Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Do the Evolution" -- a music video retrospective

"Twenty-ten, watch it go to fire!"

Yield is my favorite album of 1998. I remember exactly where I was when "Given to Fly" came on the local college radio station. I remember reading the album review in Rolling Stone. I remember staring at the packaging and the art, looking for all the hidden Yield signs. It was a great time to love Pearl Jam.

Todd MacFarlane was white-hot at this same time, coming off a Korn album cover job and--of course--the Spawn comic character. MacFarlane was given the task to do the first music video from Pearl Jam in almost exactly six years. He had the burden to follow-up the phenomenon called "Jeremy" (that put Pearl Jam on the MTV Map all those years ago). But, Todd did it. It's history. It's superb.

This is basically a cartoon clip video, following the lyrical motifs. It's done in the (now called) old school drawing animation. The pencil and paper kind. The painstaking kind.

There's an omniscient pale gal in a black dress (I guess she's Death incarnate-eye-candy), and the scenes surrounding her are just a mish-mosh of the terrible parts of human history, and how "history repeats itself". There's not much else specific to say other than it paints a future of test-tube babies, and hose-monsters (not smoke monsters) gobbling up natural resources. Also, there's a Vietnam shout-out. You know what they say... just nuke your problems away!

The song itself is musically interesting. It's abrasive, in a way a Pearl Jam song has never sounded. Yeah, "Jeremy" was kind of spooky, but this one is a downright cynical march to Armageddon. It's almost a protest song.

There's also a disturbing rape-fantasy thing (not pictured) that just makes this thing gross and PG-13 (or TV-14, whatever). [I've always wondered what it would be like to be thirteen and go to a parentally-guided movie, and then be V-chip blocked for something exactly the same when you get home...] But, then again I suppose 13-year-olds don't go to movie theaters alone...

Video stats
Length: 4:01
Director: Kevin Altieri and Todd McFarlane
Date: 24 August, 1998
Est. Cost: unknown

PJ has a very small video catalog, but all of the clips are top-notch. From a grunge band, that's a big accomplishment.

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[All images are © their respective owners.]

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