Okla-Home Movies: Oklahoma City art freaks buy Super 8 cameras, bunny costumes, run amok
“We’ve got this idea for a video,” the kid next to me tells the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne,
who’s making good on his promise to hang out with all those who just dressed up in animal costumes and danced onstage amidst the Lips’ oversized disco balls, confetti and strobe lights. (I was a bunny.)
“You guys are all set up in a basement,” the kid explains, Coyne nodding enthusiastically. An elaborate meta-plot then unfolds involving various incarnations of the band members meeting their respective dooms in parallel dimensions on different TV screens. Or something like that.
“That’s great!” Coyne beams, white suit still sticky with fake blood. “We can’t be in it, though,” he tells the kid warmly. “But you should go ahead and make that movie at home with your friends. That’s all we do.”
Of the 19 videos included on V.O.I.D.: Video Overview in Deceleration, Coyne directs all but four with longtime collaborator Bradley Beesley. They’re mostly low-budget affairs, ?lled with splattered paint (1991’s “Talkin’ Bout The Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues [Everyone Wants To Live Forever]”), Christmas lights (1993’s “Turn It On”), shaving cream (1994’s “Be My Head”) and—of course—fake blood (1999’s “Waiting For A Superman”).
Rarely as ambitious as the band’s records, the videos propel themselves with the same Okie art-freak charm that’s sustained the Lips through 20 improbable years on the pop fringe. In 1996’s “This Here Giraffe” (directed by a post-Godfather III/pre-Virgin Suicides So?a Coppola), the band merely hops in a truck and goes to the zoo. But they sometimes make great art of it. While the domestic video for 2002’s “Do You Realize?” was easily the band’s biggest (and most fun) production yet, featuring elephants, showgirls and a flying Coyne, the U.K. version is even more effective. If you believe the band’s commentary track, it was conceived, shot and shipped in less than 24 hours.
“Four bored farm girls lament how nothing exciting ever happens to them,” Coyne describes in his earnest liner notes. “They get stoned and an apparition of a glowing singing man appears—he is accompanied by giant rabbits with sparkling spheres.” Though the concept is a little hard to glean, the clip is bizarre and evocative, cheap digital sunbeams spraying gloriously from Coyne’s torso.
As one part of the greater Lips project—their sci-? ?lm epic, Christmas on Mars, should be out any year now—Coyne’s DIY videos hold an odd standing. It was the surprise breakthrough Beavis and Butthead clip, 1993’s “She Don’t Use Jelly,” that gave the band the cultural pat on the back it needed to keep going.
The deceleration of the DVD’s title is literal—videos are arranged in reverse, and the Lips’ sleight of hand is revealed. Coyne devolves from white-suited respectability to bug-eyed alterna-weirdo, bassist Michael Ivins’ hair comes back (and bushes freakily), and one realizes how sound Coyne’s advice to the aforementioned kid really was: do it your dang self, because nobody else will, and you, too, might be followed by bunnies carrying disco balls. And Wayne will cheer for you.