Friday, May 16, 2008

Going Overground with Gavin DeGraw

Gavin DeGraw's new song, "In Love With A Girl," (note the heterosexual emphasis, the posters on the walls at Abercrombie must be starting to make Gavin a little nervous) may taste like a bowl of white rice followed by a warm glass of water, but the video is the most subversive thing you're likely to see on tv this week.

The video is divided into two overlapping sections. The part where Gavin plays the song with his band is about as worthless as you'd imagine. However, the second part tells a story about Gavin and the girl he's in love with, the girl mentioned in the title whose greatest feature, according to Gavin, is her ability to understand him--which means she's definitely smarter than I am.

The story opens with Gavin's lovegirl locking the doors to the southern California department store where she works. Throwing off her blue workapron, no longer an employee, no longer a wage-slave to whatever company she works for, she text-messages Gavin to come meet her, where they proceed to turn the after-hours store into their own personal playground.


They don’t call their friend with a van to load off thousands of dollars worth of stuff. Freed from their jobs, left in the store to do anything they want, they instantly revert to a childlike state of play. All they want from the store is the chance to goof around with the video cameras, to jump up and down on the beds and throw lots of pillows. They want to ride in shopping carts and try on sunglasses without anybody hassling or telling them to behave. We see them hugging every thirty seconds and their liberation is contagious. Even the scene in the lingerie department seems innocent. You can watch Mtv for 24 hours and not see any two people happier than this.

There’s a security guard who spends the first-half of the video sleeping. When he finally wakes up and goes looking for the kids, they evade him effortlessly. He’s part of the old order, someone who prays to the twin altars of rules & decorum. He cares a great deal about this job, about this store, about the things in this store, and his caring becomes a weight that he wears in his face, that settles in his shoes and makes him slow. Too slow to catch the kids he is chasing, who are young, free, and care about nothing except pleasure. They are beyond their parents’ world, where the value of something is defined by how much it costs. To Gavin and his girl, the only value something has is how much pleasure they can take from it. And to deny themselves the opportunity to make some money out of their situation, or to acquire some more possessions, is the greatest freedom of all.

Their parents would probably consider it insane to pass up such an opportunity. The kids probably consider it insane that their parents voluntarily dedicated their lives to working and spending, acquiring and dying, without ever learning how to enjoy themselves. Intentionally or not, Gavin DeGraw’s new video is tracing the outlines of a revolution we are still in the process of articulating--a revolution that will lead us out of the same boring circular work-spend-work-spend patterns and into a deeper and more rewarding spirit of play.


Now if his bloated corpse of a record company would just let us upload the goddamned video.

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