Music Video

It just makes you want to high five the screen, doesn't it?

Our most recent assignment in my Advanced Electronic Media class was to create a music video, between two and four minutes long, for either an existing song or one of our own creation. At first I was excited about this project, but then I remembered that it’s pointless to make a music video anymore, because every music video made since the music video for Safety Dance has been vastly inferior to the music video for Safety Dance.

I love music videos. They combine one of my favorite parts of movies (the tightly edited montage) with one of my favorite parts of music (songs that I like), and from time to time they involve scantly clad dancing women, which I’m also okay with. When I listen to music, I have an interior music video that I play through in my mind for just about every song. There are some songs that I listen to not necessarily because I like them, but simply because they fit the scene in my head so well.

Case in point? Get Back, by Ludacris. I don’t necessarily like hip hop, and this is one of the most aggressively angry and vitriolic hip hop songs for a nerdy white guy to be listening to, but I can’t get enough of it because whenever I listen to it I picture a group of desperate survivors skillfully fighting off a horde of zombies in a mall, trying to hold out until the helicopter arrives to rescue them. It’s seriously awesome, and I recommend it – it’s way easier to envision all the nasty stuff Luda is talking about when you picture it being done to the bloodthirsty undead.

So yeah, if I’d had a huge budget, two months, all the equipment I wanted, and a cast and crew of hundreds, then that would’ve been the music video I made, and it would’ve been better than Safety Dance. But instead all I had was one consumer grade handheld camera, two weeks, no money, and whatever roommates I could round up.

I guess I knew going in that I wouldn’t be making a video that did the pictures in my head justice, so maybe that’s why I made the somewhat unwise choice to make a music video for the song In The Year 2525, by Zager and Evans.

In The Year 2525 is a special kind of terrible song. It’s so earnestly awful in just about every way that a song can be awful that you have to stop and applaud Zager and Evans for their strident desire not to be average, even if that means making a song that’s basically ear cancer.

In The Year 2525 is a repetitive song that modulates up a half step with each successive verse. There is no chorus. All of the lyrics are melodramatic to the point of being nonsensical, and they describe – quite seriously – a future in which man’s reliance on technology has grown to the point of dystopia.

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs not nothing to do
Some machine is doing that for you

Yeah. It’s like The Room of music. But hey, far better I couple this shitty song with a shitty music video, rather than bringing down something good, right?

So I shot and edited a silly little music video for it, basically a montage of people trying to use technology and having it crap out on them. Nothing perfect, but I felt good about what I’d done, given the time and budgetary constraints.

But for the past two days we’ve been watching everyone else’s music videos in class, and all I can say is that I now feel like I should just go be Amish or something, because a fair number of the videos we’ve watched have blown mine out of the water. They’ve blown mine out of the universe.

Some of the videos we’ve watched have been made with such a degree of skill and beauty that they honestly look better than the sorts of videos you’d see on MTV (presumably in the 30 second break between reality shows about drunk spoiled douchebags screaming at each other). One of the videos actually made our professor, who is a legitimate badass, cry.

And this whole time, my video, which has not been shown yet, is just festering in the middle of the stack of DVDs as the bar gets raised higher and higher by these small masterpieces, made by people with far more creative vision and enthusiasm for this assignment than I could ever hope to muster. Watching my video after all of these thoughtful, emotional works will be a lot like watching the movie Chinatown, followed by a grainy 30 second clip of a fat guy shitting in a dumpster.

It’s a bit disheartening, because in my magazine classes I’m the resident electronic media expert. People come to me with questions about FinalCut Pro and I feel like a genius, dispensing answers like, “The razor tool is the little button that looks like a razor” or “You hit Command + S to save.” Yes, to people with absolutely no electronic media experience whatsoever, I’m a straight up pro.

But you know what? I’m fine. I’m okay. These guys eat, sleep, and breathe electronic media, and have been for years. It stands to reason that they should be great at this, because they’ve probably invested thousands of hours sitting in the dark in front of a computer screen, watching files render or color correcting each scene until it’s perfect. They’ve put in the time, so they deserve the accolades and respect of the class.

Everyone is an expert at something, and I’ve always known that I don’t have the drive to become an electronic media expert. I had just hoped that maybe, by some crazy twist of fate, I would turn out to be the Mozart of electronic media without so much as trying. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m more of a technological Salieri because I’ve got strengths where those brilliant directors and editors have weaknesses.

I mean, how much Subway have they eaten in their lives? Probably less than me. I could shitrock them in the eating Subway department.

Truman Capps is thinking about getting sponsored by Subway, given how much free publicity he does for them.