(Not So) Neato Viddys on the Intertubes

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UK electro duo Simian Mobile Disco are pretty darn good, and their now-oldish track “Hustler” is one of the best songs on their new album, Attack Decay Sustain Release. Its dark breakbeat backing is combined with a repetitive, stream-of-consciousness rap about being too broke to buy records and stealing them instead. It already had a pretty good (if eyebrow-raising) video featuring a circle of hipster girls whose game of “secret” turns into a makeout session, but for some reason the band (or their label) decided that wasn’t exploitative enough. Now we get a new video featuring dancing models who, er, binge and purge, in Technicolor:

Send-up of cheesecake videos, blistering indictment of the modeling industry, or crap? It brings to mind a couple other electronic artists whose tracks apparently needed attention-grabbing and ultimately exploitative clips: first, The Prodigy’s already-controversial “Smack My Bitch Up” featured a typical laddish night out of booze, fighting and sex (along with similar amounts of vomiting), until the perspective switcheroo at the end. (NSFW).

While nobody saw the Shyamalan-style twist coming, it’s still dumb, and feels like a tacked-on way to make the other 99% of the video acceptable.

Don’t forget the clip for UNKLE’s “Rabbit in Your Headlights,” a dull ballad with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on vocals. The video uses special effects to create what’s basically an ultraviolent snuff film where a mentally disturbed man is repeatedly run over by cars until, again, a kind of surprise ending, I guess:

That one ends up on lots of “best video ever” lists, but it just makes me feel kind of ill. Perhaps the lesson with these clips that it’s a slippery slope between ironic, winking exploitation and actual, grody exploitation?

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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