straight2video

This week’s central battle came down, as so many do, to the eternal conflict between well-intentioned grand-scale storytelling and gleefully trashy bloodletting. It’s the Forrest Gump vs. Pulp Fiction of the 5 Best Videos Of The Week column! And just like in 1994, the middle-of-the-road epic won. Life is like a box of chocolates, etc. This weeks picks are below.

5. M.I.A. – “Double Bubble Trouble” (Dir. M.I.A.)

A good friend, one who actually teaches a music-video class, just told me that this one is his favorite video of the year. His reasoning: Things keep happening; new elements are introduced haphazardly all the time. It doesn’t have that classic music-video thing where it gets boring after the first minute. And even though I thought this was more of a chopped-up mess than he did, he’s right; things do keep happening. Also, blowing smoke bubbles looks like fun.

4. Major Lazer – “Come On To Me” (Feat. Sean Paul) (Dir. Ruben Fleischer)

In the early ’00s, Sean Paul and the director Little X got together to make an epic trio of videos (“Gimme The Light,” “Get Busy,” “Like Glue“) that stands as one of my favorite-ever extended artist/director collaborations. With its negative space and its focus on body-movement, Major Lazer’s Sean Paul collab pays those videos a nice tribute, and Sean Paul himself remains an absolutely compelling on-camera figure, even with that goofy mohawk. I don’t know why all that Japanese appropriation is in there, what purpose all that serves, but it is visually striking.

3. 2NE1 – “Gotta Be You” (Dir. Han Samin)

Those colors! That gold! The suits that look like Madballs! I am helpless before certain things, and suits that look like Madballs are among those things.

2. Die Antwoord – “Pitbull Terrier” (Dir. Ninja)

I thought I would be tired of these freaks by now. I was wrong.

1. Arcade Fire – “We Exist” (Dir. David Wilson)

Laura Jane Grace’s objections make sense, and the conversation that she’s started is a vital one. Still: What a montherfucking performance. Actors almost never try this hard in music videos, and actual movie stars damn sure never try this hard. Maybe Andrew Garfield wasn’t the right person to play that role, but his work has real emotional impact, especially during that big triumphant ending.

Comments (9)
  1. Sometimes I think that I really can’t be offended by anything, but as a pitbull owner and lover, I actually got a little bit upset about the negative stereotypes perpetuated by the Die Antwoord video.

    It’s like a tiny little taste of not being a straight, white male.

    • Haven’t you heard? You are not supposed to express your political thoughts here. It ruins the fun.

    • The part where he attacks the white cat was a little extra disturbing for me.

      My first cat as a kid growing up was killed by two pitbulls while chilling on the front porch.

      It’s a negative stereotype for a reason, because pitbulls do and can kill innocent bystanders. Sometimes children. I’m happy to know that you’re a proper pitbull owner, but far from everybody is.

      Everyone see that video of the kid playing on his bike in the front yard? I know that wasn’t a pitbull but what the fuck right? Dog just strolls along and thinks, “Yup, let’s bite this kid.” Maybe some dog owners can help me understand what a dog is thinking when it just up and decides to attack, but it’s always been a reason why I prefer cats to dogs. (Yes, I realize there are crazy ass cats in the world, but they don’t make the news like pitbulls killing children do).

      • This one for reference, because Super Cat is my hero:

      • I won’t get too into it because I do agree that too much politics on a music site ruins the party, but I will say that they were known as “America’s dog” and were the # 1 family dog in America for decades and that these problems really started in the 80s when they became a status symbol for the wrong kind of people who began abusing them and culturing all the worst potential habits.

        The stereotype’s are also exaggerated because whenever it is a pitbull, it’s noted, whenever it’s not, the dog type isn’t stated.

        They are responsible for more than their fair share of problems, but there are reasons for that beyond their natural predilections and blaming race or breed or whatever really isn’t fair.

        OK, sorry. That was more of a rant than I meant to go on. I’ll watch one of the other videos and weight in on those in a while.

        And that cat below is badass.

        • 1. Dude, rant away. It’s the internet. You can talk about whatever you want, wherever you want. I just got called out for expressing my opinion elsewhere on this site and was feeling snarky. It is really hard to understand other people’s sense of humor in online comments.

          2. Pitbulls are awesome dogs. I personally know 4 pitbulls and they are all the nicest, sweetest dogs. They deserve to be defended.

          3. Super Cat IS badass.

          4. I am tired of Die Antwoord but freak away freaks.

  2. Although I really liked Arcade Fire’s video, there have been a number of legitimate criticisms (beyond them not hiring a trans* actor) such as the ones below.

    http://www.pqmonthly.com/spider-trans-arcade-fires-unhelpful-exist-video/19618

    (Note: I did not write the article, know anyone who wrote it, or have any ties to PQ, etc.)

    “If the band thinks violence against transwomen is bad, why are they recreating and broadcasting it with their work? Why not simply tell a story of transwoman acceptance if that’s what you wish to promote? [...] Instead the video just recreates the image of the transwoman as isolated, defenseless and victimized, loved only from afar by majestic, yet empathetic, festival-conquering rock idols.”

    Someone on the reddits also wrote a really great comment dissecting the video
    http://www.reddit.com/r/asktransgender/comments/25qbyk/trigger_warning_arcade_fires_we_exist_video_just/chjrlt3

    “That the main character is shown to achieve some kind of transcendence, or spiritual awakening, when being subjected to a brutal, public attack is a deeply troubling one, as it suggests that trans people can only be actualized through violence.
    Whereas surrealism and fantasy sequences are traditionally used as devices to “disrupt” the lives of cis-people before returning them safe and sound to the land of normal people, here it has the opposite effect. Fantasy makes the trans person “authentic” (Andrew Garfield is clearly happy and accepted in the fantasy sequence) thereby suggesting that, unlike the cis world, it takes a heaping dose of un-reality to normalize the trans identity in modern culture. I feel this only furthers the idea of trans as ‘the other.’”

    I cannot say if I agree or not, but it is good to have these open discussions when videos like this come out, asking if it is really furthering the cause it means to.

  3. Jason WOULD be way into that MIA video, wouldn’t he.

  4. I think “Leave Your Lover” deserves a spot this week. Beautiful video from Sam Smith.

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