Monday, October 7, 2013

RAWHIDE! - Whip It by Devo

The music video for "Whip It" by Devo is considered a classic. Their strange appearance and synthesizers are a symbol for the early music video. Mostly, though, this video is just weird as shit.

Take a look:

This video is definitely not boring. It features a cast of many. You have a kindly older woman who lives in a faux-log cabin that is extremely poorly painted. Her cabin is not passing for log and she couldn't care less.

You have a cross-eyed woman who seems to live with the kindly older woman.

You have a group of cowboys and cowgirls drinking beer. They are engaging in a wild party outside the kindly older woman's faux-log cabin. You suspect that she is picking up beer cans and clucking her tongue every morning.

You have Devo.

Featuring a fresh-faced young gentleman.

And the bespectacled S&M enthusiast.

There are several story lines featuring this cast. The main one is the public whipping.

Here the whip-ee is being led out by the kindly older woman and her cross-eyed assistand/ward.

Her blindfold is inexplicably removed before the whipping begins. What was the purpose of that blindfold? Was she kidnapped and brought to the faux-log cabin for the whipping and the blindfold prevented her from learning her location? Or does she also live in the cabin and uses the blindfold to aid her second sight?

He proceeds to whip her clothes off, starting with her hat.

The cowpeople love this. The woman on the left just realized that this, watching a woman strip-whipped in public, is what she has been longing for her entire life. No longer will she feel frustrated and unfulfilled. This fills a hole in her life she didn't even know was there.

Now, the S&M enthusiast accidentally hits the woman directly with the whip. This gets different reactions.

This man is filled with blood lust. He's probably the type of person who tramples someone to death at a football game.

It is too much for the kindly older woman, though. "Why!" she demands. "Why must we whip?!"

The enthusiast whips off her shirt and keeps whipping until she is down to her lingerie.

The other major story line features the cross-eyed woman. She pulls a gun on the cowpeople.

They are mostly shocked, but our blood lusty friend thinks he knows what she wants. He holds up his beer can.

We see things from her perspective. We can clearly see that even if she hits the beer can directly the bullet will travel through it and hit the cowboy in the chest or throat. Traditionally, you would hold the can out to the side. The cowboy, however, believes that the cross-eyed woman will never hit what she is aiming for so he is safest standing directly behind her target.

She shoots and presumably misses because the cowboy has no bullet holes in him. The cowboy is so shocked that he throws the beer can over his own shoulder. This just raises the blood lust in him. Or at least the lust.

A cowgirl gives him the encouragement he needs while providing prominent placement for Guess jeans' logo.

The cowboy gets to work in full view of everyone else. Those are curtains, buddy. Use 'em!

Clearly he wants everyone to see and they want to watch. Just what kind of faux-log cabin is this?

One thing I love about this video is the band.

I'm frequently bothered by synthesizer bands when they make music videos because of the performance shots. Even if you see the band playing, you don't really get a sense of how the song was made. Devo, on the other hand, show that this song was played with a guitar, some drums, and a couple of synthesizers. I think you can see the band members play every note. That's pretty cool.

This video commits a sin that normally bothers me a lot: too literally depicting the lyrics. Here it does not bother me so much. Why is that, you ask? Must there be a reason for everything? Must everyone be annoyed when I answer a question with another question? How about if I answer a question that I ask myself? No!

Maybe I don't mind the literalness because the lyrics are so silly and they go so over the top. First of all, you have all the whipping. Then you have these:

"Break your momma's back."

"Before the cream sits out too long you must whip it."

"Get straight."

They really go for it, here. Why would a kindly old woman have a huge skillet filled to the top with cream? Is this faux-log cabin actually a working farm and she is making dairy products?

Either way, this video is very silly. It has a bunch of crazy things happening for no real reason. At the same time there are some serious themes. We see our once proud culture obsessed with the basest sex and violence and we see that both sex and violence are connected. I think ultimately The Exploited explain all of this with their song "Sex and Violence": "Sex and violence! Sex and violence! Sex and violence! Sex and violence!"

Those guys said it all.


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