Scissor Sisters’ “Invisible Light” should be one of my favorite videos of the year. It starts off with a pretty solid Hammer Horror pastiche, with the Gothic elements firmly in place – a woman is left alone in the manor with her child and is menaced by evil forces – which segues into a bizarre vision of the future filled with fake movie science and intense hypnotism montages. It is basically a short Tarantino film – whenever you feel the story lacks emotional nuance or intelligence, toss in another allusion for the film nerds. Stylistically, it is beautiful.
But there is a lot of violence against women in this video. There is sexual degradation, and feminized body horror, and a rape scene in this video. If you’ve never heard of them or their music, Scissor Sisters is a gay group that makes gay music for gay people. This video was intended for my consumption, it was linked to by the largest gay blog I follow, without comment.
The video is below, it is NSFW for violence against women, sexualized violence, and bare chests:
Here to chat with me about this video is my good friend Satah! A few months ago Satah wrote a song about street harassment that was linked by Hollaback NYC and Amanda Hess and ever since ey’s been one of my favorite people in the Social Justice Blogosphere.
GARLAND: So this video. There’s a lot of violence against ladies in it. And more than that, there’s a lot of the type of violence that is directly specifically towards ladies. And that gives me pause.
SATAH:: Yep, there are some very tried and true anti-lady sentiments in here! It only takes, what, twenty seconds for a woman to be likened to a piece of meat? The dead poultry mind control is exactly like those terrible corona ads where taking the cap off of the beer made ladies naked or whatever, but with the creepy addition of i’m-going-to-consume-this-bird’s-flesh-in-effigy-of-your-own sort of tones.
GARLAND: Clearly the female body is a thing of power! It is also horrible and terrifying beyond comprehension. And, like, weirdly religious? With the animal on the crucifix and the stigmata and some sort of Goddess with a 200 watts in her mouth? After that scene where she’s kneeling in front of a naked dude with her mouth open, I was like “What is going on with this video?”
SATAH:: The whole experience was a long series of “What is going on in this video,” interspliced with “Oh no, I’m not feeling okay with this” and also “Look at the little turtle!” The woman kneeling and having a psychic orgasm seemed to be kind of a recurring theme in which ladies were overcome with the pure manliness of men doing man things and it gave them the sexy vapours? Like the girl in the white pants watching the dude chop up wood (wood hurr hurr (but seriously, i question his chopping technique)) and clutching her derriere? Which, honestly, he looked just as confused as i was at that moment.
GARLAND: And the size of the piece of wood he’s chopping changes from one frame to the next. I’m not sure if that’s a metaphor. I think the whole thing is supposed to be the tale of one woman remembering all the times she’s died while under hypnosis, with a pretty thorough account of the many sexual tortures she’s undergone. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I expected that a gay group like the Scissor Sisters would be releasing something more progressive than Gothic Humiliation Torture Porn.
SATAH:: Oh! That’s why i thought they were all the same woman? They ARE? I wasn’t sure if i was just having a “series of pretty blonde skinny women”-induced facial recognition chip glitch, but… okay. GOOD. I don’t know much about the band, but, you know, gay movements haven’t always been the best at women? Presumably because fighting the overarching systems of society doesn’t mean you are exempt from them, which, BOOOOO. Add in the whole music video– expectations, i guess– and you have sort of a huge mess of potential “WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE AWESOME AT THIS??”
GARLAND: I think they’re the same woman, but they could just be two very similar looking women. Who have a lot of horrible things happen to them but WAIT! maybe it was all a dream. Because obviously if it was a dream it doesn’t count.
SATAH:: Right! The clown especially didn’t count, because that was a scary damn clown. And if it was all a dream, I can forgive the wood chopping, because it was working on dream logic. Also if it was a dream, I can pretend that the cages were all references to Miley Cyrus’s “Can’t Be Tamed” video, which kind of makes the whole thing a little less scary, though the mud-slinging scene is still making me cringe whenever i remember it? That was possibly the crowning moment of “not okay” for me.
GARLAND: It seems odd and disconcerting to that you’d be watching a music video and be subjected to this much disgustingly blatant misogyny. The whole thing makes me want to call up my friend Miley and ask her if she’s got something to take the edge off.