Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Afro-Futurity: Going On by Gnarls Barkeley

Because the most insightful and exciting people I know walk here...

I'd love to know what this new music video for Going On by Gnarls Barkley makes you think of...


Kameelah Rasheed put me on to this video. I am first of all grateful for it. I love watching it. On the first 4 watches it seems to have a message yet to be revealed and unconcealed. I love the beauty of the people in the video, both in the choreographed movements and the way they are dressed which for me bring up today, the 1970's, tomorrow and beaded yesterdays still to be imagined. I love how the futurism of the video is not technological. I love the details of the door. I want to know that the circular dance that the people do in the first part of the video reminds me of. It reminds me of something I believe in and don't have a precise reference for. I wonder how skeptically Saidiya Hartman would look at me for relating to that music video africanized moment through the eye in my forehead for memory.

I love that the people are carrying the portal to the future in their hands. I relate to the way their exuberance transforms into fatigue. I am inspired by the way their fatigue becomes reverence. I love the words of the song, I love the way the words are highlighted strategically all along.

I wonder about what levels of love are meant and residing there in words that seem to be spoken by I man (but they say what I want to say). I wonder who the singer is speaking for. The video put the words into the mouth of the lead man, and projects them onto the sometimes smiling, sometimes pained, sometimes pensive face of the lead woman. I wonder if the words about there "being a place for you too" are for a lover, a gendered lover? a whole gender of us to be left behind while male explorers forge forward again? I wonder what it means for the words of the song to vascillate between telling the imagined person being sung to "I'll see you there" and "I'll miss you." The main questions of the video for me live with the woman distinguished half way in as the "lead woman." What divides her from the "lead man" what connects her to him? Their movements are similar, the framing of the video makes it seem that a love relationship connects them, but the words to the song, which seem to be about leaving someone behind while also projecting that person into the future seem to divide the two characters. Most explicitly the command "don't follow me" made in words that seem to come out of the portal doorway after the man jumps could be meant for the woman who follows and jumps through the doorway, just as athletically anyway. If the words come to the viewing audience from both of the jumpers...why are they timed between the two jumps? Is the woman actor or audience in this video.
And to what extent is she or is she not me? Imma be thinking about this for a while. I'd love to know what you think.

p.s. In related news...the reason my reading of this film is mediated by Saidiya Hartman is because (in addition to her brilliance and perpetual relevance to all my thoughts) even as I write this I am supposed to be revising my review of Hartman's Lose Your Mother for the special issue of Obsidian on Ghana...so any thoughts about Hartman's book would be much appreciated too!

1 comment:

Kismet said...


Now I'm thinking about the Don't Follow Me at the end again...

(I know, I know, I can't seem to let the video ago. It's haunting me in a delicious way. But back to Don't Follow Me)

...at its simplest. Which is--don't follow me, walk beside me and be my friend. That's a paraphrase from a 80's troubled teen novel I read in grammar school. But the point is the same.

Don't Follow Me. I'm not the Leader or at least not that kind of leader.

But if you struggle, find common cause with me, and I with you, and together we can build a new world. Or, in this case, jump into a new one.

Blackamazon was totally on it. It is an individual choice to move as a community...

I love this network! Have a blessed day!