Earlier this week, Mastodon released their music video for “The Motherload”, from their new album “Once More ‘Round the Sun”, and it got caught in a torrent of hate and hilarity. It’s advised that you watch it. Watch it now. Unless you’re at work… To give you an idea, if you put this video next to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and put both the videos on mute, there would be no way to tell the difference. The gratuitous amount of ass featured can actually butt heads with Minaj’s video, which is saying a lot. With anything that can be compared to be Anaconda, however, it was bound to be labelled sexist by some portion of the viewers. The Guardian wrote one of the first of these labels saying:
“Look at those vibrating butt-cheeks! Brilliant. It’s probably ironic or something. Well, no. It’s still sexist. I don’t care how much irony you throw at this. It was sexist when it happened in past videos and it’s still sexist now. The fact that Mastodon are an ostensibly bright bunch and very much not from the heavy metal old school – where, back in the hallowed day, sexism was widely tolerated – is not a sufficient get-out clause by any stretch.”
The article goes on to make a more central point on why this is harmful, saying
“it does irritate me, because heavy music has spent the last few decades steadily edging away from an overriding culture of crass misogyny and making the whole scene a lot more welcoming and palatable to women in the process.”
While the call of misogny isn’t always shaken off so easily, Brann Dailor, drummer for Mastodon, stepped up to answer. In an interview he had with Pitchfork, 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.
"I don’t know, I just don’t see the sexism in it. I know there’s half-naked women that are shaking their butts. For some people it’s titillating, but for me it just looked amazing. I thought the girls were awesome and talented, and I thought it was amazing to watch. I love when it turns into that kaleidoscope effect thing; it brings the video to a whole new level. But it’s gotten people talking obviously, you know. I figured that would happen, you know what I mean. I knew there was going to be some negativity. But we do that; we’re that kind of band. It hadn’t been done before, and we were kind of looking for something that hadn’t been done before because it’s hard to come by these days.”
Obviously, after people have been flamed, and after the internet arguments are started, the first move from the creators of something controversial is to say that it wasn’t meant to start controversy. In this case, however, from Dailor’s perspective, the intentions for the video were only good. Earlier on in the interview, he even said
“The only concept was we wanted to start off as a sort of parody of a ‘90s heavy metal video. All those videos from the early ‘90s had that same look: some kind of esoteric imagery, sort of out of focus, something creepy or weird. Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Nirvana, they all had the same kind of look to their videos."
"We wanted to do that, and I guess I thought that maybe people would be concerned that it wasn’t very imaginative if it was some kind of shitty ‘90s video. Then all of a sudden, twerking started happening, and it kind of went from there. I just wanted to make something that was bizarre—that would confuse people. 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.”
According to The Guardian’s article, irony may be no defense for sexism, and to some people it may not be funny. For others, however, who enjoy sophomoric humor and all it’s immature goodness, this video made for a very enjoyable beginning of the week.
For those who haven't seen the video yet, you can watch it here. It is NSFW though. Very NSFW