As Doja Cat persists in her determination to prove she is “art rap” personified, she’s enlisted the help of Hannah Lux Davis (known for creating sumptuous videos for such pop stars as Ariana Grande and Charli XCX, as well as previously working with Doja on “Say So”) for her latest visual, “Agora Hills.” A video that feels almost like a companion piece to “Demons,” which Doja Cat co-directed with Christian Breslauer. Building on the same “backrooms” aesthetic from that video, Davis opens on grainy VHS footage of an empty row of showers as the camera then drops to the floor and we see a woman (probably “Scarlet”) in red heels approach the drain. The red heels being emblematic of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. For, after all, even though it’s spelled wrong (one wants to believe “intentionally”), the single is named in honor of Agoura Hills, the Los Angeles suburb where Amala Dlamini grew up before she was Doja Cat. Perhaps spelling it without the “u” is some kind of high school dropout flex, who knows? Anyway, it seems apparent that she wants to get the point across that “there’s no place like home.” No matter how fucked-up and apocalyptic it looks when you go back to it. 

The harbinger of that post-disaster state is foretold by the blood soon washing down the drain of the aforementioned shower—further proof that it’s “Scarlet,” as we’ve only ever seen her covered in blood during her various cameos throughout other Doja Cat videos (including “Attention” and “Paint the Town Red”) of this era. Lux then cuts to a suburban neighborhood gone literally topsy-turvy, with Doja suspended in mid-air in the distance before descending upon the ruined L.A. earth. All in all, it has the same feel as Billie Eilish’s “all the good girls go to hell” video. But that’s not the only Billie video it appears noticeably “inspired by,” for Doja also wields the backdrop of the “dead mall” the way Eilish does in “therefore i am,” taking advantage of the Glendale Galleria’s emptiness in late 2020, during the notorious pandemic.

But before Doja gets to the mall (a staple of “Valley culture”), she lands on the asphalt with the toes of her ballet shoes setting off sparks against the concrete, a bevy of zombie-like women behind her who, just as Doja, also look like they’ve been styled in Dolls Kill attire. And yes, although originally started in San Francisco, Dolls Kills has become something of an honorary L.A. fixture, complete with its brick-and-mortar outpost on Fairfax. And so, with these two overt L.A. icons—Dolls Kill and Billie Eilish—already so overtly at play within the video’s visual universe, Doja isn’t being quite as original or subversive as she would like to believe she is. Though, perhaps it’s only fair to “steal” the Dolls Kill vibe considering how well-known the company is for stealing from other, lesser-known designers. 

Sampling from Troop’s 1989 hit, “All I Do Is Think of You” (itself a cover of Jackson 5’s version), Doja then proceeds to get positively mushy on this single. And, while many want to comment about how “sweet” the song is, it seems everyone has conveniently forgotten that it’s likely about her racist, sexually predatory boo, J Cyrus. So while maybe it would be sweet, it doesn’t come off that way when the listener pictures J as she sings, “Whether they like or not/I wanna show you off/I wanna show you off/I wanna brag about it/I wanna tie the knot/I wanna show you off.” The video, still in occasional “VHS style” mode, then takes us inside a seemingly abandoned house (for this entire cul-de-sac neighborhood is an eerie wasteland) where “another” Doja, this one with black hair and disgusting/haunting long acrylic toenails, is talking on the phone in a decidedly “80s teen girl” bedroom to her boyfriend in a peak “Valley girl” accent, delivering such cliches as, “No, you hang up, you hang up.”

The scene then morphs into a new tableau with a “new” Doja. This time, the bald-headed one we’ve grown more accustomed to seeing of late. And, what a surprise, she and some of her doppelgängers (including an alter ego who’s dressed like “Kandi,” the Dolls Kill persona for their raver lines) are in another fluorescently-lit backroom. This more basement/dungeon-like than the ones prior. An interspersed scene of Bald Doja wearing a cast boot on one foot while atop a knockoff Hollywood sign that instead reads “AGORA HILLS” adds to the overall randomness. But what “logic” can be had in the post-apocalypse? And perhaps, on some level, Doja Cat realizes that one’s personal life, as a celebrity, can only be truly accepted when nobody else (apart from her arbitrarily-materializing fellow Dolls Kill models) exists on Earth to judge and condemn it. 

As the video draws to a close, Doja takes full advantage of the dead mall setting that was initially alluded to in the shower scene that commenced “Agora Hills” in the first place. Showing up with all her fellow “Dolls,” the Eilish homage feels complete now. And, for those convinced that Doja couldn’t possibly be influenced by Billie, let it be noted that she even name checks the “other” Angeleno in “Ouchies” by saying, “A hunnid billies, I’m the G.O.A.T, no Eilish.” While it might sound like a “dig” to those who want to constantly stir the pot by creating celebrity beef where there isn’t, Doja Cat and Eilish (as fellow L.A.-born celebrities) are friendly enough, with the former attending Eilish’s twenty-first birthday last year. And perhaps the only thing that’s missing from this grab bag of a video is a cameo by Eilish herself. But, pointedly, it’s a no white girls allowed scenario. For surely, the delicate whites (no laundry pun intended) could not survive any apocalypse (despite what The Last of Us would have people believe). Unless, they’re the rich kind who pre-bought all that bunker space in New Zealand to ride out the end times.

But for the non-rich whites, survival seems less secure. Least of all in L.A. or its outer reaches. But anyway, after Doja and her surviving sisters scurry out of the mall, Davis caps (not to be confused with what Doja means when she says, “You just cap so hard, it’s—I don’t know what to do”) the video with a scene of Doja riding her bike on a deserted street at night with a shirt that reads: “Queen of Blow Job.” Alas, there aren’t many men around to test whether or not that’s true. Except the one Doja’s hiding somewhere in a backroom until more people miraculously reveal themselves so that she can make better use of the phrase “I wanna show you off.”

Genna Rivieccio

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