Before I start this entry I’d like to explain what’s my rationale for including the occasional video clip in the Useless Beauty category. Sometimes when I’m writing at night I have the television on, playing music videos. Whenever anything typographic or related catches my eye I then decide whether it’s good enough to mention on Unzipped. This is why I sometimes write about clips that are somewhat older, as I don’t keep up to date reading dedicated blogs but largely rely on chance encounters.
A couple of nights ago while I was writing the most recent episode of Characters on The Silver Screen a video made me pause. It starts with a bunch of (quite literally) swingers in an appartment taking off their clothes and having a party. As soon as their genitals are exposed black censor bars appear, and that’s when the fun begins. It didn’t take long before I was laughing out loud at the inventive silliness being shown.
The video is for Toe Jam, a track by Norman Cook’s (better known as Fat Boy Slim) new project The BPA (short for Brighton Port Authority) with former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and grime rapper Dizzee Rascal on guest vocals. The concept behind this project – BPA is supposed to be Norman Cook’s and Simon Thornton’s ‘lost’ band from the seventies – is supported by an elaborate back story that can also be found on their MySpace page. The subterfuge is sustained in the video, a take on an old 1965 style swingers vid: both the setting and clothes of the actors as well as the image quality perfectly fit the time period. Also the concept of applying censor bars is something of the past. David Byrne commented about the song that “it’s all slightly loopy innuendo, ecstatic, sexy and borderline disgusting – and [the] video pretty much takes that vibe and runs with it.”
And kudos to Norman Cook for having the… errr… balls to do a cameo completely naked in his own video (although I suspect his censor bar is a teensy bit oversized). Come to think of it, if I were him and my video would feature a room full of naked people having fun; heck, I’d be there dancing my… errr… butt off all night.
In my review of the My Mom’s New Boyfriend movie poster I wrote that I’m all for sensual imagery and don’t mind cleavage, but the image on the poster struck me as gratuitous, not of very good taste and suggestive in an inappropriate way. This is absolutely not the case with the Toe Jam video, on the contrary. It is deliciously tongue in cheek without resorting to irony, titillating in all the right ways and riotously funny. Plus it reminds us of days gone by when pornography wasn’t about degrading people but still a sensual, fairly innocent and seemingly joyous affair.