Among the surprises in this weekend's Saturday Night Live was a brief cameo by cult film director John Waters in The Lonely Island's
latest rap video "The Creep." Featuring internet phenomenon Nicki Minaj,
the slick video was a carnival of odd juxtapositions: Andy Samberg,
Yorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer in pencil mustaches, a few babies in
suits, Minaj all over a cadaver. Top all that with the weirdness of watching
a real music star dancing with fake ones in a silly rap song that
looked and sounded lot like a real one. This by itself is no surprise:
listen to a Minaj track--or another Lonely Island music video for that matter--and it's clear the line between song and skit are increasingly blurry.
On the first glance, supplementing pop-dynamite (Minaj, SNL Digital Shorts) with an indie director (Waters) seems like an odd choice. But perhaps the absurdist theatrics of artists like Minaj mirrors the transgressive sensibility of cult-hero Waters. Chalk it up to the Internet, a place where videos made for quick consumption and distribution can feature today's biggest stars alongside underground greats seamlessly, and where these stars increasingly incorporate what were formally more radical themes into their own popular performances.
Waters was in to it. "I like the politics of the song. It says it's fun to be creepy!" he told the Baltimore Sun about the video, noting that his part was filmed in San Francisco. Was he offended that Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer all rocked the pencil mustaches and skinny ties that he is known for? "I was in on it! I know my mustache is creepy to some people, but it's creepy in a positive way," Waters said.
Creepiness aside, Waters is no stranger to introducing videos in offbeat ways. Remember this? "Don't forget to smile," he says at the end of "The Creep" as the camera pans away from Minaj and crew dancing. It wasn't hard to remember.