Burning Man

I Kissed a Zebra and I Liked It: Katy Perry – “Hot N Cold”

Katy Perry Hot N Cold

We find ourselves at a church wedding, where Katy is about to get married to someone that we have never seen before, so our investment is minimal at this point. (For the record, her near-future spouse appears to be about 12 years old, so there might be some issues here that have been swept under the anointed rug.) The music hasn’t started yet, so we’re not yet sure if this is supposed to be an artsy sequence or if someone forgot to turn the sound on. But one of the bridesmaids is a drag queen, so I’m thinking things will perk up in a bit.

Looking innocent and glowing, Katie and her mascara-doused eyes say “I do”. Then it’s time for her beau (whose name is Alexander, which is probably the least important detail in the whole story) to make his own commitment. Alexander and his adolescent skin pause for a very long time, eyes furtive and throat gulping. (We get reaction shots of concerned people around the church, eyebrows raised and mouths gaping. Even the little flower girl is looking at him like, dude, we just practiced this last night, before all the big people got drunk while I had to go stay with my one aunt who has too many cats.)

When it becomes clear that he’s having second thoughts (which might be the first time that he’s ever had more than one thought), the music finally kicks in and the whole church starts to boogie as Katy launches into her accusatory song. (This is a perfect reflection of the modern generation, turning an uncomfortable moment into yet another opportunity to perform a line dance instead of working through the problem.) Katy, who should be emotionally devastated, has no problem dissing the scumbag who was her true beloved just two minutes ago, warbling and hand-gesturing her way through the first part of the song.

As we get to the chorus, Alexander-Boy makes a break for it and runs down the aisle, not so much that he’s afraid of Katy but more that he wants to get away from old people trying to break dance. Since Katy clearly isn’t finished with her song, she has no choice but to chase after him, dashing out the front door of the church in her oddly-athletic wedding dress and running down the sidewalk. Since this is Hollywood, where ill-advised marriage ceremonies take place all the time, the pedestrians on the street ignore the commotion and keep searching for the sushi restaurant which promises to be trendy for at least two more days.

As Katy and the giant bow she is wearing clatters along behind him, Alexander rounds a corner and slams into a man dressed as a hot dog. I don’t know what message was intended by this little mishap, but I’m glad it happened. People dressed as food are creepy, and they should be knocked to the ground whenever possible. (Two wafer-thin D-list actresses attempt to assist the Downed Dog in his predicament, which is probably not the first time they’ve handled a strange wiener on a public thoroughfare.)

Katy realizes she’s getting nowhere fast in her pinchy high heels, so she steals a pink bike conveniently left near the violated hot dog man. After a tense moment wherein a stack of watermelons is rudely disturbed, Katy catches up to Alexander as he slips in the back door of some building. (There are no signs to indicate where we are, so either the budget was very low or the prop people were drunk again.)

It turns out that Alexander has stumbled into one of those nightclubs where people inexplicably jump up and down in rapture while a no-name group performs a no-name song that will never be performed again because the entire band will check into the Betty Ford clinic the next morning. The people in the audience immediately grab Alexander and crowd-surf him toward the stage where, in an astonishing example of illogical plotting, Katy is standing there with a microphone, bellowing more of the song. The wedding dress is gone, and she’s now decked out in some retro-80s vinyl and metal gear. We keep getting close-up shots of Katy’s quadruple-belted waist. No idea why.

Understandably, Alexander is not particularly impressed with this development, apparently just wanting to have a quick gin and juice with 500 of his non-closest friends in a bar dripping with regret and bad choices. He struggles to get away from the anonymous hands hoisting him asunder, while Katy continues her mid-grade channeling of Debbie Harry onstage, and he eventually slips out a door that leads to who knows where. (Just like marriage!)

Actually, it seems that the door leads to another round of the chorus, taking place in some studio backlot where they really didn’t spend a lot of time on the set-decorating. Katy has morphed into her wedding dress once again, accompanied by several backup dancers also dressed as trampy brides who found their dresses in the discount section of the Victoria’s Really Bad Secret catalogue. They all have really runny mascara, and they are waving baseball bats to the beat, sure signs of the Apocalypse. While Katy stands in the front seat of an unexplained convertible, the dancers do some crappy moves involving the alarming bats and a lot of finger pointing.

At some obscure cue from the director, Katy and her entourage all converge on Alexander, and Katy sings vehemently in his face while the dancers march in a big circle around the duo, with the bridal nymphets making what looks like rude hand gestures expressing extreme displeasure. Obviously, nobody lost any sleep over whether this choreography made any sense.

In another time-jump within the logic spectrum, all of the slatternly bridal dancers manage to find some matching pink bikes, with everybody straddling one, looking all demonic and wobbly, barreling toward the clueless and clearly typecast Alexander. He runs for his life, or at least for another bar, but he suddenly stops to answer his cell phone. Like any reasonable person would do when being chased by estrogen on wheels.

Naturally, it’s Katy on Alex’s phone, because nothing can stop a woman who wants her revenge served as cold as it can be. Apparently home boy has a really good data plan with his provider, because there Katy is in high-res living color, wailing away in her veil-accented bid for attention. (Katy does her best acting here, really loved the hand motion during the “roller coaster” line. As for Alexander’s acting? I’ve seen better emotion from a crock pot. I hope he has a Plan B or a financially-sound trust fund.)

Alexander finally hangs up, because you can’t really protect yourself from she-demons whilst perusing social media. He runs some more, then he turns a corner onto a sound stage that’s supposed to look like, I don’t know, a not-so-classy playground in the Bronx. Katy and all the backup dancers are now sporting the latest street-wear from a designer that nobody will remember tomorrow. To soften this awkward transition, Katy sings the next bit of the lyrics in a sedate whisper fashion, but we’re distracted by the fact that her eyeshadow matches the color of the leftover prop from Burning Man in the background, circa 2003.

Still, all the dancers seem to be having fun in this segment, all gussied up in their vibrant outfits and doing lots of dance moves that seemed important at the time. It’s almost relaxing, after the frenzied intensity of the preceding scenes, like a back-alley yoga class where they serve Pabst Beer instead of chai tea.

Then all hell breaks loose as we start jump-cutting all over the place. The bride dancers show back up, doing something confusing in a V-formation. (And, natch, Katy is right in the middle of that V, waving her arms and bellowing, although it does seem that Katy went to a different school than the other girls.) We also have some mess going on with small children hula-hooping like their lives depended on it. (Perhaps a few people on the production staff were having issues finding proper child care and they just threw them in the video to keep them occupied?)

If you don’t blink, you’ll also catch two women doing something on roller skates, but the duo is easy to miss because they’re competing with Katy doing The Running Man in her Daisy Duke bridal gown (or what’s left of it). And in the background of some of the scenes, behind chain link fences, we apparently have people auditioning for the role of Zombie #23 on “The Walking Dead”. It’s as if the director gave up on having any smidge of control on this shoot and went to go have a bagel with a shmear, telling his assistant to call him when people stopped bouncing or there was a pregnancy scare.

The “song” part of this shindig ends with Alexander either tripping over something or being shoved to the ground by an unknown assailant. (Perhaps the Hot Dog Man put out a hit on the Pretty Boy? It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened in Hollywood.) In any case, Alexander ends up flat on his back with his legs spread wide (Also not a first for Hollywood.) As he glances up in confusion, Katy, looking very maniacal in her Mary Lou Retton-on-acid gymnastics outfit, comes walking up with a zebra while a rainbow fills the sky behind her.

Suddenly, we’re back in the church, and Alexander does a dramatic blink, the first time he has actually exhibited any thespian qualities. Looks like the last four minutes were due to a poorly-timed narcolepsy episode, none of it really happening, and everyone in the church is still waiting for Alexander to say his “I do”. Dripping in sweat and forever traumatized by imagery of the Hot Dog Man and the Body Surfing and the Zombie Brides and the hula-hooping and the soul-killing Zebra, Alexander quickly agrees to be bound to this woman through sickness and health and possible stays in mental institutions.

The whole church erupts in cheers, especially on the Bride’s side of the matrimonial divide, because Katy is now HIS problem and everyone else can get on with their lives. The happy couple then runs down the “Price Is Right” red-carpeted aisle, Katy waving her neurotic bouquet, on their way to their first therapy session…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 09/26/09, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

Levitating Beds and a Jacked-Up Tree: The Mynabirds – “Body of Work”

Mynabirds Body of Work

We start out with a woman sprawled across a bed in some forest, her hair dangling off the side of the mattress in a forlorn manner, but before we can ask her if she needs any assistance, we quickly cut to somebody doing something with drumsticks, and then to a woman fiddling around with lots of square mirrors suspended from trees. We’re only 8 seconds into the video and I have no idea what’s going on, but at least we’re not in a dance club so this video is already better than 97% of the videos out there.

More anonymous drumming, some schizophrenic imagery of what I’m starting to think might be the lead singer (or maybe just someone who has questionable access to video-editing equipment), and a barefoot woman running away from what little plot there is. Back to the bed, where the previously very-tired woman has swallowed some type of stimulant and is belting out the lyrics of the song.  This is followed by some more shots of bare feet, this time re-enacting the Lucy Ricardo grape-stomping scene of yore, only there’s no grapes or Lucy or rustic Italian-peasant attire. Just feet and mud. This is one of those things that seems like a good idea at the time, but then somebody has to hose you down when you’re done.

A woman that we haven’t met before briefly struts past the camera and then disappears, which is kind of rude, but she may have urgent things to take care of somewhere that doesn’t involve a forest.  Another lady is trying to take our picture, but she’s using one of those old-school cameras the size of a Buick and we don’t have time for that, cutting back to the woman on the bed. Bed-woman seems to have a lot of issues, but I guess we’ll have to get back to that later, because the woman who disappeared suddenly re-appears, smiling invitingly at us, so her agent must have told her to get her ass back on the set and make nice with people.

More drumming and more hanging mirrors that don’t seem to have a purpose, then we get a long shot of Bed-Woman and we immediately understand one of her issues. The bed is floating several feet above the forest floor, which is kind of festive if you’ve taken the right pharmaceuticals, but rather annoying if you’re just trying to catch some shut eye before the concert later tonight. No wonder Bed-Woman is pounding on the mattress with her aggressive-looking drumsticks. She needs a ladder, stat.

Oh wait, maybe she’s not that upset about the altitude, because now she’s smiling a lot and flopping around on the bed with enthusiasm and gazing at herself in yet another mirror. (Apparently mynabirds like reflections, write that down.) And the next scene shows that they also like to hold up and look through decaying windows whilst a strange man squats behind them and hugs them around the ass. (No idea, but they both seem to be having a good time, especially the Ass-Man.) Then we have a nice montage of random eyeballs, the woman with the camera, Bed-Woman banging her sticks together, someone who may or may not have just sat on a very stimulating pinecone (look at that expression on her face, that surely means sexual release, right?), and some disembodied hands clapping.

Did I mention pharmaceuticals?

The montage continues, with several barefoot women and some dorkily-dressed men frolicking about in a handy stream, the Pinecone Woman eating leaves off an odd branch (I get hungry after nature sex as well), the Bed-Woman temporarily out of the bed and wearing a nice frock while she holds up lit sparklers, and a group of three new women (just how many Mynabirds are there?) doing a line dance that involves dramatic poses and thigh-slapping.

We check in on Bed-Woman, now properly back in her bed, and she’s still doing the same thing, using sticks and a floating bed and even more mirrors to tell the story of something unsatisfactory that happened in the Ozark Mountains. Cut to a woman who may have fallen and can’t get up, a brief shot of clouds, another group of women who seem very invested in jumping, more random trees, Bed-Woman using a telescope to see if anyone is paying attention to her drama on the daybed, more trees, more mirrors, and the never-ending usage of drumsticks.

Montage #37: A trio of colorfully-dressed women sneakily creep down an embankment toward that stream where people were previously dancing, looking like piñatas up to no good, more mirrors, more exuberant jumping, a shot of what might be Lisa Kudrow wondering when she will ever score another part like “Phoebe”, clouds, the piñata people launching three paper boats on the stream (is this a tribute to Columbus?), a woman spewing glitter dust out of her mouth (pharmaceuticals!), and a woman sitting in a jacked-up tree and gazing into yet another mirror with the passion of Maya Angelou writing a poem about the mystical inner-strength of women who sit in jacked-up trees.

Uh oh, Bed-Woman is out of the bed again, waving those lit sparklers around in a dangerous manner. We should probably tell someone, I’m just not sure who that would be.

Then we have a nice bit where the line-dancers are back, doing something interpretive with their hands and hips. Wait a minute, one of the dancers from the original scene is missing. Is this like Dreamgirls? (“And I’m telling you, I’m not leaving this forest!” Then whoops, she gone.) Brief bit with a woman who might have starred in The Ring standing near two trees, followed by another brief bit with a solo dancer who might not be listening to the same song that we are, and finally a man apparently freaking out and waving his arms about. (What, is this too much estrogen for you? Are you in the Republican party?)

Oh wait, Freak-Out Man was apparently the introductory dancer to a sequence where everyone appears to have at least minimally lost their minds, gyrating and flailing like they really mean business. (Mixed in with this are shots of Bed-Woman still pounding and what might be summer-camp photos from a camp that never really existed.) This culminates in a big-ass dance off where lots of people are jumping around in a field that was apparently adjacent to a Janis Joplin concert in 1969.

Another shot of clouds rolling across the sky, reminding us that Mother Nature loves us all even if we do extraordinarily unusual things at times, then we cut to one of the Mynas sitting amongst some foliage and whipping her hair around with enough frenzy to power Newark for the next three months.  (That girl is going to need some pain-killers at the wrap party, for sure.)

More sparklers.

More jumping.

And we roll into the final montage with Bed-Woman properly ensconced back in her Levitating Slumber Slab of Freedom, more mirrors, some mess with people running along and waving homemade flags, Jacked-Up Tree Woman looking at us like we just said something insipid during the Summer Solstice passion play, something about a half-door that leads to a pond that might have algae-buildup issues, and another review of the Janis Jumpers as they whirl around like the Von Trapp family just ate mushrooms on an Austrian mountaintop.

We close it out with all of the Mynas and their Myna-friends standing in formation and wistfully gazing up at the sun. The sun gazes wistfully back at them, but doesn’t say anything. Because it can’t. The Mynas wait. The sun waits. Then somebody hollers “Cut!” and everybody runs to pack their bags for The Burning Man festival…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 04/28/13, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

Finding Jesus at Burning Man: Kesha – “Your Love Is My Drug”

Kesha Your Love Is My Drug

 

Wow, they sure didn’t spend any money on this thing.

Anyway, we start out with some close-up shots of Kesha’s various body parts because she’s all about “her art” and isn’t a tramp at all. She’s waking up way out in the desert some place, because this is where you have to live when people get a little tired of hearing you on the radio. She’s apparently using some guy’s stomach as a pillow as she sleeps off the shame of whatever they might have just finished doing. Or maybe she just tripped and fell on a homeless person because, well, it seems like something she might do.

Kesha awakens and/or realizes that her drink is empty, and she takes a closer look at the guy, startled to discover that he’s wearing a nasty headband, which is a sure sign of trouble. She leaps to her feet and runs away across the sand. I’m guessing she doesn’t remember his name and she’s trying to avoid any social awkwardness. (Wait a minute. Maybe it’s just me, but that homeless guy seems to have a Jesus flair to him. What kind of story are we trying to tell here?)

Next thing you know, Kesha is riding an elephant and wearing a bonnet that she stole from the Statue of Liberty. That’s a rather vague concept that the director might have misjudged, so we cut to a tight shot on Kesha’s boots as she staggers through the desert. The heat makes her burst into song (“Maybe I’m ready for some rehab.” Ya think?), and she waves her arms like she really wanted to be in the high-school flag corps but things got in her way, like not actually going to high school.

Oh wait, there she is on the elephant again, followed by her sporting a tiger mask and assuming a squat-like position. (She likes zoos? She likes to hunt game? She’s practicing for Burning Man?) Then we have several shots of her Native American jewelry as she twirls around and can’t keep still, singing about her inability to stop banging her head against the wall. I’m not a physician or a neurologist, but the head-banging is probably not advisable. There are other hobbies you can pursue. Check out Pinterest.

Now she seems to have made up with the Pillow Jesus Man, because he’s back in the picture and they hold hands while a fan blows somewhere off to the side. More animal references, wild arm movements, and clunky jewelry that has GOT to be on her nerves by now. She weighs about 40 pounds. How is she managing to stay on her feet with all the wind and accessories?

Then they start screwing around with a kaleidoscope or something, because we suddenly have six refracted images of Kesha as she prances around in the sand. This unnerves me somewhat, because I don’t think the world needs six of her. But she keeps dancing anyway, delighting in the concept of an army of her body parts conquering the planet. This is probably the same vision that Ayn Rand had as she began writing her self-absorbed novels.

Elephant again.

Oh, now she and Jesus are in a boat. She’s being really rude and jumping around while he tries to row them back to the Garden of Eden or maybe a place where bushes burn. Then again, I guess it doesn’t really matter how obnoxious she’s being, because there’s not any water and they aren’t actually moving. Kesha makes a reference to a “lovesick crackhead” and I officially quit trying to determine the plot.

Good move on my part, because they’re still in the boat, but now some unregulated artist is messing around with the film, using crayons to create water and buoys and giant crabs. Kesha reacts to the added décor by… I don’t what she’s doing. Pointing is involved, and wiggling around in Daisy Dukes. Then a giant cartoon wave covers up the boat, and I’m hoping the video is over so I can go somewhere quiet and ponder the life choices I have made that led me to reviewing this video.

Nope, it’s not over. Now we’re in an underwater cartoon world, where the fish have human faces and they are singing. (Well, that just ruined Sea World for me.) The oddities continue, with a nearly naked man covering his harmonica with an absurdly-long beard, carnivorous fish that turn into mermaids, and a general theme that life in the ocean can kill you. That’s nice. Make the budding youth of the world fear aquatic settings, assuming that their short attention spans can encompass such a concept. Thanks, Kesha.

And we’re back in the desert, where Kesha is struggling to escape some evil cargo netting that she apparently got tangled in during the chorus. She flails a bit, but she’s really not trying that hard and I don’t feel especially sorry for her. Besides, doesn’t she have an assistant that can just cut that damn thing off of her? Girl, where is your entourage when you need them? I guess even rock stars have trouble with the help.

Then we start jumping around, with more shots of Kesha lamely trying to fight off the Net of Death (twirling and trying to fly seem to be her signature defense moves), Kesha and Jesus standing on some big rocks and waiting for additional Commandments that might possibly be delivered, and the realization that Kesha has a fondness for sand being smeared all over her body, especially when her cheek is accented by turquoise streaks. I’ll just assume that she has different life goals than I do.

As Kesha sings about having a slumber party in her basement (just say no, kids), we are treated to images of Kesha in an outfit splattered with day-glo paint, cavorting with more boulders and an unexplained snake. (Is this a reference to music company executives? Discuss amongst yourselves.) Whatever her intentions, Kesha apparently feels very sultry when she’s flopping around under a black light, and she does her best to portray a streetwalker in an excised scene from the old-school movie Tron. (Two points for the bold neon line running directly into her lower cleavage. Nothing says class like painting a landing strip on your body.)

We head back to the cartoon world, with animals mutating and a giant billboard to remind us what the name of this song is. The graphics and imagery hint of a tribute to Sergeant Pepper and/or the Beatles, but really, how is Kesha going to get that reference? (She was only born about 20 minutes ago, decades after the Beatles owned the world with trippy, thoughtful compositions.) This montage is clearly the work of an art director with OCD, a fondness for hemp, and a membership in the AARP.

Now it’s night time in the desert, and Kesha has settled down a little bit. She and Jesus are making S’mores at a campfire, and perhaps writing a few things down in case Moses has some extra tablets. Kesha is still really happy about her jewelry, her ability to wave her arms for no apparent reason, and the fact that she can make whatever kind of video she wants because she is trending on Twitter.

The song and the video wind down with Kesha doing that weird baby talk business at the end. (“I like your beard.” Honey, that’s not a beard. That’s somebody being lazy and not shaving for a few days.) Jesus is watching her suspiciously and probably wondering why this disciple has proven to be so challenging and flirty. Kesha doesn’t care. (Does Jesus have any platinum singles? I don’t think so. Over you and moving on.) So she laughs a lot and plays with her hair, because she’s still young and doesn’t understand things like consequences, mortality, and an agent that really knows what he’s doing.

Final shot is of Kesha on that damn elephant, sporting the Statue of Liberty headdress. Give me your tired, your poor, and your teenagers with unearned disposable income. One of those three things is determining the future of the music industry, and that’s the real drug…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 06/11/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.