I Guess We Have to Talk About “Sucker”

Congrats, Priyanka! You’ve done it again, you’ve forced me to talk about you and all of us to think about you. And I was so happy just talking about my new dog! Speaking of, “Nick” as a dog name?

Oh well, I wasn’t going to see a new movie tonight anyway (because DOG), so we might as well talk about this instead.

The Jonas Brothers just released a video, “Sucker”. Which is also a reunion video for the band/brothers. They broke up in 2013 after having canceled a tour days before it was scheduled to start. So something super dramatic happened.

Kevin, the oldest Jonas, was in the middle of a reality show when the band split and lost out on that. He rebounded by appearing on Celebrity Apprentice, and then founded a construction company. Construction lead to an appearance on the reality show Real Housewives of New Jersey as “Kevin Jonas, contractor”. And he developed an app called “Yood” and founded a company that deals with “social media influencers”. So, your basic “struggling to stay relevant somehow” kind of has-been career.

Joe Jonas, the middle brother, tried to start a new band called “DNCE” (“dance”, but miss-spelled, because they want us all to slowly lose our minds). That didn’t quite take off, he ended up writing a song for Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and taking a job on an Australian TV talent show as a judge. After a series of brief high profile relationships (Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Gigi Hadid, etc.), he started a long term relationship with Sophie Turner in 2016 and they got engaged in 2017.

And then there’s Nick. He had the most successful career post-split. Started with a guest spot on Hawaii 5-0, released a semi-successful single and then a very successful single, toured with Demi Lovato, and finally released an album that was extremely successful in 2014. That is, a year after the band split up, indicating he was planning a solo career all along, unless this was the fastest album written in history. He also had a series of shorter high profile public relationships (Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Miss Universe), and then started a relationship with the much older Priyanka Chopra and married her within months.

Image result for nick jonas miley cyrus

And now here we are, with this song video that attempts to tie together the brothers and all they have gone through in the past 6 years through including their significant others in the video. It’s not a bad idea to acknowledge that they have gone from an innocent boy band (famously wore “promise rings” that they wouldn’t have sex until marriage) to 3 grown men with relationships and lives of their own, but I am not sure how I feel about the execution.

There seem to be two concepts here. There is the idea of the wealthy upstart British boy band, harking back to the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, rock stars living in ancient landed estates. And there is the idea of the British aristocracy, the women in grand impractical dresses yelling at servants.

The British boy band is the origin of the whole boy band concept, with The Beatles. The clever lower class talented boys who became more popular and wealthy than the landed folks and traditional powers. The whole 60s “mod” version of London, with supermodels and rockstars mixing together with young royals and aristocrats and creating a new class. So, sure, The Jonas Brothers can hark back to that tradition as a modern boy band.

Image result for rolling stones princess margaret
Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret. Or Anne? Not sure.

And then there is the gendered twist to it, making the boy band “slaves” to the aristocratically treated women, positioning them in the traditional role of “I love you so much that I will do anything for you.” It’s a simple wish-fulfillment idea that should work well for the Jonas’ aging fans, no longer teen girls who want to have a boy slipping them notes, but now 30 year old women who want to have a man support their dreams. Plus, of course, the overt sexuality of it announcing they are no longer a “Boy” band, just like every former teen idol has to do.

Nick’s ex Miley did something similar years ago

There are two things that make me uncomfortable with this whole thing. First is the odd Anglophile aspect. You could have a similar message by picking up on, for instance, the Graceland tradition. Why not a kind of “good ol’ boys” concept of a rich house and fried peanut butter sandwiches, combined with elite WASP women? Sophie Turner is British, but no one else in this song is, and it’s almost disrespectful to the “real” British Boy Bands to play act their lives. No, scratch that, it is actually disrespectful. It may seem like a fun kind of imagery to use, but it came from all kinds of historical moments in England that turned powers upside down, not to mention the very real struggles of the lower class musicians who managed to get out of poverty by talent alone. I don’t think the Jonas’ upper middle class upbringing and turn to music has much in common with The Beatles’ struggling working class origins.

And the other thing that makes me uncomfortable is the game they are playing of “see, we are acting super fake which is what makes you know it is real”. Like, they are just real people and real couples who are enjoying themselves play acting, just like you and your friends would enjoy play acting. I can see the reasons to spin away from trying to be “real”, that’s what Nick and PC did with their video before the wedding and the reaction was a resounding “what??? is this real? should I care?” But this play acting feels like it is trying too hard, like they have to throw themselves into it and be super intensely fake. They never break character, I never feel a moment of actual enjoyment.

One final thing that isn’t necessarily good or bad, just interesting, is that this whole idea of “sucker”, that is, just worshiping and obeying your significant other seems very unbalanced towards the couples. I haven’t been paying attention, but I don’t believe Joe or Kevin’s relationships are known for being about them worshipping their lovers. But Nick and PC definitely present that front, she is the strong older beautiful one, he was knocked dead by her at first sight, and so on. And it seems like the video is giving them a little more screentime than the other couples. Seeing as Nick is the one who has had the best post-break-up career, and his brothers need this more than he needs them. So why not craft the video a little more to center on him than on them? I won’t complain about that.

Okay, that’s all my thoughts! What are your thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “I Guess We Have to Talk About “Sucker”

  1. I had no idea what “sucker” was. After reading the post, I decided it would be much more fun to go watch this video than think much more about it. I agree with you about the concept disrespecting working class roots of bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones. My own beloved Duran Duran started out as working class lads from Birmingham. 🙂

    Also–I think the Jackson 5 had an influence on the creation of “boy bands” too. And then later the Monkees put the idea on steroids, creating the super artificial process which has given us so many boy and girl bands since. (RIP Peter and Davy.)

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    • I was thinking that they could have done a Monkees version of this, but then I played it out, and it would be way too real! You start having kooky clever middle class boys playing pranks, and that’s just the origin of the Jonas Brothers, not a faked up version.

      On Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 4:55 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I can’t put my finger on it but for some reason, I feel like they watched Beyonce’s Apeshit video before making this. It’s not that it’s similar but somehow there is a vibe that I can’t escape.

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  2. I… what? Forget Sucker for a second. WHAT is that Vogue thing? Is this THE VOGUE doing embarrassing videos like this? I’m not too aware of what’s happening is publishing but has circulation decreased a lot or something? Anna Wintour is approving abominations like this now? I can’t believe what I’m seeing. It’s hysterically funny!!

    For what it’s worth, Joe has had a pretty decent career. DNCE had a smash hit with Cake by the Ocean. I used to hear that song play every 5 minutes on the radio.

    As for Sucker, it’s a generic pop song but you never know what will work or not.

    I’m cynical and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the Priyanka relationship was the pre-planning before the Jonas Brothers reunion. Whether people like them or not, it has hugely increased Nick’s profile and brought him back into the limelight. It’s also given him a gigantic new audience. Indian media covers him just as much as Indian stars now and Sucker has debuted no.1 on iTunes charts in India too.

    I think PC is a very mediocre actress and star but you have to hand it to her for always managing to stick around after getting written off again and again. She always pulls a rabbit out of the hat. I don’t see any of this doing much for a real career but at this point, does it even matter? Fame itself is enough and can be capitalized on with books, youtube shows, make-up lines, clothing lines, phone apps and various other types of things the Kardashians do.

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    • It was part of the whole ramp up to the wedding thing. They did an in depth exclusive interview, including video. The whole thing was just strange, it also included a very odd account of their original getting together that kind of rewrote the established timeline.

      I’m cynical also and reading through the long list of short high profile relationships for all of the Jonas brothers, it really feels like at least some of them must have been coordinated by publicists more than True Romance. Especially since they started out when everyone was in the Disney stable together. Which makes the “real because we are pretending to be fake” thing feel even faker to me in this song video.

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  3. My feeling: everything just for a moment’s attention (and “moment” is like a rubber band…you can stretch it and stretch it…and it will either break or snap back).
    And again “my feeling”: it screemed ‘fake-fake-fake’ from the get-go…now it murmurs ‘still fake’…strange what some do if they can’t get what they – deep down – want to get.

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    • It is interesting how much the one moment of attention can be stretched by piling on another moment and another and another and on and on.

      On Sat, Mar 2, 2019 at 2:00 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I’m pretty sure you gave the concept of this video far more thought than the creators ever did.

    It’s all ridiculous and I think Priyanka looks like she’s slumming it in this video. Regardless of what you think of her, she is a legitimate international star and she’s prancing around with these kids and I can’t figure out what the hell she’s thinking. Weirdly enough, though, I used to think their relationship was fake but now I think it’s real in the sense that they are both publicity whores and enjoy gobbling up attention together.

    PS, I strongly suspect that Priyanka is already pregnant. I’ve seen some photos of her lately that are giving off that vibe.

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    • Yes! It kind of had the feel of the guy from high school who graduated and keeps hanging out with the younger kids.

      On Sat, Mar 2, 2019 at 9:05 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Sucker debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. Congratulations to Priyanka, because I seriously doubt the Jonas Brothers would’ve pulled this off without the giant gust of publicity generated by the Prick wedding extravaganza.

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