Directed by Chris Cunningham (rem, a comp. DVD of his vids is available for loan) for the Warp dance act Aphex Twin, the video for Windowlicker is an edgy satire of contemporary US urban, hip-hop cultural tropes and cliches; the far end of the spectrum from Michael Jackson's comparatively effete streetscapes in Bad or Billie Jean.
Clocking in at 10:34, this goes beyond the typical brief diegetic intro we get in many vids - again, a useful comparison would be Jackson (the John Landis-directed Thriller).
|Aphex Twin play with gender identity|
Unsurprisingly, the vid was the subject of censorship - with an equally common response in that 'clean' versions were created, though MTV did receive a fine for airing an uncut version before 9pm.
I've copied in below the informative blurb from the YouTube uploader below, but put this behind a 'read more' rather than remove the swear words contained in this. But first...
There's another useful web feature on this, and Cunninghmam's work: http://www.director-file.com/cunningham/aphex2.htmlConsider this: is there an issue with censoring satire of sweary, misogynistic cultural forms and behaviour, which surely requires the use of swearing and images of misogyny to function with some level of verisimilitude?
Now the YouTube text:
"Windowlicker" is a 1999 single by electronic music artist Richard D. James, released under the Aphex Twin name on Warp Records. The picture on the single's cover was taken is by The Designers Republic. The single reached #16 in the UK Singles Chart.
The name of the single comes from the derogatory British term "windowlicker," meaning a mentally handicapped person. The term is also a direct English translation of the French term faire du lèche-vitrine, meaning "window shopper," a second meaning played up in the song's video.
The music video for "Windowlicker" is a ten-minute long parody of contemporary American gangsta hip-hop music videos. In the video, two foul-mouthed young men (a Latino and an African American) in Los Angeles are window shopping for prostitutes (referred to in the end credits as hoochies); the French term for window shopping is faire du lèche-vitrine, which literally translates to licking the windows. Suddenly, a ridiculously long white limousine (38 windows in length, including driver's window) crashes into the two men's black Mazda Miata (MX5) convertible, and a "pimped-out" Richard D. James, displaying a surreal amount of wealth and power, emerges with his signature fixed grin. The two women, among others, accompany James in his limousine while their faces morph into James' own likeness. The video was directed by Chris Cunningham, who also directed the infamous music video of Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" in 1997.
There are 127 uses of profanity in the dialog segment of the video (which is under 4 minutes), including 44 uses of the word "fuck." This averages to more than one use of profanity every two seconds.
The promo was nominated for the Best Video award at the BRIT Awards 2000, alongside videos by Supergrass, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and eventual winner Robbie Williams.
The full "Windowlicker" video is restricted to being broadcast only during the nighttime on most music television channels. A bleeped-out version of the video exists, and MTV Two even made a daytime version, with all the opening dialog removed (the censored version starts with the arrival of the limousine) and some of the video's more shocking images are also removed. MTV Networks received a fine by media regulator Ofcom for airing the uncensored version of the clip before 9PM.