So I just saw this Type O video for the first time the other night. I’m not a huge fan of music videos, especially metal ones–don’t ask me why, I just think they take the fun out of it. I think the other reason I have never seen this video is because I never really cared for the album on the whole, 2003’s Life is Killing Me.
Enough about the album though. I find the video is interesting because it employs a number of levels of satire. If you’ve listened to Type O for any number of years you know that their “Gothicness” is completely tongue-in-cheek, as they make fun of goths (Black #1), white supremacists (Kill all the White People), love (My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend) and, well, more goths (Christian Woman). They do have more serious songs, like “Everyone I love is dead,” and “Everything Dies,” but I think these are due to Peter’s increasing moroseness and worsening psychiatric condition. But anyways, I am still not getting to this video. What I think makes the video so cool is that I am counting four levels of social satire in it (and if I had time I could break down these levels even more).
The first satirical level is the characterization of the common man, as he comes home from work, looking like what most Americans look like, common and beaten down by the cycle. He’s obviously ready to cut loose because his job as a data entry clerk (or whatever) just does not excite him. He drives a car that our culture deems uncool, although it looks like by the size and shape of it, this poor shmuck has got kids too.
The second level of satire can be found in the band themselves. As I have mentioned, they are master satirists, residing on the fringes of both the metal and gothic genres because of their musical aesthetics, but also because of their less-than-dead-serious stylings; they lampoon even themselves in a genre that takes itself quite seriously. To clinch the satire even more, they are all dressed in what looks like either prison jumpers or mental patient scrubs, belying their criminality or insanity, ironic because they are the profits of the message to come (which I will get into once I outline these levels of satire).
Next we get the satirical image of the poor guy cross dressing, which is very funny but also satirical because he is questioning the very threads of “normalcy” American culture espouses. The satire increases as we see how freed and happy this guy is when he dons the Marilyn Monroe dress, the Eminem jumpsuit, and so on. He is in revelatory ecstasy.
I feel that the last level of satire can be found in who the man dresses up as, namely pop icons that many people hold as shaping the reality of art, music, and by extension, beauty (Marilyn Monroe), masculinity (Eminem), virgin sexiness (Britney Spears), and then counter culture itself (Peter Steele). The workaday guy finding himself in the TV causes the viewer to question just what is real in terms of the societal aspects I have mentioned above.
So although this video might be monological in intent, that it wishes the audience to see the e in pursuing pop-culture ideals of art, et al, it also shows how we are imprisoned by them too. What Type O Negative propose though, with Peter switching seats with the hapless workaday guy and rolling his eyes at his plight while ironically replacing it, is showing the dyadic union of the two positions, fake and mesmerizing artist, and mesmerized and apathetic consumer of said art and culture. I know, you probably got that the first time, but I just watched the video and thought that it was one of Type O’s cooler and more thought-out vids. Here it is.