Ian (ringbark) wrote,

The news from the weekend

Channel 4's top music video programme left more questions unanswered than answered. I'm prepared to be convinced that Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a great song (though convincing me could take you a long time) or that it is an important song, but you will struggle to convince me that the video to go with it is better than any other. Number 2, though not to my taste, is well regarded ("Thriller" by Michael Jackson)
It may be a little creaky now, and it certainly can never have the impact it once had, but this is still a thrilling reminder of what Michael Jackson could once do. Looking back on it now for the first time since its initial prominence, I was struck not by the horror trappings - quaint, but fun, and Vincent Price has never sounded so genuinely, un-camply (sic?) menacing - than its absorption of the horror film, allowing Jackson, behind genre and make-up, to give us a bravely revealing portrait of male sexuality.

Because THRILLER isn't really about horror, in the way horror isn't really about horror: it is about that age-old theme, the sexual awakening of a young woman. The film opens in a cinema, with Jackson's girlfriend uncomfortable with the imagery, and the aggressively gendered response. Of course, she is on a date, and she is less scared by the film than what she knows will be expected by her boyfriend.

The mainstream imagery of the film they watch, the group atmosphere all suggest the socially conditioned expectations. This leads her not only to think of the body in disgust - hence all the decaying ghouls; the loss of her virginity is seen as a kind of death - but the sexual rite is not just about her boyfriend, but her peers, her society, hence its visualisation as a gang violation.

This is brilliant, disturbing stuff, the best thing director Landis has ever done. Jackson, the most popular artist on the planet, was still willing to show that the fixed image of a star contained multitudes, not all of them reassuring. The song itself has held up remarkably well, the creepy, insistent bass rhythms, the extraordinarily salacious lyrics, the beautiful 70s disco ecstasy tailing the chorus, shattering timelessness, revealing the milky desire behind the fear.

as is Number 3, "Take On Me" by a-ha. You'd also have a hard job convicing me that most of the detritus found in the top 10 is better than Number 12, the original "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. Even the boys (by definition the product of a different generation) were mystified.

Sunday morning was as it might normally be expected to be, except that we heard the story of St Francis as part of the sermon. In the late afternoon, it was "meet the new vicar" for the parish leaders, though frankly there were so many of us there that it was less than completely useful. The food was good, though.

And a day at work today, about which there is little of any impact that I can write here. Rumour has it that HSBC has bought Losango, but that gives no clue as to what's going on here, partly because the news is not confirmed, and partly because the issues are quite different in Brazil.
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