No matter how good or bad your traditional metal video may have been, one thing it never needed to depend on for success was the lyrics. But then everything changed with the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea of lyric videos.
All of a sudden, your hastily grunted critique of religion and war is the star of the show, the words transported from a Subway napkin all the way to some underpaid graphic designer’s demo reel. What so often is the least notable portion of the music video becomes integral, and directly affects its quality.
Exhibit A: “Zero” by Otep.
This is what can be considered a lyric video-plus, as the band still appears, but clearly their performance was not enough to really grab the viewer. Or, possibly, it’s because Otep herself felt that the lyrics required attention. That there was something about them that couldn’t be allowed to pass by the viewer. Often a metal lyric video is the only chance you have to see lyrics clearly laid out so that you may spend some time interpreting them. But after multiple viewings, the only thing I’m sure of is that Otep doesn’t give a fuck.
And I mean that literally. At the beginning there is a warning that says the video may give you “an overall sense of not giving a single FUCK.” Then the first lyric is “I DON’T GIVE A FUCKKKK[sic]”. Then, after some rapping and such, she hits the chorus, which is just “I don’t give a fuck,” followed by the bridge: “I don’t give a fuck, fuck, fuck, zero fucks. I don’t give a fuck.”
Not every single “fuck” or “fuckkkk” pops up on screen, so I may have missed one, but there are plenty more after this, with Otep moving into the “Judge me how I’m living? Zero fucks given” refrain that continues until she heads back towards “I don’t give a fuck, fuck, fuck, zero fucks…” and so on and so forth.
Again, this is a video where the band is performing and incredibly busy, blurry effects are employed to give the footage some action. It doesn’t need the lyrics to convey any extra motion and it certainly doesn’t require the F-dash-dash-dash word to jitter around the screen every 2-8 seconds. I mean, we get it. She doesn’t give a fuck. She has zero fucks to give. Not a single fuck is given by her, even that one fuck which would allow her to tell the difference between being brazenly provocative and mind-numbingly profane.
I’m not some high-minded scribe who thinks profanity should be avoided. I employ curse words in my personal and professional life every single chance I get. I love them. “Fuck” should be cherished and used freely. But these 3 ½ minutes do their best to squeeze every ounce of joy from the word. Maybe there is some 11-year-old out there having their mind utterly blown by this deluge of f-bombs but I suspect instead it’s like being left home alone with three gallons of chocolate ice cream. Otep may have envisioned her audience reveling in this overindulgence. But instead, the nausea quickly sets in and you’re haunted by the thought that maybe your mother was right.