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Notes on Twee, part 1: Music Videos as School Plays

1993: Crash Test Dummies: “MMM MMM MMM MMM”, director unknown.

1993: Crash Test Dummies: “God Shuffled His Feet”, director unknown.

1994: “Weird Al” Yankovic: “Headline News”, director unknown:

1995: Joan Osborne: “One of Us”, director unknown (not a school play, but relevant):

1996: Smashing Pumpkins: “Tonight, Tonight”, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. (Again, not a school play, but relevant.)

1998: Björk: “Bachelorette”, directed by Michel Gondry:

1999: The Max Fischer Players Present the MTV Movie Awards, directed by Wes Anderson:

2001: The Avalanches: “Frontier Psychiatrist”, directed by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire:

2001: The Royal Tenenbaums, directed by Wes Anderson: Margot’s play, “The Levinsons in the Trees” (see 6:50–7:00 in the clip below) and the overall aesthetic of the film, are worth noting—indeed, Anderson is probably more responsible than anyone for popularizing the play concept:

2005: HORSE The Band: “Birdo”, directed by Darren Doane:

2005: The Decemberists: “Sixteen Military Wives”, directed by Aaron Stewart:

2006: Danielson: “Did I Step on Your Trumpet?”, directed by Christian Palladino:

2006: My Barbarian: “Unicorns L.A.”, directed by Jim Hansen (also not a school play, but relevant):

2006: The Shins: “Phantom Limb”, directed by Patrick Daughters:

2007: Of Montreal: “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse”, directed by The Brothers Chaps:

2007: Snow Patrol: “Signal Fire”, directed by Paul McGuigan:

2007: Los Campesinos, “The International Tweexcore Underground”, director unknown:

2007: Mastodon: “Sleeping Giant”, directed by Roboshobo. (Also not a school play, but relevant.)

And more recently:

2009: Fefe Dobson: “Everything”, directed by Chris Robinson:

2009: Lil Wayne: “Prom Queen”, directed by Dave Meyers, Dwayne Carter, Panzervision:

Getting slicker?

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

13 thoughts on “Notes on Twee, part 1: Music Videos as School Plays

  1. I met that crash test dummies dude in ’93. Did you know Jerry whatshisname from the talking heads produces that record?

    1. Jerry Harrison! he’s produced some great albums. apparently he’s helming the debut album of The Gracious Few, a new band comprising of the non-singing members of Live and the singer from Candlebox.

  2. i used to listen to that crash test dummies album all the time back in the day. i wonder if i would cringe if i listened to it again now.

    this is an awesome post, btw, some of my favorite videos!

    1. Thanks, Tadd! And even though you added it down here in the comments, I added it in with the above.

      If anyone else has any more examples of this phenomenon, I’d be happy to hear about it. I’d prefer for this list to be as thorough as possible.

      Cheers, Adam

  3. I added the Crash Test Dummies’ “God Shuffled His Feet,” Joan Osborne’s “One of Us,” and the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight.” And My Barbarian’s (brilliant) “Unicorns L.A.”

    Those last three aren’t school plays, but they fit in very comfortably with the overall aesthetic.

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