Though this is by definition a family blog, I need to know your thoughts on the video below. What the F is this???? I am disturbed and intrigued. Seriously. What. Warning: there is offensive language and imagery in the video below. View at your own risk.
Yes, this video is very unsettling, but it can be explained.
For those unfamiliar with the term “reading,” this video may suggest that reading is some kind of violent, aggressive act, something to be feared. Reading certainly can be, but it is not a physical act, it is purely verbal (ok, and it’s also a bit psychological). “Read” is slang for insulting someone, and its origins are in the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender).
Your homework is to watch “Paris is Burning” on repeat.
Knowing that “reading” is not physical, I interpret any reference to violence in the Zebra Katz video as purely metaphoric.
Even if you didn’t previously know the term “reading,” anyone can relate to the specific moment that the Katz video is painting – that expansively intense preparation before an after-school “fight.” Anticipation is frequently much worse than the actual confrontation, and this music video is all anticipation, made especially unsettling with the genderless drones dancing to a dark, almost empty, beat.
Everyone in this music video is playing the scary crazy card, a much stronger tactic when entering a battle (than, say, anger), and it is also a clear addition to the decadent history of horror rap. “Horror Rap?!” you say, well perhaps the most famous is The Geto Boys’s “My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me”…
..but there are so many other classics: Boogiemonster’s “Old Man Jacob’s Well,” Pharcyde’s “4 Better of 4 Worse,” Digital Underground’s “Danger Zone,” and when was the last time you saw Kris Kross’s “I Missed the Bus” video? I’m just sayin.’
I appreciate that “reading” and gender-ambiguous dancers found their way into the rap world, and I am legit scared of them. It is a tremendous positive to see anything of LGBT roots put into a position of strength, power, and intimidation.
Just remember, don’t start nothin’, there won’t be nothing.’