After Watching J.Lo’s “This Is Me…Now” I’m No Longer Sure Who Is Me…Now

“This Is Me…Now” is one third of a self-financed multimedia project by multihyphenate ultra-celeb Jennifer Lynn Lopez, comprising a studio album, this genre-defying film, and a documentary about the making of and inspiration behind this genre-defying film.

“This Is Me…Now” is a narrative visual companion to an album with a loose and expansive definition of the word narrative.

“This Is Me…Now” is 66 minutes of strung together music videos.

“This Is Me…Now” is a fictionalized meta contemplation on J.Lo’s long-dissected reputation as a serial monogamist, all her past relationships lined up like dominoes ready to be toppled by the media frenzies they engendered.

All of these things are technically true, and yet, to attempt to describe “This Is Me…Now” — directed by Dave Meyers, and written by J.Lo and Matt Walton, based on the story J.Lo, Meyers, and Chris Shafer initially conceived — is to attempt a definition of the undefinable. It’s to attempt to catch a hummingbird by the wings.

Now, I’m admittedly high on cold meds right now, but I bravely watched the film in a state of total sobriety, and my conclusion then is the same as it is now: “This Is Me…Now” is art. As a writer of autofiction, who am I to judge her uncanny approach of changing enough details to make it a work of fiction (and fantasy?) while remaining thematically true to her own self-mythology and persona?

Let’s rewind back to the beginning and break down the project beat-by-beat. Because again, I’m high on cold meds, and I need to talk about every frame of this cinematic curiosity.

We open with an explanation of the film’s guiding mythology, the Puerto Rican folktale of Alida and Taroo. Star-crossed lovers and all that business. Hummingbirds are important symbols in the love legend. J.Lo is on the back of a motorcycle driven by a man I think we’re meant to understand as the Taroo to her Alida. She informs us, and then reminds us later on, that when she was a little girl, she used to say when she grew up, she wanted to be a woman in love. That’s funny, because when I was in second grade, I wrote in my school journal that when I grew up I wanted to be Jennifer Lopez. Not kidding. I still have it somewhere.

While Jennifer Lopez — the real her, not the her as presented in the film, although I’m not sure drawing such distinctions is all that meaningful when it comes to celebrities whose blurred lines between person/persona are illegible to us voyeurs on the outside — does seem to have achieved her childhood ambitions of being a woman in love many times over, I have not achieved my own childhood ambitions of becoming Jennifer Lopez. I simply do not possess the mental capacity to make an art project like “This Is Me…Now,” which feels like it belongs on a different plane of existence.

Anyway, the motorcycle crashes. She lives, mystery man does not.

We’re suddenly in a…factory? A dystopian factory? Where everyone is dancing but also completing inscrutable factory tasks involving red flower petals and a mechanical heart. The choreography is good, zombie-like (complimentary). We learn this is the “heart factory,” and we also learn this is merely a recurring dream, as explained by J.Lo to her therapist, played by Fat Joe. Still with me?

a "heart meter" that reads WARNING: PETAL LEVEL LOW

please, my heart! it needs more…petals

Astrology is very important to “This Is Me…Now” and presumably therefore very important to Jennifer Lynn Lopez. Her character in-universe is obsessed with signs — signs from the universe and using signs to categorize and understand the behaviors of herself and others.

In the wake of the death of her motorcycle man, she has a new Libra boyfriend who looks like he was generated by AI and who is also abusive! We’re now in a song and dance about domestic abuse, and it takes place in a glass house occupied by other couples, also seemingly in abusive situations. The choreography here hinges on the couples being literally bound together by wearable rope, and uh, I think there are some obvious conclusions to be made here about it being Bad that this section seems to be visually equating abuse and BDSM and also it being Bad that the only time queerness really appears in this film is here, in this…song and dance about domestic abuse? This is not an essay though. Go read someone who isn’t high on cold meds if you want that!!!!!!!

two queer women kiss on a bed, bound by ropes

“babe, do you ever think about how crazy it is that we only exist inside the imagination of a fictional rendering of a celebrity in the form of a very on-the-nose and yet also perhaps troubling metaphor for bad relationships?” // “shhhh babe just kiss me”

The song does end with J.Lo literally shouting “fuck Libras,” and I think that’s neat. (Sorry to my Libra friends.)

Here is where another important piece of the film’s mythology emerges. We’re introduced to The Zodiacal Council, a governing body of anthropomorphized star signs, all played by famous people who are those signs IRL. It’s important you know exactly which famous people are playing which signs, so here’s a rundown:

Aries: Jay Shetty
Taurus: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Gemini: Jenifer Lewis
Cancer: Sofia Vergara
Leo: Post Malone
Virgo: Kim Petras
Libra: Trevor Noah
Scorpio: Keke Palmer
Sagittarius: Jane Fonda
Pisces: Sadhguru

(While most of these choices are excellent, platforming Sadhguru is a misfire.)

Keke Palmer in This Is Me...Now, playing Scorpio

wait, she’s spending HOW MUCH of her own money on this?????

They are in space. They are seemingly tasked with the hyper-specific job of…sending signs to exactly one human (Jennifer Lynn Lopez) in order to nudge her in the direction of her…soulmate? It is canon that the Zodiacal Council all watches Vanderpump Rules, established by a very long interlude on Vanderpump Rules. Everyone is honestly giving great performances, but Keke Palmer really understands the assignment. Awards!

J.Lo is getting married! She’s wearing a wedding dress with heart cutouts directly above the coochie and below the coochie, and actually I have no notes about this fashion choice. And now…she’s getting married again. Ahhh, I see what we’re doing. This song and dance sequence features her marrying three interchangeable hunky men. For context, prior to her current marriage to Ben Affleck IRL, J.Lo was married three times, to Ojani Noa, Cris Judd, and Marc Anthony. We’re doing a little homage to her triptych of marriages, which indeed has been a point of much media discussion. After the singing and dancing, we see her in couples therapy with each of these men. She ultimately leaves each of them, too.

I know people like to hyperfixate on the multiple marriages number, but my favorite piece of J.Lo data, which doesn’t really come up in the film, is that she has been engaged SIX times. That’s an iconic number of engagements! And I say this as a perfectly normal and well-adjusted person who bought herself a set of rings that say Jennifer Lopez on them to celebrate J.Lo and A-Rod’s engagement

It’s at this point that her friend group in the film — who seem to hate her guts — stage an intervention and accuse her of love addiction. By now, she’s seeing a character who seems to perhaps be an amalgam of Casper Smart (the younger backup dancer she had an on-and-off relationship with) and Sean “Diddy” Combs? I think? Because the character has a gun, and J.Lo and Diddy had a little situation with a gun when they were together.

Anyway, her friends are like “you’re a relationship addict,” and she’s all like “well that’s better than being SHIT at relationships like you lot.” It should be noted that her friend group is made up of mostly nameless people? Without many defining traits? One is a klepto, and that’s her whole thing. At first I thought perhaps this was evidence of J.Lo…not having a lot of meaningful friendships in real life or perhaps being self-obsessed to the point of flattening her friends into this weird indistinguishable chorus of characters. But now that my cold meds are REALLY kicking in, I’m able to unlock a more symbolic reading which is that perhaps the friends are meant to merely represent the press. They do indeed say a lot of the things the press likes to say about J.Lo, criticizing her tendency to hop from one long-term relationship into another.

a beagle in This Is Me...Now

“thank you Fluffy for satiating my lifelong need for longterm companionship” // “I’m literally just a dog named Fluffy who isn’t Fluffy”

While I do think the press has often been sexist and infantilizing toward Jennifer Lynn Lopez wrt her relationship patterns, I do find it hilarious that this film is positioning “being a romantic” and “believing in soulmates” as…marginalized identities.

J.Lo has a dog now, named Fluffy even though he is not a fluffy dog, and that’s pretty avant-garde of her. There’s a time jump marked mainly by Fluffy going from puppy to senior dog very quickly. J.Lo has finally agreed to go to Love Addicts Anonymous, where she doesn’t really spill her heart out but does do some excellent chair choreography. And I love chair choreography.

J.Lo, soaking wet in a ballgown in her new house which is not the glass house from before but does look like an elaborate computer screensaver, is burning love letters between her and motorcycle man. You know, for closure or something. A hummingbird shows up, but she doesn’t see it. Only Fluffy does. And he doesn’t tell her about this divine sign, because he is a dog.

One of her friends who hates her knocks on the door. He’s inviting her to his wedding, so he can’t hate her THAT much. Also, this is notable because he was always the Cynic About Love, which basically makes him a monster in the context of this universe in which not believing in love is a moral defect.

It’s time for J.Lo to tell Fat Joe about another dream she had. This one isn’t set in the heart factory. It’s in the Bronx — specifically in Castle Hill, the neighborhood J.Lo grew up in IRL. The block of “Jenny From the Block,” if you will. In the dream, she’s walking through her past, haunted by a spooky presence who turns out to be her literal younger self, but all covered in cuts and bruises because she hasn’t been loved enough by HERSELF. Her younger self is very mad at her for loving everyone else but her younger self. J.Lo has to literally now heal her inner child by singing and dancing with her throughout the Bronx. We’re back in the heart factory, baby, because the heart is healing!

J.Lo in This Is Me...Now looking at a heart combusting in the heart factory

J.Loppenheimer

The Zodiacal Council is supercharged by love or something, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson provides a lesson on love in nature.

We’re at another wedding, inexplicably set in the dessert and under a…hollowed out statue of a man with bells inside it? I think?

a strange statue thing with bells inside it from This Is Me...Now

what in the wicker man

Jennifer Lopez is singing and dancing and giving main character, even though this apparently isn’t even her wedding! It’s the cynic friend’s! And she didn’t even bring a date to the wedding, because she’s practicing #SelfLove.

The only thing I like more than chair choreography? Rain choreography! And we get Singin’ in the Rain (Jennifer’s Version) at film’s end. She’s not only singing and dancing in the rain but singing and dancing in the rain WITH a hummingbird.

Also, in case you were wondering if J.Lo’s “soulmate” was featured in the film, yes, yes he was. But Benjamin Affleck does not appear as one of the many husbands in the film, no of course not. He is indeed the motorcycle man, whose face we never actually see. And then he is also…a news pundit named Rex Stone?? Seen occasionally in the background, ranting about love and people no longer believing in love.

Ben Affleck in This Is Me...Now as Rex Stone, asking if astrology is real

What a choice! On so many levels! I, for one, did not actually clock that Rex Stone was played by Ben until it was revealed during the end credits. Why did she make the love of her life wear THAT WIG!!!!!

The more I think about it, the more I think there’s no better person to craft a story about celebrity and about the folklorish narratives we develop about celebrities than the celebrity herself. Not because J.Lo is able to actually shed any light on her life and choices or even really display any genuine vulnerability, but because with all the artifice and spectacle of a project like this, therein lies a certain authenticity. This is exactly how J.Lo wants to be perceived. Through a lens of dreamscape and lore. “This Is Me…Now” isn’t an explanation so much as an abstraction.

I have attempted to recap the un-recappable, because even if you have read all of this, you will not understand “This Is Me…Now” until you watch it, and even then will not really understand it either.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 814 articles for us.

8 Comments

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!