28 April 2008

Film clip analysis; Nelly Furtado, Maneater


Nelly is innocently walking her dog ( a great dane, called Toby..more
on the symbolism of that name later) amongst an industrial site. Toby, being a dog, does what most dogs will do when faced with a feline obstacle and decides to ditch Nelly in pursuit of said furry white kitty.
being the responsible owner that she is, and probably because great danes are expensive and lovely dogs, goes looking for the rascal Toby and finds herself getting more and more lost in the complex and creepy underground maze of corridors in this mystery industrial site, complete with requisite flickering neon overhead lights.

What is even more odd is that this underground space seems to be the hangout of some beautiful, lithe, cool looking folk who are decked out in cutting-edge urban gear, probably sponsored by G-Star Raw. They also all have glowing pale eyes; possibly vampires, possibly coked off their nutters.

I like to think that Nelly is nodding her head to that other influential film clip, Bonnie Tyler's 1983 hit 'total eclipse of the heart'. You know the one, creepy old mansion with billowing curtains, a group of young choirboys all in possession of 'bright eyes', genius!

But I digress...back to the vampires; if Nelly feels pertubed by these urban bright eyes she doesn't let them see it. Instead she does what any modern heroine would do in her position and gets her sass on and starts to sing, she sings a song that seems to resonate with them because they too eventually start moving around to this beat that has materialised out of nowhere, filling the awkward space that many of us feel when we have walked into a bar or party where we do not see anyone we recognise straight away.

This song, speaks of a 'maneater'. Perhaps the urban vampires recognise Nelly's ironic wit and subversive attempt to reach out to them and find a common bond; she is a metaphoric eater of man...or perhaps warning them against other metaphoric maneaters who chew men up and spit them out once they have served their limited purpose (if you live any big city, you might have seen them in action...I recently had the fortune of being in a bar in Copenhagen almost entirely populated by these 'maneaters'; it was a fascinating anthropological insight into this species and I felt privileged at being able to see them work away in their natural habitat whilst I sat there dumbfounded sipping on my cocktail, a veritable fish out of water).
This song speaks to the vampires because they are maneaters of the more literal sense, partaking of the human blood that nourishes them and causes their eyes to glow so brilliantly, pulsating with the fire of human existence. Actually,
they are more 'mandrinkers' aren't they? Wait...'mandrinkers' is so un-pc; 'peopledrinkers', there, that's better.

Coming back to the point of 'the fire of human existence', fire is also another symbol that is presented to the viewer. This serves two functions, again the more literal; fire is hot, fire makes the beautiful lithe vam
piric people (who incidentally turn out to be good dancers) sweat, sweat is sexy when in combination with a good beat and plenty of bass.
Fire in the more metaphorical sense adds an element of danger; fire hot, ouchy ouchy burn don't get too close...is Nelly trying to tell us something? Is she a hard person to get to know? Has she been burned before, is that why she is now a maneater or purports to know so much about man

Also fire is representive of the flames of hell, vampires are not exactly god's creatures and seem to belong more to the camp of the diabolical (no offence to the vampires who may be reading this). This also c
alls to mind the meaning behind the name of Nelly's dog; Toby. Toby is short for Tobias which like many biblical names basically translates into 'god is good'.
If Toby is so damn good...why has he inadvertently led her into this diabolical subterranean den of dance? Perhaps he know that Nelly can handle herself.

Nelly demonstrates her level of sass and bravado by not letting the fact that she cannot dance phase her or stop her from being sexy. She fulfills this goal by means of two actions;

1) waving her hands around, normally around her head to distract from the lower half of her body, the camera is in cahoots with Nelly as it tends to focus on her from the waist up, and for this we are thankful.
2) the short sequence when she somehow ends up alone on the rooftop midsong; she lifts her white tank top suggestively and rubs her abs vigourously, again denoting that she is one sexy-mother (or perhaps a tad peckish) but at the
same time leading your mind away from the fact she cannot dance per se.

This trend is also seen in Nelly's other filmclip, 'say it right' albeit not underground but on a rooftop helipad and sans Toby.

The conclusion of the filmclip is favourable to our urban heroine; she connects with the vampires through the power of music, tries to bluff her way through some dance moves and ultimately finds her dog Toby with remarkable good fortune just as the song has ended.

What can this filmclip teach us about the plight for knowledge and understanding of the human condition?

a) when in doubt, break into song

b) vampire are people too you know
c) great danes are great but hard to take out for a walk
d) Bonnie Tyler rocks

Have I missed anything? Let me know

xxx M

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