Yesterday morning the world stirred from its slumber to be faced with the errant genitalia of Shia LaBeouf. For those that have always wondered whether or not the Transformers star is packing Optimus Prime or Optimus Tiny then feast your peepers on the new Sigur Ros video below. For those of a nervous disposition when faced with flaccid floppy frankfurter flesh look away now.
Unsurprisingly little LaBeouf isn’t the first Hollywood star to grace the music video format, with every star from Arnie to Bruce happy to be a mug for hire. But with pop promos as changeable as catwalk fashion can the decision to opt to be a part of them ever really be a sensible one? Is it possible to help advertise a band’s new song and keep your dignity in tact?
The biggest La Beef (see what we did there) with the video for ‘Fjögur píanó’ stems from the po-faced seriousness of it all. Forget that the tune is sub-par for the Icelandics – droning rather than moving – the promotional material is one of those pieces that strives so hard to be ART but would be wholly ignorable if not for the inclusion of a megastar with his penis hanging out. “Look, it’s Shia waking up in soft focus!” “Look, Shia’s looking forlornly out of a window in soft focus!” “Look, Shia’s a transvestite having a dance… in soft focus!”
So why do it in the first place? The history of actors in music videos is made up of three notable categories. The faintly embarrassing and deeply comical ‘before they were famous’, the ‘for the mates/for the cash’ cameo and the crushing ‘I’m down with the kids’ appearance. The first of these is clearly the most forgiveable seeing as how the majority of actors are pretty people with an insatiable desire to be loved and if you’re a pretty person with an insatiable desire to be loved there are much worse ways of making your first start in the industry. Most, unfortunately, involve the swapping of bodily fluids. Here, as Michael Fassbender finds out, all you really need to give up is a little self-worth.
For those that didn’t watch the entire video it essentially consists of Fassbender having a few drinks on his stag do, hitting the arcades (including playing that really annoying game with the coins on the ledge, WHY WON’T THEY FALL!?!), copping off with some strippers, growing horns and then turning into a goat all to the sounds of The Cooper Temple Clause. The most important lesson we can learn from this is if Fasswang can keep his junk covered in this medium it can’t be that hard. Take note Shia. Other mentionables in this category include Alicia Silverstone jumping off a bridge to avoid listening to Aerosmith, Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks choosing to watch Everclear and this humdinger featuring Alanis Morissette backed by Matt Le Blanc giving it the ‘Full Joey’.
So how about the ‘for the mates’ category? Usually coupled with a more comedic edge this is where Hollywood meets music with the least amount of cringe. A decent example of which can be found in the video below for The New Pornographers’ ‘Moves’ in which Paul Rudd and a host of familiar faces from TV and film make a nice little spoof trailer for the Canadian bands ‘biopic’. By not clinging to any delusions of grandeur everyone involved makes the leap to MTV (if they actually still showed music videos) with grace.
This side of the Atlantic Paddy Considine and the Arctic Monkeys prove that you can keep a straight face and still make a decent product, while the Morecombe and Wise-esque Chevy Chase and Paul Simon double act for ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and Moby roping in everyone from Ned Stark to Mini-Me for ‘We Are All Made Of Stars’ presents a decade of more than tolerable contenders.
Ultimately your tolerance of all the music videos mentioned here will be directly proportional to your adulation for the band and star. If, for example, you quite like Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp, a Paul McCartney video in which Mrs Portman and Mr. Depp sing the lyrics of the Beatles latest will arguably be quite a pleasant way to spend a handful of minutes. If, however, you can’t stand the lips and pout and pouty lips of Angelina Jolie it’s best to avoid watching this. And this. And this.
In conclusion A-listers, the foremost advice we can offer is don’t confuse music videos with high-brow art and if you are going to jump head first into boosting sales for a record company it’s best to a) keep it funny and light b) try to get your mates in to deflect criticism and c) whatever you do don’t sniff butterflies and have a cry with your bumblebee flapping between your legs. You’ll just end up looking like a bit of a tit.