Reasons “The Boy” Belongs To Monica: A Textual Analysis

The Boy is Mine
Previously in this series: Which Prince?

There is only one song, and that song is “The Boy Is Mine.” There is only one answer: the boy belongs to Monica. Below, a breakdown of the secret messages and codes scattered throughout the music video that lead viewers to the same inevitable conclusion.

It goes without saying that these two women live in a world where male agency does not exist. Mekhi Phifer’s first appearance shows him walking mute and dumbfounded past a parade of seductive women. He appears incapable of distinguishing one lady from the next, checking them out with equal intensity in turn; possibly he suffers from prosopagnosia, or facial recognition disorder. Whatever the case, he is helpless; a slave to his own instincts, he will clearly be unable to speak in his own defense. He can only cuddle whatever warm body is shoved into his arms or make kissy-faces at whatever reflective surfaces may be nearby. This is a matter that will have to be settled by women through song.

The most important rule of negotiation is that the first one to talk loses. Brandy opens by requesting a “face-to-face” conversation, thereby displaying weakness. Point Monica.

Notice that in many shots Monica wears a bindi between her brows, an “auspicious sign of marriage [that] guarantees the social status and sanctity of the institution of marriage,” showing that in some ways she already sees herself as married. Remember too that the sixth chakra is located at this spot on the forehead, and is believed to be the seat of all concealed wisdom and latent kundalini energy. Point Monica.

Hesitation is another major negotiating don’t, but Brandy admits to doing so at the top of her second verse. Brandy is frankly a mess by this point. Point Monica.

Monica wears reading glasses and an all-white kimono to bed. This is a settled, mature woman; exactly what a developmentally arrested boy needs, if Judd Apatow movies have taught us anything. Meanwhile, Brandy lounges under the symbol of the sun in gold robes. Gold! The color of hubris, of greed, of the blasphemous Golden Calf! Gold is the color of deceit. Brandy is the classic “false bride” warned against in song and legend. Point Monica.

At one point in the video, The Boy hovers between two hotel room doors, behind which lies each of his two potential mates. One is numbered 6; the other 7. 6 and 7, careful observers will note, equal 13, the unluckiest and least stable number known to civilization. This is no accident. This is a warning.

In 6 days God created the earth, but on the 7th day he rested and perfection was achieved. 6 has divisors of 1, 2 and 3; 7 is only divisible by 1 and itself. 7 cannot be sundered. Its perfect unity cannot be divided or reduced in any way. There are seven virtues and seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven chakras and seven sacred sleeping youths in Islam. Can there possibly be any doubt as to which woman stands behind which door? Point Monica.

Watch carefully: at 2:24, Brandy plucks a red rose from a vase in her hotel room and flings it away. The rose, as everyone knows, is a sacred symbol of Aphrodite, and represents true love in the Victorian language of flowers. Make no mistake. Brandy was given a chance at love and threw it in the garbage. Point Monica.

At 2:32, Monica stands in front of a fireplace (a traditional representation of hearth and home) beneath a round fan, which symbolizes “union and reunion” in traditional Chinese culture. The fan in Brandy’s room, by contrast, is absurdly large and gilded; no woman could carry it, much less use it to cool herself on a hot day. It is a mockery of faithfulness, an obscene parody of Monica’s ur-fan. Point Monica.

Without conceding a single point, without acknowledging the slightest legitimacy of competing claims, the boy is Monica’s, now and forever.

Share This Post:
    • Fabel

      This is so delightful.

    • Nat

      Why are you writing an article about a song written in 1998?

      • mallelis

        I am trapped in 1998. I cannot get out. There will be no aid sent for me; with each New Year I wake up on January the first, 1998 in the Year of Our Lord. This is the only way I can communicate with my past – your present – the only thing that keeps me sane.

      • Breezy

        Perhaps because it is a timeless song. One for the ages. As relevant today as it was when I requested it at my 8th grade dance.

      • Guest

        I asked a 14 year old if she knew who Brandy was. Her reply “huh? Brandy who?” I feel old.

    • Alexis Helen

      I love that you did this. <3

    • jes

      isnt the point of the song, female power, and that they dont need men to treat them like crap. in the end both women are in one room and throw the door on his face? but if you want to decide who HE wanted, he knocked on brandis door, and chose HER. he smiled when he saw her.

      • Matthew McVeagh

        Yeah I agree he seemed to be happy that Brandy opened the door. And I agree with his choice, she looks and sings better than Monica IMO. Also gold is sexier than white, the flung rose was flung on the bed not away, etc. etc. But as to why they shut the door in his face after angsting so much about which of them would get him for four minutes… seems like leading a guy on to me.

    • AJC

      I love you so much for making this hahaha

    • Cee

      I used to be Monica every time I sang this song with my friends. I was her because I knew she won, now its proven!