The heady D.C. post-punk band Flasher has come to your tiny screens with a brilliant new video for "Material." While the band, cloaked in green-screen hoods and gloves, lets its instruments play themselves, the video constantly upends the viewing experience. Director Nick Roney builds in not only load time and ads, but also a whole universe of consumer response to "Material" — illustrations and adaptations, mimicry and meta-commentary — that plays on our need to reflect back what we consume.
Meanwhile, we're bombarded by the cringey spectacles of modern physicality, from pimple-popping to groin-punching, viral dance crazes to unslippable socks. As we delve farther down the rabbit hole and further from reality, the song devolves into an exhortation: "Touch the physical / Clutch the liminal." It's then that the track's real villain is revealed: The devil in cutoffs, though stripped of skin, is nonetheless flesh, blood and (protruding) bone, a manifestation of our horror at coming into direct contact with anything at all.
For all its insight into digital consumption, at the video's heart is a sarcastic YouTube spoof on the practice of making and watching music videos today. Maybe, for a second, you're fooled into thinking it's your own screen that's frozen, that it's your own device flashing its swirling pinwheel, or that the groan of impatience coming out of your headphones is your own. But when your (low radiation) TV bursts from a campy fit of static into a torrent of blood and shards, you're already desensitized.
You move on to the next video. You remain untouched.