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Keith Anderson:  "XXL" (2005) (music and video)

From the album "Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll"

Video directed by Trey Fanjoy

Arista Nashville/RLG

 

Nursing rating 1/2 star

Rating guide:
excellent = 4 stars; good = 3 stars;
fair = 2 stars, poor = 1 star

Artistic rating

Watch the video of "XXL" in Quicktime format, or another format.

Bigger is better. "XXL" is country/rock poster boy Keith Anderson's not-so-tongue-in-cheek ode to the Big and Tall, and their ability to get all the hot babes. By an odd coincidence, Anderson himself is reportedly a large ex-athlete, a former college football player and bodybuilder who might have played major league baseball if not for an injury. The song, which Anderson wrote with Bob DiPiero, is a swaggering but fairly bland bit of sleek, radio-ready country/rock, like much of the rest of Anderson's well-named debut album. The first verse describes the singer's birth, where it "[t]ook two nurses to hold me and one nurse to slap me," and the physician informed his exhausted mother that the baby was "off the charts." If it was just this charming creation myth, we could let it go.

But unfortunately, there's also the video. That features the famously well-endowed Motley Crue drummer and sex film guy Tommy Lee as the leering "doctor" (any more questions about what "XXL" really means?). Tommy's lab coat says "Dr. Feelgood," and in the delivering room he is on intimate terms with three "naughty nurses," who are spilling out of their tiny dresses as they pose and pout. So, "Dr. Feelgood" is hooking up with several half-dressed babes while they all deliver the "XXL" speaker and care for him and mom. The Freudian weirdness and the ugly association of OB care with sex make the video an even more cynical than usual exploitation of the naughty nurse stereotype.

The first verse of "XXL" begins at the beginning:

Well, Momma was exhausted after she had me

Took two nurses to hold me and one nurse to slap me

Doctor turned to momma and he shook his head

Wiped the sweat off his brow and then he said:

"This boy's way off the charts as far as I can tell,

Ooo bbbb-Momma he's a double XL!"

Then we hear about how fast the speaker is growing, shopping at the "Big and Tall," playing football and so on. But really, most of the song is about all the hot women he's getting, from "country cuties" in Texas to "string bikinis" in Florida to "Barbie dolls driving Lexus" in California. And why is that, apart from our hero's obvious appreciation for women's deeper virtues? It's because "[a] skinny little pretty boy ain't what they wanna hold / They want a real man with meat on his bones!" The rest of the song pretty much involves the singer chanting "Double XL," urging the girls to ring his "dinner bell," and assuring them that he's a "lean mean love machine that likes to be held." We see the "lean" part, but it seems like little more than a convenient cliche that's overridden by the love of pure size everywhere else in the song. So the song seems to encourage even more people to join the ranks of the unhealthy "big boys" who are increasingly breaking real nurses' backs in hospitals across the developed world. Two nurses to hold me? At least.

The video offers standard cuts between a stage "performance" of the song by Anderson's band and scenes described in the lyrics. Of course, it's all a big joke, but here's what we see. Naturally, the speaker's mom is in labor, giving birth to him in a delivery room. From mom's perspective we see a smiling Dr. Tommy--with maybe a few more tattoos than your average OB--working down between her legs at the end of the bed. Tommy is surrounded by three attractive young naughty nurses in revealing white dresses and caps with red crosses, with lots of cleavage and clearly visible red bras. We see two of the nurses leaning forward and seeming to coach mom to breathe. Tommy--sorry, Dr. Feelgood--delivers a baby who looks to be about two years old, and hands him to the two nurses. They look at the child and then each other, in shock. Ooo! Big! As we hear the lyric about the physician wiping his brow, the video director takes the liberty of instead having the third naughty nurse wipe Tommy's brow. Actually, it's more like fondling. After Tommy mouths the "off the charts" lyric, all that "health care" is done, and the three nurses start to hang on and stroke Tommy, with one sitting on his lap. Later, we get a few more glimpses of the happy health care team. "All the girls love a XXL!"

Of course, we assume that few adults think this is how things actually go down in the delivery room. But the constant fusing of lingerie with nurses' uniforms and exposure of "nurses'" bodies associates the profession with sex and silliness in the public mind. That, along with the frequent "joking" suggestions that nurses' work consists of satisfying the sexual needs of physicians and patients, adds to the underfunding of nursing research, education and clinical practice. Health care decision makers are less likely to devote scarce resources to a profession that has become so degraded in the public consciousness, particularly when few of the decision makers themselves understand what nurses really do to improve patient outcomes. Such images also demoralize already stressed-out practicing nurses, and discourage men and self-respecting, talented women from entering the profession, at a time when nurses must fight through a critical global shortage to keep patients alive.

Whatever benefits the "real men" who are XXLs may enjoy, a guarantee of good health is definitely not one of them. And if they have a serious health problem, the "naughty nurse" isn't going to be much use.

Please write to Keith Anderson's agent, Allen Brown at Allen.Brown@sonybmg.com and copy us on the letter at letters@truthaboutnursing.org. Thank you.


Reviewed by Harry Jacobs Summers
Nursing Editor: Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
Reviewed December 12, 2005

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board Members or Advisory Panel of The Truth About Nursing.

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