At the height of his career, George Michael was exhausted from celebrity. As a way to continue making music, he used the opportunity of his video for “Freedom ‘90” to buck convention and comment on the drain of celebrity: he refused to be on camera. Instead, he got five of the most famous female models of the time to appear on film lip-synching their own sections of the song. Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Tatjana Patitz all shared the responsibility of Michael’s mantle, performing their pieces in a bare New York City building during a nighttime rain storm.
To continue the commentary David Fincher, who directed the video, systematically destroyed the images that had become synonymous with Michael’s career. Immediately preceded by the lyric, "I just hope you understand / Sometimes the clothes do not make the man," the jukebox, leather jacket, and guitar that featured so prominently in his video for “Faith” were burned and exploded, consumed in flame, and generally decimated. It was a kind of middle finger at what eventually represented everything George Michael hated about fame, cleansing himself of the expectation that came with that iconography.
The result is a six minute and 35 second oeuvre that recontextualizes the imagery of Michael and the expectation of his celebrity. “It was saying, If you have to be beautiful to sell music now, let's just put five beautiful faces in there,” explains Cindy Crawford.
This year marks “Freedom ‘90”s 25th anniversary, providing the perfect opportunity to remember what the world was like in that totally different era.