Saturday, November 8, 2014

Video Of The Week: Die Antwoord

Die Antwoord were never my cup of tea, really. And this time, the South African zef superstars went electro-pop with Ugly Boy, a ''shocking'' subject matter of a girl not falling for the pretty guy, shock-full of hits in the face, blood spilling, blood-like paint on walls, celebrity cameos, an Aphex Twin sample, and what the internet knee-jerk reactors were quick to assume was blackface.

So let's start with that, the Richard D. James masks, from the Windowlicker video, in which some were white, some were black. It wasn't blackface, it was the opposite: it was face-face. Everyone had Aphex Twin's face, except the ''super RDJ mask'' with the teeth. Die Antwoord's video just has that mask. As far as I can tell.

As for cameos, Jack Black in scar tissue is a sight, as is Dita Von Teese in her daily clothing. Marilyn Manson was himself, probably because he went with the ''ugly guy'' shtick in 1994. I'm not entirely sure why Flea's in there doing contemporary dance, but ok. Cara Delevingne is the model with the facepaint; she's starting a career as an actress, too, so expect to see a lot of her in the next 3 to 5 years. Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs is in there too. Perhaps under the RDJ mask.

Let's talk about the music itself. The sounds are centered around Aphex Twin's Ageispolis, and the lyrics borrow as much from Roy Orbison (''anything you want, you got it / anything you need, you got it / anything at all, you got it'') to Sade (''this is no ordinary love'') to Deez Nuts (''unfuckwithable'') to Mick Smiley (''I believe it's magic! magic!'')  to film titles (''There Will Be Blood'').

But we're in postmodern times, they're a post-racial act, playing post-rave pop for post-adolescent young folks who will never know what it's like to go to a post office.

As the boys in Sloan used to say: ''If we feels good, do it / even if you shouldn't''.

As for the subject matter of giving love to someone others are repelled by, it's been tackled by Christina Aguilera this decade (in Beautiful, among others), TLC the one before that, and Smashing Pumpkins (most songs, but Ugly is the most obvious example) and Pearl Jam (''so I'll just lie alone and wait for the dream / where I'm not ugly and you're looking at me'') in the 1990s. Probably some in the 70s and 80s, too.

Every decade needs to bring that point home, but to glorify purposely looking ugly, Manson seemed to put a lot more thought into it 20 years ago, personifying the essence of what it meant, not just in his appearance but his entire art, and almost every quote given in the media as well.

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