Rammstein & Girls’ Mucky Vids Prove Why Rock Grot Is Rot Not Hot

This year hardcore porn has crossed over into the mainstream music video. Luke Turner gets all hot and bothered

The naked human form has long been used to promote music. One imagines ancient men persuading the womenfolk of the cave to swing their pendulous dugs in time with their boarskin rhythms in order to attract local flint salesmen, or early shellac 78s featured etchings of debutante’s ankles. Music video producers were naturally quick to pick up on the potential offered by the gyrating of human flesh in time to music. And so the hip hop and R&B video has become a cliché of enormous bottoms and six packs you could start a skiffle band off, metal revels busty dames in iron cages, and indie TV shot oft features shirtless boys who look like they could do with imbibing a hearty pork pie rather than another lungful of brown smoke. The nether reaches of all genres have always been packed with groups who’ve used extreme pornography to try and flog a few more records (or get the drummer laid), but it’s only been recently that the habit has crossed over.

For never mind TaTu’s teatime snog, or the Prodigy’s cheaply baiting ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, this past year has seen a explosion in the number of officially hardcore grumble videos hitting the mainstream, culminating in yesterday’s release of the grotty accompanying the latest slab of hipster ear-fodder from San Francisco’s ludicrously overrated Girls (watch here, NSFW). Cue much denuded prancing from resting creative types, and the charming sight of a man singing into the other’s tumescent todger is if it were a mic. The context of the West Coast US locale and what appears to be the Super 8 shot nature of the piece is clearly intended to imply, ‘hey we’re wild and free and radical, it’s the Californian coastal vibe, man’, but it comes across as more tawdry even than the American Apparel adverts where the nudity feels acceptable only because it means you don’t have to look at the brand’s appallingly cheap clothes.

Girls’ latest comes hot on the buttocks of Rammstein’s preposterous video for their single ‘Pussy’, which was released on a webcam sex site and features members (in two senses of the word) of Rammstein in, out and waved about a bevy of scantily, and eventually entirely unclad, porno-cliche women. Of course, Rammstein being Rammstein it’s all part of their epic wind-up as Teutonic agent provocateurs. Perhaps they could be granted that if a) ‘Pussy’ wasn’t the weakest song on an otherwise superb album and b) from Rammstein, a video featuring oodles of shagging hardly feels that exciting. The group sitting down for tea with the local vicar would surely have been more revolutionary.

The flagrant use of nudity can, of course, be intended to subvert – The Cribs no doubt had this in mind when they employed a naked lovely to cavort around the set in the anti-lad anthem ‘Men’s Needs’, though the jury is out on whether the one-handed mouse hunters who tuned in got the message. And anyway, Throbbing Gristle playing along to the COUM castration film it wasn’t, and you could argue that even Add (N) to X’s ‘Plug Me In’ was, a nearly a decade ago, and rather fitted their seedy brothel electronica.

I am no prude. In fact, righteous noise ought make for a tip top accompaniment to the perusal of the consentingly nude adult male or female form. But these latest videos merely feel symptomatic of the hardcore creep that’s slipping invidious fingers into our popular culture, and that’s not to mention desperate grabs for attention in the age of downloads and information saturation – who would heard of Matt & Kim had they not made a video where they walk down the street discarding their clothes?.

The more hardcore of the form are also predominantly heterosexual and aimed at the male – when Patrick Wolf had the temerity to writhe around half naked and sporting black leather, indie messageboards exploded in frothing apoplexy in a way that’d be unimaginable had the artist in question been a woman. But perhaps that’s what it all comes down to – the hardcore pornographic music video merely replaces , like so much online, the joy of real interaction, the feel of flesh on flesh, the seductive imagining of a naked stranger, and the joy and beauty of a very human soundtrack that can be produced by neither mixing desk nor autotune.

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