Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Putting On the Right Mask

Madvillain (MF Doom and Madlib) team up with director Daniel Garcia to paint a bleak and foggy video where the robotic banality of modern life is fought with the individuality of the hero…

VIDEO: "Monkey Suite" directed by Daniel Garcia

The reason Batman is a better superhero than Superman (stay with me here) is because the former creates himself from the inside out, whereas the latter is given his super abilities from birth. Batman is something we can aspire to be, Superman is above and beyond our grasp forever.

Madvillain is an anti-hero character that captures much of the same aesthetic and emotional power as Batman. In the video for “Monkey Suite” we immediately plunge into the modern industrial world through the top of a giant smoke stack. The smoke from this factory bleeds into every corner of this world and the screen itself. The weight of a world run on technological blandness moves beyond simply the workplace, but its' smoke creeps around the barstools and roads leading home as well. Madvillain walks against the grain as his fellow beings move dejectedly through the fog in the other direction. ‘Villain speaks about never resting behind a “computer desk” and in his words he hopes to inspire his listeners away from simply conforming to the norm. The same can be said for the video as well, but like Batman - it isn’t your typical call for individuality.

More than simply celebrating the unique qualities and potential for greatness that we all have, sometimes society requires heroes and leaders to show everyone their collective potential before they can do anything with it. Thus Madvillain puts on his uniform and walks through the streets intentionally disguised, the mystery behind the mask is what inspires people to believe in something more than the doldrums of their day-to-day lives. Essentially disguising one’s own place in this assembly line reveals everyone’s ability to escape the same submission.

The mask becomes a symbol of individuality, even in hiding the “truth” of appearance. And in redefining his “truth,” Madvillain becomes a beacon for the rest of his community. This concept is mirrored in the name of the character itself, a reinvention of normally negative ideas as positive ones - thus removing people from their guilt and consequent self-doubt. Madvillain's light shines through and breaks the smog that hovers over everything. He turns heads and raises spirits simply by walking down the street in a different way. It’s a simple video with a fairly simple message, but it is in fact presenting an idea that is rare in popular culture.

The creation of myth and the power of symbols are often less heralded than the ability to directly tell truths, or be “real.” But Madvillain and their director recognize the danger of becoming one of the crowd, and that it's possible raise spirits and inspire people towards greatness by using and celebrating image – rather than rejecting it as false masquerading. There is often more truth in disguise, especially when it creates heroes like Madvillain and Batman.

1 comment:

Ethan said...


Depth of Focus Videographies: Radiohead / Bjork / Michael Jackson / Bowie