Flipping Channels with Bob

“One of the best music videos of 2013 belongs to a 48-year-old song. The interactive video for Bob Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’ released yesterday, is a tour de force: as the music plays, you can flip between sixteen channels of simulated TV programming. But whether you’re watching a financial news update, a romantic comedy, or a tennis tournament, it looks authentic except that everyone seems to be lip-synching the lyrics of the song. While many of the channels are peopled by actors, the lineup is peppered with numerous celebrity performers such as comedian Marc Maron, rapper Danny Brown, the hosts of ‘Pawn Stars,’ and Drew Carey (on the set of ‘The Price Is Right’). The overall effect is head-spinning but incredibly compelling: the more you surf through the ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ video, the more the song’s contempt seems to be addressed to all of western civilization. By the time you land on a vintage live performance of the actual Bob Dylan, he feels like the only real person in existence.”
– Gavin Edwards, Rolling Stone

Here’s a link — http://video.bobdylan.com/desktop.html — whadd’ya think?


One thought on “Flipping Channels with Bob

  1. “the more you surf through the ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ video, the more the song’s contempt seems to be addressed to all of western civilization.”

    That interpretation strikes me as a bit too easy, or for sure too limiting. The entire clip is in defiance of a singular point of view. I see it much more as Bob’s-song-is-everyone’s-song — it’s not celebratory or contemptuous so much as it’s inevitable, even choosing one channel over another is a damn near impossible feat (I personally can’t watch it without hearing Larry Sanders in the background: “No flipping — no flipping”).

    The technique of the clip seems to come directly from advertising — from all those bank and cell phone and insurance plan etc. commercials where one person starts a song, or a slogan, and it’s picked up by the next person, and then another person after that, and so on. (A similar technique is used in the movie *Magnolia*, with the Aimee Mann sequence.)

    If there’s a misstep here, I almost think it’s the clip of Dylan and the Hawks, as fantastic as it is, visually. I just think it takes you out of the mode of what’s really happening here. My complaint, however, is conceptual, not aesthetic; I don’t mind watching that bit at all.

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