Monday, June 14, 2010

"Sexx Laws" -- a music video retrospective

Beck! Stoner rock, folk rock and funk rock all rolled into one talented SoCal musician. Funk is the interesting (often skipped-over) part of his legendary career... many name-check Odelay, but I absolutely love everything about Midnite Vultures. It's mega funky, and packed with sweet lyrics. This opening track sets the stage for the rest of the album, and the video provides additional imagery.

Now, there are a lot of goodies to touch upon here for the videologist. First, there are several cuts of the video. Second, there are cameos galore. Third, it's directed by the artist himself.

It all opens with man-boys with dreams (any social group from Ojai, CA, has to be weird). Update: this YouTube video proves this part of the video is an homage to something BIGGER, right down to the dolphins and sobbing. The MTV edit typically just shows some quasi-homoerotic hugging exercises. But, that's just the tip of the iceberg. If you've ever seen the extended version, you may have enjoyed an expanded scene of these men's life-dreams and their [societal] struggles of achieving them. Jack Black wants to inspire people with his dolphin art, but can't. Others just want answers. I have seen this uncut version on QuickTime, on dial-up, once upon a time. It was still glorious to see Cosby sweaters, porpoise paintings and trust exercises in 640x480.


Suddenly, the meeting is "Fight for Your Right"-style crashed (literally) by football players. What emerges is a freak-out of epic proportion, where nothing is as it seems. There are zebra mannequins with banjos, stoned witches, appliances humping, Kenny G blowing--even more nuts than the previous "New Pollution" video.

There seem to be a few story arcs here, from what I can tell, but they only make sense on the cutting room floor, and probably only to Beck. There's a pirate captain leading a spaceship to invade some robots.

There are at least four versions:
  1. Original, uncut with long intro
  2. "I picked cotton!" version
  3. An edit of the above, missing a part of Black's ending speech
  4. Night Flight to Ojai (AKA "Saxx Laws")

The ending is a direct tribute to Mister Freedom, in an inspiring and befuddling speech (tragically truncated) of Jack Black inspiring the freak-troops.

Watching Justin Meldal-Johnson's breasts inflate was a stunning thing to watch in 1999. It's Beck's dream video, and quite seminal when you look at the hipster videos around today. Beck spearheaded that chic.
Beck is the alternative folk god. This is a party song. Dance accordingly.

Video stats
Length: variable (4:15 for "I picked cotton" Edit, 4:06 for shorter speech)
Director: Beck Hansen
Date: Nov, 1999
Est. Cost(s): unknown

Links
* http://www.mvdbase.com/video.php?id=2675
* http://www.vimeo.com/7655826

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