There was a time, not so long ago, when the word “twerking” wasn’t known by everyone and their grandmother. Remember that? Halcyon days indeed. But now, of course, thanks to that performance by a certain Miley Cyrus, a lot of the uninitiated were brought into the fold (pun intended) and are now particularly fluent in the physical language of ass-shaking.
The concept has reached something of a fever pitch of late. Nicki Minaj’s video for her most recent single, Anaconda, caught the attention of the mainstream press. Hey, who can blame them? A bevy of lithe, big ass dancers cavorting in a jungle to the backdrop of a Sir Mix-A-Lot sample; what’s not to love exactly?
Similarly, the collaboration between Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea, the enigmatically titled Booty, took the butt-cheek baiting even further in celebration of a wide rear end. It also contains more lipstick lesbianism than an out of control college house party.
So, with big asses very much ‘in’ this season, it was only a matter of time before the idea bled out of the mainstream and into other corners of the musical spectrum. Take a bow then, Mastodon; purveyors of heavy and intricate metal with more hair between them than a bear orgy in a barbershop.
The video for new single The Motherload has caused something of a storm online among the metal community and further afield. Now, given their usual way of telling you how different they are from anyone else, metal fans are usually as receptive to change or new things as the Unabomber. Their outrage was always inevitable. First, judge for yourself:
Combining metal tropes of weird beasts, chains, darkness and solitude, the set is gatecrashed by a pack of marauding black female twerkers and proceedings soon resemble a skillfully rendered butcher’s window. But is it all so bad?
Mastodon, far from your usual collection of grizzled grumps, have faced the public confusion and outcry with no shortage of their typically off-beat humor:
— Mastodon (@mastodonmusic) September 30, 2014
— Mastodon (@mastodonmusic) September 29, 2014
It’s hard not to love these guys, isn’t it? In an interview with Pitchfork, the band stuck by their guns. Drummer Brann Dailor says he expected negativity, “but we do that – we’re that kind of band.” Curiously, one of the video’s stars came forward and published a Tumblr post defending the band, the video, herself and her colleagues.
“Within minutes of the video dropping,” she wrote, “there was a serious backlash. While most people seemed to “get” the band’s shout out to their hometown, Atlanta, others called it racist and sexist. Some people even called us dirty ni**ers and whores. Funny, the most sexist and racist sentiments came not from filming the actual video, but from a subset of metal fans who thought we simply didn’t belong.”
So it seems that most of the ire was not from any of your typical pressure groups, but instead the very demographic the video was aimed at in the first place. It’s just another depressing chapter in the great big book anonymous Internet hatred.
Besides, Mastodon have presented themselves with a win-win situation. They are not compromising musically, the video will take them into untapped markets and they are now in receipt of oodles of free publicity. Much like their prehistoric namesakes, they keep barging on through whatever obstacles are in their path.