Tuesday, February 18, 2014

There are 26 Things Wrong With This Video

Look, you kids today with your Mishapocalypses have a lot to deal with. I don't contest that, but if you lived in The South in 1992, "Achy Breaky Heart" was more ubiquitous and lingering than Tribble syphilis. It started line dancing, which for those of you who don't know is half-dancing and one half the world's most boring game of Twister. It is perhaps the whitest thing on Earth and it's definitely worse than an degenerative STI that only affects adorable, purring creatures from Iota Geminorum IV.

#1: "Achy Breaky Heart" (hereafter ABH-I) did all of that despite not having any sensible lyrics, no unique musical qualities, and no discernable point or message. I'm not saying it's a bad song; I'm saying it's black magic from a Stygian pit and revisiting it threatens the very fabric of reality. Unless you know where to find a paladin and a wizard in this, the year of our Lord 2014, there are scant few adventuring parties capable of undoing the damage that's being done here.

Existential worries to one side, there are N-1 other reasons this is three minutes and thirty-three seconds of bad decisions.

#2: I know Larry King will do any fake news report for $500 and a tie he's never seen before (if he's seen the tie before, he will eat you). What I didn't know is that you get 40 fuckmothering seconds for that price and Buck 22 was determined to use every second of it. Guys, I'm pretty sure that 12% of Independence Day wasn't news reports about the aliens invading, and aliens invading was pretty important to the plot of Independence Day (spoilers).

#3: He then promises us footage, but it never shows up. I could accept that budget restrictions would be an issue, but then later in the video you see there's a shitty CGI model of the alien ship so it doesn't make any sense.

The Larry King setup doesn't add anything except a suspicion that there's a reality show called "Drunk Makers," where aspiring creative individuals are given $10,000, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a tie no one has even seen before, and instructions to come back with something no one else has ever seen before. Buck 22's competitors both ended up drunkenly summoning Cthulu so now we've got to live with this. 

#4: Generally speaking, the non-music parts of a video should add a little something to the music parts.

Maybe "Fancy" is going a bit strong. Try Michael Madsen in "As Long As You Love Me" or "I'm Not Okay." What I'm saying is that the intro doesn't have any connection to the story that follows.

#5: Scratch that, what is going on in this video? Y'see, the reason you have a plain spoken intro is to provide context for what happens within the song. In "Fancy" you see that it all worked out for Fancy. As fucked up as sending your 18-year-old daughter out to prostitute is, it worked. Fancy got out. In ABH-II, there's no narrative to support. I mean, #6 Michael Jackson and a small child are fishing in the #7 very-specifically-named-but-not-relevant Daniel Boone National Forest --
#8: Apparently, Muhammad Ali considered this national park home, so I guess Islamic folks are just really, really into the environment.
--when they're sucked into a spaceship with awful special effects and worse acting. Now, I don't begrudge either of these things; videos have a budget and the kid is eight or something, so I don't expect much nuance here. It almost makes up for #9 Billy Ray Cyrus' not-acting.

Then the kid #10 instantly grows up for no reason. If it was relevant to the song, I'd give it a pass, but there was no reason for there to even be a kid except to #11 evoke The Andy Griffith Show in #12 an effort to show what ABH-II isn't instead of what it is.

So the kid gets #13 SORASed, #14 with clothes, and #15 a beard. So he can frolic with inexplicable aliens who are basically human females with eye paint and shiny triangles glued to them. Within the narrative of the music video, nothing about the alien design is wrong because of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

The story is told in a non-linear fashion, but here's what I can discern. The makeup aliens want human guys to dance with them and sing things while flying their ships. Then Billy Ray Cyrus and Buck 22 kill the Maybellineians and take their ship to use as a giant dance party/orgy site. 

But while one of the Maybellinean survivors pilots the ship near a toroidal singularity, the other two travel back in time, infiltrate the dance party as humans pretending to be Maybellineians, and capture the young Buck 22 (hereafter Buck 11). 

Otherwise how can Buck 11 be in the video after getting SORASed? Buck 22 is exiled to a planet with a life sentence of leading an incongruous dance crew. Cyrus suffers fatal hair dye poisoning (not shown, but heavily implied).

None of that's true. It's the story of how #16 hot alien babes want a boy and a 52-year-old man for some reason. They're initially severe and in a position of power, but are then #17 seduced into submissive awe, #18 organized into a twerk-tunnel, #19 then finally relegated to serving as accoutrement for the band as they throw a party for "real people."

Yes, that is kind of a porn plot because it's #20 a softcore porn video. There's no intent here other than to evoke thoughtless feeling in an audience. The kid is dancing in the back half of the video because someone said, "hey, let the kid dance too!" There's no reason for the Beat Freaks to be in there but because Buck 22 wants to push his folks in his song. The scantily-clad women twerking are there because people will watch that. The entire song exists because ABH-I was popular twenty-two years ago and people remember it fondly for nostalgia's sake (really, the only motivation to remember it fondly).

#21-26: ABH-II doesn't exist as an artistic creation, but as a commercial for the Buck 22 brand. In that respect, it's much like the original, but refined with almost a quarter-century of improvements in techniques to make a series of sounds and images that people will process as positive when creating narratives and spending money. 

The idea is for the video to proliferate. Hence, "going viral." With about a million views a day right now, I think it's doing pretty well. That I'm even talking about it is a testament to that. That's one of the two things AHB-II is doing right. Just as I don't pass judgement on Miley Cyrus for twerking her way into the headlines, I don't pass judgement on Buck 22 for making this successful piece of shit. I try not to hate the player, but the game. There's no crime in being knowing the rules and using them to win. Those women aren't twerking for a guy old enough to be their father (grandfather, if you're in the South), they're twerking for the guys who'll pay someone to pay women to twerk in a music video. If this is what people want, and you're disgusted, be angry at the idiots buying it.

The second thing is video does right is everything above, but without pretense. He says ABH-II "happened because I'd rather be lucky than good." This song exists because he had the fortune of being the first person who successfully got Billy Ray Cyrus to revisit ABH. He flat-out says that he's cashing in on the upswing in visibility of the Cyrus family following Miley's performance at the August 2013 VMAs.

ABH-II is awful for a lot of reasons, but it's damned honest about how it exists only to increase Buck 22's visibility and that of his self-named EP, released for download on iTunes and Amazon on the 11th.


SkilTao said...

Someday, when #15 oompa-loompa is the height of fashion, this dance club will be replicated inside an airship. Its patrons will think Buck 22 awesomely retro and won't understand who these "Cyrus" people are.

#2: Maybe Larry King demanded extra seconds of screentime for himself? To get a piece of that highly coveted Achy-Breaky demographic.

#3: Would've been easy; start with Billy & Young Buck, cut to Larry, and zoom into a TV behind him playing the rest of the music video.

#4: I'll nominate Janelle Monae's Many Moons, which itself recycles a catchy Pointer Sisters tune.

#10: Buck says it happened because the whiskey.

VanVelding said...

Hey, if I may, how's the Houma Movie Club stuff working for you?

SkilTao said...

Don't know yet. I've been putting them off until I catch up with schoolwork.

VanVelding said...

Yeah, an hour is a long-ass time. Longer in internet time.


Thanks. That's very good to know.

SkilTao said...

Yup. Plus my connection's crap so video sometimes chokes anyway.