Britney Spears’ video for “I Wanna Go” — a dream-sequence-y, pop-culture-reference-packed tongue-in-cheek attack on the paparazzi — is so fun, it’s quickly becoming one of our favorites. And because we can’t get enough of it, MTV News sought out the vid’s creative mastermind, director Chris Marrs Piliero (who also directed Ke$ha’s “Blow”), to explain it to us, frame by frame.
“This opening scene poked fun at the ridiculous rumors that surround Britney,” Piliero said of the clip’s opening press conference, during which Britney tells off a room of reporters. “That is our homage to ’Half Baked.’ I was really stoked that we were able to include that little parody homage in the video and that Guillermo Diaz, who is the guy [in the scene] giving the thumbs up, is from the movie.”
After strutting out of the press conference and squeezing the butt of an autograph-seeking fan (played by one of her dancers), Spears strolls down the street, passing by a baby in a stroller who whistles at her.
“We were actually going to have three babies,” Piliero revealed. “But the other two were just crying and crying. and I was like, ’F— it, get ’em outta there.’ And the one baby, he ruled and was supercute, so we went with him.”
Spears’ next saucy move is to flash a bunch of guys on the street: a young boy, his dad, a male driver getting a ticket and the cop writing it.
“That little kid was awesome,” Piliero said of the young redheaded boy. “If you look closely, he’s actually squeezing his juice box all over this shirt. The cop is another one of Britney’s dancers. You might recognize him from the ’Hold It Against Me’ video, he had blue hair.”
Next up, Spears encounters a paparazzo on the street and grabs his camera and throws it to the ground.
“That was a very genuine performance from Britney,” Piliero said of the scene. “I felt like she was letting out her inner emotion toward paparazzi. It was also really cold. I think she just went for it.”
Cut to Spears on top of a taxi, microphone in hand with a long cord, which she uses to take out the various photographers who have surrounded her.
“A lot of people think this was inspired by ’Kill Bill,’ because I’m a huge Quentin Tarantino fan. I would totally own up to that if it was true,” he admitted. “But I actually intended for her to always having her performance with the microphone [throughout the video] for her performance setup, so I thought that was a good way to tie it all together and I didn’t want to give her a real weapon.”
But Piliero was making an intentional pop-culture reference with the wording on the movie theater marquee in the background of the scene that reads “Crossroads 2: Cross Harder.” “I’ve always thought that ’Die Hard 2: Die Harder’ is one of the most ridiculously awesome titles for a sequel,” he said. “And I needed to put something in the marquee, and I thought it would be a really fun Easter egg for fans.”
Now something odd happens with the paparazzi who’ve been hit by Spears’ microphone weapon — they are revealed to be robots or androids. “I love pop culture and this whole video is kind of a dream sequence,” Piliero said. “I think it’s natural to have fantasies and dreams with stuff inspired by pop culture, so that’s why the robot guys kind of have a ’Terminator’-ish feel.”
Before the “Terminator” ’bots can move in on Spears, Diaz drives up in a sports car and whisks her away, where he celebrates by pouring a carton of milk all over himself.
“Guillermo kills it in the scene with the milk, he’s hilarious,” Piliero enthused. “And I love Britney’s reaction there; both her reactions where she’s laughing are so good. A lot of people ask about the milk and what the deal with it is, a lot of people have theories too. I don’t need to say what the point is, because I love hearing what people say, so I’ll leave it at that. Same goes with the seashells too.”
Cut to the final scene, where we realize that it was all a dream. Spears is at the press conference, shaken out of a daze when Guillermo steps in and tells the reporters, “No more questions,” then hands Spears a handful of those seashells that Piliero won’t explain. He looks back at the camera at the last moment and we see his eyes are robot red, an obvious nod to Michael Jackson’s zombie-green eyes in the last shot of “Thriller.”
” ’Thriller’ is one of my favorite music videos ever,” Piliero said. “I remember watching it when I was 5, that was what inspired me to become a music video director so I wanted to pay homage to it.”
What do you think the milk and the seashells signify in “I Wanna Go”? Share your theories in the comments below.