I recently put together a post on Fantasia for Dark Room, a blog my friend Caitlin runs. As Caitlin is quite the feminist horror film scholar, her blog focuses mainly on movies and some television programs that are either scary, darkly comedic, or both. Appropriately, I wrote about how the movie in question scared me as a kid as part of an ongoing series on childhood cinematic traumas.
It should be noted that I’m a bit of a ‘fraidy cat when it comes to horror movies. Thus, Caitlin is responsible for opening my eyes to the feminist possibilities of watching and interpreting horror. If you’re a feminist music geek who’s a bit skittish about the genre, I highly recommend reading her pieces on Dario Argento’s Opera and horror-informed music videos. I also value her assessments of TV shows like True Blood and movies like An American Crime, Palindromes, Heavenly Creatures, and Jennifer’s Body, among many others.
And if you’re a feminist music geek who loves horror, you should already be reading Dark Room.
I still haven’t adjusted to daylight savings, so I’m too tired to get elbow-deep into theory tonight. That said, I always like sharing with ya’ll, so let’s look at some more music videos. We can watch TV and have a couple of brews too.
I’ve written on animation in music videos elsewhere. I keep thinking about animation’s relationship to the voice, the body, and the potentially gendered dynamics of all of this. One form of animation I haven’t read anything on and would love to explore further is live-action animation, which depicts “real” filmic bodies interacting with “unreal” animated ones. Think Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry from Tom and Jerry in Anchors Aweigh or key portions of Mary Poppins, otherwise known as the movie that got me through chicken pox.
Now let’s look at a couple of more contemporary examples of live-action animation.
She & Him
“Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
Directed by Ace Norton
I think this clip does a good job of simulating the idyllic look of Disney’s early days, if only to exacerbate how creepy and scary those movies could be. Remember the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence in Dumbo? How about the “Night On Bald Mountain” segment in Fantasia, which I still cannot watch without covering my eyes. I can’t help but wonder if Alfred Hitchcock was inspired by Mickey Mouse’s shadow-projected broom-smashing sequence in ”The Sorcerer’s Apprentice“ when shooting Psycho‘s shower scene. Scary shit, yo. So are the homicidal ghosts and animals in “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?,” warping a sweet song about unrequited love into something disturbing.
Since I can’t post the video without mentioning the violence inflicted against Zooey Deschanel, I’ll admit that I cannot decide what to make of it. Is it misogynistic? If so, is it pointed or making a commentary, perhaps gesturing toward Disney’s regressive politics or undercutting the lead singer’s sweet image? Is it simply pointlessly violent and anti-female? Does the presence of multiple Deschanels and the singer’s own self-inflicted murderous actions complicate matters?
I find the second clip easier to process. No need to worry about adorable critters and ghouls disemboweling you.
“Pull Me Out Alive”
Dreaming Of Revenge
Directed by Doug Karr and Edward Boyce
Lead Animator: Patrick Jasin
I really love this music video (and if you’re an avid reader here, you might guess that my friend Kristen pointed me in its direction). For one, Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara makes a sweet cameo. It’s also formally interesting – great use of stop motion and I love Jasin’s laser-based animation. Also, I think the animation wonderfully visualizes what King yearns for in the song — for something to pull her up, push her forward, or keep her together. I reason that the lasers symbolize the intangible, internal qualities of personal strength. Thus, the animation extends from the live-action figure, blurring the boundaries within and outside of the female body in the process.