Mastodon’s Brann Dailor Defends Band’s “Motherload” Video Against Accusations of Misogyny
Who would have ever guessed that Mastodon, of all bands, would become a lightning rod for controversy? Last year, the band came under fire for releasing a Thanksgiving-themed shirt which detractors claimed glorified the genocide of the Native Americans; now the group find themselves in hot water due to the amount of twerking in their new video, “The Motherload.” Writing about the clip for The Guardian earlier this week, Dom Lawson accuses the band of misogyny:
“But no, Dom, I hear you cry, it’s not sexist. It’s funny! 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. Neither is this video excused from being tarred with the sexist brush because a proportion of women immersed in alternative culture have decided that it’s OK.”
Now Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor has defended the video in a new interview with Pitchfork:
“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. I had a bunch of music video ideas but this was the one we were able to do in like a day, because we didn’t have a massive budget and we couldn’t pull off some of the other concepts I had.
“We live in Atlanta and we wanted to be kind of all-inclusive and support the hometown. We thought it would be a fun video to make; there wasn’t any high concept, it wasn’t really parody. We weren’t trying to make fun of hip-hop videos. It was a fine line, because I didn’t want it to come off being sexist, so I thought that maybe the females took center 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.”
Dailor went to specifically address The Guardian piece:
“I’m really upset [about the article]. I don’t know. 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.”
I’m of two minds about this: intellectually, I understand Lawson’s point, but I also really don’t think the dudes in Mastodon are sexist. Am I giving them a free pass because I like their music? Maybe… although, for whatever it’s worth, I haven’t been the world’s biggest fan of the past few Mastodon albums. So… yeah.
What do you think? Is Lawson correct… or is he overreacting? Debate in the comments section below.
[via The PRP]
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