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Sexual Inadequacy: The Lonely Island's "3-Way"

Last month Saturday Night Live released aired a video by the television skit/musical act The Lonely Island called "3-Way." It starred Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg from such other digital shorts "Dick in a Box," "Jizz in My Pants," and "Mother Lover." The two men play flashy, ridiculous men who consider themselves sexual dynamos and most of their songs revolve around their sex lives. In this new video, the pair are seen leaving each other's houses, having the night before slept with each other's mothers, Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson. They run through their plans for the day while wearing matching day-glo jumpsuits and decide to each go visit the lady they've had their eye on.

But, oh no. It is the same lady! Lady Gaga! And she wants both of them at the same time. Which prompts the two men to sing "It's not gay, if it's in a three way" followed by several verses about how hard it is to tell who is who in the dark. At one point Lady Gaga comes back, fully dressed, and the two men are still in the bed, under the comforter, and she looks at them and says "You guys are still here." The whole thing is an excellent satire of the rationalizations people construct for themselves to be able to explore their own sexuality. These rationalizations wouldn't need to exist if human sexuality was seen as fluid and people were allowed to experiment with their sexuality without feeling pressured to change the way they identify. "3-Way" plays off the straight male fear of enjoying sex with another man, but then goes further, and asks the question "so what if you like it?" It allows people a space to think about their own sexuality in different ways, and finds a way to ridicule masculine insecurities without playing into them.

By the end of the video it is clear that the two men haven't learned anything about what what constitutes "gay" behavior, but maybe they've learned something about themselves?

 

Lyrics to 3-Way can be found here.

Previously: t.A.T.u. and Synthetic Queerness, The Exposure Myth

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Comments

3 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Hidden Humor

I am constantly surprised by how talented Justin Timberlake is as a comedian. He should ditch all the crappy movies he's been making and join some sketch comedy show.

Oh, and the link for the lyrics is broken.

To possibly add to the

To possibly add to the queerness: a friend once brought up that the more facial hair Justin Timberlake gets glued to his face, the more he looks like he could pass for a drag king. It's very much changed how I read these sketches.

I wonder about the racial politics of these sketches and JT's celebrity persona in general, which is why I like to link the Dear Black Woman, post on how white male celebrities attract black female audiences. It's not exactly in line with what you're doing here, but it might be useful to put in dialog.

Alyx Vesey

I approve.

Weirdly, I saw this video for the first time the night before your post went up. Lonely Island is hit-or-miss for me, but I find this one kind of brilliant. The '80s/'90s aesthetic and knocking on boots are great, but most of all, like you, I see something valuable in their explorations of so-called "heterosexual threesomes" (ha.)

"3-Way" plays off the straight male fear of enjoying sex with another man, but then goes further, and asks the question “so what if you like it?” It allows people a space to think about their own sexuality in different ways, and finds a way to ridicule masculine insecurities without playing into them.

Indeed! After all, if even caricatures of arrogant dude-bros can get down with other men...! This video could have gone in a homophobic direction quickly, with the two men being careful not to touch each other, but instead, there is sexual contact between them, and what of it? (I suppose it could still be considered problematic that they insist it's "not gay," but given the circumstances, I don't find it so.) It reminds me of the end of Baseketball, when Trey Parker and Matt Stone unexpectedly kiss each other. Totally goofy and random, but in a subversive, not-so-mainstream-compliant kind of way!

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