Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Afro-Futurity: Going On by Gnarls Barkeley



I'd love to know what this new music video for Going On by Gnarls Barkley makes you think of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_R9fId_Rqo


Kameelah Rasheed put me on to this video. I am first of all grateful for it. I love watching it. On the first 4 watches it seems to have a message yet to be revealed and unconcealed. I love the beauty of the people in the video, both in the choreographed movements and the way they are dressed which for me bring up today, the 1970's, tomorrow and beaded yesterdays still to be imagined. I love how the futurism of the video is not technological. I love the details of the door. I want to know that the circular dance that the people do in the first part of the video reminds me of. It reminds me of something I believe in and don't have a precise reference for. I wonder how skeptically Saidiya Hartman would look at me for relating to that music video africanized moment through the eye in my forehead for memory.

I love that the people are carrying the portal to the future in their hands. I relate to the way their exuberance transforms into fatigue. I am inspired by the way their fatigue becomes reverence. I love the words of the song, I love the way the words are highlighted strategically all along.

I wonder about what levels of love are meant and residing there in words that seem to be spoken by I man (but they say what I want to say). I wonder who the singer is speaking for. The video put the words into the mouth of the lead man, and projects them onto the sometimes smiling, sometimes pained, sometimes pensive face of the lead woman. I wonder if the words about there "being a place for you too" are for a lover, a gendered lover? a whole gender of us to be left behind while male explorers forge forward again? I wonder what it means for the words of the song to vascillate between telling the imagined person being sung to "I'll see you there" and "I'll miss you." The main questions of the video for me live with the woman distinguished half way in as the "lead woman." What divides her from the "lead man" what connects her to him? Their movements are similar, the framing of the video makes it seem that a love relationship connects them, but the words to the song, which seem to be about leaving someone behind while also projecting that person into the future seem to divide the two characters. Most explicitly the command "don't follow me" made in words that seem to come out of the portal doorway after the man jumps could be meant for the woman who follows and jumps through the doorway, just as athletically anyway. If the words come to the viewing audience from both of the jumpers...why are they timed between the two jumps? Is the woman actor or audience in this video.
And to what extent is she or is she not me? Imma be thinking about this for a while. I'd love to know what you think.
love,
lex

p.s. In related news...the reason my reading of this film is mediated by Saidiya Hartman is because (in addition to her brilliance and perpetual relevance to all my thoughts) even as I write this I am supposed to be revising my review of Hartman's Lose Your Mother for the special issue of Obsidian on Ghana...so any thoughts about Hartman's book would be much appreciated too!

3 comments:

Bonita said...

Wow, this is my first time seeing this video and I had to watch it a couple of times too. I have been out of the country and away from TV and new music for a while so I am not sure if this video is on MTV or BET. I wonder what type of response it would get. There are a lot of things about this Video that speak to me, I love how artistic it is, I feel like I am at an art gallery, watching a dance performance, listening to a speech, watching a movie and reading a book at the same time. It is very interesting that everyone was around for the "cause" but only two people made it to the "effect". I could see that being a direct reflection of our righteous leaders and our Bush's. MLK and Nat Turner are good examples of leaders being around for the cause and not seeing the totally effect. President Bush is another explain because what his administration is doing now, will never see the totally effects. I think there is a lucky few that get to stay to see it all. I am not sold on the idea of the man finding the portal and finding the woman and leading the crew by himself. I am not sold that you could really live in Utopia when you left everyone else behind. But I love the video

youssef said...

This song reminds me of Stevie Wonder's "Saturn" in certain ways. It is interesting to think about how artists of yesterday and of today are imagining the possibility of tomorrow and how to travel there.

Beth said...

yay - what a video - i'm also disconcerted by the command at the end; and i love the way that it goes up and she jumps anyway. maybe she is not following him but leading herself. or maybe she is just doing her thing and the command is irrelevant. -- Which is really fantastic to ignore a command issued by some impressive (putting bold text up in the air like that is impressive) and undesignated being (maybe it's the guy who just went or maybe it's something more imposing like a "civilization" that thinks it is so huge as to defy designation (& thus accountability)). Anyway, or maybe she needed to respond to whoever issued the command and tell the commander a thing or two about itsself. or maybe that command is in this world and when she jumps through the door instead of being with it & viewer-us-me she is where it is not. oooh. (& maybe i'm taking a great video and squashing it with too many words - if it comes to that, please stop reading rather than losing pleasure in the video...)

i like the idea of not obeying a lot, and even more i am curious about differentiation between coming along after somebody and following - more and more in my life i want loving to mean moving in our own time at our own rhythms and still embracing our own agency as we journey connected together through and beyond this world.

and you following me or me following you for the sake of following or togetherness seems more about colonization or power or abnegation of self than love.

or, maybe not, hmmm. because if you've got a better sense of direction or i've lived here since before i was born or she's been there already and Knows, then following works & saves unnecessary frustration and resource abuse (as i trust our Lorde to light the way or know that if i'm getting to the liquor house i better follow jurina).

but i think there can be a fine line between ducking responsibility to decide for ourselves and trusting those we love - and big love the kind where you are loving with parts of yourself you hadn't met until they started loving, like a muscle that's been tense so long when it finally relaxes you realize how much deeper breathing can be... so... yeah. not sure why i need to go all the way around to get to what's simple and the basis for the after school special industry... oh well. maybe it's my spiral of same place but different (all i can say is please know that i ramble out of love... or maybe a little because even though i'm cruelly coercing you to read this by the very act of posting to this fabulous blog, it does seem a shame to delete it all at this point which is sort of sick. hmmm...)

but yeah. i like the idea of equity and i want to think she went a little later and didn't follow.

-b (realizing 19 words suffice)