I pride myself in answering the questions that nobody should ever ask. I stand a fierce, passionless reporter, on the precipice of doing something really, really dumb. I am going to watch a bunch of porn on mute and listen to Reflektor at the same time. Maybe I will learn something. Maybe I will make jokes. Maybe I will retire. But most likely I will just write a blog post on the internet. Do I feel like Win Butler has encoded a deep, resonant message about internet pornography into his technologic-neurotic fourth album? No, not really, but an utter lack of direction or purpose has never held me back before.
PHASE ONE – “REFLEKTOR”
SCENE CHOSEN – REGULAR-ASS PORNOGRAPHY
I went over to Pornhub, which is apparently where all the kids get their smut, and pulled up a random video. Some blonde girl with a low-cut top is mopping the floor while Arcade Fire sing about the fragile connections of modern society. Already I know I’ve made a horrible mistake. The blowjob scene actually sort of looks like it’s on-beat, which makes me laugh until I realize it should be making me cry. I really don’t get why porn directors feel the need to show us the whole asshole, but when David Bowie sings “Found my way to the resurrector/ Turns out it was just a reflector,” I sort of get it. More like RECTRUMKTOR, right? No? OK.
PHASE TWO – “HERE COMES THE NIGHT TIME”
SCENE CHOSEN – RANDOM WEBCAM STREAM
Next up is Freecams.com, where community college degrees go to die. I’m not actually able to mute this webcam stream, which means I’m sort of breaking the enveloping scold of Reflektor. But it actually ends up being a happy accident, because every time Win Butler finishes saying “here comes the night time,” the woman in front of the camera says something about her vagina. It’s like a new, disgusting song was written right in front of my eyes.
PHASE THREE – “JOAN OF ARC”
SCENE CHOSEN – PROBABLY ILLEGAL RECLAIMED OMEGLE FOOTAGE
So there’s this website called Omegle, it’s like chatroulette if chatroulette still exists. There’s a whole cottage industry of cretins who convince girls to take their clothes off on camera without knowing that they’re actually recording the whole thing. This video file is then uploaded to any number of skeevy porn sites for other cretins to watch. “Joan of Arc” has a suitable streak of Shakespearian tragedy to it, so it seemed like the obvious and natural choice. If there is a moment of seriousness in this experiment, it’s that in this context, “Joan of Arc” helped remind me just how bad the internet can be for actual human beings.
PHASE FOUR – “AWFUL SOUND (OH EURYDICE)”
SCENE CHOSEN – FURRY PORN
I watched a computer-generated horse-man bang a computer-generated fox-man with his massive polygonal horse cock. They were in a shed of some kind. The fidelity level was around a Playstation 2 JRPG level. Win Butler sang the words “take all your pain and put it on me” right as the horse-man was about to climax in the fox-man’s mouth and I almost fell out of my chair.
PHASE FIVE – “PORNO”
SCENE CHOSEN – I COULDN’T THINK OF ANYTHING IRONIC ENOUGH
Can I just skip this one? Thank you.
PHASE SIX – “SUPERSYMMETRY”
SCENE CHOSEN – JAPANESE DATING SIM
This song is currently scoring the latest trailer for Her, the Spike Jonze movie where a man falls in love with his computer’s operating system. So I cheated a little bit, I didn’t actually watch a traditional porn clip, but I did play a dating sim. Dating Sims are a type of video game, mostly produced in Japan, where you take the role of some nerdy dude and try to seduce any number of anime babes. I played Katawa Shoujo, a game where you’re a handicapped boy in a school for disabled kids. Maybe it’s because “Supersymmetry” is perhaps the most romantic computer-love song ever written, but it was actually surprisingly effective. Shoujo is a very long, well-realized dating sim–more of a visual novel than anything. I have to say, it was pretty empathetic for a game that has branching storylines that all culminate in, well, y’know, having sex with girls of various disabilities. So take that with a grain of salt. I’m not saying it’s not creepy, but that creepiness is grounded in such a profound level of earnestness that it’s almost a little bit cool. Maybe “Supersymmetry” is a great song that puts me at peace and makes me want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all.