Saturday, April 22, 2017

1984’s Best Song About Being Ejaculated Upon

Here, please watch the video for Vanity’s 1984 pop song “Pretty Mess,” which is not just sexual in nature but unusually specific in the type of sex it seems to be celebrating. Have a look and listen for yourself.



“Pretty Mess” is not a good song, exactly, but you have to admit it’s efficient in communicating its message. if there were any doubts about what Vanity is singing about, those would be tidily removed by the video, which manages at least six metaphors for genitalia and the substances that come out of genitalia. These metaphors are as follows:
  • at 1:06, Vanity getting showered in white feathers
  • at 1:26, the female bartender dripping honey all over the counter
  • at 2:04, Vanity getting showered with champagne that’s gushing out of the bottle
  • at 2:37, Vanity attempting to catch a white throw pillow (and notably failing to catch it)
  • at 3:02, Vanity dancing at the rear of a long, arguably flesh-colored hallway while singing “and then he found a hallway that went all the way”
  • at 3:08, Vanity and her male companion getting showered in white confetti
And that list excludes the references made in the lyrics but not accompanied by a visual metaphor: “boiling like a kettle,” “dripping like a hot tea” and the strange line “he pulled a seam and it went all the way,” in which Vanity runs the “and” into the “seam” so it kind of sounds like she’s saying “semen.”

I’d imagine that if you were in your car listening to the radio during the few weeks “Pretty Mess” would have been getting airplay back in 1984 and you were just hearing the lyrics, you might ask yourself, “Wait, is she singing about getting jizzed on?” But if you were watching the video, the message would be clear: Yes, she really is singing about getting jizzed on. I liken it to Grace Jones’ 1981 track “Pull Up to the Bumper,” which seems like it’s about having sex with a guy with a big black dick but which Jones herself insists is not the case. It’s maybe even funnier for Jones to pretend that she just made a song about parking a car, but the video at least keeps it ambiguous: It’s just Grace Jones dancing onstage, superimposed on images of traffic.

Not that there’s anything wrong with writing and performing a song about getting ejaculated upon, I suppose.

People who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that I wrote about “Pretty Mess” before. However, since that posting, the video disappeared from the internet. I’m posting this today because I finally found the video again but also because looking back on the original post, I hate the way I talked about this song. The post title was “‘Pretty Mess’ Is a Filthy Song for Prostitutes,” and I was implying that Vanity shouldn’t have made this song. If I thought this back then, I no longer think so now. I love that she made this song, bad as it is, and I think we can celebrate it in the context of “Wow, can you believe this song got made? Can you believe she got away with this video?” And it’s all the more notable when you consider that “Pretty Mess” was Vanity’s first solo single after dropping out of Vanity 6, the girl group assembled by Prince and the group responsible for the 1982 hit “Nasty Girl.” As Prince was wont to do, he gave Vanity her stage name, though it the context of this song, it’s notable to point out that she told People in 1984 that he initially wanted to dub her “Vagina.” Even considering how forthright sexuality was a part of Vanity’s persona since the beginning of her music career, “Pretty Mess” still seems remarkable in how blatantly it discusses the matter at hand. (Or you know, at other body parts.)

So please, pop singers of the future, if you feel inclined to write further songs about being ejaculated upon, feel free to do so. It doesn’t seem like a tall order to make a jizz-positive song that’s better than this one.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Duckface Revisited

A few years back I wrote a post that I think of as the “Duckface, Drew Mackie” post. Some of you do as well. In fact, more often than you’d expect, I get people arriving at my blog by searching for the term “duckface drew mackie.” It’s funny enough, this original post. The long and short of it was that I accidentally signed an email “Duckface, Drew Mackie” rather than “Thanks, Drew Mackie,” and then I further embarrassed myself in the presence of this person in ways that indicate that I shouldn’t use email anymore. In any case, both posts featured a screengrab of Walter “Duckface” Berman, Stephanie’s nerdy classmate on Full House, because that was the obvious visual aid to use.

Because the internet is weird and unpredictable, that image took off, and a lot of other people have subsequently used it on other platforms and linked back to me or credited me. As a result, I get periodic reminders that yes, that is an image I made and posted. For a few years, it also showed up when you google my name, though I’d like to point out that that is not me. That is the actor Whit Hertford, who would later become the kid that Sam Neill both impresses and terrifies with a raptor claw in Jurassic Park. But as Duckface, as an image that I featured on my blog years ago, he’s just become a persistent part of my internet presence.

Last night, I posted something on Facebook. And it got a reply.





I’m not posting this to brag about a glancing interaction with *the* original Duckface himself, although that totally wasn’t something I had expected would happen yesterday. I’m sharing this little nothing of an anecdote because I want to convey to you how strange it is to be a human being in Los Angeles when you’ve grown up on a steady diet of pop culture, when you primarily interact with the world via the internet and when you realize that you’ve ended up in the same geographic area as most of the bit players from your childhood. It’s strange to encounter an image of a person again and again and maybe disconnect that image from the living, breathing person who appears in it to the point that you forget that he went on to play other roles and also does things independent from an acting career. (You know, like use Facebook in the exact way everyone else does.) And it’s strange to see that person—say, in line at the grocery store or just online on Facebook or maybe Minkus from Boy Meets World gets the last ticket to a show you’re trying to get into, because that is also a thing that happened once—and to have the internal reaction of “Oh! I know you!” only to have that immediately followed by “No, wait. I don’t at all. I’ve just seen you. In fact, I’ve seen you but you haven’t seen me,” and that’s a normal thing because that’s how TV and movies work.

It’s just all weird, when you think about it.



Duckface,
Drew Mackie