Bastards of Young
USA, 1986, almost 4 minutes
The Replacements' music video, Bastards of Young, could be classified as an experimental film (a minimalist reminder of the aural art form driving the short film) but mostly exists as a kind of enduring anti-valentine to MTV.
The Replacements were one of the 1980's alternative rock comets (they were formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1991), and their Minnesota-brewed punk-alternative legacy and attitudes have influenced the Goo Goo Dolls and Green Day among other people. They also belong to a select group permanently banned from SNL.
We aren't given much to work with in the video, and that's just the way singer Paul Westerberg and crew want it. We focus in on a stereo speaker as the song begins and stay there throughout, pulling back slowly, to witness fleeting moments of things falling off the stereo, a man crossing back and forth and then smoking on the couch (Westerberg?), a casual sneaker in our face, and then a final stomping out of the speaker before the man exits out the door.
This is as far away as we can get from the carefully staged and montaged Girls on Film glitz of Duran Duran and the cartoon fan boy world of a-ha's Take on Me, and the overall effect I think is a real focusing in on Westerberg's vitriolic lyrics (Clean your baby womb, trash that baby boom ...) and the group's beating heart of anti-establishment angst.
I decided to write about Bastards of Young after reading about it in the Saul Austerlitz article (he mentions the video in passing twice in our reading in Money for Nothing) and finding it on YouTube. I loved the Replacements but oddly have no memory of watching this video. I wonder if MTV buried it back in the day in some off-hour slot as punishment, allowing artists like Madonna and Lionel Richie, who worshiped at the shrine of MTV, the prime time hours? Austerlitz, in the chapter on female artists, tagged Cyndi Lauper as the 1980's poetic and down-to-earth "killjoy" to Madonna's effervescent and image-conscious "Material Girl." I think the Replacements and this video fit nicely in that same mold, a band of iconoclastic "killjoys" in the "greed is good" decade.