Radiohead’s track ‘Videotapes’ off In Rainbows is a bittersweet love song. It begins with the reflection that the memory of a perfect day will be playing at ‘the pearly gates’, only to be broken by the thought that Mephistopheles will be along to drag the singer down to Hell. The rest of the song repeats that image of perfection spoiled in various ways, a perfect day reduced to footage is just a series of colors (red, blue, green) or losing control of the images as they get plastered onto tape. Yet the necessity of the videotape is still there, “I can’t do it face to face”. The song ends on the note that only seeing the memory of the perfect day will have to be enough.
Finding an image to accompany that is obviously a bit tricky but it came from, of all places, Don Hertzfeldt’s hilarious Rejected Cartoons. The sequence comes up at about 8:16. It’s the scene where Hertzfeldt is destroying his work out of creative frustration and all the characters are trying to escape. The work itself is falling apart because, “Perhaps it was the animator’s creative stagnation in the commercial world, or a deeper loss of individuality therein…the rejected cartoons grew unstable.” While Hertzfeldt is throwing in a dry ‘Fuck You’ to the audience as well as all the commercial cartoon industry by killing all of his strange characters, ultimately it’s still about being frustrated with a medium. In this case these images and characters cannot get out of the cartoon that the creator is destroying because they keep getting rejected. The intensity of seeing those tiny stick figures beating so hard on the screen that they are actually bending the paper compliments the memory in ‘Videotape’ nicely: they are both desperately trying to get out.
This version of the song is from a concert in Boston on June 4th, 2006.