GENDER STUDIES WITH FOCUS ON MUSIC VIDEO CLIP “FREAK” FROM LFO
Student: Ozana Klaric
Vienna, April 17, 2005


1. INTRODUCTION
1.2. FREAK

“Freak” is a song from LFO´s last album “Sheath”, which was published in September 2003. It was directed by Daniel Levi. “Freak” is a video clip that, as the title says, is going to make you FREAK! Devastating bass, and half way of the track a part going insane with beats everywhere, and when it's getting too much, too noisy, too high, you get back too that good old bass you can feel all through your body. It is an album of rich melodies, aggressive and percussive breaks and richly textured atmospheres that synthesize the whole of electronic music and shows its beauties. It is also a video clip that is totally different than others that LFO made. They decided to reactivate the LFO´s alter ego. “Freak” is remarkable in its ability to return to that nasty, dark warehouse acid sound that typified LFO’s early work. This video clip is a shining example of just how broad and brilliant electronic music can still be in the right hands.

2. DESCRIPTION OF VIDEO CLIPS


Video clip 1 shows the first scene in the video. You can see the Asian girls playing in the schoolyard, they are uniformed and surrounded with a fence from steal and on the clip there is something written on Asian letter. The first impression is: “What is this clip going to be about?!” And when we read that sentence on the clip becomes kind of dreadful. “WEIRD SHAPED PERSON”, it says. It refers to the title “Freak”. It almost comes to mind that these girls are to be those “weird shaped persons” and that cannot be because the girls, children are nice, lovely and lovable. So it is kind of contrast. On the clip we can see that this schoolyard is all made from stone. There is no garden or grass or flowers or trees, just stone and steal. There is a toboggan and merry-go-round but as we know it is also made from steal and it contributes to this cold spooky, atmosphere and we almost forgot that it is a playground, a schoolyard. It actually looks like a prison. The skyscraper on the left side looks very huge and it demands to realize its size. It reminds on a guard in a prison, who from the highest spot in a prison oversees and controls his prisoners. On the right side there is a line of the same modern huge parallel buildings that look like soldiers in a line, who are waiting their supervisor to order them something. The cloth of girls also reminds on the soldier because they all look similar. Later we are going to realize how different they really are.


On the video clip 2 we can see the shining floor and the shoes from the girl that pulls the chair. The shoes in this video clip are playing really an important role because of their meaning. In my opinion the major thought in this video clip is the rebellion against the old system, against the traditional chains and barriers that are imposed to the society during the many centuries. In this video clip, as I already have mentioned, the schoolgirls are wearing the school uniforms. So they suppose to look the same, there should not be any difference between them, they should not be no individualism at all. That is the main reason why are the uniform in the first place introduced to the schools. And the shoes are the only part of the girl’s cloth that are not uniformed. There is no rule how the shoes must be like or that everyone must wear the same shoes as they must wear the same clothes. That is why there represent the freedom, the corn of liberty in there world where everything must look and must be done in a precisely defined way. The different shoes mean the possibility to be individualized, to be different and to be able to express at least a little bit yourselves.


Video clip 3 shows the teacher’s shoes in the bathroom. We can also see her legs, her panties that are put down and old shoes that are in this case fitting perfectly in this traditional old system. It is like they are actually representing the system. The shoes are black, shaped and very old-fashioned.


Video clip 4 shows the woman principal, who is sitting on a toilet and we can see that she is dressed in a dark buttoned suit. Her hear is neatly done and she looks very serious and strict. Behind her we can see very shiny tiles on which there are draws and other written things. It also contributes to this neatness and cleanliness.


On the video clip 5 we can see that the girl that was pulling the chair before now is in the toilet and she blocks the door with it so that principal cannot get out of there. The chair is dark green; it looks very old and old-fashioned. Although the chair is too big for one girl to carry it, this girl seems to know what she wants and that is why this hard chair does not cause any problem to her. She knows what she wants to do.

The video clip 6 shows the teacher, who now looks disturbed and little bit nervous. She is yelling, if someone is there. This clip introduces the feel of uncalmness and for the first time we can sense the panic because the teacher does not know what is going on behind the door.

On the video clip 7 we can see that this girl has come in the principal’s room and on her sleeve we can see the drawn bear. It could mean simple that she is just a kid so maybe she is not aware of what she has done. But later on we will realize that it is not actually so.

But on the video clip 8 we can see on her chain the skull and that is really not something that children like. It provokes an odd feeling and introduces the weirdness into the clip. She took the cassette out of the pocket and put it into the radio. The cassette and the radio are also very old-fashioned today and it is again in a function of “the old system”. This contrast makes us wondering:” Why the skull?!”

On the video clip 9 we see the huge spikier, skyscraper and buildings behind it. The spikier looks just like the one that they have in a prison. So it again tells that control is all what is here about. The colors are also dark and similar like before but now we can see on the left side light. It is symbolizing the begin of rebellion, the begin of the fight against the imposed rules. This light and the begin of music mean the begin of liberation. The lyric says: “This is going to make you freak!” It means that this rebellion is going to make freak and crazy all those who are for the system.

On the video clip 10 the girls in the schoolyard have started to play and dance when they heard the music. It looks like they were always looking forward to hear it. Suddenly the schoolyard is not in the order anymore because the girls went crazy. They started to dance and play more intensive.

The video clip 11 shows open door in the schoolyard and girls that are dancing in the rhythm of music. They are turned with a back to us so we cannot see their faces. Girls are looking in the direction of the opened door, which looks like a stream to go out of these bars. It is not boring anymore. Suddenly is everything moving and
unpredictableness came into the sense and atmosphere.

On the video clip 12 we can see the Chinese flag. It again symbolizes this rigidity and strictness. The flag is flying in the wind. It is not still anymore. It has a freedom to move, to go, and to fly. They are not against everyone but the girls just want the opportunity to be free. The girls are not against the flag but they want that this flag is to be “free to fly”, just like they want to be free to do what they want, to dress the way they want, to bee individual with a choice to chose.


Video clip 13 shows the girls dancing in the V-formation. V-formation is the formation that birds are making when they are flying together. That is exactly why I am connecting it to this video clip. Together flying!!! The girls are together in this rebellion. They are sticking together and making the togetherness but despite that they are free to move and dance the way they want. I think this is one of the main thoughts in this video clip. Being free in a community, in a society, but still being an important part of it.

Video clip 14 shows the “dance of the hair” of the girls. And the look of the girl reminds on the Asian horror film “The Eyes”. This look is scary. It is spooky. The hair looks lake it is also dancing. She is also free. There are no more limits and barriers; the music has started the process of liberation that cannot be stopped anymore.

On the video clip 15 the girl, who turn on the radio, is running toward the other girls in the schoolyard. The chair is on the floor now, which implies that there is no more place to order here. The music is really energetic and strong and the clips are changing very quickly so we intensively feel this strong dynamic and changes. Everything is happening so fast!!! That emphasizes the intensiveness.


On the video clip 16 the girls are playing in the circle or are they maybe standing in the form of number 6?! The circle and the play would imply again togetherness and having fun while playing in this freedom. But the number 6 is a symbol for the devil, which again causes a scary feeling. That contrast is, as I can conclude, present all the time. Like in the video clips 7 and 8 where we could see on that girl that turned on the radio the bear and later the skull.

The video clip 17 is an addition to my explanation in the video clip 16. The scariness and the possibility that the girls are the “freak”, has been here again shown. Now the faces of all the girls are changing. There’s eyes are becoming awry and they look like the devils and monsters, “freaks”, in some horror movie. The devastating bass makes insane and it is becomes noisier and higher and the bass is going through our whole body.

On the video clip 18 we can see furious and shocked teacher, who is strongly banging and knocking on the toilet’s door in the rhythm of the basses. Now she looks freaked out, not calm and still anymore, but ready to break the door and punish everyone. The scenes of the teachers banging and the girls dancing are changing again dynamically. The hair, the freaked eyes of girls, the knocking, that all makes the nervous atmosphere and intensiveness.

On the video clip 19 two girls are fighting because one pushed the other and later on she also stood on the other’s shoe. The bear is also present in this clip again as a reminder that they are children. It happens all the time that the children are fighting about something. But the other scenes that are changing very fast are making this fight more brutal. The scene of weird eyes, wild hair, teacher’s knocking, girls’ shoes, all that makes us now like we are going to be freaked out.

On the video clip 20 one girl pushed the other one and she fell on the ground. We can see her falling down and the other girls, who are standing in the circle, are laughing to that, like it is not so dangerous and bad. They are still clapping with their hands and playing and laughing. Again, it is not a normal human reaction. These contrasts are emphasizing and reminding us all the time that the main lyric in this video clip is:” This is going to make you freak!”

Video clip 21 shows the girl lying on the ground. Next to her there is a bear and around her there are still standing the other girls. This scene has been taken from the bird eye perspective so that this girl looks weaker, smaller and more helpless.


On the video clip 22 the principal is running. Her face is now more and more furious, her hair is massy now, but she still does not shows the feelings as much as someone else normally would. That implies on the fact that the persons that are whole life learned to behave, talk and think the way that society and the system says, that they cannot change it and they act automatically by the rules, even in the unusual and strange situation.


On the video clip 23 we can see the jerky dance on the ground. She is filmed with a camera from the head to the shoes. She dances like a robot in the rhythm of the song. We can see that she moves but we are not sure if she is suffering because she is hurt or is she just continuing dancing. Than we can see her smile and that is a point where we are not sure what we are suppose to think now. It seemed like she was playing all the time with the viewers feelings, our feelings. Like she played with our emotions.


Video clip 24 shows the moment when the girl on the ground gets up and she gives us a winks and smiles. That gesture leaves the viewers in the question: “What am I suppose to think now?! Why has she done that?!” It is us now, who are being freaked out. And than again a sentence on Chinese in the centre that says:” STRANGE CREATURE!” It again refers to the title “Freak”, just like on the beginning of the video clip. At the end we cannot clearly say and explain what was this whole video clip really about. Is it a rebellion?!! Is it a game?!! Or is it maybe just the commercial try to make something more interested?! !


3. ANALYSIS OF THE MUSIC VIDEO


This music video is the techno video although the LFO is usually based on pop, hip-hop, rap and R&B. It could be characterized as an art video film because of its quality and unique expression.
This music video clip is about breaking trough traditional barriers; it is a try to go out of the imposed rules and chains of the traditionalism. That is very well pointed out in the main lyric in the video spot, that says:” This is going to make you freak!”
In this video clip there are only women, Asian women. That is so because Asian women are more traditional than other women in the world. They are more passive, docile and easier to be controlled. There are no men in this video. Why? Again it could be because they wanted to give a clear message and putting the men-women relations into the clip could harm to this artistic simplicity. Why again particularly the Asian girls and not others?! Maybe that is so because they are more exotic and interesting to whole West world than the white girls.
The main protagonist does not exist in this video. There are only 3 persons that are being a bit individualized: the woman principal, the girl that turned on the radio and the girl that was pushed down to the floor. But they are set apart not to be individualized, but to take these important roles that they have taken. It is not important who they are, but what do they represent.
In the video we can see three typical Asian things: the girls are wearing school uniforms and they are very often in some kind of groups. Being in a group is normal for Asian culture. And, the boys and girls schools are also tradition in Asia. It is normal to them to be separated.
In this video the colors are black, white and grey. There are not many other colors in the video. Few times we can see more light on a clips but not vivid colors. It is all in the function to present well this oldness and tradition.


The space in this video could be divided in two parts: outside and inside. We can see some video clips inside the school, where everything looks so old and clean and big. Outside the school there is a schoolyard, which is not so big. There is not really enough place for the girls. At the end, outside the schoolyard there is a vastness that has no end. The skyscraper that almost touches the sky, the modern parallel buildings that are going to eternity, all that gives some kind of hope that there is a possibility that things could change. Something exists behind this bars and steal!!!
The shoes are playing a big role in this video clip because everything is uniformed; just the shoes are the thing that can be different. There is no rule how the shoes must be like or that everyone must wear the same shoes as they must wear the same clothes. That is why there represent the freedom, the corn of liberty in there world where everything must look and must be done in a precisely defined way. The different shoes mean the possibility to be individualized, to be different and to be able to express at least a little bit yourselves.
The position of the camera in this music video clip is very important. The camera has mostly taken the stills from the distance and it is so that we get this feeling of togetherness and uniqueness. Also many time the clips are been taken from the birds perspective. It is done so with the purpose to make something ore someone smaller.
In the video there are no main protagonists, there are no parallel actions, there are no changes of stile or interrupting scenes. Everything happens like in some normal story where the action is going from the begin to the end. There is one sentence that is the main connector in this video, and it is:”This is going to make you freak!”


5. CONCLUSION


The video clip “Freak” is an album of rich melodies, aggressive and percussive breaks and richly textured atmospheres that synthesize the whole of electronic music and shows its beauties. It is a kind of art video film. I liked it very much although I needed to look at it more times to get it well. It is very simply made but that simpleness cans deceit
because it is actually very complex video clip that offers so much.
In my opinion, there are three possible interpretations or reasons why is this video clip made the way that is. The first one I have already explained in this seminar. It is this rebellion of the young school girls against the old system. My second taught is that this video clip maybe does not have some deep sense and message. Maybe it is just about the girls that were bored in a school and they made something cool an interesting, but not so unusual for the school kids. This freaky part is than present in the video clip just to make this clip more interesting and not boring. The third possibility is that LFO, as a boy-band with a reputation similar to N´SYNC and others, just wanted to do something different and to approve that they are able to all kind of music. That they are the real musicians and not some boy band that looks nice. Or was it maybe the try of LFO to accomplish bigger commercial success with the Asian in the video because the Asia and the Asians are exotic and attractive and interesting to West world? And maybe it was done so to conquer the Asian music market?! I guess we will not ever know…