Joseph Kahn Reveals His Original Britney Spears “Perfume” Video Concept: BreatheHeavy ExclusiveSeptember 30, 2015
Britney Spears was willing to sacrifice herself for love in the original ‘Perfume’ music video.
Joseph Kahn directed Britney Spears’ “Perfume” music video off the Britney Jean album, though it famously didn’t go according to plan. His original idea was axed, maybe because it was poor timing before her Piece of Me Las Vegas residency launch, maybe because “the message was too complicated.” He tells BreatheHeavy.com it’s “hard to talk about the details of that stuff.” Neither here nor there, but the critically acclaimed visionary is finally clarifying what that initial concept was after a rumored storyline made the rounds two years ago.
“The video’s actually done in two parts,” Kahn tells us. “The first part was she meets this guy, and it’s random, she’s beautiful, they fall in love. In my head I wanted to embrace all the **** people used to complain about her, like her being white trash and walking around with bare feet, and I wanted to use all that iconography and say ‘now here’s the super ******* ‘Perfume’ commercial of it.’ I put her in jeans, I didn’t have her in her big chunky boots, dressed her down and made it look like an anti-Britney. The first part of the video is that, but then you find out she’s killing people and she’s an assassin and halfway through the video, you find out the guy she’s having this relationship with… she has to kill him.”
“It’s like ‘La Femme Nikita,’ and then I actually break the song, and there’s a moment in the middle where she’s about to kill him, and she doesn’t,” he continues. “Here’s where it gets a little weird… it turns into a metaphor. Suddenly you see another girl come into the picture, and that girl takes her place. Britney the character doesn’t kill him, and the second half of the video is her waiting in a motel room. Then, we actually see the two characters that she didn’t kill go on and get married and have a life. Meanwhile, the people that hired her basically come in and beat the **** out of her, and we see her suffering as these other people thrive. She gave that gift to him. In my head, it was a metaphor for how… in certain types of relationships you may love someone so much and they will never know that gift that you gave them. It’s that type of love. To me it’s almost like how I view the idealistic version of what women do. Women, if they’re great mothers, they give so much to their kids, give so much to their partners, and they feel so much pain – this beautiful pain that I think traditionally is a female thing, and I wanted to express it as a metaphor.”
“You would see Britney get hurt while the gift that she gave of life keeps moving on.”
In many ways she did sacrifice her life… she became one of the most famous people on the planet and couldn’t have seen that coming at 16-years-old.
Absolutely. For me, it was kind of a meaningful expression. I think it was subconscious of how I viewed Britney, cause I’ve been through that journey with her. I was there when she was like 19-years-old and literally fresh off the boat… this perky, spunky kid from Louisiana, super smiley. Then I saw her during her ‘Toxic’ phase right before all the **** hit the fan. Then I saw her at ‘Womanizer’ which was only seven months after all that craziness came down. On the fourth go around, I just saw this woman. This woman who was damaged and beautiful but still willing to give love and still wanting to be loved. The only version that I could do was that video. That was the honest version for me, and I thought I had them on board… honestly, it’s hard to talk about the details of that stuff. Things just don’t work out. Sometimes you overshoot. Maybe the message was too complicated. Maybe the imaging was not right because she’s going to do a Vegas show and who needs this really dark video being popped out there?
BreatheHeavy.com’s entire interview with Kahn drops Thursday (Oct. 1).