubby bodies. In media, and especially in animation and art where we're free to display things however we like, people tend to display women with a very fixed set of traits: tall, big tits, skinny, long hair, etc. (screenshot), and while I cannot say that this is a misrepresentation of women, as there are many women like that, the percentages are a little bit off in the display:reality ratio.
In this quick and minimalistic work of animation, the artists create a reality adapted to our narrator Chubby Cherry's perception of normality and allurement. An alternate set of traits are established as attractive in this song's narrative. The first strophe of the song clearly describes Cherry's mindset in this matter. I've highlighted the most important elements to be aware of.
Jenny, darling, you’re my best friend
But there’s a few things that you don’t know of
Why I borrow your lipstick so often
I’m using your shirt as a pillow case
This first strophe is the perfect introduction to the song, pushing forth the basis from which the rest of the narrative must be interpreted. Friendship and emotional attachment are the first highlighted elements that define Jenny's human value to Chubby Cherry. Fat lips and deep red lipstick are the turning point for Cherry's emotional fascination with her friend/crush. Lastly, we see the symbolic attachment Cherry holds for Jenny in her mind, miles beyond physical allurement. This bit about the shirt is reminiscent of the treatment celebrities get from fans, including the collection of signatures, autographs, possessions and bodily fluids such as sweaty napkins.
Lastly, one of the things that make me find this work of art so hilarious and unique is the fact that, from point zero, it's noticeable that the voice of this singer is clearly that of a biological male. All of this feminist symbology, the unique and original portrayal of a more human woman, a funny reimagination of female identity, and it was probably not only written and made by men, but also narrated in song by a man voicing the main female character of the story. It's speculated that the singer that voices Chubby Cherry is Teemu Brunila, a Finnish songwriter, and I've checked his songs and his voice checks out, so I think it's him behind the mic.
I've always loved dissonance, the sort of subtle trolling that makes people just shut down and say "what" over and over. And this is "lowkey" one of those pieces, from the magnificent artistic drawings and animation, the beautiful happy music, through the funny and quirky reimagination of human normalcy, to the main character's outrageous display of unethicality, and the fact that this is a man voicing a woman, something I'd only seen in the trashiest of shows, but this time it's done so well that I can only laugh internally and praise the producers and their work.