September 6, 2016

Watch: How Spike Jonze Became the King of Viral Music Videos

The parallels between "Weapon of Choice" and Jonze's latest internet-breaker should not be ignored—and neither should the director's long history of video innovations.

Spike Jonze has been making viral music videos ripe for the internet before the term "viral" even existed. Case in point: the Christopher Walken-heavy short for Fatboy Slim's 2001 banger "Weapon of Choice." In the humble opinion of one Scorsese-obsessed, self-proclaimed surrealist editor, this is the best music video ever made.

The video, shot in the desolate lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles, won six awards at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards (when it was still actually a reputable place to see new music videos) including Breakthrough Video, Best Direction, Best Choreography, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Editing and Best Cinematography.

Walken, who is no stranger to the art of dance, was credited for the choreography and waltzed away with the moonman. If Jonze hadn't been involved, however, the video may have never taken shape.  The actor cited the involvement of Jonze as one of his main motivations for appearing in the video, which he also welcomed as a chance to do "something different." What was on Jonze's resume that made him so attractive to Walken? Up until that point, his only feature was 1999's Being John Malkovich. The rest of his work was made up solely of music videos. Granted, they are some of the most memorable in the medium's short history. 

Last week, we dropped a story about Jonze's latest short for Kenzo perfume; today its page view count sits at 870,000, making it one of the most widely-read articles in the history of No Film School. Many of you were keen to note that there are many similarities between the viral sensation and Jonze's 2001 masterpiece, but video editor Pablo Fernandez took the thought a step further and created this side-by-side comparison to show just how much the influence shines through.

 

Both videos seem to be touching somewhere on a loner's place in within their social realm. Jonze breaks this struggle down in an incredibly simple narrative, one that is especially resonant for those trying to make a living by filmmaking, writing, or acting. Each protagonist interacts with their environment through their art—in these instances perhaps the most primal medium, dance.

Margaret Qualley has a more aggressive quality in her movements, reflecting a more tense conflict between the restrictions oupper-classclass society and her inner Walken. Perhaps this can be taken as a nod to Jonze's own reaction to fame and pretension, now that he has a broader filmography under his plate. 

Now, if you feel so inclined, take a minute to look back on the videos that made Jonze a household name. All fun, all weird, all creative, Jonze has never been one to abide by the rules of convention and his latest work simply reaffirms that fact.  Most start with a simple concept, throw in a dash of choreography, some crazy props, and voila. If any of these videos were seen for the first time today, they would still "go viral" in a heartbeat.

Your Comment

5 Comments

Jonze is a master. He actually got his start making skateboard movies. Skateboarding videos have always been incredible. Every Jonze fan should check out his skate work, especially Yeah, Right! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM1BapTFnXM

September 6, 2016 at 3:47PM, Edited September 6, 3:47PM

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Tim Ryan
Filmmaker
253

Honestly, this mashup shows more parallels, and is more fun to watch:
https://vimeo.com/180883395

September 6, 2016 at 4:28PM, Edited September 6, 4:28PM

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I ain't no film school kid but let's not forget Drop by the Pharcyde!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=co3qMdkucM0
He used a ventriloquist to teach the rappers different words so it looked like there lyrics when played forward!!!

September 6, 2016 at 5:17PM

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Brynn Chadwick
DIrector
86

Not to mention he's partly who we have to thank for the crazy amazing creative direction for VICELAND

September 10, 2016 at 8:35AM, Edited September 10, 8:35AM

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Neville E. Shaw
Visual Content Creator
74

Top three film is "The Fall" produced (and visualized) by this badass... not many know it which kinda blows my mind...

August 22, 2017 at 2:21PM

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Roberto Serrini
Director • Editor
604