Another of pop’s remarkable acts of self-creation: in the video for “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”, Boy George presents himself less as star, more as a kind of pop spirit, a dancing force of nature swaying through time and place, singular and uncageable. The metaphor the visuals ask you to reach for is straight society’s repression of the queer – but “Hurt Me” is far from a defiant song. “Give me time to realise my crime”: it’s not really freedom George is pleading for, more space for him and his other to understand their situation.
George’s disappearing acts in the video are reflected in the song’s uncanny lightness: it’s a paper-thin, gorgeously flimsy shuffle, the heft of reggae melted into air and breeze, which leaves George’s voice terribly vulnerable. That’s an asset to the record – Boy George didn’t have a weak voice, but he never sounded like a world-beater either, and exposing his singing to strain played up the sadness in his song (check “that boy loves without a REASON”). The only thing very wrong with “Hurt Me” is that after engineering a lovely, drifting fade it decides to pop back for a wholly unnecessary encore.