Loyal reader Big Mike from Gosporn responded to a posting with a link to the Pet Shop Boys video of Go West. Surprisingly, I had never seen the video before. (But then I haven't used a television at home in years. Mine only functions as a monitor for watching DVDs.) Unfortunately, the clip his link leads to cannot be embedded in this blog. So, I sought out an alternative, the original song performed by The Village People. What could be more gay than that group? As luck would have it, that clip is also prohibited from embedding. Eventually, I was fortunate to find this high quality video of the song's extended version:
What fascinates me about the PSB video is how cutting edge it is for its day. It is loaded with 1993's best computer generated imagery and editing techniques.
But the real surprise is how flagrantly gay it is. Its overt theme is leaving the militaristic Russian-style Fatherland behind and going west to join up with a group of Homo perfectus. The song uses the advice of Horace Greeley, "Go west young man!", as a recruiting motto. "Going West" indicated entering a world of new possibilities and opportunities, entering the Brave New World and the New Frontier; Walking off hand-in-hand to Utopia.
Here, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, The Pet Shop Boys, are very much advising leaving behind the stodgy, rigidly structured conservative and straight world to embark on a voyge of discovery into the liberated and free World of Gay. It may appear that they are just advising their comrades to jump Mother Russia's sinking battle ship and hop on board a capitalist ocean liner, but that is a secondary consideration. The primary impetus is to call out to closeted brothers everywhere, "Go West!" Or, better yet, be gay.
The imagery and staging of the video is striking, including the use of primary colors and visual references to Leni Riefenstahl's 1938 film, Olympia. Riefenstahl is remembered less for her brilliance as a filmmaker than for her work as Nazi propagandist. Olympia was meant to broadcast to the world Germany's rapid ascension from the devastation of WWI by promoting Hitler's agenda of a pure, Aryan race of athletic, white, god-like men. Ironically, a group that Der Fuhrer himself would have been found too inferior to join.
Hitler's plans of national promotion were damaged by
the incredible triumph of an American black athlete, Jesse Owens, who managed to disprove the supremacy of the Aryan agenda by soundly whipping the dictator's athletes in four gold-medal winning Track and Field events at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. The Olympics that Riefenstahl's Olympia documents.
PSB's video mixes images that look as if they were taken from a Moscow May Day celebration and intersperses them with images of groups of white-clad athletes who could have been lifted from Olympia had that film been in color. There is also a black woman singer dressed in the guise of a red Statue of America (Be careful where out west you go, you might find something just as bad as where you're leaving or, maybe, worse!) and a statue of Homo perfectus standing atop a large column. The male statue is an obvious reference to masculine superiority if I've ever seen one.
What I found most humorous about this video is how every man, save the white-clad athletes, is wearing a hat that looks like an inverted salad bowl.
Pet Shop Boys gets kudos for taking one of Village People's lesser disco hits and reinventing it as real dance track. The song and the video both are very insistent forms of fun mass-pop candy. The thematic subtext of the video takes the lyrics into a very pointedly gay utopian direction. With the exception of the lone black female there isn't another female present in the entire production. Instead, there are a dozen buff fellows acting as eye candy. If this video wasn't intended for a gay audience I'll eat my salad-bowl hat!