With a Chinese red paper lantern as the first shot of the video, I didn’t exactly have high hopes for this music video. What was to follow? Subtle racism? Cultural appropriation? Goody, goody. Couldn’t wait.
My bad feeling turned out to be spot on. I shouldn’t have to spell out why implying that the Asian server can’t understand English is racist and tokenizing as heck (Reminder: General Tsao’s Chicken is in no way actually Chinese. Nobody in China knows what that shit is). Of course, the server also turns out to be a mystical wizard and suddenly gains English comprehension skills when it serves to forward the sloppily constructed plot of the video. And all of this perfectly dropped right before Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.
Follow with a brief scene where Lil Dicky commiserates about his own un-coolness whilst watching some clips of Chris Brown doing his thing. Brown may be “so good at dancing” and have the “sickest tattoos,” but did Dicky forget his idol also nearly beat Rihanna to death? Brown even references his “controversial past” a bit later on in the video. Assault isn’t funny.
In comparison to the rest of Lil Dicky’s music videos, “Freaky Friday” isn’t all that unique; it has the same cringey mid-2000s bad meme humor, objectification and downright stupidity that many of Lil Dicky’s creations share.
There were times when I did laugh. Who doesn’t enjoy watching someone poke fun at themselves for three minutes straight? Maybe if Dicky hadn’t gone out of his way to include every single problematic thing that’s common in movie media — objectification, emphasizing the “otherness” of non-Western people and cultures, rampant sexism, tone-deaf racist undertones and tossing the N-word around as if it was some sort of joke — I would have even enjoyed it.
Try harder, Lil Dicky. Being intentionally offensive is not a good look.
— Samantha Lu, Daily Arts Writer
Last week, comedic rapper Lil Dicky released his first single in three years. “Freaky Friday,” a spin-off of the iconic mother-daughter comedy popularized by Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, recruited Chris Brown, Ed Sheeran and Kendall Jenner to help compose a song in which Dicky and Brown switch bodies.
As Lil Dicky’s brand is self-deprecation based on his admittedly white and lame style — an oddity in a genre mostly dominated by Black men with swagger — switching bodies with Chris Brown opened the floodgates for funny lyrics that play on artist stereotypes. The song begins with Lil Dicky’s realization that he’s woken up in Chris Brown’s body. The lyrics (actually voiced by Chris Brown), “I’m so fly and I can dance / There’s tattoos on my neck,” hilariously expose the stark contrast between Dicky and Brown. The lyrics go a step further, as Lil Dicky (again, actually Chris Brown) takes advantage of his ability to say the N-word and rejoices at the size of his member. Controversial and uncomfortable? Maybe, but Lil Dicky has never shied away from pushing the envelope or discussing penises.
The track gets even funnier when Chris Brown wakes up as Lil Dicky and realizes the perks of being white and barely recognizable as a celebrity: “Ain’t nobody judging ‘cause I’m Black or my controversial past / I’ma go and see a movie and relax.” Eventually, though, Brown (Dicky’s voice) grows tired of being someone else, and after he realizes he truly likes being himself (can I get a cliché?) the rappers are reunited with their own bodies. The outro provides some extra comedy, as Lil Dicky is thrown into the body of Ed Sheeran and then Kendall Jenner, after which he realizes Chris Brown is much cooler than Ed Sheeran and having private access to the female anatomy for a day might be interesting.
Sonically, “Freaky Friday” is extremely basic, with a thin chord progression and beat akin to last year’s hackneyed hit, “I’m The One.” The track is much more entertaining when paired with the elaborate and extended music video, the driving force behind the growing popularity of the new single.
— Mike Watkins, Daily Arts Writer