This music video says it is.
It opens with audio from an alarmist, 50s-era PSA: “Is the sweetheart you married the husband you expected him to be?” This little opener sets a (unnecessarily) critical lens on what you’re about to view in the rest of the video.
First: An overly makeuped girl in pearls sets a lavish dinner for a male mannequin in a suit. Scenes like these are interspersed with scenes of newbie singer Kimbra, grooving awkwardly and blankly in front of shelves of Victorian dolls. (Oddly, Kimbra, who hails from New Zealand, looks like a cross between Molly Ringwald and such dolls.)
And next, just to add another level of creepiness: There are two girls in the video, one who seems to “have” the mannequin man and another who jealously observes – while caring for a baby that may be his? I thought the two were the same actress, until I saw their clear height difference later on.
OK, so Captain Obvious says: Clearly there’s a problem with the whole cult-of-domesticity fantasy, because it results in an idiot girl hoping on an empty plastic man with a mistress. This idea is not new. But on another level: A perfectly modern young woman (Kembra) is saying “I want to settle down,” but all she can seem to think of is an idiot girl being cheated on by a plastic man.
We smart, sassy young women tend to believe that we don’t want to settle down, that there’s a danger in putting all of our hopes in a man – because a good father/husband may not even exist (as in, he only exists in plastic) or he may turn out to be a baby-daddy cheater. There’s a fear there, a fear of putting your hopes on somebody and then watching all those hopes burn. The Victorian dolls end up in flames, by the way, at the end of the video (as if the statement needed more overstating.) As for the 50s-era housewife dream, we girls of 2011 are too smart to pin our hopes on it – and besides, many of us don’t even want it. Or so we say.
But: What if we do? What if we want to be full-time moms and wives? If we do, are we left with an empty fantasy? Kembra’s music video seems to be saying: Yes indeed. What do you think?
–By Tara Cavanaugh
P.S. Kembra must be fond of turning fifties dreams on their head, as she does in this danceable chick-anthem that uses the same two girls from the “Settle Down” video. The modern-day dance-club beats with a fifties-innocent chorus will also leave you somehow unsettled.