Johnny Wulff is the 14-year-old son of our writer Eva Raggio. He’s a first-chair trumpet player in the All City and All Region bands, who can solve a Rubik’s Cube puzzle in less than two minutes — and any technical problem his parents will ever have.
A few months ago, I was cast in Sudie’s music video, “Je Te Déteste” (French for “I hate you”), which she wrote and directed. The topic of the video was feminism and how women should not be pressured into doing things they do not want to. I was asked to play an important role as Zeek, who had to persuade three girls, Eden, Gaia and my sister London, to break into a bathhouse with me to show that women should not be pressured into doing things just because a man wants them to.
The video is supposed to look like an educational children’s TV show from the ‘90s, which were fun but also supposed to teach kids important life lessons. Sudie explained why she chose that theme.
“Because it’s still so hard for some people to wrap their heads around basic concepts like respecting women as equals,” she says, “not objectifying women; it only seemed right to address these concepts like an early-'90s TV show for kids.”
Sudie is a singer-songwriter who also makes other cool music videos, and she became popular around 2014. My whole family is a big fan of hers. On the day of the shoot, we met Sudie at the Bath House Cultural Center with the other actors and the camera crew. It was set up like the set of what was supposed to be her TV show, Sudie’s Bouncin’ Barn. It was very bright outside, but it was starting to get darker as we filmed. When it came time to actually start filming, it was a little bit awkward because I had to be mean to two other girls I had never even met before, but I barely interacted with them in the video anyway, so it wasn’t that uncomfortable.
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After that, I had to put on a flower mask and stand still for 10 seconds, which is at the end of the video. It was more uneasy than being mean to the girls, and I couldn’t breathe in there. The flower mask symbolizes growth in understanding and the hope for change. There were other people wearing flower masks too. The other performers were a lot of musicians and artists who were playing with a bunch of stuffed animals. In the middle of the video, there was a guy with a horse-head mask playing the saxophone.
On the way back home when I was in the car with my sister London and my mom, we had a talk about the struggles of women in the past and how they still struggle today. My mom asked us whether we understood the whole point of the video. I think the point is that some men think that women are not strong enough to handle the pressure that men put on them. A lot of people think women are supposed to be polite, quiet and soft. They should be able to stand up for themselves, but, like it says in the video, it can sometimes be difficult and not as easy as you might think. They are also sometimes the ones to apologize when they are not the ones who need to be sorry.
After the video, I learned that women were not able to vote until the 1920s, and women of color were not able to vote until the 1960s. I also learned that recently, until the 1970s, women could not get a credit card without their husband’s permission. That’s only a decade before the one my parents were born in. There’s also still a lot of violence against women.
I agree with Sudie when she said, “Teaching boys that female empowerment is about them, too, was a central theme.” Everyone should watch this video because it’s very interesting and funny, but I think kids — especially boys — should watch it, because they will think about growing up treating women as equals.