Southside


This has become an iconic music video, which even I can remember catching glimpses of on MTV. That was when Moby was, somehow and against all odds, a major pop star who got to shoot videos with Gwen Stefani. Although what everyone now remembers from the video is the image of Stefani licking Moby’s shiny bald dome (repulsive or wish fulfill-ey, dependent on your viewpoint) it was supposed to be a parody of the gaudy millennial celebrity culture that Stefani was the epitome of at the time. Those were some crazy times, when pop stars and rappers flounced around dressed like outlet mall hoes and pimps, and cellular phones were the height of luxury. Moby, of course, had no semblance of a ghetto pass, even at his coolest, and the whole point of the song was that he would very likely get murdered if he went joyriding in the South Side of Chicago. He also would never unironically shoot a video with champagne and dancers in a hot rod and his name spelled out in marquee lights. Hence, at the very end, the jar of “Moby Mayo”. If this was today, we would feel compelled to unpack what it is, exactly, that’s being made fun of, and why, two or three degrees of context in, it’s at the very least problematic to be doing so. Don’t they know that the display of conspicuous consumerism associated with hip-hop videos is actually a subversion of racist cultural expectations of economic disparity? But nobody talked like that in 1999, and the products of terminal-stage MTV were very much ripe for a little gentle ribbing.

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