Greedy Fly (1997)
It surprises me where my mind goes while I’m floating through the ether of pop culture. My Facebook news feed is often filled with entertainment tidbits and random sports facts. But let me be honest with you about the fact that while I should pay more attention to the world at large, or at least what is going on with the presidential race, I just find it hard to care. Perhaps my apathy toward reality is what keeps me happy being the “Native American Pop Culture Spirit Guide.” Though apathetic I am about reality, I am human and I have feelings and today my feelings lead me to write this.
There has been a lot of news lately about Gwen Stefani and her break up with Gavin Rossdale. As a child of the 90s, I am very familiar with both No Doubt and Bush, and like an aging grandpa telling kids to get off of my lawn, I will tell you young whippersnappers that I enjoy their early works. No Doubt lost me by the time Rocksteady hit and honestly I don’t know the name of the Bush album after Razorblade Suitcase. Regardless of how I felt about the music, today I often find myself listening to both bands and was happy to know that this odd little couple were together and producing musical children. But alas, I suppose dreams just don’t last. Now Gwen is off with her Voice Co-host Blake Shelton, and Gavin is probably mad about it. I mean, I would be. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes and if Gwen was unhappy, she deserves happiness, but with all this talk about Gwen in the news, it made me think about my favorite Bush video, Greedy Fly, because hey, that’s how my brain works.
Greedy Fly was the second single released on Bush’s aforementioned Razorblade Suitcase, but what’s important is what was released during the time of the 90s when MTV hadn’t yet been corrupted by reality television, and before video was a real thing on the internet and music videos were more theatrical in style. To me it was like they could see the writing on the wall, how it was all about to end. How we were consuming music videos was changing and they were throwing whatever bells and whistles they could in an attempt to keep themselves relevant. Puff Daddy’s Victory also comes to mind during this time, or Babyface’s How Come, How Long video. These were the dark, gritty video reboots that the 90s gave us and Greedy Fly was my favorite.
Marcus Nispel, who has a slew of video and commercial credits under his belt, directed the video but he also directed the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Friday the 13 (2009) and Conan The Barbarian (2011). The video, clearly inspired by David Fincher’s Seven (1995), was also filmed in a building used in Seven and cost over a million dollars to make. Nispel was making a short film that happened to be set to music.
The music video starts off with various helicopter shots, some in the air, some landing and focusing in on one particular helicopter landing on a rooftop. Two S.W.A.T. teams with heavy weapons escort a figure with a bag over his head out of the helicopter and into the building they landed on. We then see security footage of the prisoner being escorted to his interrogation while people load old reel-to-reel tape to record whatever is being said. Three detectives start listing facts about blood samples and prints to one Gavin Rossdale, who is our captive, and has a dog cone around his neck (I suppose a Hannibal Lector mask would have hidden the Bush frontman’s pretty face). After a few more verbal jabs we enter a flashback scene.
Rossdale sits in his car as it rains, watching police roll a body out of a building. Someone asks what they have and a detective says “White male, couple of stab wounds.” When they open the body bag, they see two massive gashes on the corpse’s back. Cops begin losing their lunches and then the music starts. Gavin sings while in his car waiting for the police to leave, then he breaks into the building and starts looking around, finding all sorts of odd things. There is also this Angel that is hovering around in the ceiling above while Gavin leans against different things, like fridges and urinals. It’s so bizarre, but I find myself mesmerized by the confusion of what’s going on.
Gavin Rossdale confronts this angel, chases him down and then beats him to death. Yep, he grabs this angel and starts slamming his head onto the ground over and over. He pulls his wings off, because honestly, if I was attacking an angel that’s what I would do. This was a little time before Kevin Smith’s Dogma, so I’m not sure if we had the rule that if you clip an angel’s wings, it would become mortal (though, on that thought, what if that mortal/angel did a good deed, would they get them back? Like It’s a Wonderful Life? Alas, this is a tangent for another day). He drags the body out and this is where the video gets weird.
Cut to some backdoor warehouse operating room where these odd doctors are basically cutting open a giant house fly body that has Gavin Rossdale’s head. They cut the creature open, cesarean style, to reveal a screaming baby Rossdale. It cuts back to Gavin freaking out with his dead angel and the S.W.A.T. team busting in and running down the hall, aiming their machine guns and flashlights at him. We return to the interrogation room where we assume what we watched was his confession. A police detective says “There’s a worse place than jail for you, my man.” Gavin then asks for a cigarette.
This video is dark, disturbing and has a great mix of the supernatural and noir. Marcus Nispel pays close attention to the mise en scene with quick shots of props and backgrounds. He wants you to see how small this world is and everything there is brought to attention. While it all doesn’t make complete sense (I personally don’t get the fly birth stuff outside of the title of the song), maybe they felt like they needed something to bring it together. I’m more intrigued by Gavin Rossdale beating the shit out of an angel, more than anything.
It’s a video that sticks out to me. Every time I’m talking about music video with friends, it’s on my mind as one of my favorites. It was a video that perfectly fits within the dark and gritty media era that was the last half of the 1990s. The last of it’s kind, trying to stay flashy and relevant enough to a system that was changing around it.
Enjoy the Video yourself!