Like many overtly romantic gestures, the answer is… Not if you’re Elvis. Let the controversy begin! Let’s be honest—to see someone so comfortable and expressive in their body is overwhelming even now—that sort of confidence is as covetable as it is desirable and that is a controversy. Juxtapose that with the era in which this video was filmed, that early point in Elvis’s career, and there’s no question that his ability to communicate his own sexuality was an affront to the decorum.
Do yourself a favor and watch the video again.
Like any king, Elvis was as passionate as he was measured. In the video “Love Me,” there is a constant push and pull in his body language. His hands are held in front like any singer in a quintet might do…But then, they’re not. He moves with specificity and an abrupt assertion of strength and rhythm and vitality. He then retracts. Watch his eyes and his smile. They do the same, shifting and coy almost coquettish. The shyness in combination with the thrusting pelvis is such a powerful portrayal of bridled lust. But here, in these younger years, it’s more nuanced, more natural—he’s not yet the spectacle he would become. When he dances, his moves are isolated—he is in motion while also seeming still. And as the song goes on, he gives a little more of himself. Then a little more. He becomes more confident in his gestures—tends to us—his audience, even more with his eyes, keeping them held without aversion—then, he moves them so slightly, pulling us along and letting us go—over and over again. And then… the song is over. And even though it seems as if Elvis has grown closer to us, he looks down and leaves the stage immediately.
The critics of the time were right. Elvis was no innocent—he orchestrated tension—and sexual tension, at that. He plays with the crowd, he tantalizes them. His flirtations were true and realized—and moreover, they are timeless. Despite our modern era, with an over saturation of sexualized advertising and media and the like, look at us… We still adore him. We still scream for him. We still look to him as an icon of male sexuality. In today’s world, Elvis’s great ability to be subtle and teasing—never giving it all away, if any of it—his mastery of seduction has outlived and outweighs any of the undertones of trivial scandals or controversies in our time of tabloids. The critics were right. Elvis was a threat to those courting manners of the 1950’s, but it didn’t stop there. Elvis would change the world forever. Those same critics, however, underestimated Elvis’s sharp control. There was no lack of it. He performed with precision and fervency. Long live The King.
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