Sunday, March 28, 2004

Musings on Video Hits. Thanks to the end of daylight saving, I was actually up in time to watch not only the entire Video Hits show, but also Tony Abbott (or the Mad Monk as Crikey calls him) being interviewed on Meet the Press. He is generally an abhorrent creature (esp. his views on abortion) but there was one amusing part, when they played a clip from Parliament of him calling Mark Latham a drug pusher, and when they cut back to the studio Abbott was chuckling at his own wit, like Jerry Seinfeld. It made me think that Abbott brightens up his day by remembering all the viteruperative comments he's dished up in the past. But anyway.

I haven't watched an entire Video Hits for ages, and a lot of the clips I hadn't seen before. So I wanna make some observations... First, I totally agree with Guy about the horrific 1982 parallel universe of Shannon Noll's new video "Drive". I just don't know where to start. Okay, Shannon, wearing a blue wife-beater, is supposed to be a motor mechanic, and he 'rescues' this posh city bird from her nasty suit-wearing boyfriend and drives away with her in a black hoon-mobile. She falls over in the mud and Shannon cackles in a menacing Deliverance kind of way that doubtless was intended to be light-hearted but fails miserably because I've seen bits of wood with more personality than Shannon. Meanwhile, the city-slicker boyfriend inexplicably hitches a lift in a semi-trailer and pursues them. Shannon then indulges in a spot of snowdropping to get the city chick some new clothes (the real owner runs out to her clothesline just seconds too late!) Then, ludicrously, they go into a pub where she 'earns' them some money for their journey by writhing about on the bar wearing a cowboy hat. Like you do. Then, in a sequence seemingly inspired by Duel, that early Spielberg film where the guy is pursued by a crazed semi-trailer driver, Shannon and the posh city bird are almost run off the road by the semi-trailer with the boyfriend. Shannon does some serious doughnuts and throws the keys to the hoon-mobile to the boyfriend, saying "Mate, I fixed it". But even in this alternate 1982, there are still lots of questions unanswered. Like, now Shannon's stranded and how is he going to get anywhere? And who got the girl? And why would that city-slicker even have a hoon-mobile or be in the country in the first place?

But the horrors didn't stop there - I also saw Courtney Act's video. I had read about this in Who Weekly or something, and it sounded bad then, but it was truly hideous. Like, I appreciate the ironic gender performance of the drag queen's (and king's) art, and I think Courtney Act is very good at it (especially at tucking her dick away and dancing on incredibly high heels). But on Video Hits I found it deeply troubling that she was pole-dancing in her underwear and pawing some Hugh Hefner-a-like. And I couldn't help thinking regretfully to myself "Man, when she was a guy she was really good-looking." I think this is more a comment on the Video Hits gender and sexuality regime than anything else. More on that later.

But Courtney Act's video was subtle and playful compared to this other one by someone called Sarah Connor, a very appropriate name because I wished I could terminate her. Like, she was wearing all manner of slutty outfits including a visible g-string with a gold metal detail on the back, and her song was like someone got hold of an instrumental version of "Family Affair" by Mary J. Blige and sang another song on top of it, like that Dannii Minogue one from last year that ripped off "Into the Groove". Apart from that it was numbingly generic.

There was a new Human Nature video, which got me thinking about how my favourite boy band members were always the ones who seemed least suited to being in a boy band. Like, that dopey-looking brunette from Blue. Or the aptly named Joey Fatone (does anyone remember John Safran's "anyone is better looking than Joey Fatone" competition in the Bourke St mall?). Anyway, my favourite Human Nature guy is the bogan-looking one who plays the guitar (even though I still have a soft spot for Little Man Big Hair from their ill-fated "She Don't Love You" days). Also, Amanda is so right about that band Betchadupa - it's scary how much the singer sounds like his dad, Neil Finn.

Silliest video-clip accessory - a tie between Jamelia's "J" anklet dangling over the back of her shoe, and Britney's sequinned sunglasses in "Toxic". I mean, can she actually see out of them? Worst outfit - Janet Jackson's weird red tit-wrap - I was afraid that costume would malfunction at any moment. Weirdest moment - start of Anastacia's new song where she sounds like Kate Bush.

But what really struck me about Video Hits was the relentless parade of skinny, half-clad women, all protruding hipbones and taut tanned midriffs and pert arses and puffy cleavage. The main one with the fringed dress in the "She Wants to Move" video was the most worrying - she had this scary intense look on her face like a fembot out of Austin Powers. Now, I've always been rather blasé about moral guardians and cultural commentators' worries about music video's normalisation of unreasonable images of female beauty and sexuality. But faced with that pneumatic bikini babe in "The Way You Move" video, I actually had to take a step back and go "That is not your average female figure," and further "You will never look like that when you dance, and that's a GOOD thing."

Like, I was saying to Shane after we'd seen Honey that I came out of the cinema wishing that I could dance like that. But you know what - I can - the only thing is that I'm carrying about thirty more kilos, so while I'm coordinated and have superior arse-shaking ability, I will always look uncoordinated and clumsy because I'm like twice the size of those video hos. Anyway, I can't be bothered rehearsing all the same arguments, but that occurred to me.

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