Amanda Palmer, "Oasis." Directed by Michael Pope
Boston-based Amanda Palmer of the self-described "Brechtian punk cabaret" act The Dresden Dolls launched an ambitious multimedia project around her solo debut Who Killed Amanda Palmer, including an upcoming photo book with text by Neil Gaiman and a series of videos for six of the album's twelve tracks, all directed by Michael Pope. Ironically, the best video from the album thus far is not part of the series, and concerns "Oasis," what Pitchfork reviewer Joshua Klein deems the weakest track on the album: a "blithe, bubblegum, mostly obnoxious... rape and abortion ditty-- ha!-- that gives irony a bad name." Klein's opinion is no doubt informed by the song's tonal incongruity with what is otherwise a pensive, introverted concept album. Judged on its own, "Oasis" is a refreshingly frank account of a young woman's nonchalant dealings with unwanted pregnancy, backstabbing friendships and music idolatry, a brash affirmation and wry tweak of teen feminist self-determination.
Cheekily dedicated to Sarah Palin, the video is a literal re-enactment of the events described in the song, designed with a willful garishness that fits the music's flippant, anything goes tone. The zippy pans, zooms and cuts almost disguise the fact that the video's multiple scenes and locations are all shot in the same room. Cluttered with props and people, the carnivalesque proceedings feature several outrageous moments: the thumbs-up gesture as the rapist doggystyles Amanda; the fist-bump between molested Melissa and the abortion clinic nurses; Amanda high-fiving the abortion doctor; and Melissa's final expression of disbelief.
One may understandably balk at watching what might be the campiest video on rape and abortion around. All the same, it does its part to enhance the song's unique attributes in voicing a girl's bodily horrors and superficial thrills with an irrepressibly adolescent pluck. It looks especially good compared to the "official" Who Killed Amanda Palmer videos, which amplify their song's brooding qualities to the point of ponderousness. In this case, two minutes of just cutting loose and having fun provides longer lasting pleasure than half an hour of strained seriousness.