It’s taken me a while to cope with it, but I think it’s important to, finally, move on. You know, let go.
I’ve been robbed by teenagers.
I’ve been robbed by pregnant teenagers.
I’ve been robbed by teenagers living comfortable, drug-fueled lives in coastal California communities.
I’ve been robbed by teenagers who found out what happened after people stopped being polite and started getting real.
You see, I love music videos and, like polar bears and rare Amazonian tree frogs, the music video’s natural habitat has been disappearing at an alarming rate.
And, for once, global warming is not to blame.
MTV, a cable network launched in 1981 to air music videos, has pushed them aside in favor of reality shows geared toward teenagers featuring teenagers, in their varied sizes, shapes and states of fertility.
And we’re all the worse for it.
Initially decried by the misguided as gimmicky, superficial and damaging to the overall quality of pop music, the music video was a much beloved icon of my adolescence and provided some of the most lasting images and pop iconography of the late 20th century.
From the slow motion, zombie-like plotting of the tattooed cheerleaders in Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” to Madonna’s controversial “Like a Prayer,” the music video transcended mere promotion and became an art form unto itself.
Music videos also provided a proving ground for some of the most important filmmakers working in Hollywood today.
Filmmakers like David Fincher (“Se7en,” “The Social Network), Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation”) and Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer,” “The Amazing Spider-Man”) all cut their teeth in music videos.
Despite this, there is currently no place on television for music videos as the network that was once its greatest champion devotes more airtime to the plight of the American teenager.
Thankfully, the Internet has come to our rescue, providing an inexpensive venue for bands and record labels to distribute videos to be seen, on demand, by millions of music fans.
The Internet saved the music video from obscurity.
This week, eight great music videos that go toe-to-toe with some of the best of all-time, and serve as a reminder that videos as an art form are alive and well (seriously, these teenagers must be stopped before someone lets them vote):
• Gotye, “Somebody That I Used to Know” — Directed by Natasha Pincus. A beautiful, poignant concept executed perfectly.
• Metronomy, “The Look” — Directed by Lorenzo Fonda. Adorable claymation pigeons driving bumper cars. Need I say more?
• Vampire Weekend, “Giving Up the Gun” — Directed by The Malloys. Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal play tennis with The RZA serving as the chair umpire. Really funny and awesome.
• Julian Casablancas, “11th Dimension” — Directed by Warren Fu. Part “Tron,” part Kurosawa, part Mortal Kombat.
• Beastie Boys, “Make Some Noise” — Directed by MCA. More hilarious celebrity cameos than you can shake a stick at. The kings of innovative and funny music video concepts.
• Black Lips, “Raw Meat” — Directed by Phil Pinto. A great video featuring a cameo from “The Wire” and the band as corrupt New York City cops.
• Matt and Kim, “Block After Block” — Directed by Jonathan Del Gatto. As guerilla performance videos go, this one is tough to beat.
• The New Pornographers, “Moves” — Directed by Tom Scharpling. A classic rise-and-fall story featuring every great comic working today. Cameos by Donald Glover, John Oliver, Horatio Sanz, Todd Glass and many, many more.
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