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April 24, 2007

LATimes on Morissette’s YouTube Entry [8:41 am]

Working the system; sending a message; establishing cred? Satire busts a humppdf

At first glance, it simply looks like another pass-along parody, a takeoff on the original “My Humps” hit by the Black Eyed Peas. But Morissette’s video is armed with a provocative subtext that has people abuzz with debate. It’s a fascinating piece of video art, an inspired combination of satire, social criticism and career reinvention that is a signature artifact of today’s viral Web culture.

On one level, “My Humps” is a commentary on dim-bulb pop. The Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps,” though a huge smash, was widely mocked for its vapid, suggestive lyrics. (Sample: “The boys they wanna sex me, they always standing next to me, always dancing next to me, tryin’ a feel my hump, hump.”) The video, featuring Fergie, the group’s lead singer, was, if possible, even tawdrier. Full of nonstop teasing and thrusting, it’s the kind of hip-hop booty porn that would make great torture material for Muslim prisoners at our Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Dressing herself Fergie-style, with baubles and bling, surrounded by black-clad male dancers, Morissette retained the original’s visual sluttiness but replaced the Peas’ thumping rhythm track with a pensive solo piano. By removing the intoxicating bass line and clearly enunciating the crass lyrics, she gave the song’s sexpot swagger a new tone of sadness and desperation while simultaneously parodying her own artistic tendencies toward self-absorbed angst.

It’s a striking performance, functioning as both social criticism and self-criticism. It also has given an instant shot of street cred to Morissette, whose career had slid downhill after her incandescent debut in 1995 with “Jagged Little Pill.” Stereotyped as an earnest navel gazer — one blogger recently dismissed her as an “emo-feminist” — she suddenly has fans seeing her through fresh eyes.

[...] Morissette has followed the model once practiced by Bob Dylan, who in his ’60s heyday refused to explicate anything, bobbing and weaving in interviews, baffling the MSM of the day with a fog of evasions, sly jokes and put-ons.

Unlike Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Fergie, who can’t stop blabbing about their various addictions, pet causes and loser lovers, Morissette has greeted all “My Humps” interview requests with a vow of silence.

Then, we are suddenly talking about FoxAttacks.com. Not that I don’t see a connection, but it’s not at all clear that it’s *the* connection that I would make.

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