Directed by Forty-Five Directors
In 2013 Curitiba-based electropop band Bonde do Rolê released their music video «Picolé». A video celebrating the popsicle and directed by forty-five directors. Our author asks: How is this possible? From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).
As the video opens, we learn that it was co-directed by forty-five directors. Even after many viewings, my reaction is still, «How is that possible?» We’ll see if this is a case of «Many hands make light work» or «Too many cooks spoil the broth». Let’s start with the lyrics. Their semantic dimension alone isn’t particularly interesting. However, delivered with the singers’ «suggestive» (read: raunchy) enunciation and the exaggerated, at-times humorously performative and even deformed, pronunciation, they are quite amusing. The refrain is a dialogue between a man and a woman:
He: «I want to eat you standing up»
She: «Then buy me a popsicle, and I will suck, I will suck»
He: «Only the stick will be left»
The lyrics equate desire to male heterosexual lust, which is demonstrated through descriptions of what the male will do to her, what he wants her to do to him, and why he enjoys it. He ends by averring God has bestowed on him possession of the female essence. She is acquiescence embodied.
The Male's Voyeur's Desire
In the video, the popsicle shows up in many colors and variations, always as a blatant sexual metaphor – as well as the female sexual organ as a fruit (bacurinha is slang for the clitoris). These infantile allusions suggest youth wanting to grow up – sex being both motive and vehicle – and adults wishing they could «grow back down», realizing, in retrospect, that they lost something valuable along the way. One noteworthy scene is of a young, voluptuous, nude white female, lying on her back on a floor covered with dry popsicle sticks, her nipples and mons pubis «protected» by popsicles. This Venus smiles, gazing vaguely in the direction of the camera, luxuriating in the sticks all around her. In a waist up close-up, her self-contented smile turns to a penetrating look that is suggestive, beckoning and gamely promising. The shot reveals the male voyeur’s desire through its scripted provocation and response. In her manicured left hand she now holds a popsicle just below her solar plexus – Hey kids, care for Nyotaimori (女体盛り)?1 We see on her right arm a tattoo of a rosary, the cross conspicuously displayed, apparent evidence of the singer’s above assertion of his God-given right.
Music: the Least Interesting Part
The visual aesthetic is non-narrative; it’s a sequence of video quanta organized in fractal-like collage, each one linked to the others in theme, color, syntax/rhythm, texture, or other quality, but aggregating to the others some new «development». After repeated viewings, it «says» to me, «Hey, hey! for fast/junk food and drive-through consumption, or the commoditization of our desires, the mechanization of their production, and their resale to us on an industrial scale! \o/ \o/ \o/!»
The least interesting part of the whole package is the sonic component. Musically, desire could be heard in the pulse and melody, organized into short repeated groups. It builds to a major-key solo that indexes rock ’n’ roll and the innocent infatuation of yesteryear. Elements of funk carioca, the present era’s music of moral disruption, conjures up flashes of humorless, vulgar, world-weary displays of libido in search of outlets for quick, serial gratification.
Can a Bedroom Producer Change the World?
Returning to my bewilderment around the forty-five co-directors and their process: I am reminded of the Norient debate about whether bedroom producers can change the world. I wish to posit that this video could contribute to an ecological analysis of the issue: Sexual innuendo aside, bedroom walls, in both metaphorical and literal uses, represent barriers and have the potential to lead to vicariance, a form of speciation occurring when geographical barriers arise to cut members of a species off from others. In this context, isolated producers would develop over time idiosyncratic techniques, tastes, and so on. This video is an artifact fashioned through and made possible by the productive networks people have created using the new technologies available to bedroom producers – in other words, despite the dispersal of the forum and the atomization of the hoi polloi (and I mean that sensu strictissimo).
- 1. «Nyotaimori» is the practice of serving sushi on the naked body of a woman.
Published on September 04, 2017
Last updated on January 15, 2020
Jesse S. Wheeler lives in Brasília, sings and plays concertina in Tanaman Dùl, runs Encompass Brazil International, and has a PhD in Ethnomusicology.