Music video review — Pool’s “Don’t Call My Name”

(Collaborative criticism)

Don’t call my name if you only want bubble gum

The instrumentation is catchy, the video is alarming. The lyrics are cool, the acting is flirtatious. But who thought of throwing a distinctive puzzling twist into the story that only leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth? “Don’t Call My Name” is a song by Pool, a German band from Berlin whose only starting to burst onto the music scene. The indie band isn’t known by many people, but their sonic landscape is inviting. Fresh and crispy, as if you’re biting into a green apple. They make music you’d want to listen to on a summer afternoon. …maybe because it gives you a breath of fresh air.

I like “Don’t Call My Name” quite a lot. The video accompanies the song well. The video tells a story. A story of a boy and a girl that seems to suggest something beyond friends next-door. Mildly unsettling emotions are evoked 40 seconds in when close ups of naive yet seductive eyes and lips of the two dominate the screen. I think: “Hmm… okay, well, it’s nothing strange to feel attraction for the cute boy/girl you happen to hang out with, right?” Well, wait for it. Things go just a little off the ground when the boy sneaks up to the girl from behind and slips off her jacket. It’s no longer a I-like-you-because-you-shared-your-candy context when a boy ties a girl to a tree after blindfolding her, on top of taking her jacket… is it?

I couldn’t get my mind off the unfitting, even inappropriate content of such a young children presenting themselves (well, being told to act in such ways) in such mature tone. I was puzzled. Why did the director pick young children when the behaviour can be naturalised by an adult couple double the kids’ age? How can a music video which suggests childish playfulness yet a little of wildness, a little of impurity and a little of the wrong idea of hide-and-seek be understood?

As many individuals live on this planet, no two people will have the exact same opinions about things on the discussion table. The music video is a product of a German band, whose perspectives and world views are shaped by their culture. Something clicked in my head when my colleague, Lina, made a comment one afternoon over coffee; “In Germany we make parodies of everything because we have seen it all. The content is all out there… so we don’t have boundaries to explicitness. We like to shock people”. The weird friction in the video wasn’t much of a surprise to Lina (herself a German citizen) but it was to me, where German viewers might expect the flirtatious content between the young kids. “It’s not like if they’re kissing or making out…”. There you have it.

The song is great, but the image seems to be bizarrely mismatched, at least to what I could comprehend from it. After all, it might only be a matter of how you define something to be explicit, and how immune you are to certain contexts. The discourse is open as to whether children, a boy and a girl under the age of puberty, should willingly be exposed to adult gender roles via external intervention, promoting their awareness of romantic or sexual conduct.

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