Friday, 18 February 2011

Music Video Review: Bob Geldof - Silly Pretty Thing

Geldof moves as though he is not an obligate biped. His skeleton is constructed from wire coat hangers that have been bent, with varying degrees of success, into shapes resembling most of the major bones of the human body. The coat hangers are jointed by sun-brittled plastic from cheap garden furniture manufactured in the early 1980’s. He is an old, scabied lemur with painfully worn molars and a wonky tail. He saunters down to the river’s edge on the look out for some bacterial mucilage or frog spawn to eat: it is all his decrepit body can process these days. Why lie to myself? he thinks, I’d even settle for some more of that putrefied bat meat that I found rotting next to the log of despair last week (bats, overcome by the poison swamp gasses, frequently drop from the sky). To hell with dignity - that slime went down a treat.

At the river’s edge - oh what now? - he meets a disgraced Greek porn baron with a sea cucumber for a penis and a hairy dwarf’s beer belly for a scrotum. The porn baron is playing a shrieking, tuneless dirge on a clapped out violin made from the crumbling wood of a Victorian dildo crate. He plays to whittle away the remaining thirty minutes (or so) of his life, which has been nothing but a succession of wrong turns and betrayals. He is not sad to be dying, finally.

Geldof initially views the porn baron with contempt: better not have eaten all my damn frogspawn! But the porn baron responds with pathetic cluelessness when questioned, eliciting only sympathy in the old lemur. Despite years of experience as a hoarder, Geldof now offers the porn baron a hand of frogspawn. ‘Good,’ he croaks, ‘good - eat.’

The porn baron reaches out for the watery goo in the lemur’s hands. Claws touch, fur mingles - a spark! They are immediately transported into a dream landscape: a hay field in old mother Ireland, years before the troubles. A rusty trampoline is the only prominence. Metaphors. Beautiful sky. Symbols and refracted truths bounding like deer in the distance.

Then this happens:



The fade out at the end appears to represent both of their deaths.

One of Geldof’s idiot daughters speaks vacantly at his funereal, with signs of poorly choreographed emotion:

My Father has read plenty of books, but they haven’t expanded his intellect. He has visited theatres and galleries without any enrichment of soul. No kind of training or observed discipline improved him in any way. He was constantly frustrated. He strained to better himself, only to slide further backwards. The problem was his essence: it was weak: watered down squash. God forgot to give him a destiny, so he trickled along the path of least resistance, like snot down a spiral staircase. There are no horrors in the universe like those that afflicted my Father’s soul.

She chokes up and runs to the toilet to hide her tears. Later the toilet cubicle that she was suspected to be inside is found empty. A window has been pulled off its hinges and fibres matching her dress are found snagged around the frame.

I don't like the song very much. It is the most conventional song ever made.

I first heard it on a dentist’s radio. I laughed with his rubber hands in my mouth. He thought I was choking and asked if I was ok. I still don’t know. There was something so funny about that song, something completely incongruous and unsettling. It sounded like it could have been a Lightning Seeds single from 1996, only weakened by a vicious cancer. But that wasn‘t why I was laughing: it turns out that I was picking up on future vibrations of me watching the music video. It was a kind of euphoria, like you might feel if you were being sucked into a black hole at high speed. I was feeling future emotions that were so powerful that they had somehow ripped themselves out of the jurisdiction of standard physical laws and become available to me in the present. I think it is a similar phenomenon to that which Yoda describes in the Empire Strikes Back.

Overall 7.5/10

I also want to mention the scenes with the stunt double. I think it is meant to be obvious and a joke, but it wasn’t done with enough obviousness or jokiness to be anything other than slightly troubling.

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