"Oh The Horror!" with Hesta Prynn - Installment 4 "Why are pop stars trying to scare us?"
Fri, 11 Mar 2011 16:29:34
Oh The Horror! is the place for me, Hesta Prynn, the professional musician, to write not about music, but about the other dope things I'm into—video games, art, life on the road—and particularly my love for the horror genre. I can write 200 words on Krautrock for an indie music mag, but it won’t get me into ComicCon and I suspect this column might. Guys write music to meet girls. Girls write columns, it would seem, to meet dorks.
Why are pop stars trying to scare us? As in why are they trying to scare us? From live performances to the ever elusive “horror video”, the higher the production value the more “cute” all of this is starting to seem.
In 2008 Rihanna released a song and a video for her song “Disturbia” which is supposed to be homage to horror. The video references movies like Saw and The Cell, full of dungeon like sets and Damien Hirst-esque sculpture. Ultimately this video cannot touch Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” (which cannot touch fan-made YouTube videos for Nine Inch Nails “The Downward Spiral”) not just because these images have become cliché but also because Rihanna looks absolutely gorgeous throughout. In the song she seductively and deliciously sings “am I scaring you tonight?”
“Well no, not tonight…”
The night Rihanna really scared us came a few months later. We’ve all seen the TMZ photo from Grammy night, Rihanna with two black eyes, a bruised forehead and blood around her mouth. When Chris Brown beat Rihanna ,and she at first publicly defended him, that was scary. That was on some real life, not cute, mentally unstable, deeply rooted issue pathology that remains, ironically, the most disturbing thing this artist has shown us to date.
The accidental moments that we’re not supposed to see, the things that happen in between the manufactured, high budget productions these pop stars are presenting are infinitely scarier than the “horror” they are trying to sell us on.
Watching the princesses fall is a great deal more interesting than watching them reign. Accidentally seeing a fully costumed Snow White on her smoke break at Disney World is so wrong and yet so gripping. That’s the amazing feeling that sends horror fans like me to the movie theater. Pop music doesn’t seem to understand that yet.
Britney Spears set an immovable bar for herself when she shaved her head in an East LA tattoo parlor. It was the beginning of her breakdown caught on tape. Seeing the once beautiful, virginal, sexy schoolgirl in a place where she straight up did not give a fuck about how she looked and what people thought of her was so shocking that we knew it was real. The maniacal look in her eye, the bad skin, the view of someone so far over the line of sanity, it was the ultimate example of the dramatic paradox - we couldn’t look but we couldn’t look away! Each event that followed – the Matt Lauer interview, her chubby, drugged out “comeback” performance on MTV, further hammered the nail into the coffin. It wasn’t the death of her career, but it was the death of the suspension of disbelief in regard to any visuals she’ll show us from here on out. Her new video, “Hold It Against Me” is Glossy! Expensive! Takes place in space! Depicts her fighting her own evil twin in South Korean horror tradition! The thing is, what we saw when we saw the real Britney was so utterly compelling that anything less than that brand of truly out of control psychosis just seems…. boring.
I love Kanye West’s entire record. I think he successfully made an art album; I can’t stop listening to it. When I heard that he made a horror video I was so excited to see it… and so grossly disappointed when I finally did. Why would someone so creative and artistic on record present a video for a truly dope song that shows half assed pop horror clichés with no point of view? Didn’t the Backstreet Boys make this exact video for “Everybody” circa 1997? I love Nicki Minaj’s verse on this song, but fighting your own evil twin in your video hasn’t been done well since Mariah Carey shut it down with Bianca in the late 1990s. If you’re going to present a song called “Monster” to us as a literal monster movie get your references right. Set it in the 50s, or better yet the 30s. Show us The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. When you’ve got an endless supply of money don’t lazily allude to these films. Wear some amazing vintage costumes and really bring us there, otherwise really scare us. What could Kanye do that would really scare us? Lock himself in a room for 8 days, film the whole thing and show it in time lapse over the length of the song so we can see him meltdown and fight himself for real. When Kanye’s mother suffered an untimely death he reacted to it publicly and in an uncontrolled way. It was disturbing, it was real pain and it was upsetting. This is someone who is not afraid to show us the ugly side of who he really is in his music. If he wants to show us a horror movie he should show us that.
I love Lady Gaga but I’ve already seen Alien and it was amazing. I don’t need to see her emerge from an egg. Katy Perry looks more alarming in her everyday clothes than she does dressed as ET and Hellraiser is scarier than all of your S&M videos. Horror fans have high standards so rather than try and fail to blow our minds with your production value show us something real. Watching Eddie Veddar scale a wall in the Evenflow video was more nerve-wracking than the contact lenses that made you look like dead body. If the most shocking thing about your “scary” video is the product placement there’s something amiss.
Check out Hesta Prynn's Top Ten of 2010 here!
Here's the first installment of Oh The Horror! with Hesta Prynn here!