Can a ‘meaningful’ music video be a nub?

A friend sent us an email saying that Simian Mobile Disco’s music for Hustler is a nub. The video features hot swim-suit wearing dancers choking to death on fast food. I think it’s a sort of comment on the vulgarity of disposable celebrity pop culture. For me that’s not really a nub, it’s just a music video – more art than education.

To be a nub I think it would probably have to have more contextual information. For example, I could imagine Max Joseph using it to make an informational video about the presence of sexual imagery in the advertising industry – a bit like this video about alcohol consumption in different countries. I kind of think the same about Justice’s controversial video for Stress which is a sort of comment on the media’s portrayal of the Parisian banlieues (great article in TIME about this). I tend to think that nubs are basically a product of the new space provided by digital culture for expression – and therefore I’m a bit suspicious of considering anything that looks like it could have been on MTV or in a TV advertising slot as a nub (aside from the fact that is has graphic content in it like the Justice and SMD videos – (see earlier post). But this could be a bit judgmental as I think we could easily qualify the Disposable Heroes of Hiphocracy’s Television the Drug of the Nation as a very early nub – one of the first maybe? So I’m blogging it here.


4 thoughts on “Can a ‘meaningful’ music video be a nub?

  1. Interesting, interesting, interesting. Nubs are therefore art and design in the service of education. I like it.

    I think you’re right in your analysis, though interestingly the TDHOH video isn’t so much a nub because of the visuals, but because of Franti’s bossman lyricism. So as long as either the audio or the visual tells you what’s going on, the other’s job is mainly to keep you engaged and entertained.

    In a weird ellipse of nubbery, Television Drug of the Nation was a homage to Gil Scot Heron’s spectacular Revolution Will Not Be Televised, which Canongate nubbed to promote a GSH poetry collection they were promoting quite a few years back. Most interestingly the guy behind the idea, Peter Collingridge, was trying to create ‘pop promos for books’.

    You can see the vid here:

    And read Peter’s blogs about it here:

    and here:

  2. I see your point Charlie, I think it all turns on how far you want to push the definition of ‘nub’ and whether you think limiting it in that way would be a good idea/useful. I can see from the ‘nubs’ that you and Faizal have posted up so far that they have had a sort of ‘literal’ element to them, in particular the kinetic typography/narrated ones. But I don’t see why you have to have a literal contextual element to learn from something. I think you can learn something from my proposed nub, the Hustler video. It presents MTV, advertising fodder in a way that seems attractive at first but soon turns pretty nasty, thereby taking the context and turning it on its head. This I think generates an interesting narrative that forces the viewer to examine their perceptions of MTV and advertising fodder as good things that one can derive pleasure from.

    Overall, I think it’s probably a bit dangerous to rely too much on contextual information because that can distract from the overall point of a nub, and also, maybe unhelpfully, limits what I think a nub could potentially be. There is something to be said about one’s pure visceral reactions and perceptions, having these take you on a journey, and thus being able to learn about something important through sound and imagery, and not necessarily through words.

  3. Pingback: Education/or just evidence? « make nubs

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