“Spectacular”? I’m not so sure. I asked my 14-year-old niece, a vocal/music major at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, what she thought about Kiely Williams’ new video. She hadn’t seen it so we watched it together. Her first question, peppered by a few moans, was “Does Disney know about this?” (I was tickled but she didn’t realize that Kiely has gone solo.) I ignored her question initially so as not to distract her or influence her opinion in anyway.
When she finished watching the video I asked her what she thought overall. She said, “auntie, I didn’t like it, did you?” I asked her what she didn’t like about it and did she think there was a message in the video. She said that it seemed as if the message was to “get drunk and have sex”. I asked if she thought maybe there was a hidden message against this type of behavior. She said, “No. I didn’t feel like she was advocating against it”. Her words.
This brings me to the point of my note. While I respect Kiely’s freedom to express her art form as she sees fit, I wonder if she is sensitive to the fact that historically her target market has been Tween girls (ages 7-13). The last Cheetah Girl film was in 2008 making some fans roughly between the ages of 10 and 16 maybe 20 if they have grown with her. While Kiely may in fact be 23 years of age, her historically intended demographic, by and large, is not.
If Kiely’s message was two-fold, one, that she wants to break away from her sophomoric image and previously Tween demographic, or two, that she is shedding light on the consequences of reckless promiscuity resulting in the rise of HIV infections among young people and teenage pregnancy, I would say kudos to Kiely. However, I don’t think she will be successful on both counts. I think she will be successful in a clean break from her Tween audience. That’s obvious. However, I am not sure she hit the mark cleanly to spark debate on deviant social behavior with this video. The inference that “Spectacular” is a wake-up call for reckless indulgence, I believe, is sadly mislaid on her young fan base. I’m afraid they may only be left singing the hook of “Sex is Spectacular”. I want to give her the benefit of doubt and suspect that her overall intention was to enlighten and provoke thought about choices and social responsibility. And if that is the case and she is “going hard” artistically as I have heard it referred to, then perhaps she should go even “harder” and include a static page at the end of her video with information or awareness links to clarify to her very vulnerable and impressionable audience that she is “going hard” on issues of irresponsible social behavior… I’m optimistic.