Monday, November 18, 2013

A Cheap Holiday In Other People's Misery - Holiday by Vampire Weekend

I used to be in a band. People would frequently ask what we sounded like. This is an annoying question to answer. If you say that you sound like another band, it makes you feel like your band is totally derivative. If you say that your band is a genre it gives the impression that your band fits exactly into a genre, which is something most musicians would not like to admit. Most of the time, of course, there is a band that you sound like and you fit perfectly into a genre. Saying that, though, would require you to be honest with yourself.

I make a point never to be honest with myself, though. Eventually I settled on saying that my band was like a white Vampire Weekend. I think you'll see what I mean.

Holiday by Vampire Weekend:

On the face of it, this video is about the band in wigs cavorting around California acting like idiots. I think it's more than that. The band wearing wigs and 18th century clothing represent moneyed Europeans. They are enthusiastic about seeing the world, but there is always distance between themselves and those they observe. They do not travel to experience the culture, but to act as detached observers. They see and judge. They always know that their culture is superior. This can sometimes lead to some conflicts.

The video opens with a celebration.

The band has brought their culture with them to California. They sit and play chess, amusing themselves in various ways.

Eventually, the band decides to see what California is all about so they go to a beach party.

They don sunglasses just like the natives traditionally do.

I don't know what is happening here. They go fishing in a pool for bottles?

Seems pretty dangerous. But hey, when in Rome...

They decide to see what the California car culture is like, driving around in a rented convertible.

Seems okay. Footloose and fancy free.

Naturally, they go to a drive-through to sample some of the local cuisine.

They go to a beach.

I love how they make a tiny effort to fit in with the sunglasses, but keep their impractical clothes on at the beach. They are not trying to experience what it is like to be a Californian. They are true European colonialists. They're glad to come look at the savages living their savage culture. But those savages are not people. This colors the Europeans' observations somewhat.

One of the Europeans decides to try some of the face paint he sees those savages using.

Looking at native women, their bodies tantalizingly exposed, is key to any expedition into the savage lands.

Eventually, though, any European will grow bored with primitive cultures. "I'm not content," he says.

That picture is pretty much the gold standard for someone who has ennui. Excellent.

The band decides to gorge themselves on food from their homeland.

Cake, specifically, which they let themselves eat.

Then, they decide to go out and show their superiority to the savages. They start by attacking a man on some sort of primitive vehicle.

It's amazing these people even have the wheel.

Then, they go to the beach to pick a fight. They start by bumping into some surfers.

Beat the shit out of them.

And then mock them.

Who is the best? Europe is the best.

I hereby declare this video one of the top 5 funniest about colonialism


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