Avril Lavigne This year has offered its usual moments of profound naffness. The Cheeky Girls. The Ketchup Song. Michael Jackson’s new album. But for me the single most excruciating moment is at the beginning of the promo video for Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’. Avril rides through a car park on a skateboard – we think it may be her, but her face is away from us so she might as well be stunt double. We hear her though:
“What’s up, boys?”
She skips of the board and lands on it. With so much eye make-up, it’s a surprise she can see where she’s going. Her mouth is wide open and she has a slightly angry look on her face, for no apparent reason.
Whoever the boys are, and we assume it’s the band, they’re a vagabond bunch. Of the two in shot, I’m particularly worried about the one on the left, who is wearing all black, his head down trying desperately to hide from the sun. He looks like he’s coming down with something (or coming down from something) and has a tattoo halfway up the calf of his leg (which must have been painful). He looks like he needs counseling, not the recreational activity which is selected eventually. This must be the bassist.
His friend, a spiky haired generic skateboarder type looks about, one eye closed equally unable to see anything and asks:
“So what do you guy wanna do today?” Go to work? Go to school? I try to plan ahead when I have only a finite amount of free time.
Avril has an idea:
“Dude, djwanna crash the mall?” Is this a sript? Does she actually talk like this? Does anyone actually talk like this? Let’s start with ‘Dude’. Are people still dudes in the US? I thought this term went out with the early nineties (outside of ‘The Big Lebowski’) ‘Crash the mall’? Crash it into what? If it’s in the party sense, you’re hardly going to be sneaking in are you? There are big glass automatic doors which open to welcome you inside. You won’t need to give the security guard a sixer of beer to let you in.
Spikey-haired spokesman for the boys agrees:
“Niiiice.”
It’s as though they hadn’t thought of this. You’re in the mall car park! There aren’t many more options. It doesn’t look like a big town anyway. And apart from anything else, dja just do whatever Avril suggests because she’s the singer? Because you can be replaced? Would your management be happy for you to just go and hang out in the mall?
Avril’s happy now:
”OK!”
The rest of the video is filled which such chew your own arm off bad moments (the mock Morissette dancing on stage, the BMX, the trying on the gold jewellery, the fish hooks). The whole thing treats its teenage audience with contempt, by using prehistoric language, fashions and no irony. This is one of those videos which looks like it was more fun to make than it is to watch. But the song is really good. The follow up ‘Sk8er Boy’ is one of the best chick rock releases in months, the promo, an adrenaline pumped homage to the ‘Twist and Shout’ sequence from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ for a post 9/11 generation. It’s been a paradoxical year all in all. [profile, interview, related]

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