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19-Mar-2020 21:30

The relentless parade of bling and booty in hip hop videos (with honourable exceptions) has been particularly dispiriting, amounting to a kind of consumerist, sexist soft porn.

If there have been few serious objections to this descent to the bottom of the barrel, it is probably due to a law of diminishing returns.

Among the pioneers was one of Lady Ga Ga’s antecedents in the transgressive pin-up stakes, Debbie Harry.

Yet the sex and violence of Blondie seems innocent by modern standards, and video’s most celebrated early exponents tended to play it for laughs, with the comedy antics of Madness singled out for praise.

More than any artist before or since, video defined them.

Pop’s visual language became ever more tightly focused on dancing and sex, illustrated by the way Britney Spears became a global star doing a sexy-schoolgirl routine for Baby One More Time.Lady Ga Ga herself claims it is a “commentary on the kind of country that we are”.In which case, as Ga Ga and Beyoncé ride off into the sunset following a series of semi-naked dance routines, random outfit changes, B-movie locations, clunking product placement and a near-incoherent plot centring on infidelity and mass poisoning, one might be forced to conclude that America is a nation straining under its own decadence, producing a jaded, thrill-seeking, attention-deficit generation who can communicate only through irony.The height of budgetary folly was reached on Jackson’s black-and-white sci-fi Scream, a 1995 duet with his sister Janet that cost million and failed to deliver a number-one single.Yet state-of-the-art effects tend to date in ways that emotion never will.

Pop’s visual language became ever more tightly focused on dancing and sex, illustrated by the way Britney Spears became a global star doing a sexy-schoolgirl routine for Baby One More Time.

Lady Ga Ga herself claims it is a “commentary on the kind of country that we are”.

In which case, as Ga Ga and Beyoncé ride off into the sunset following a series of semi-naked dance routines, random outfit changes, B-movie locations, clunking product placement and a near-incoherent plot centring on infidelity and mass poisoning, one might be forced to conclude that America is a nation straining under its own decadence, producing a jaded, thrill-seeking, attention-deficit generation who can communicate only through irony.

The height of budgetary folly was reached on Jackson’s black-and-white sci-fi Scream, a 1995 duet with his sister Janet that cost million and failed to deliver a number-one single.

Yet state-of-the-art effects tend to date in ways that emotion never will.

If anything, Ga Ga’s video seems to refer back to the excesses of the Eighties, the supposed golden age of the music video, when bigger was better, and decadence and transgression were the standard currency of pop.