Selena Gomez’s ‘Back To You’ MV Gets Critiqued For Ripping Off Artist’s Style
By Mikelle Leow, 07 Jun 2018
Video screenshot via Selena Gomez
Should Selena Gomez’s new Back to You song have been named ‘Throwback to You’ instead? Internet users are claiming that the singer has “ripped off” an artist’s work to create the aesthetic of her latest music video.
Suspicions were high as soon as the former Disney star teased the video with new visuals on her Instagram last week. Several commented that the screenshots channeled the style of Sarah Bahbah, whose Tumblr-like, meme-worthy images have made her a millennial cult favorite.
Both aesthetics sport warm, highly saturated filters. More notably, Bahbah’s trademark style of subtitled dialogue over cinematic, retro-like shots features in Gomez’s video.
Bahbah’s art style is like a flame that inevitably catches on with an internet-loving young crowd, and she knows it. Her Instagram bio reads, “You’ve probably seen my art on someone else’s account.”
Telling Fashionista in March, the photographer and artist described that she pairs photos with captions to represent thoughts from her “overthinking brain” that she wished she said to significant others.
You can see nuances of this dual-natured personality in Gomez’s video. In one scene, she speeds off in a car with a new love interest. He tells her, “You know, you sort of look like Selena Gomez.” She then turns to the camera, and the subtitles shown at the bottom of the screen say, “Can you believe this guy?”
Fans of Sarah Bahbah have since flooded Gomez’s Instagram with claims that the latter copied the artist’s work.
“[I]t’s so clear… The style, the editing and even the captions. All of it just makes you think ‘Sarah Bahbah’ the second you look at these posts if you’ve been accustomed to Sarah’s art for some time,” wrote one.
Another commented, “This saddens me beyond relief. Why can’t an artist support another artist instead of ripping off their craft? My head hurts for you, Sarah Bahbah.”
On the other end of the spectrum, fans of Gomez have defended her by saying that the style has been around even before Bahbah started her craft. “Hey Sarah Bahbah, I think we all know you didn’t invent subtitles,” said another.
Gomez’s video could also be a tribute to French new wave cinema, which is known for breaking the fourth wall and its portrayals of ennui.
Bahbah hasn’t officially addressed these allegations, though she wrote in a recent Instagram story that “well over 2,000” people have reached out to her to point out these similarities.
Check out the video and some comparisons below. Do you think Selena Gomez’s Back to You is a copy, homage, or just a modern iteration of silent videos?
Yes! I couldn’t remember her @ but I am so taken aback that there’s no such credit for her. It’s a straight take of her art, not only that but Selena made it SO cringey.— 𝒟 🕊 (@DiorsCherie) June 5, 2018
Y’all stupid ass people, she’s not saying Sarah Bahbah invented subtitles, but she DID invent this artistic form of taking fotos and adding subtitles on it to create a story as it was a movie, and it’s a technique she’s been working on for YEARS.— 2018 (@trublck) June 6, 2018
Sarah did it so much better— 𝖈𝖔𝖑𝖑 (@collard_greens) June 5, 2018
Hey my dear, i just want to let you know that those are subtitles, people on tumblr have been doing it since years and the movies for DECADES. Our lovely @sarahbahbah didn't invent any shit, so stay in your line and watch the official video for Back to You on YouTube. Thank you♡ https://t.co/uIoAp2IwrJ— flor (@pieceofsel) June 5, 2018
Captions....literally...captions...— selena (@MiFantasia_) June 5, 2018
why should selena credit sarah? they're just subtitles, sarah isn't the creator of them wtf— sunshine (@nsengelhardt) June 5, 2018
[via NYLON, video via Selena Gomez, images via various sources]
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