Photo: Amazon Prime
You know J-Lo. You know what she’s about, what she is: She’s a Latinx queen! She’s a dancer! She was in Hustlers doing an absolutely fantastic routine to – of all things – Fiona Apple! Yet, in my quiet moments, I’ve asked myself who she is, really. She’s obviously a multi-hyphenate performer and incredibly hard worker, but like, does she excel in the singing or acting parts? The answer, obviously, is it doesn’t fucking matter because it’s J-Lo.
And as much Jennifer Lopez is a beloved, semi-untouchable slash unknowable star, the main way I’ve really been made to perceive her in the past decade is via her love life. And when I say “love life”, I mean the man with the most burdened vibe in the world, Ben Affleck. Their re-romance has been a joyous thing to see, a kind of industry planted run-it-back encore for the MSN generation – but that’s all moot though because boy, am I thinking about just J Lo right now. I’m thinking about her now because she has an absolutely insane-looking thing coming out on February 16th. I say “thing”, because it’s not so easy to nail down what the actual thing is (film/cinematic experience/musical???), and all we have is a trailer. It’s a televisual offering though, for sure. And it’s called This Is Me… Now, same as her upcoming album, and a sequel to her 2002 This Is Me… Then record. Having watched the trailer, I have some questions…
Yeah so, in the trailer for this film or whatever it is, the “world” in which this thing is set seems to correlate somewhat with the world as we know it. The sky looks normal and all the people are wearing normal clothes. But then you just get these shots where J Lo is in a kind of Harry Potter factory of some kind. Like a “nuclear post-apocalyptic factory”, as one X user put it. It looks kind of steampunk. Like, what is this massive fire goblet?
Why does she work in a ‘nuclear post-apocalyptic factory’?
On third viewing, I think the massive fire goblet is her metaphorical heart, with which she loves, and everyone down the heart factory basically tends to it to keep the fire burning, interspersed with big choreographed dance numbers. Perhaps she returns to her “heart” whenever she is grappling with “matters of the heart”. The film (?) trailer shows her marrying like three different guys, and being intervention-ed by her mates for being a “sex addict”.It’s thought this film is an abstract, fever dream take on Lopez’s actual real-life quest for love. We know it’s a “narrative-driven cinematic odyssey, steeped in mythological storytelling and personal healing”, according to the logline accompanying the Amazon Prime release, and the “This is me…Now” song is giving real Camp Rock energy.We also see her motorbiking through salt flats with Ben Affleck right at the start. Near the end, a wedding ring tears a hole in the fabric of space. In between those two fascinating poles, there’s Big Dance scenes, some kind of Dune-scape, earnest monologues and absurd cameos.
Like Fat fucking Joe!! Fat Joe is in this! He’s J Lo’s therapist, which we know because we see their session running out of time and Fat Joe says “Let’s pick this back up next week” or something. Fantastic premise! But what’s the therapy for exactly, because in the trailer she’s specifically accused of sex addiction by her friends, which I guess implies the filmic version of Fat Joe is there to sort of heave metaphorical ice on the red hot loins of Lopez, which sort of isn’t what you’d expect from Fat Joe of “What’s Luv” and “I wanna chick with thick hips that licks her lips” fame. What’s nice is that in real life, Fat Joe and J Lo both grew up with Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx, and have been mates since their 1999 collaboration on “Feelin’ So Good”.
Why is actual Fat Joe her therapist??
Why is Neil deGrasse Tyson it in???His cavernous, children’s TV voice is only heard in this trailer so forgive me for going off, but I’m going to assume it will unfold like a Carl Sagan omniscient scientist scenario. J Lo and Tyson will be perched somewhere in the vacuum of space, or in some kind of rocket pod, and they will be looking down on a distant Earth, or perhaps through the massive wedding band black hole thing. “You must accept the ebbs and flows of the universe,” Tyson says to J Lo and – I’m just spitballing here – J Lo, dressed in dazzling NASA white, will whisper: “What if I’m not ready… What if I’m never ready?” Neil deGrasse Tyson, will say, softer now: “Isn’t that the whole point of life? That we never truly know?” And finally, in that moment, J Lo gets it. This is her life; she’s made it this far. “This is me… now,” she says. Tyson stares at the camera Office-style. Scene change.
Yeah, so just who on Earth is behind this batshit concept? It was written by J Lo and someone named Matt Walton, who is a writer but is, according to his LinkedIn and website, mainly a “chief creative officer” at something called Laundry Service, with “over 15 years in advertising”. That scans because the film is, of course, one big advert for the album, but we’ll come to that.
Who the hell wrote this????
What is anything anymore, really? Nothing means anything, is anything. Categories are collapsing as high and low art invert, as genres subdivide and blur into obsoletion. It’s in this taxonomical fog of war that we must note This Is Me… Now, is in fact, a) an advert, and b) a musical. It’s a musical, people! I’ve seen articles saying as much! Ask yourself: Can you actually go out there and sit through a musical? In this post Mean Girls-reboot economy?Then you have to consider that maybe it’s an advert for an album that may or may not slap (It could though! It could slap!). In other words, it’s another Lemonade situation. I’m just sat here marvelling at the glorious marketing smarts of it all. Putting out the most unhinged trailer with the tiniest bit of intuitive scene explanation, with a host of massive stars in it – you just know people will want to see it. Perhaps I want to see it! Perhaps I will see it.@niche_t_