About Spike… Spike Jonze is music video, commercial and film director and auteur. Having heavy personal influence over his work, Jonze’s videos are always distinctive; successfully marrying clever concepts with artistic images and camera shots. He works with a variety of artists from hip-hop to rock. Notably, Jonze has worked with Weezer, who’s bright and nostalgic video for ‘Buddy Holly’ filmed in the style of ‘Happy Days’ propelled them to mainstream status. Jonze’s creation of an anthropomorphic dog for Daft Punk’s ‘Da Funk’ is both powerful and innovative. Exploring unusual concepts that surprise and intrigue the viewers is Jonze’sforté. Jonze’s first feature film ‘Being John Malkovich’ (1999) is equally as idiosyncratic. Since the move into film, Jonze has also directed ‘Adaptation’ (2002) and ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ (2009). Jonze co-founded Director’s Label with Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham that realised a compilation of music video directors’ work, establishing themselves as artists in this medium.
Yeah YeahYeahs The Yeah YeahYeahs are an alternative-rock/art-punk band from New York. ‘Y Control’ is from their debut album ‘Fever To Tell’. Fronted by Karen O, the bands songs are distinguished by driving vocals and her often manic styles of performance (both vocally and physically) and dress. She is often the main focus of their music videos, although a good amount of camera time is given to Brian Chase and Nick Zinner. Up until the point of this videos the band had established themselves as bright and unusual, standing away from sound-alike bands. Their promotional photos were playful and vibrant, much like their performances and videos.
With no linear narrative, this video is unique and arguably challenging; typical of both Spike Jonze and The Yeah YeahYeahs. Set in an abandoned house, the camera explores the antics of violent children (an immediate contradiction to their smart dress and cute faces) as they cause havoc whilst the band plays irrespective of their surroundings. Harsh electric lights and green filters help to emphasize the low key lighting, heightening the macabre feel of the video. The main concept is to explore the idea of ‘control’ by presenting a complete lack of it in the video. Scenes of humorously fake violence are used to parody the horror films of the 80s. Y Control – Yeah YeahYeahsDir. Spike Jonze 2004
For example in this still we see a girl chopping off the hand of a boy with a rusty axe after he’d asked her to, with a variety of expletives embedded into his speech… at least he remembered to say ‘thank you’.
Goodwin’s theory of ‘star image’ is seen in this promo as Karen commands the camera in her bright-red, plastic leotard that starkly contrasts her surroundings. Her performance is exaggerated and the close ups and long shots of her appeal to the viewer’s voyeuristic needs. To fans of the bands earlier, and much more subdued video ‘Maps’, the performance style is massively different. The drastic change can be explained by Karen herself; "We wanted to do something in contrast to 'Maps,' highlighting a darker, more mischievous side to the personality of our music,”. With scenes of disembowelment, charging through walls, kid-vampires and ‘We’re all going to hell’ scrawled in a child’s blood, ‘Y Control’ certainly lives up to those ambitions.
Close up of singer reveals main focus of video and star image. Karen O is never far out of shot, demonstrated by these many stills. At all times the audience is given full consideration, with Karen performing to us. Her star image in this video matches that of later promotional material; feisty, attractive and sexually provocative.
Even when the children are the focus Karen still remains in shot. Wide shot of children vandalising a car. Girl sticks her middle finger up at the camera and all of the children directly face the camera in a threatening way.