Artist News

Mastodon defend silly video

By | Published on Thursday 2 October 2014


Atlanta metallers Mastodon have ‘hit back’ at critics of the apparently highly enlightened alt-twerking video for their new single ‘The Motherload’, saying kinda naively (or pig headedly, maybe) that it was meant to be a lite-hearted take on a weird or “creepy 90s heavy metal” kind of ‘aesthetic’. You know, in a sort of “trying to repurpose something and put something where most people would say it doesn’t belong, but it can” kind of style. You’re all following this, right?

Certain viewers of the clip, like for instance The Guardian’s Dom Lawson, had disapproved of its wealth of zoomed-in ass-shaking imagery on the basis that, like, maybe it was ‘a bit sexist’ and a bit cheap and a bit inappropriate, seeing as said shaking half-naked behinds are all attached to female dancers, whilst the all-male Mastodon appear in the vid in all their (quite baggy actually) clothes. Hmm.

Following the considerable ‘online backlash’ against the video, Mastodon’s Brann Dailor was moved to talk to Pitchfork and explain why the band had gone with the twerking concept, instead of say, well… a less twerk-y option.

“I just wanted to make something that was bizarre, that would confuse people”, he told the Fork, adding: “I also thought to myself, what’s the most bizarre thing, or what’s something people would say completely does not belong in a Mastodon video? And the twerking was sort of what I came up with. I had a bunch of music video ideas but this was the one we were able to do in [one] day, because we didn’t have a massive budget and we couldn’t pull off some of the other concepts I had”.

So, twerking dancers are relatively cheap to hire, good to know. Dailor, who says he isn’t really keyed in with the Minaj/Swift/Allen/Cyrus-featuring twerking boom of the day, goes on: “It was a fine line, because I didn’t want it to come off being sexist, so I thought that maybe the females took centre stage and looked powerful and had this dance battle. It really blossomed and turned into this dance video, and I was like, holy shit, we have a dance video! That’s amazing. Some amazingly talented dancers showed up, so it turned into something else”.

Finally, asked specifically to consider the ‘that video’s a bit sexist’-themed Guardian piece, he said: “The last thing that I wanted to do was come on and be defensive, because I don’t feel like I should have to defend it. It’s a music video and it’s really not supposed to be something that gets people this upset because this was really a fun thing that doesn’t really mean too much. It’s not to be taken so seriously”.

Ergh. The fact that the video was made recently (like a few weeks back recently) places it inevitably on the highly topical, and still developing, ‘sexism v feminism’ debate timeline, one that’s still so visible in the media, in celebrity, and in everyday life itself. And, as blind as Dailor et al might’ve been to the potential wider ripple-effect resonance of the video, he still says he “knew there was going to be some negativity”. So why release it? Why indeed.

See what you think here: