Video Hangover: Peter Gabriel – “The Barry Williams Show”

Every week, we dig in the archives for videos that we find noteworthy, memorable, or just unbelievably stupid. And then, Jon McMillan breaks ‘em down for you. Why Video Hangover? Because when you watch as many videos as we do, you’re going to feel it afterwards.

“The Barry Williams Show”
Peter Gabriel, 2002

Peter Gabriel enlists Sean Penn, Greg Brady, and Shooter McGavin to help make a Jerry Springer parody. What could possibly go wrong?

After seeing how talk shows exploit the stupid and the desperate, Peter and his monkey were both shocked
What the hell happened to Peter Gabriel? It’s always nice to see older artists taking risks, but this whole “I’m the evil ringmaster” role strikes me as a career low point — at least from a facial-hair perspective. Is that goatee for real, or do you think he grew it special for the video? I stopped paying attention after “Big Time,” so maybe somebody can enlighten me as to how he ended up looking like a cross between Ming the Merciless and Goat Boy’s clean-shaven uncle.

Juice by Barry, juice by Barry, Barry’s got the juice, oooh Barry!
Barry Williams is supposed to be a smarmy bastard, and nobody does smarm like Christopher McDonald. Think the boorish husband in Thelma & Louise, or Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore (I haven’t seen American Pie: The Naked Mile, but I assume he gave an Oscar-worth performance as Stifler’s Dad). As Barry Williams, McDonald simply reprises his role as Tappy Tibbons, the ultra-creepy motivational speaker from Requiem For A Dream.

Don’t blame Spicoli — he tried his best
Although Peter’s numbingly obvious social “criticism” doesn’t give him much to work with, director Sean Penn does an okay job here. Sure there are a few questionable video effects, and the face-warping is cheap and poorly executed, but there are some genuinely compelling moments. For starters, there’s an awful lot of blood coming out of the audience, and from some unexpected places. A belly button? A shoe? The island-in-the-blood sea finale is also better than it has any right to be, given that the blood has the color and consistency of red Kool-Aid. Penn also gets Major props for sneaking in the “real” Barry Williams (aka Greg Brady) for a cameo at the 1:34 mark.

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