So I know I just started this column last week and it’s a bit early to be going off-format, but when looking for a camp-themed video to decode this week, there were so many options that I couldn’t pick just one. Hence, I bring you not one but four great campy music videos, along with an abbreviated exegesis on each one.
The Video: Mariah Carey, “Always Be My Baby”
What it means: The utterly mismatched male and female romantic leads of this video are meant to drive home the point that not only do girls mature faster than boys, but that the early puberty borne of tormented, hormone-laden meat disproportionately affects young girls in American society. The campfire signifies the ritualistic burning of childhood; the lake, the obscure, slimy-bottomed, potentially eel-containing waters of adulthood. (Seriously, lakes are fucking gross.) Ms. Carey, catalyst to so many young people’s desire to become grownups, hovers over the lake teasingly in her tire swing of innocence, urging them to take the plunge. They listen.
The Video: Hellogoodbye, “Here In Your Arms”
What it means: The colorful imagery of this video creates a deliberate juxtaposition with the harshness with which the song’s computerized torture-pop hits the ear. The Pog tournament symbolizes a nostalgia for our 90′s childhoods that can only be the direct result of 9/11. The various kinds of ambiguously retro imagery—the Pogs of the 90′s, the B-Boys of the 80′s; the bowtied big bands of the 40′s—show that we are a generation un-moored in time, not unlike the unfortunate protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece of modernism Slaughterhouse Five.
The Video: RuPaul, “Supermodel”*
What it means: RuPaul’s re-writing of history to create an imagined past in which he was born female bespeaks the alternate narratives lived by those with a non-normative interpretation of gender; despite protestations to the contrary, they were, in essence, born this way. The line “It doesn’t matter what you wear/they’re checking out your savoir faire” is a critical unraveling of the pretensions of the fashion world. The designer brands and status symbols are mere accessories to the true currency of the moment. Namely, the aforementioned savoir faire.
*(I realize this video is backwards. I think it adds an extra layer of meaning to it, no? Like…this world, although fabulous, is but an inferior reflection of a world far more fabulous than this one. That is some Allegory of the Cave level shit.)
The Video: RuPaul, “Jealous Of My Boogie”
What It Means: Chi Chi LaRue knows how to draw on some seriously angry eyebrows.