Arts, Music, Review

Jack White Muddles Murder Mystery and Corporate Cover-Ups in Video



A murder mystery involving eccentric suspects and corporate cover-ups takes center stage in Jack White’s newly released video for “Corporation,” an experimental track off his 2018 album Boarding House Reach. White teased the video with two trailers—the first included the first 30 seconds of the seven-plus-minute video, in which a woman steps on the crime scene to find crimson blood matted to the head of White’s ghastly corpse. The second trailer is a silent montage of some of the most gripping moments from the video—a fuchsia lipstick-wearing cowboy waltzing alone under a disco ball, a long-haired man performing an intense dance sequence in a sun-drenched field, and a blonde femme fatale fearlessly carrying out various violent acts.

The two teaser videos are essential to the success of the full video—those who want to find out the fate of White must purchase a subscription to TIDAL. Lucky for White, or perhaps the product of his genius, the teaser videos spark just enough interest that devoted fans will be prompted to watch the video in its full cinematic glory.

The director’s close attention to detail in the filming allows viewers to assume the role of detective—close-up shots of suspects’ shaking hands and blinking eyes provide the kind of evidence the female detective would be looking at during her makeshift warehouse interrogations. Scenes throughout the video find the several suspects entangled in the moments leading up to White’s apparent murder: The cowboy stares White down through the barrel of a gun, the blonde points a gun to the mysterious guitar-player, and the passionate dancer frolics around an abandoned barn as the musician violently plays a keyboard behind him.

The final shot of the video brings all of the strange characters together under one roof, leaving the audience with a shocking answer to the question posed by the enigmatic plot. Joined in prayer in a grand dining room, the cast is replaced by clones of White when the camera pans to a gilded mirror. Accompanying the scene is the definition of corporation: “A group of people authorized to act as a single entity.”

Given White’s reputation as a stick-it-to-the-man, no bullshit rock-and-roller—he started the Nashville-based Third Man Records to avoid oversight and replaced the lyrics of “Icky Thump” with “Icky Trump” at this year’s Gov Ball festival—his decision to exclusively release the video on TIDAL is a controversial one. One can imagine the hint of a smirk playing on White’s lips as the final scene leaves viewers pondering the odd nature of corporations, and maybe even TIDAL’s intentions as a corporation itself. White’s calculated move recalls images of Kurt Cobain in a “corporate magazines still suck” shirt on the cover of Rolling Stone—what could be more rock ’n’ roll than using a corporation, whose apparent goal is monopolize the music industry, to make a biting commentary about corporations?

Featured Image by Third Man Records

July 18, 2018

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