I’m a little confused as to why some people are complaining that the video for “Ego Free Sex Free” doesn’t “do the song justice.” Besides dismissing it as “boring” (or, in one case, “conceptual”…which often feels like a hoity-toity way of saying boring) a few of the Youtube and Facebook comments argue that a song’s lyrics should be a video’s primary motivation. Even among those rushing to his defense, it’s implied that the kookiest or headiest of videos should be appreciated because it will illuminate a song’s lyrics by filtering them through another kind of experience.
I wouldn’t disagree with that first claim. Obviously p much all music-video crews keep a song in view while they’re building its visual compliment. But I don’t understand why the music video experience has to both start and end with the song? Or maybe I do — if there’s any lesson we ought to’ve learned this summer, it’s that a music video can completely warp your reading of its source. That’s a mistake. A video should be treated as what it is: its own arm of the production process, with its own telos. And it’s especially cool to consider (or at least begin considering, because I don’t even know the implications of this line of thought) how music videos destabilize and/or conserve the relatively coherent image an artist cultivates for each new project — and, of course, how that image persists between projects.
Maybe I’m contradicting myself when I say that music videos seem to hold both too little and too much sway in the evaluation of a musician’s output, but in any case they rarely seem to be treated as productive features in their own right? Does that make sense? More fundamentally, it seems to make a whole lotta sense to realize that music videos necessarily add something new to a song because, well, music doesn’t come with its own visuals? And that said additions shouldn’t be treated as something ultimately beholden to the music? Even people who are really keen on psychologizing an artist or digging into biography realize that the ‘work’ and ‘everything else’ are constantly in conversation…yet when it comes to videos, interpretation is a one-way street.
And, well, just sayin’, but it’s no surprise that this kind of interpretation is all over a video that’s primarily movement-oriented. Nothing’s more slippery than a bunch of “peeps walkin around like robots the entire time,” as one Facebook guy puts it. (I kinda like that description but am not so keen on the “but that’s all there is?” idea.)