Sam Smith declares “I’m Not Here to Make Friends”. And it’s just as well because, LAWD. The ‘discourse’.

Sam Smith in an oversized pink coat, descending in a gold helicopter.

Sam Smith released their fourth studio album Gloria on January 27th, which came with a music video for the Calvin Harris assisted song “I’m Not Here to Make Friends” - where we get camp, glamour and just a queer ol’ time. 

And of course this all comes with fatphobia and homophobia. Because, obviously.

There has unfortunately been a lot of vitriol be thrown at Sam over this video; with folk taking issue with Sam showing so much of their larger body, and the ‘think of the children’ straights finding the sexual nature of the video corrupting, wrong; all that stuff people like to blame queer shit for.

I commend Sam for saying ‘Fuck it’ and stepping out in a corset with the titties out and giving everybody some water sports tease. 

This whole mess over Sam’s body is one of many reasons why I am so jaded when it comes to the queer community. The poster child for the gay community at large is never going to be somebody with a body like Sam’s. It’s going to be that of the men writhing around on the beds in this video. And we’ll get to that and why this video could be seen as having a potentially confusing message. 

For a community which likes to promote freedom of expression, it sure does like to gatekeep who can engage in that freedom of expression, depending on how they look. Although the way the gay community has categories for different body types and groups them into preferences, and also brands things based on this can also be seen as another problem.

I commend larger sized people being bold and showing their bodies, because it seems to be the only way for them to be seen outside of circles where they would otherwise be fetishised.

It’s a mess.

BUT. I do think the distinction needs to be clear between comments which are rooted in body shaming and homophobia, and those which just don’t like the looks. 

I’ll be honest. That silver and white ensemble was not my favourite, along with Sam’s black suit dress. But me not liking them has NOTHING to do with Sam’s larger body being in them. It’s that neither look seemed properly fitted to Sam’s body and both lacked refinement. The corset in that white and silver look didn’t look like it fit properly, so it threw Sam’s proportions off and made everything from the waist down look sloppy. And the black suit outfit made Sam look completely shapeless. Sam is 6’2 with curves. So why is their stature and shape looking so non-existent in these ensembles? And then there is those damn Pleaser shoes. Could nobody find a gold or bronze pump in a size UK 12 for that bronze look!? Liberace would never.

Sam Smith in a Sailor / Nautical themed outfit, with a burlesque style twist. Wearing a white corset, a white hat and a silver jeweled skirt; as dancer kick their feet up around them and water sprays in from the sides.
Sam Smith - I’m Not Here to Make Friends | Universal Music Operations Limited

I’m not a huge fan of this video. I like the theme. I get the vision. I just felt that it was all so boringly blocked and shot. There were so many extravagant setups which just felt small in scale because of how they were framed. The staircase moment should have felt grander. Sam on the piano should have been more dramatic. The choreography at the urinals should have had the dancers in water, with there being some synchronised swimming style action. Kinda like what we got in Lizzo’s “About Damn Time”. And I also think better lighting which was focused on Sam would have made the white and silver look pop more. That shit shoulda been SPARKLING. Especially with the inclusion of the water. Sam swinging from the chandelier should have been more of a wowing moment, and there should have been a long shot of them swinging above the beds to get a sense of the scale and high how they were. All things which relied on better lighting and cinematography. And there was also just a general lack of energy about the whole thing. For all of the outfits, the extravagant locations, and the abundance of people, the entire video felt so sedate.

This video should have matched the energy of the Capulet party scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Quick edits. Spotlights. Trippy. Things lit so harshly, they look beautiful. Like a ball in the 70s. And Sam gave the latter in their music video for “Promises”. I also think as a stylistic choice, the video should have been shot on film. Just to give it some texture. 

In fact, now that I think about it, 90% of the things I just mentioned were all done in the “Promises” video.

Sam Smith hanging from a chandelier, whilst wearing a shiny copper coloured suit and black Pleaser shoes.
Sam Smith - I’m Not Here to Make Friends | Universal Music Operations Limited

My only ‘ugh’ moment that made me go ‘Ooooooof’ was the lack of different body types. Sam being the only larger body in the video made them stand out and be the centre of attention. Great! But it also potentially puts out a weird message in terms of ‘You should accept my body, even though I only desire THOSE bodies’. And I am not saying that this is Sam’s viewpoint. But I could completely understand why some would look at this video and feel that way, because the objectification of the predominantly 5’11 white men with muscular bodies was glaring - which is seen as a standard not just within the queer community, but at large. But this isn’t something I feel Sam should exclusively be blamed and shamed for, given that it’s something we see in EVERY music video.

My main thing is that I just wish the video was lit better and had bomb cinematography. Because the setting, the styling and the budget was all there.

I feel similarly about the song. The right things are there, but the execution just feels so bland. The song sounds like a Dua Lipa B-side. And Beyoncé woulda sent this shit straight to The-Dream like ‘Make this better’.