Did you watch the Dave Chappelle Netflix comedy specials this past weekend? If you did, maybe there was a point where you, like Laur M. Jackson found yourself wondering, “How is a grown black man whose bits rely on homophobia, transphobia, and misogynoir “edgy” in 2017?” In a compelling essay for The Outline, Jackson explains:
Both specials lay a trap for the sort of millennial sensibility that gives Age of Spin its name, and where “everybody’s mad about something,” as he says in Heart of Texas. Dave Chappelle is a 40-something who remembers watching the Challenger explosion on a television set wheeled into the classroom. In his world, trans women and gay men are akin to smartphones and the 24-hour news cycle: technological inventions he just can’t keep up with. It’s a very convenient, if not particularly innovative or convincing, gimmick.
Not at all unrelated to any of the above, the Bard-born band PWR BTTM, mostly a duo of Liv Bruce and Bean Hopkins, has a new video out today for the song “Answer My Text.” The video fires a lot of “yes” neurons for me: it’s a pretty much perfectly executed, less-than-three-minute pop-punk song with extreme ’90s vibes. Those of you who were over fifteen during the nineties might roll your eyes to listen to their music, but let me suggest you add the visuals, without which their Tiny Desk Concert might sound downright derivative. Also listen closely to the lyrics.
The video is a parodic but also viscerally true depiction of bedroom angst a la Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” The bedding is hot pink and Bruce wears a tank top straight out of dELiA*s while the art on the walls vibrates as in a stop-motion film. Hopkins plays the clueless idiot boy, trapped inside a video game world. Bruce dominates the screen in an alternating perfectly dewy look, smudged and deranged in duct-tape restraints, and clad in a pink bubble-wrap off-the-shoulder tutu and pastel blue lip, tossing around in the back of a cargo hold. (Bruce and Hopkins, who identify as queer are known for their elaborate getups: part burning man, part drag, all glitter.)
Dave Chappelle might not get it, but I do. Watch.
PWR BTTM’s second album, Pageant, is out on May 12; they’re performing at Webster Hall on June 21.