So, it seems HARMONY KORINE made a video for THE BLACK KEYS' single “Gold on the Ceiling,” the latest track from their 2011 release El Camino. Those words actually would have excited me a while back (more the "Korine made a video part," rather), but it's just kind of depressing in the present day. Here's a spoiler: the most notable thing about the video is that it freaked out a Pitchfork writer (which admittedly probably isn’t the world’s hardest thing to do). If you like the Black Keys, you might like it. If you liked Korine, you probably won’t.
Once upon a time, Korine was a fascinating young director and screenwriter, who made weird, disgusting and ultimately beautiful movies (Gummo, Kids, and my favorite, Julien Donkey-Boy) for the art-house set. In fact, he was somewhat of a counterculture icon because of just how fucking crazy he seemed to be in real life. From the time he pushed Bette Midler down the stairs when making a Letterman appearance, to bro-ing out with Werner Herzog, to when he and videographer/magician David Blaine trolled the streets of Paris looking for a fight to provoke and film, his life just made for a fascinating story, especially since his art was so captivating.
At this point, Korine just feels like an odd relic from a far-off era, just like the VHS he shoots on or the white noise that consumes parts of this video. The conceit is funny enough, but it wears itself pretty thin within the first couple of minutes, because the images aren’t different enough to justify the length. On the part of the band, it seems they’re desperately screaming for relevance to a part of their audience who’s needed an associative jump to make in order to justify liking the band. It’s one of those things that proves coolness to the skeptical, I guess, like having Rebecca Black (at the point directly after her ironic 15 minutes ran out) cameo in a Katy Perry video.
For the director, I’m sure he’s just happy that his lifestyle is being funded for the next couple of months. It’s by far one of the most boring things he’s ever done, where he essentially blends the worst parts of his last two films, the alright Mister Lonely and the awful Trash Humpers to make a three minute waste of type. The only moment evocative of his early work in the video comes near the end, where he does his typical “exploitation of the stupid” shtick that he falls back on when he runs out of response-eliciting imagery. The freshness of his style and his early work has finally gone completely stale, and what was once scary and daring about his work has been replaced by a juvenile mantra of “shock ‘em ‘till they laugh or cry”. His fascinating textures and methodology behind his filmmaking process (my favorite being how he created the look of Julien Donkey-Boy converting miniDV tape to 16 mm to 35mm) have taken on the look of an Adult Swim bumper.
It pains me to say it, but expect this to pop up (in .gif form, of course) on your wacky hipster ex-girlfriend’s blog. You know, the one who made you watch Tim and Eric beyond the point of sanity that one night, talked way too much about her neighbor’s cat, regarded bathing the same way a Conquistador did, and tyepz lyk thyz 0n h3r tumblr bkawse it’s hip to do so.
The undercurrent of nuanced social commentary that hid in his work has been exchanged for that kind of vapidness, and even the straight-up fuckedness of his ideas and imagery has been sold to Urban Outfitters for thirty pieces of relevancy. It’s a real drag.