(Not So) Neato Viddys on the Intertubes

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


UK electro duo Simian Mobile Disco are pretty darn good, and their now-oldish track “Hustler” is one of the best songs on their new album, Attack Decay Sustain Release. Its dark breakbeat backing is combined with a repetitive, stream-of-consciousness rap about being too broke to buy records and stealing them instead. It already had a pretty good (if eyebrow-raising) video featuring a circle of hipster girls whose game of “secret” turns into a makeout session, but for some reason the band (or their label) decided that wasn’t exploitative enough. Now we get a new video featuring dancing models who, er, binge and purge, in Technicolor:

Send-up of cheesecake videos, blistering indictment of the modeling industry, or crap? It brings to mind a couple other electronic artists whose tracks apparently needed attention-grabbing and ultimately exploitative clips: first, The Prodigy’s already-controversial “Smack My Bitch Up” featured a typical laddish night out of booze, fighting and sex (along with similar amounts of vomiting), until the perspective switcheroo at the end. (NSFW).

While nobody saw the Shyamalan-style twist coming, it’s still dumb, and feels like a tacked-on way to make the other 99% of the video acceptable.

Don’t forget the clip for UNKLE’s “Rabbit in Your Headlights,” a dull ballad with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on vocals. The video uses special effects to create what’s basically an ultraviolent snuff film where a mentally disturbed man is repeatedly run over by cars until, again, a kind of surprise ending, I guess:

That one ends up on lots of “best video ever” lists, but it just makes me feel kind of ill. Perhaps the lesson with these clips that it’s a slippery slope between ironic, winking exploitation and actual, grody exploitation?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest