Five years after the release of Kids in the Street, The All-American Rejects are back with Sweat, a new EP featuring the songs “Sweat” and “Close Your Eyes.” The band also released a new short film promoting the tracks, featuring AAR front man Tyson Ritter leading a double-life: By day he’s a dutiful husband and father, but by night he’s Betsy, a cross-dressing sex worker.
In “Sweat,” we see Betsy strutting the streets in high heels, but once it transitions to the ballad “Close Your Eyes,” we see Ritter at a family gathering anxious about telltale nail polish on his fingers.
Betsy is reminiscent of Jared Leto’s Rayon from Dallas Buyers Club—and raises similar issues: At a time where trans women are literally under attack, is it okay for a cisgender straight man to go “slumming” for the sake of a music video?
“The film is a story about this functioning identity crisis and expectations on how we’re supposed to be in a public place,” Ritter said of the clip, directed by Jamie Thraves, who’s shot videos for Radiohead, Blur, Coldplay and Sam Smith.
But is it suggesting that trans or gender-nonconforming women engage in sex work out of some kind of kink, rather than dire need? That people like Betsy are just living on “the wild side,” rather than being forced into the dangerous margins of society?
For what its’ worth, fans seem to love the film.
All American Rejects, thank u for inventing comebacks. I guess we all know what your "dirty little secret" is now https://t.co/D4taKt641Z
— g ø n e r (@gilbert_helou) July 29, 2017
On YouTube, one woman called the video “fucking powerful.”
“I think to me it’s about the dualism of depravity vs. normality,” she adds. “You pay society to be normal, you sacrifice everything you are and have to be considered ’normal,’ but your instincts will just get wilder, [you] will just long harder for the things society will condemn… This is beautiful. this is what music should be: A punch in the gut.”
Is it artful or exploitative—or is it just a silly music video? Weigh in below in the comments section.