Copy Of A Copy

I rarely watch music videos these days, but apparently my good friend Kevin Ross does. He writes daily on a great site called 3 Brothers & A Sister. One of his recent posts features Alicia Key's latest video. Kevin writes about the video:
Seeing as though I met my now wife when I was twelve, I'm absolutely digging "Teenage Love Affair" by Alicia Keys. It's my favorite cut on her slamming cd. After watching the video, I'm just beside myself [Kevin gets this way sometime!] As a Morehouse Man, the whole "School Daze" vibe is so on point, I feel like I'm back in time.
Okay, first thing first. Watch the video. Trust me. It's decent. No booty shakin' or platinum grill teeth flashin' at ya.

alicia keys - Teenage love affair

I agree with Kevin in that there is a wonderful sense of nostalgia invoked by this video. However, that blast from the past ahh shucks vibe resonates with me mainly because the video is modeled off of "School Daze"--- a movie that echoes with visions of my experience at Morehouse in the late '80's. But there is also something disconcerting about director Chris Robinson's video.

Instead of culling his video idea from a fictional film I would loved it more if he had pulled from his own vision, his own scenarios, and his own take on the black college experience. As it is now, he's made a copy of a copy. The black college experience is so rich, so vibrant, so visual to mine from, that he could have created his own homage to the past if he had done a little work. Maybe he and Alicia didn't want to. Did they love "School Daze" that much? Has it become a "classic" already? Or was Chris perhaps a bit, um, lazy?

This video is really an homage to Spike Lee and the black college experience that was seen through the prism of HIS artistic vision, and not Chris or Alicia's. The issue (and hence the reason for this post) is to express my concern when artists rely upon other art as their sole inspiration instead of life itself. They lean on the learning of history or life from another's work without deriving that knowledge from the source.

Of course, especially as it regards old knowledge, you can't talk with anybody who has lived in ancient Rome or fought in the Civil War, so you've got to pull from third parties, books, archival films and whatnot. I'm a fan of Alicia Keys and I do like Chris Robinson's work. He has a fine narrative sensibility in many of his videos, but lawd knows, there are plenty of people who attended Morehouse, Spelman, Clark, Hampton, Howard and other HBC's to gather insight from--even if Chris didn't attend one himself.

Heck, they could have called me.