Jun 01

The Pornography of Semiotics

FT1 comment • 51,572 views

6/21/2001 11:52:41 AM

Poe’s video, and there’s another female body smeared with dirt and oil. Grime on male bodies usually signifies a connection to the working class; what dirt on women signifies I don’t know. Probably sluttiness. Women covered in dirt aren’t those sterile matronly Donna Reed robots from the fifties.

6/21/2001 11:43:42 AM

I’m amazed that the host of MTV’s Hot Zone would find it newsworthy that a person could actually make an album using a Mac and Pro Tools. While few if any MTV-ready artists actually take such a lo-fi approach, I mean, come on…tech is the lingua franca of pop nowadays. Instead of gawking, why don’t they actually show how people make music using software?

6/21/2001 11:34:14 AM

Not much I can say about Blu Cantrell other than she’s got this Ann Margaret vibe about her.

6/21/2001 11:31:33 AM

And now he’s at a club, pining for a girl while listening to his MP3 player!

6/21/2001 11:30:25 AM

No, wait…Usher’s now doing Michael Jackson moves in front of a post-apocalyptic sunset!

6/21/2001 11:29:43 AM

Usher’s all grown up now, and doing fancy choreography moves in big California malls.

6/21/2001 11:21:25 AM

Poe? She was a quasi-Liz Phair from about five years ago, but why is Poe on MTV now? For that matter, why is Poe talking about all of these issues she had with her father?

6/21/2001 11:18:19 AM

More sensitive tough white guys. The name? I didn’t type it up. This band though has a singer who looks like a million husky gay guys I’ve known. You know the kind of guys I’m talking about: sad eyes, Broadway fixation, image problems.

6/21/2001 11:11:59 AM

No amount of plastic surgery could ever make Steven Tyler look young, but there are still things that can be done to compensate. Certainly having a shorter haircut than usual helps, as does the scene in the video where his face morphs into a much younger one, presumably the face belonging to one of the actors of the movie that Aerosmith soundtracked.

6/21/2001 11:06:31 AM

A new program — MTV’s “Hot Zone” — which looks awfully similar to the old program, it seems: a VJ backed by enthusiastic teeners. A what’s being introduced? The oldest band on MTV, Aerosmith.

6/21/2001 11:02:10 AM

Tears, lipgloss, sweat and rain…this Ja Rule video is awfully moist, isn’t it? Its subject matter is morbid, and the look of the video (in parts at least) is all this post-human sensuousness.

6/21/2001 10:56:49 AM

Digital special effects gives us the spectacle that is singing belly buttons. (It’s part of a Levi’s Jeans commercial, if you must know who to blame.) If my belly button had a voice, it’d sound the same way that David Letterman does when he imitates a gruff old man.

6/21/2001 10:48:55 AM

You could probably generate the bassline from Lil’ Mo’s “Superwoman” on hundred-dollar synth emulation software. Which is cool, ’cause like in 112’s “Peaches and Cream,” the more obviously artificial the sounds are, the more startlingly present and alive they feel passing though your ears and body. An acoustic guitar just doesn’t have that power.

6/21/2001 10:42:55 AM

Is the guy licking the popsicle supposed give off homoerotic vibes? Because it’s not.

6/21/2001 10:40:59 AM

Another, different video for Missy. I can’t made head or tales of it. It’s a clumsy melange of ideas and special effects, almost like a demonstration that money and digital imaging will never shake off the corny kitchen-sink surrealism one can find in all those early MTV videos.

6/21/2001 10:36:12 AM

I find it more gross that Erick Sermon has to rely on those hideous music-is-the-universal-language cliches than the fact he’s dragging Marvin Gaye — very blurry footage of Marvin Gaye — into his video.

6/21/2001 10:30:31 AM

It’s re-assuring to think that Erick Sermon has the same alarm clock I do. I wonder if he too finds it a pain in the ass to set the alarm.

6/21/2001 10:29:27 AM

I think it’s bad news that MTV2 is now advertising that it plays videos in “blocks,” because if I remember correctly, that kind of heavy-handedness — where the channel attempted to make its programming as predictable as possible — started MTV1 down the road to hell.

6/21/2001 10:11:32 AM

Missy’s video is pretty disappointing. It’s no match for the song’s exoticist sass. Ah, but there’s been sooo much hip-hop and R&B already today. I want to avoid nattering on about how MTV used to be back in the day, but even as recent as five years ago urban contemporary pretty much never rose above token status, apart from a few scarily overplayed Snoop/Dre videos. More Timbaland-related disappointment comes from Aaliyah, who dances with snakes, has dirt smeared all over her body, and wears way too much eyeshadow.

6/21/2001 10:05:54 AM

Hold on a second. I’m showing my mom how this blogger thing works while the Missy Elliott’s video is on.

6/21/2001 10:04:06 AM

I still get a kick at the sheer mastery of their bodies that Destiny’s Child demonstrates when they dance. They know exactly where to put every elbow and every hip at every single moment.

6/21/2001 10:00:36 AM

Sugar Ray continues its evolution into a nice-guy pop band by parodying Duran Duran and Gary Numan for a few brief moments in their new song, whose name I forgot.

6/21/2001 09:58:36 AM

Will Smith seems like a nice guy, but I had sink my head in my hands when I saw the clip of him speaking at the hip-hop summit. In a democratic society, the phrase “we’ve got to start a dialogue” is an expression of pure impotence, because starting dialogues, focus groups, town hall meetings, etc. are the easiest things in the world to do; what comes after is the tricky stuff.

6/21/2001 09:49:09 AM

DeBeers is advertising engagement rings, so I’m assuming that MTV’s trying to raise its demographic window a bit.

6/21/2001 09:44:58 AM

Mucho props to Janet Jackson (and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) for resurrecting America’s “Ventura Highway,” digitally processed and ironically framed for a new generation. Much as I’m grossed out by her attempts to her re-brand herself as a freaky sex kitten, she retains her essential sweetness in this and her last single, where burnished Pro-Tooled vocals ride music tracks of pure narcotic bliss.

6/21/2001 09:39:36 AM

Actually, there’s another amusing thing about Weezer: since they’re one of the few surviving members of the post-Nirvana alt.rock breakthrough generation still playing on MTV. Them and STP. Who would’ve thought they’d last? Well, who would’ve thought that Rivers Cuomo would be considered a genius, either?

6/21/2001 09:36:09 AM

Weezer again! I like this. I mean, not the video, which seems just as inexplicable as before. I like the idea of being able to turn on MTV at any time and being able to watch (or just ambiently soak in) non-linear, instantly forgettable videos. It’s awfully comforting. Television experienced ambiently is awfully comforting to me. I created most of the Freaky Trigger Focus Grou IV pages with my old MST3K videos in the background. John Lennon used to write songs with the TV in the background, too, I know.

6/21/2001 09:29:31 AM

N’Sync’s “Pop” is part of a wonderful conspiracy to soften the American public to two-step…just in time for two-step to start sucking.

6/21/2001 09:25:21 AM

Now I see Maura taking on Metafilter‘s anti-pop masses. You go, girl!

6/21/2001 09:21:37 AM

Another Gen Y football movie? Well, I guess they can’t insert a convincing love story into a wrestling movie.

6/21/2001 09:19:55 AM

Is it fair to infer that since Ananda Lewis is pimping for Pepsi that she no longer works for MTV?

6/21/2001 09:18:40 AM

I suppose I should be able to find irony in an ex-junkie like Scott Weiland popping up in a youth-oriented show like TRL, but I don’t have the smarts to do so. It’s scary that in the course of Carson Daly’s interview, three different direct comparisons are made between the recording of STP’s new album and MTV shows. The recording sessions were filmed, so it was like The Real World; it was all so very stupid, so it was like Jackass; and I forgot the other one. MTV is a total system; it can’t allow anything to stand outside of it.

6/21/2001 09:10:39 AM

I was gonna say something about Tang but on comes Ricky Martin saying “Peace for Vieques,” a perfectly wishy-washy thing to say. But even better! We get a filmclip of a North Carolina teacher putting on “Historical TRL”, where children dressed as Jesus, Nebuchadnezzar and Napoleon mime to Blink 182 and Backstreet Boys songs. I forgot what the teacher said; it would take an alarming amount of sophistry and the tounge of the devil to convincingly claim there was something educational in that.

6/21/2001 08:57:39 AM

Oooh, those lovely, caressing vocals and those interlocking choruses…no, it doesn’t sound like Blink 182 has sold out to the ROCK. Thank God.

6/21/2001 08:56:10 AM

Well, of course I’m going to notice it when people don’t age well on MTV! Look at the surrounding context, all those gleaming tattooed hardbodies…any adult would look freaky in the midst of all that.

6/21/2001 08:52:33 AM

And John Norris! You get the idea…

6/21/2001 08:51:30 AM

Speaking of getting old, is it cogent from a marketing standpoint to highlight that this is Road Rules 10? Should a youth-oriented channel really call attention to the fact that one of their shows is now a (gasp!) institution?

6/21/2001 08:47:01 AM

Damn, I’m so mean today. I’ve probably spent more time making fun of the way people look on MTV than I’ve spent making fun of the music.

6/21/2001 08:46:15 AM

Indeed, it would’ve been so much better to be distracted from this Mariah Carey video. Indeed, distraction is a very important element in the video. The kaliedoscope and vaseline-on-the-lens effects (as well as the guest rappers, you could argue) are clearly intended to make us forget that Mariah is, let’s face it, getting old.

6/21/2001 08:43:59 AM

Oh shit. I’ve been mentioned on Metafilter now and am too disoriented to watch this Malibu street performer do…whatever he just did. Thanks, Maura. :)

6/21/2001 08:39:54 AM

And as I typed that last entry, I didn’t even notice Carson introducing yesterday’s #6 entry, the new Dream video, “This Is Me.” Yet another video that seems to have been filmed in Lenny Kravitz’s house. If you read my rant about Lenny Kravitz’s house, don’t worry — Lenny Kravitz’s house looks exactly like you’d think his house would look like, all ultra-minimalist quasi-seventies interiors, gleaming surfaces, acid colors and token Eero Saarinen chairs. The seventies have been popular longer than the seventies actually lasted.


  1. 1
    liu xue ping on 27 Jul 2006 #


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