Having spent his whole life on stage or on screen, it’s clear that Justin Timberlake loves to be seen, and if this year’s 20/20 Experience albums, with their phoropter-themed cover art, are any indication, he regards himself as a seer as well. But as the video to “Cry Me a River” shows, his sight is more voyeuristic than visionary, and at times he has proven quite willing to revel in the privileged gaze of white-male masculinity, as Janet Jackson will attest. Elsewhere, as in the Lonely Island collabo “Dick in a Box,” JT is able to shine as both seer and seen, paying homage to the Color Me Badd and Jon B videos he clearly admired as a child while also exposing for common view all the quirks of ‘90s white-boy r&b—cultural blind spots that remain audible in JT’s contemporary white-boy loverman lyrics, but not really visible. And when only hindsight is 20/20, anything out of sight really is out of mind.
Wed., Nov. 6, 8 p.m., 2013
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 30, 2013