24 April 2007

I Totally Hear That in the LA Times!

You read that correctly, folks. My post about Alanis' "My Humps" video has now been quoted by no less than the L.A. Times.

For those who aren't registered at the paper's website, here's the section of the story that mentions me...

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THE BIG PICTURE: Satire busts a hump
Morissette speaks volumes about sex, power and YouTube with a sly spoof.
PATRICK GOLDSTEIN
April 24, 2007

PEOPLE endlessly complain that Hollywood is full of dopey, superficial films bereft of anything new to say. And they're right. Anyone looking for art that is edgy or relevant — and inspires comment — is turning to Internet video, which has become the true engine driving our pop culture.

Nothing demonstrates this better than the tsunami-like viral success of Alanis Morissette's "My Humps," which surfaced three weeks ago on YouTube and quickly became the most popular video on the channel, attracting 5.5 million views, easily outdistancing such rivals as "Otters Holding Hands" and "Farting in Public."

At first glance, it simply looks like another pass-along parody, a takeoff on the original "My Humps" hit by the Black Eyed Peas. But Morissette's video is armed with a provocative subtext that has people abuzz with debate. It's a fascinating piece of video art, an inspired combination of satire, social criticism and career reinvention that is a signature artifact of today's viral Web culture.

On one level, "My Humps" is a commentary on dim-bulb pop. The Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps," though a huge smash, was widely mocked for its vapid, suggestive lyrics. (Sample: "The boys they wanna sex me, they always standing next to me, always dancing next to me, tryin' a feel my hump, hump.") The video, featuring Fergie, the group's lead singer, was, if possible, even tawdrier. Full of nonstop teasing and thrusting, it's the kind of hip-hop booty porn that would make great torture material for Muslim prisoners at our Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Dressing herself Fergie-style, with baubles and bling, surrounded by black-clad male dancers, Morissette retained the original's visual sluttiness but replaced the Peas' thumping rhythm track with a pensive solo piano. By removing the intoxicating bass line and clearly enunciating the crass lyrics, she gave the song's sexpot swagger a new tone of sadness and desperation while simultaneously parodying her own artistic tendencies toward self-absorbed angst.

It's a striking performance, functioning as both social criticism and self-criticism. It also has given an instant shot of street cred to Morissette, whose career had slid downhill after her incandescent debut in 1995 with "Jagged Little Pill." Stereotyped as an earnest navel gazer — one blogger recently dismissed her as an "emo-feminist" — she suddenly has fans seeing her through fresh eyes.

As Mark Blankenship put it in his ITotallyHearThat blog, "Remember when I was saying Pink didn't manage to criticize the objectification of female sexuality in 'Stupid Girls' without becoming the very thing she supposedly opposed? Well, Alanis found a way. If that kind of wit, intelligence and humility is in her next album, I'm buying it."

This is what gives YouTube its real power. It is a forum not just for amateur pranks but also for career reinvention.

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So if anyone is here visiting because of that story... welcome! Have a seat and read a while. May I suggest something in a vintage post?

How about... asking me to determine your pop-chart astrology?

Or perhaps you'd like to debate a disasterpiece?

For that full-bodied, "I Totally Hear That" flavor, try our sampling menu (also known as my run-down of the best songs of 2006).

We hope you'll join us again.

And by we... I mean... me.

Skoal!

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2 Comments:

At 5:58 PM, Blogger LisaKate said...

Hi! I am one of those readers sent to you via the LA Times, only I live in Boston! Thanks for the welcome...I'll keep on reading...

 
At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Raven Snook said...

Gorgeous! I had heard about her video, but didn't check it out until now. The last time I laughed so hard at a parody video was when Michelle Shocked sent up those Robert Palmer "Simply Irresistable" videos. Speaking of crazy covers, did you ever hear The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black cover Celine's Titanic theme? Life changing. I promise.

 

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