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One Direction shows off their human menagerie in 'Steal My Girl' video

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ONE DIRECTION VIDEO

One Direction’s “Steal My Girl” video is bound to draw criticism for its use of the hoary “white performers with ‘exotic’ dancers” trope and lyrics that fit snugly in the long tradition of songs that treat women like property—and if you give it a straight reading, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d feel that way.

But things are much more interesting if you imagine that the Maasai dancers, sumo wrestlers, mimes, and assorted other types of people who appear alongside the floppy-haired boy band are actually specimens that the group has assembled into a human menagerie, like a more terrestrial version of what The Collector was up to in Guardians of the Galaxy. Coming from that angle, the possessive lyrics–especially the refrain “she belongs to me”—take on a far more literal, far more sinister meaning that considerably improves the song and video alike, and may inspire visions of One Direction owning a human zoo at an estate in a remote corner of the English countryside where they amuse themselves by arranging pit fights between sumo wrestlers and mimes.

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