While the news cycle is polluted with clickbait about President Trump making fun of Mika Brezezinski’s bleeding facelift, I thought it might be fun to review the latest music video from Mika’s fiancé and co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Joe Scarborough.
The song and the music are pretty dumb. It’s very heavy on the 80’s synth-pop sound, and reminds me of a sped-up version of Soft Cell’s hit single “Tainted Love”. Lyrically, it is almost a beat-for-beat rip-off of “Heroes” by The WallFlowers (from the 1998 Godzilla soundtrack). I’d like to take a moment to point out that while I’m certainly not hyper-nostalgic for 80’s synth pop (which was actually called “New Wave”, for all you poseurs out there…) I can always appreciate a quality 80’s pop song. I have a soft spot for the corny 80’s new wave songs like Animotion’s “Obsession” and “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears. One thing I’ve noticed though about the Katy Gaga’s and the Lady Perry’s and the myriad of cheap imitators is that the modern day synth-pop sound is pretty dull. All those songs feature the same pseudo-arena melodic effect (usually near the bridge), lots of reverb, lame sing-a-long verses. Unfortunately, because the recording equipment of today is so sophisticated, every modern attempt to replicate the 80’s synth-pop sound sounds identical and lacks the necessary low-grade quality that makes nostalgic 80’s synth pop so effective and diverse-sounding. Only Depeche Mode gets it right.
But nevermind the music, this is a review for the music video. Of course Joe Scarborough is allowed to have a crappy band. Keanu Reeves had his crappy band “DogStar” in the mid 90’s, Jim Belushi has his crappy blues band, Billy Bob Thornton has a crappy band, and even baseball player Scott Spiezio paid Zakk Wyld to join his band. But these guys were all celebrities at the top of their game…Joe Scarborough is a professional political pundit host. It’s an odd fit. Does Rachel Maddow have a barbershop quartet? Does Sean Hannity have a hip hop group? Does Terry Gross have a death metal band? Seriously, Americans get enough of pundits polluting television, news, the books they hock, and the internet. We don’t want them trying to carve out a piece of the music industry. If anything, it is a tremendous indictment of modern day pop music that Joe Scarborough can create something so obviously terrible and have it be indistinguishable from the mainstream.
The music video is as bad as the song. Mika and Joe stare at the boob tube like a couple of brainless zombies while a bunch of “iconic” (i.e. “manufactured”) American moments wash over them. There’s President Trump, there’s Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Obama, O.J. Simpson, Dylan Roof, Vladimir Putin, explosions, and guns. LOTS of guns. Lots and LOTS of gun. Those video clips are jammed between snippets of a reporter that looks suspiciously like a cross between Rachel Maddow and Mika Brezezinski (ironically, this looks a lot like Sally Cohn) conspicuously dressed as inconspicuously as possible in vampire sunglasses and a massive trench coat. I guess she is supposed to be investigating something (all she does is pensively walk in slow motion), and eventually some guy attacks her, leaving her bloodied. How “mystifying”.
I guess Joe and Mika are trying (and failing) to make some points about modern day mass media bewilderment and an attack on journalists or the institution of journalism. This demonstrates the arrogance of Joe and Mika supremely. They ARE the news. They are two of the most well-known people in modern day news. Whatever artistic points they want to make with a melodramatic music video about the news can not be taken seriously at all. When did any of the journalists of the late 20th century pull any kind of cheap stunt like this? Journalists have never stooped to this kind of pathetic attempt at “expanding their brand” before. The whole point of being a journalist is to investigate the truth. When pundits and newsman get so far away from investigating the truth that they get in the business of making silly music videos, guess what…you really, truly are FAKE NEWS.
Looking past the awful music video, there is a bigger picture worth discussing. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezezinski have become a brand unto themselves. A “power-couple” in the world of political punditry, shamelessly trying to market themselves as the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of politics. Celebrity power-unions never work out and result in humiliation when they inevitably fail, but the idea of making the business of political journalism its’ own “universe” is a bad idea. It isn’t just Joe and Mika, it is all of the pundits on all the networks and in all the print publications. As Ben Stein pointed out, Americans are regarding them as an “un-elected aristocracy”, and are rooting for them to fail. These shameless attempts to brand-expand at the expense of political journalism are precisely why so many Americans loathe the media to begin with. All Americans want from their media is to see journalists practicing sound journalism with reasonable decorum. Americans don’t want more crummy documentaries, music videos, and tweets from journalists, they want journalism.
It is time for the pundit class to take a severe pay cut and get back to basic journalism. This newsman-music video stuff? It’s the worst of both worlds.