Monday, February 4, 2013

Music Video Storytelling/My Fifth Publishing Credit

Happy news this week! My story "Mountainview" is a top ten finalist in the 2013 Saints and Sinners fiction competition. It still has a chance to be top three also, which would mark my first time making money as a writer. The story is about a bullied middle school student who finds common ground with his tormentor on what turns out to be a historic day. It's all about how disaster forces us to have perspective.

I'm still waiting on a number of potential publishers for "Jesse Rules" and "Men in Strange Arrangements". Also waiting on word regarding my Best of the Net 2012 nomination for "The Camp Seminole Wiener Wall".

This month's topic is music videos that tell a story. I use some of these when I'm teaching. Most of the stories are nonverbal, having more to do with the mood of the song than the lyrics. They all have impeccable imagery and plot structure.

Imagine Dragons, "Radioactive"
Dog fighting is atrocious. Muppet fighting is genius. In this video, Lou Diamond Phillips (of all people) plays a sleazy, smoke-ring blowing proprietor of an underground muppet fighting circuit. All goes well until the protagonist girl comes in with a pink teddy bear that annihilates Phillip's horned purple people eater with a pink disco donkey punch. Then the muppets tear Phillips to shreds. Come-uppance works in every form of storytelling.

Foster the People, "Houdini"
They're better known for "Pumped up Kicks", but this is a better video. The band is killed in a light-fixture collapse about seven seconds in. Then the band's sleazy manager calls in a large Asian FX whiz who proceeds to give the band's corpses the anamatronic treatment. The show goes on. My guess is the band was feeling a wee bit exploited by the Hollywood machine. For extra laughs, find the part where the puppeteer has Matt Foster bent over a table, looking VERY exploited.

AWOLNATION, "Not Your Fault"
They're best known for "Sail", either the alien-abduction video or that one where the two hipster chicks spray each other with a hose. (30 million views, I loathemire those bitches.) This video is better because claymation., just 'cause claymation. It references the creepy classic Rudolph Yeti. Also, there's dancing aliens and a machine-gun wielding merman. It works perfectly with the apologetic, yet kind of controlling tone of the song.

Disturbed, "Land of Confusion"
The Genesis original is a classic (muppets again!), but this Todd McFarlane cartoon dwarfs it in scope. He summarizes the entire class struggle of the globalization years in less than five minutes. When the hooded hero Falcon-punches the monopoly man at the end, you'll want to cheer with righteous indignation. That, or you're a corporate douche no soul.

Don Henly, "The Boys of Summer"
I read somewhere that this video is in a museum. It deserves that kind of reverence. Despite being filmed in 1984, the story holds up. There has never been a song that better captured regret, and the video works as a perfect companion piece. When Henley sings "Don't look back, you can never look back," and the characters do exactly that, you know you've seen perfect cooperation between song, sentiment, and video. It's like the old Gatsby line about how we're "boats borne back against the current" distilled into a two second shot.

The first three videos are also very recent, so the art form isn't dead just yet. MTV may be Snookified but Youtube is keeping music videos alive and well. 

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