Friday, October 31, 2008


Sabotage by the Beastie Boys

Directed by Spike Jonze


In an effort to keep this post festive, I considered writing about the Monster Mash until I realized the song was recorded long before music videos were even a thought in filmmakers’ imaginations. So instead, I’ll turn to my favorite music video of all time: the Beastie Boys’ 1994 hit song Sabotage.

Acclaimed music video director Spike Jonze does an amazing job matching the Beastie Boys’ sense of humor with an old school parody of 1970s crime drama television shows (Or perhaps it is a tribute…this is the Beastie Boys, after all). The video starts with dizzying, quick shots of typical images from crime dramas: police sirens, city streets, undercover cars. Any doubt of what the video is about is washed away once Mike D, Ad rock, and MCA appear on the screen. Once the music kicks in, we’re bombarded with close ups of their ridiculous wigs, moustaches, and aviator glasses. Soon, we’re introduced to the story: the hip hop trio play Alasondro Alegré, Vic Colfari, and Nathan Wind (Mike D., Adrock, and MCA, respectively characters on the fictional show “Sabotage”). Whether it be the low-angle shot at the landing of the stairwell or the multiple canted car shots, the video clearly immerses itself into the genre.

The video works as a short film in a similar way that George Lucas In Love does. Some may question the validity of calling a music video a short film, but I’d say they are 100% wrong. Sabotage is a fantastic example of a music video that works as a film independent of the music yet also enhances the song and represents the musician well.


Ashley Joyce said...

Spike Jonze has made some truly amazing videos, and this is probably tied for my favorite with the video "Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim. You just can't beat Christopher Walken. I know he was given a hard time for Kanye's "Flashing Lights" video, but I think that one is also one of his best.

Liz Feuerbach said...

Yeah I didn't really understand the outrage over Flashing Lights either. Maybe I'm partial because I love Spike Jonze and Flashing Lights is my favorite song off Graduation, but it is a great music video.

Alyssa said...

I never really appreciated either the Beastie Boys or their videos back in the day, but now I realize how awesome and creative they were. I have also gained a sincere appreciation for fake mustaches, so there is also that.

Liz Feuerbach said...

Really, Alyssa? Beastie Boys we're one of my favorites as a kid. Anyway, if you liked this I'd suggest checking out the rest of their videos. Some of my favorites include the videos for Intergalactic, So Whatcha Want, and Body Movin (Fatboy Slim remix, I believe) too.

Also the video for Ch-Check It Out is fantastic. At one point the beastie boys get jumped by a french dude who beats them with a baguette. See why I love them?

Fran said...

i feel like music videos are great mediums for telling a story because one already has the soundtrack. like all things though this can be done well, as pointed out in this entry, or completely overdone (yet still entertaining) as seen by r. kelly's closet series.

in general - a good music video has no reason not to be respected because they're creative on a number of levels. not only did a director produce an idea for a short, but here jonze did so without having made the original idea it is based upon. having a framework that isn't yours to work around can constrict others, but directors like spike jonze are innovative enough to not have such a constraint be binding.