Saturday, March 9, 2013

Depeche Mode – “Personal Jesus”

  We start out in what is presumably the American Southwest, in one of those states where it’s really dry and hot and nothing important grows except for plants that can be used to make drugs, if you have that kind of cash flow and spare time. The camera is focused on a small group of adobe-style buildings, older structures that have been around longer than many European countries. Just as the song starts, we see a senorita running toward the largest building. No explanation is given, but if she’s moving that fast in this heat, we clearly have an issue of some kind.

  Turns out there’s a pickup truck headed this way, barreling down a dusty road that probably isn’t on any reputable map. But before we can get a good look inside the cab to see who it is and whether or not they’ve got any presents for us, we cut to another scene where we appear to be riding on the back of a horse that we don’t recognize, heading somewhere. (Are we seriously going through the desert on a horse with no name?) Another shot of the running senorita, who really needs to get wherever she’s going because we’re already a little tired of that, another shot of the pickup, arriving at the small village (or maybe a Burger King, not clear), and a couple of dudes getting off some horses who are still unnamed.

  The senorita finally stops running and just stands in the middle of the dirt, and she’s either welcoming the arriving men or waiting for one of them to do something stupid so she can shoot them. (Brief shot of a chicken running. Why can’t these people just relax around here and wait for things to cool off? Is there something in the salsa?) We get a close-up shot of what appears to be lead singer Neil Gahan, but he’s wearing dark sunglasses and cowboy drag, so I’m not putting any money on it. He’s singing while standing near a horse that magically manages to swish its tail in time to the thumping beat, proving that white horses do have rhythm after all.

  Next up is a panoramic shot of the little village, where we don’t really learn anything new other than the buildings are still a faded white and that the long-dead architect really liked arches. (Fleeting glimpse of the senorita smiling oddly and then wandering out of view. She might not understand what her exact role is just yet.) Then the band members and their cowboy duds head into one of the buildings, where they are greeted by what looks like several women posing on an album cover for The Judds, only there are too many of them and not as much makeup.

  As the men shamble around and pretend to be comfortable sporting western wear that they haven’t actually seen before today, the women break ranks and position themselves about the lobby, leaning against balcony railings and staircases in a seductive manner. (Oh. So we’re in a whorehouse. That’s nice. It should be fun watching the band work the theme of “personal Jesus” into this one.) We spend a few moments watching the women strut their wares and the men walking under a wagon-wheel chandelier, because you really shouldn’t sleep with people until you’ve checked out their lighting fixtures.

  Suddenly, Neil appears on the second-floor balcony. He’s apparently lost his shirt somewhere, which is really tragic, but he’s managed to keep his cute little jacket, which gives him the strength to continue singing the song. Meanwhile, the camera individually focuses on several of the strumpets, quick solos where they try to lustily accent their best physical features so the guys can select from the menu. (Holy cow, that one woman has hair longer than my Buick.)

  The girls strut on the literal catwalk for quite a bit, making sure that we carefully analyze their attributes. (Translation: There are NO refunds up in this grill, so choose wisely.) During all of this, Neil and his missing shirt manage to strike a pose that exactly matches the stance of one of the hoedown hookers, and if you squint just right, they could be the same person, especially if our confused senorita hostess has brought along some peyote as an appetizer.

  Neil relocates so that he’s standing in front of a brick wall, one that he apparently feels will enhance the dramatic moment where he tries to reach out and touch us just as they lyrics are encouraging us to “reach out and touch faith”. (Is Faith one of the hookers? This song is certainly taking on a new meaning.) To make sure we understand Neil is trying to bond with us, the camera jumps forward so Neil’s head is filling the screen, like Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with only one float.

  Then I guess it’s time to get down to business, because the guys head up the stairs to the recreational chambers. This kicks off a montage of doors opening and closing, couples pairing off and heading to boudoirs, and heated women lounging naughtily on mattresses that have been endurance-tested. (Wait, is that Enya in the one room with the afghan? Poor thing. I guess she lost that recording contract, no wonder we haven’t heard from her in a while.)

  Then we’re focusing on Neil again, now having lost his jacket as well as the shirt (but not the cowboy hat, because that would be sacrilege) as he sits in one of the rooms with his back to us, gazing to the side. It’s actually a rather steamy shot, but we probably shouldn’t dwell on it too much because there’s just no polite way to tell someone that they look sexier when we they aren’t looking at us and trying to do the jazz hands thing. The words just wouldn’t come out right, no matter how hard we tried. Of course, tequila would probably make things better, because it always does.

  And we have another montage, with some guy walking by an odd cross symbol that has been painted on the wall (was there a quarantine at some time?), some of the women gazing in adoration at themselves in dusty mirrors (everybody needs somebody to love), horses waiting patiently for the fornication to end, and  then one of the band members (probably Neil) casting a silhouette on the wall of him breathing erratically but sensually to match what we’re hearing during that part of the song. His partner, or at least somebody somewhere in the house, flips her hair around in appreciation.

  Then we have a shot of a horse’s ass, for no apparent reason, and that’s just not sexy no matter how you try to edit it. (Did a record executive piss them off? What IS that?)

  Oh wait, the montage isn’t quite done. We have lassos flying through the air (did one of The Judds try to escape?), some guy in a rocking chair, another guy riding a rocking horse and enjoying it far more than a grown man should, a line dance where we focus on stomping spurs, and the sudden realization that nobody in the band has taken off their sunglasses at any point. Who’s going to recognize you in Slut Creek, Arizona? An armadillo?

  Now we have the band members all gathered together again (I guess the slap and tickle didn’t take very long), as they casually stand and sit around, playing their instruments (having already played their other instruments) and looking desert-chic in the fading sunlight. There’s a shot of one of the guys riding a horse to a telephone in the middle of nowhere (which is relative out here) so he can “pick up the receiver” as instructed by the lyrics. Nothing important happens when he does so, so we might have needed a bit more attention to story structure in the editing room.

  More images of the band playing, including one shot where one of the guitar players appears to be giving us the finger, then we realize it’s the wrong finger. (I could go so many ways with that comment, but I’ll leave that to the floozies on the second floor, who are now gossiping about what fingers did or did not do as they change the bed linens and prepare for the next hourly guests.) The horse shows up again, but this time he’s not so blatant about his hind-quarters, much to the approval of all, especially the band member who is standing next to Trigger and trying to be all artsy and cool.

  The original senorita reappears, waltzing through on her way to who the hell knows, which signals Neil that he should start doing more of that business where he shoves his outstretched hands at the camera. This is ill-advised, because it’s just not emotionally satisfying, and the camera quickly cuts to more shots of the band, this time stroking their instruments near a really tired yucca plant that has seen Johns come and go for centuries and it has more important things to do on its bucket list.

  And now it’s becoming a little bit obvious that the video editors are running out of steam, with more random images of the band members perched in various places and diddling with various musical props. But hey, there’s still some time left in the song, so we have to soldier on, even if it means repeat shots of blowing sand, guys trying to look suave despite the blowing sand getting into crevices, the Senorita still running around trying to escape the blowing sand, and Neil insisting on reaching through the blowing sand and touch us. And blowing sand.

  Brief shot of Neil, or a band member, or Pee Wee Herman, somebody, standing on the far side of a cactus big enough to eat Manhattan. And spit out Donald Trump, because we all know he tastes bad.

  Then there’s some mess where Neil is trying to bond with the desert scenery, fists raised triumphantly in the air while he stands beneath yet another arch in the village, but this doesn’t quite come off right, instead looking like a coming-attractions reel for a New Age retreat where people wear fringe and try to make peace with the demons in their past, like the questionable guidance counselor who told them it was okay to wear fringe in the first place.

  And that’s about it, folks. We get a couple more shots of the band lackadaisically playing their instruments as they recover from being in the desert on women with no names, and then Neil reaches out for us one more time. End trans.

Click Here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...