Controversy is a scarce commodity in rock and rap these days. Marilyn Manson can don prosthetic breasts, Ol' Dirty Bastard can bum-rush the Grammys and Scott Weiland can sing about getting high, and it hits pop audiences with a dull thud rather than a norm-shattering resonance.
But controversy is directly proportional to the excitement or edginess of its source. In other words, since there is no new counterculture following punk, rap, psychedelia, etc. to spawn against-the-grain activity (middle-class revolt, inner-city strife, antiwar agitation) there's no real substance behind the stunt of the moment. The currently complacent social climate helps keep this musical patch dull--there's no economic crisis to rail against, no impoverished living conditions that haven't been exploited and marketed, no amount of violence that hasn't been reenacted five times an hour on TV.
So in this month's Sound & Vision, where music videos are rated on a scale of 0-100, we search for clips that have stirred up controversy (either deliberately or unwittingly), or are aiming to do so. Shock or schlock, that is the question.
George Michael, "Outside," directed by Vaughan Arnell. Using a public restroom as the opening set for this video, Michael plays off his arrest last April for lewd conduct in a Beverly Hills facility. In the unedited version of this video, sailors, construction workers, office employees and teenagers partake in sex (both straight and gay) in such public places as the back of a dump truck, a high-rise office building and a gymnasium locker room, while police try their damnedest to stop them. The funniest sequence: The dingy men's room becomes a glitzy nightclub, complete with disco balls and sequined urinals, giving Michael and a troupe of dancing cops a stage for some steamy choreography. Ending the video with a kiss between two policemen, the singer not only makes fun of himself, but also jabs at the powers-that-be for trying to quash something that's "human nature." 98