Years ago, when hot artists like Madonna, Prince, and Cher were first pushing the boundaries of MTV with daring videos that incorporated the artists’ own sexuality into their art, I used to think that MTV needed to create a premium channel that would allow these artists to see through their visions to their – and our – complete edification.
Remember when Madonna was crawling cat-like across the floor in that green dress to lick milk out of a bowl? And then, as the video faded, she was sitting on a bed, her brazenly artistic nude body nearly fully revealed while some buff guy walks into the room? Smokin’! The video for that song, “Expose Yourself”, was so close to perfection.
Later, Madonna tried to push it another step further in that “Justify My Love” video with the guys writhing around in doorways wearing Danskins and the harsh chicks with riding crops. She was boldly speaking for a broader, sexually liberated audience, but there wasn’t enough of the artist herself. It was provocative, surely, but was it was a retreat from the more personal art she had previously been working toward, art that did not fear to fully expose the artist herself. Later videos, in which she sat pimped out in the back of a limo and one in which she donned Danskins herself and made like Travolta’s dance partner from Saturday Night Fever signaled a further retreat from a completely personal form of expression.
I don’t want to belabor the background here, because what I really want to talk about is the work of modern-day rapper Spank Rock, who is doing groundbreaking work in bringing his sexuality to the fore in his music, sometime to the extent of obscuring the music altogether, but Prince’s video for “Cream” was another example of an artist embedding his personal vision of sensuality as deeply as any of the grooves provided by the crack backing musicians. There were some truly expressive moments in that video, moments as essential to that song as, say, any key lick in a Beatles song.
Cher is another artist who rarely gets credit for her merging of a unique, personal sensuality with hot, rockin’ grooves. I’m not talking about her work with Sonny, in which she had to submerge her sexuality so as to limit her natural dominance over her man, but her solo work. A little-discussed running theme of her Cher’s revolves around the sort of issues French director Louis Malle explored, of innocent incestual and otherwise sexual relationships between children and their mothers. Remember that video with her wearing little but a leather jacket and thong as she paced across a ship’s deck with her son (the spawn of her and Gregg Allman) wailing on lead guitar? Better yet is the opening shots from her forgotten, X-rated, 1969 film, Chastity. The plot is pretty twisted – and hot – and right off the bat, as the opening credits roll, she parades her slender, bra-less body in front of some young boys. No joke: check out this clip and watch closely around the 7-minute mark for the acting debut of one of our Townspeople. It’s no wonder the flaxen-haired youth of the video grew up as comfortable in his skin as he is today.
Now onto this Spank Rock guy…
The future I dreamed of long ago is not quite here, but it’s near. This guy’s videos boldly meld his personal vision of sleaze with dope beats. Rock ‘n roll has always been primarily about sex (anyone know the story of what the term “rock ‘n roll” originally denoted?). Check out this video and the way the artist picks up on the work artists like Madonna, Prince, and Cher originally established.
Then there’s his latest video, for a song called “Loose”. I’ve watched this video a few dozen times over the weekend, and I still can’t remember a lick of the music. Who knows how much porn spam I’ll be receiving in the coming days just by watching this video? Who knows how big my dick will grow, how many more women will hunger for me, how long I will be able to keep it up? I can’t believe how many years I’ve wasted listening to all that pseudo-intellectual babble of Bob Dylan, the Marxist instrumentals of Henry Cow, the sensitive musings of Joni Mitchell. This is what rock ‘n roll set out to do!