Basically every video Beastie Boys, in some fashion, has famous friends in it. They’re the reigning hipster kings of New York. No wonder they’re friends with Spike Jonze, who wishes he directed the awesome “Step, Clap, Go!” promo Bruce Thierry Cheung shot for Opening Ceremony’s Target collection. He did get a shout-out, though. It’s who you know.
My favorite bit of “____ degrees of separation” between the hip hop trio and director is the “Sure Shot” video. Remember when MCA says “I wanna say a little somethin’ that’s long overdue, but disrespecting women has got to be through/to all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends I wanna offer my love and respect to the end”? And it’s accompanied by a quick montage of cool ladies like Chloë Sevigny, Kim Gordon, Sofia Coppola, and Tamra Davis along with a bunch of women I don’t know personally but are probably close friends and family members? This was my introduction to the Beasties.
Later, I found out about songs like “Paul Revere”, which made me sad. But then I found out that they don’t perform that song or many of the cuts from their mook phase because people didn’t get a joke that was never especially funny. And then I found out that they openly spoke out against sexism and would stop shows if they saw female fans getting harassed. Then I heard “Song for the Man,” Ad-Rock’s solo slam against chauvinist dudes on Hello Nasty. This made me really happy.
Ad-Rock is also Mr. Kathleen Hanna. I think this is unassailably cool even if I know this doesn’t guarantee he has unimpeachable feminist politics anymore than it doesn’t ensures Hanna does. Hanna is my heroine, but I have no use for pedestals. Anyway, I’d be happy to have them over for some white wine and The Immaculate Collection.
Anyway, I’ve liked the Beasties for some time. It started when I bought Hello Nasty after my mom reminded my stepdad that he was practicing gender discrimination when he let one of his sons get Ill Communication but didn’t think I should listen to them. I still like Licensed to Ill and Paul’s Boutique, when the Beasties were doing their chauvinist minstrelsy schtick–if in spite of and not because. I recently revisited Boutique, a high school favorite, and it’s still a super-fun listening experience. Couldn’t get it out of my car.
I watched Adam Horovitz’s forgotten troubled youth picture Lost Angels, not so much because I had a crush on Ad-Rock as I wanted to be Ad-Rock. I did, however, think his ex-wife Ione Skye was pretty. Apparently, she might have reciprocated those feelings at some point in her life. And while I find it a little disconcerting that bicurious actresses had dalliances with Jenny Shimizu in the 90s–I hope they weren’t just “going through a phase” with a Japanese American lesbian–I certainly understand. Fact: Few women are going to deny a hot dyke who can fix cars.
The Beasties’ new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, just came out. MCA directed the video for “Make Some Noise,” which is also making the rounds. My partner’s mom asked for his opinion on it and in the spirit of extending Mother’s Day into the week, I’ll answer her: it’s aight but I’m confused by it and think its charms diminish upon return.
Primarily, I’m lost as to why the mid-80s beer-guzzling chauv model of the group is recirculating (note: the Beasties recently released the short film “Fight For Your Right Revisited,” which extends upon the issues I bring up in this post). The obvious answer is because this is the group’s most iconic look. But MCA, Ad-Rock, and Mike D haven’t been these guys since I entered pre-school. In some sense, they’ve actively renounced this version of themselves. So why are Danny McBride, Elijah Wood, and Seth Rogen assuming the roles?
Also, the stunt casting is not especially effective here. In general, I’m leery of stunt casting. Recently, Tom Scharpling directed “Moves” for the New Pornographers. The video’s premise is promising. A preview for a fake biopic on the supergroup that swipes from every Behind the Music storyline? I liked Walk Hard. But the clip too heavily relies on the viewer being charmed by Julie Klausner playing Neko Case or Ted Leo in drag as Kathryn Calder. Look, no one laughed harder than I did at seeing Kevin Corrigan brandish a gun while strumming an acoustic guitar as Dan Bejar. But otherwise, the clip doesn’t really go anywhere. Scharpling also directed Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ “Bottled In Cork,” which also features Klausner and a host of famous friends. It also gets in so many great, incisive digs at Green Day shilling for Broadway. It has a point beyond stunt casting, which makes it infinitely more enjoyable. In fact, I’m going to watch it again right now.
Essentially stunt casting and a flimsy plot are what hinder the video for “Make Some Noise.” Wood might be the best actor of the three. Though he looks nothing like Ad-Rock, he’s clearly been studying the tapes. McBride is kind of stoic, which works well enough for MCA. Rogen may be deadpan, but possesses little of Mike D’s loopiness. It’s weird casting. Having Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly play the roles at the end of the video is wonky too. Below are some stray observations.
1. Where’s Hanna’s cameo? Did I blink and miss her? Maybe she didn’t want to be involved with the video. I respect creative people wanting to separate their professional endeavors from their home lives. But if she just wasn’t asked to participate, weak sauce dude. Maybe she thought the celebrity stunt casting was as uninspired as I did. What is up, Kathleen?
2. Who is the girl on the skateboard?!?!? More of her coolness please. How about her own video?
3. I love that Rashida Jones gives Ad-Rock sass for trying to holler at her. You can call me a turkey anytime, m’dear. Oof. Give me a moment.
4. Jones should have walked off with Parks and Rec bestie Amy Poehler, but I’m glad they have their own segments. Also, when is Poehler going to win an Emmy for her work as Leslie Knope? I’m starting a damn campaign.
5. Why is Maya Rudolph a groupie with Kirsten Dunst in the limo? I’m so tired of her being underused. Even more tired than I am of the groupies-in-the-limo scenario. Can’t she be in a band that’s playing some cool loft party the Beasties crash or something? Then I can complain about men interrupting women. She was in the Rentals for a hot minute.
6. I’m pretty sure Sevigny (who appears to be in a different shoot than Rudolph and Dunst) provided her own wardrobe. It’s recently come to my attention that she frequents her bodega in that jacket. Also, the moment she smashes a bottle of champagne on Ad-Rock’s head and laughs is a GIF from heaven.
In short, I’m glad the Beasties are back. I was pulling for MCA. But I’m not feeling this video as much I’d like to.