Who knew consent could sound so catchy? Comedians Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs, the British duo behind YouTube channel OMFGItsJackandDean, prove that clear communication is as easy as it is necessary with their new rap music video, “Consent.”
The video opens with a typical club scene. Our well-dressed, sunglassed protagonists strut onto a dark, steamy dance floor where heads turn and people swoon. Jack, who seems at ease in his natural habitat, wastes no time finding a potential love interest and immediately confronts the visibly uncomfortable woman, singing, “I wanna get close to you and get all up inside your space.”
Here’s where it gets good. Without missing a beat, partner Dean grabs Jack by the face, putting an end to his unchecked harassment with a simple, “Whoa there. What are you doing?”
What follows is a consent educator’s dream. For starters, both men actually acknowledge that they’re talking about a real person, saying, “She’s a human being. She’s got a brain.” In fact, Dean actually pauses to apologize to her for speaking so candidly right in front of her. After emphasizing that it is all so “clear and simple,” John concludes, “I get it now. It works only with your consent.”
This sex-positive music video reminds us that consent doesn’t have to be confusing or scary; it’s a simple but necessary step towards confirming that everyone is (or isn’t) on board.
The song is especially effective at emphasizing that while asking for and receiving consent is a kind of contract (literally, the video displays a massive old-timey parchment), it is neither exhaustive nor unalterable. The two remind their listeners that, “One of them decided to change their mind, and just to clarify, that’s completely fine.” It’s also important that the woman asks for consent, offering Dean an opportunity to join in the fun (he politely declines).
The video climaxes with an important final reminder about consensual sex: Though she signed the consent “contract” earlier, the woman soon passes out from drinking too much. Recognizing that there can be no consent during incapacitation, Jack and Dean give the sleeping woman a blanket and leave her alone, returning to the stage to enjoy an admittedly cheesy guitar solo.
Jack and Dean’s piece is a welcome addition to the growing movement showing that consent, so often bemoaned as hopelessly ambiguous, doesn’t have to be so gray after all.
James Hildebrand is a senior at Amherst College and editor-in-chief of the independent student blog AC Voice. He is interning this summer at Ms. magazine.