BLACKPINK’s “Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez is insipid and recycled. The single is your standard American radio pop fare with idiotic, sexually suggestive lyrics. Like the lackluster “Sour Candy” feature with Lady Gaga earlier this year, the frustratingly banal piece wastes both the talents of BLACKPINK members and Selena Gomez — as well as the opportunity collaborations between the two powerhouses provides.
The single “Ice Cream” is disappointing, but the music video is disgusting. Read my full review to find out why.
Watch the BLACKPINK – ‘Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez)’ M/V below.
About ‘Ice Cream’ by BLACKPINK With Selena Gomez
Though I am a BTS fan and there is often conflict between the BLACKPINK and BTS fandoms, I truly want the South Korean girl group to succeed. The music and entertainment world is big enough to accommodate both groups — how sad if we could only enjoy one artist’s music. As an Asian American, it brings me joy and pride to see Asians dominate and kickass in pretty much anything — but especially in the arts and pop culture. Plus, I particularly love witnessing Asian women excel.
BLACKPINK (YG Entertainment) is a group known for hard-hitting bops that spread confidence and female empowerment. In an interview with Apple Music, the members said, “We want to bring something new to the table every day.”
Written by industry heavy hitters like Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Bekuh Boom, 24, Mr. Franks, Tommy Brown, and the YG Entertainment star producer Teddy, the song uses cliché euphemisms of ice cream to substitute for sexual acts and allusions to money and jewelry. The generic beat and repetitive melody is not memorable but catchy enough, an average example of some of the more mediocre hits on the airwaves these days.
The music video, however, is awful.
Absent the M/V, I likely wouldn’t have thought twice about “Ice Cream” and would’ve just taken it for what it is: a vapid pop song for the summer. However, the music video is every gross stereotype about the sexual availability and compliance of Asian women — especially that of the Asian Lolita (the Nabakov kind, not the Japanese fashion subculture kind).
The entire video is catered to the male gaze, as if the target audience were 50 to 60 year old white men with an Asian babygirl fetish. Watching it made me feel slimy, gross, and angry. Angry is too soft a term.
I was livid.
While Selena (Interscope) was styled as an adult woman with agency, Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa were aged down, dressed as young teenagers playing in a bouncy house, riding bicycles with training wheels, and generally, acting as if they were in some grooming video for child abuse victims. Everything was done as a wink-wink-nod-nod to every trope prevalent in Daddy porn videos.
As an Asian American woman, I have completely lost count of how many gross men (especially white men) have creeped on me, slid into my DMs, left suggestive YouTube comments, and treated me as if I were some hypersexual object for their pleasure.
The “Ice Cream” music video panders to the lowest, common, predatory denominator.
Now, before I get @ed in the comments complaining that my brand of feminism only likes hard, “girl crush” sentiments or that I hate women who like sex, let’s be clear. I have zero problem with the lyrics being sexually suggestive or explicit. It is the pairing of the lyrics with the video that bothers me. The juxtaposition of infantilized Asian women with the sexually coy lyrics is what I find revolting.
I love sex and I love women who love sex unabashedly. For my take on an example of women who talk about sex like grown women do instead of babygirls trying to appeal to men, I refer you to my Cardi B – WAP feat. Megan Thee Stallion [Official Music Video] reaction.
What I Loved
Other than an opening hook remarkably similar to BTS’s “2nd Grade” (yeah, I said it) and that one melodic line repeated ad nauseam that I found alright — it would be warping the definition of “love” to say that I loved those parts — I did not enjoy this song much.
The song itself eventually worms its way into your brain, so I suppose it succeeds in the annoying way schlocky pop songs succeed. But the music video ultimately is permanently associated with the track in my mind so I cannot particularly enjoy it.
What I wish were different
I would have been happy with the video if the BLACKPINK portion of the video matched Selena’s portion. Selena was costumed like a 40’s or 50’s pin-up girl, she was flirty and cheeky, and not once did I mistake her for an underage child.
Many people in my YouTube reaction comments mistook my anger about the video with bemoaning about the sexual nature of the lyrics. To re-emphasize, I don’t care about the suggestiveness of the lyrics. BLACKPINK and Selena are adult women and if they want to sing about and enjoy sex, they can. No one should dictate to them how they should express their sexuality.
Intent does not negate effect. We do not know the intent of the artists and directors, etc., and may never know, but regardless of intent, the effect of the video is concerning and normalizes sexualizing infantilized women.
K-pop does not exist in a vacuum.
My problem with this video is the intersection of racism, patriarchy, and child sexual abuse.
Regardless of intent, the effect of the video promulgates the fetishization of Asian women. It is particularly racist in light of hundreds of years of stereotypes about Asian women as compliant and hypersexual dragons — especially for white men and colonizers.
Regardless of intent, the effect of the BLACKPINK members’ styling, acting, and the toys they’re playing with is that they are presented as Lolitas — which, I would like to remind people, is a 1955 Nabakov novel where a middle-aged man preys and abuses a 12 year old girl child. Nevermind that Selena is styled and presented as a full grown adult. BLACKPINK members are presented as sexually available young teens.
Regardless of intent, the effect of the sexually suggestive lyrics (and let’s not pretend they are not), combined in particular with the babygirl imagery is a giant dogwhistle to pedophiles.
Truthfully, I don’t care about the lyrics. The same song with a different video would have received no objection from me — other than my opinion that the song is boring and meh. Again, it’s context.
And though women contributed to writing the song and lyrics, that doesn’t prevent the final product from catering to the male gaze. Women — as well as men and non-binary people — are steeped in our misogynistic and patriarchical society. It is laughable to think that women cannot promote the male gaze when it is so ingrained in our culture.
Who upholds the patriarchy? WOMEN DO.
The song itself is typical tongue-in-cheek lyrics about sex and melodically boring and repetitive. After repeat listens, the actual single has grown on me but that’s because prolonged exposure to anything will generally make me hate it less. Apart from the music video, I don’t have any particular objection to “Ice Cream.”
It is the combination of the song and the imagery in the video I find disturbing. And thus, this is also why I find it troubling for young fans. Young fans — regardless of gender identity — will think this video is what being sexy means, that the job of women is to cater to men.
Of course, it is not the artists’ job to parent children. However, to imply that they have no influence or responsibility in terms of affecting children regarding sex and drugs or anything at all? That is willful denial.
Considering the talent and abilities of BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez, “Ice Cream” is a letdown at best, and the music video is grooming young women for predators at worst.
If you like this and want to read more about K-pop and/or my BTS Obsession, then you’ll love these posts:
- Why I Took Down My BLACKPINK “How You Like That” Reaction
- BTS ‘ON’ KINETIC MANIFESTO FILM : COME PRIMA REVIEW
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- BTS (방탄소년단) MAP OF THE SOUL: 7 ‘Interlude: Shadow’ Comeback Trailer Review
- BTS Black Swan Art Film and Song Review
- My 10 Best BTS Songs
- Why I Love BTS
- Your Guide to Being a Middle-Aged BTS Fan
- Why Is BTS So Successful and How Can We Replicate It?
- The Grammys Snub BTS: ARMY’s Reaction Smacks of White Privilege
- 100+ Signs You May Be a BTS Stan
- Intro to BTS