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DIY MTV: Music Videos Struggle to Keep Up With YouTube

Beirut's Postcards From Italy video, screening June 21 and 27

In this age of YouTube saturation, the power of the music video as marketing and branding tool has only grown greater, but breaking through the clutter of music clips takes increasing ingenuity. Program 1 of the Los Angeles Film Festival’s “Eclectic Mix” music-video showcase establishes early on that animation (from stop-motion with puppets and dolls to CGI) and artsy (if not always artful) black-and-white images continue to be the form’s dominant modes of expression, with nods to horror flicks (see Aesop Rock’s Night of the Living Dead homage, “Coffee”) and the influence of Salvador Dali ( the Happy Bullets’ “The Vice & Virtue Ministry”; Trans Am’s “Tesco vs. Sainsbury’s”) also especially noticeable. By contrast, Beirut’s simple concept of carefully edited home movies for their “Postcards From Italy” video offers a fusion of lyrics, images and emotion that overshadows much else in the program. Highlights of program 2 include Kid Sister’s “Pro Nails” and Simian Mobile Disco’s “Hustler,” both of which fuse ghetto-fab outlandishness and hipster irony, with “Hustler” reconfiguring the standard hip-hop video into a pageant of too-skinny girls of all races, decked out in bikinis, oversized sunglasses and ’70s hairdos, all slathering themselves in food and condiments. As cool, smart, provocative and hilarious as many of these clips are, most are still outpaced by the DIY remixing and reimagining being done by some clever, ordinary folk with access to the tools of pop culture. Nothing in these programs is quite as audacious or perversely thrilling as the student video that floated across YouTube some months ago in which clips of Miss Piggy were carefully edited so that she appeared to be lip-synching to Peaches’ raunchy “Fuck the Pain Away.” That was a marriage of audio and visuals that truly stopped you in your tracks.

(Click to enlarge)

Beirut's Postcards From Italy video, screening June 21 and 27

Eclectic Mix 1 screens Sat., June 21, 7 p.m., at the Italian Cultural Institute and Fri., June 27, 7:15 p.m., at the Landmark; Eclectic Mix 2 screens Sun., June 22, 4:30 p.m., at the Italian Cultural Institute and Sun., June 29, 7 p.m., at the Landmark.


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