For a while now I've been getting increasingly annoyed with Hype Williams. Now, I know fuck all about Hype Williams except he's pretty much the biggest music video director around at the moment. And I know which videos are his, because every one of them starts with brief credits, i.e. the word HYPE at the clip's start, followed by the singer's name and then sometimes the song title.
What interests me enough to blog about it isn't the credits themselves, it's that I have such a strong negative reaction to them. It's made me think about why I object so much to Hype (just one name now, no surname,) promoting himself in his work. After all, look at any movie and it's the same: Usually the very first name is the studio's, followed by the director, then the lead actors, title, supporting actors etc, and the director again at the end. The difference for me is, in the latter case, the movie itself is the product. It's what you want to watch, what will make the money, and the credits not only honour the talents (or lack of them) of the people making it, but also help with the promotion, because it reminds you you're going to see a film by a director whose work you like, or an actor you like to watch. Having the names of the major players visible to the public is valid worthwile for marketing reasons, it helps drum names into people's heads that in future will make them say "hey, his/her stuff's good, I'll spend money on that again."
So a music video. OK it's become an art form in itself over the last 20 years. But it's not the product. The product is the single, and the album the artist is hoping to sell off the back of it. The video is there to make you go "Oh look! Bright colours and shiny images, let's look at that. Hey, the song is good too!" If it's a particularly exciting clip, you can also add it to the enhanced CD and get more people to buy the song 'cause they get it as an extra. But it's an extra. If it becomes more important than the song itself (as does happen, on occasion) then it's not done its job. Let's face it, it's an advertisement, and if you saw an advert that was so clever everyone talked about it at the water cooler the next day, but nobody remembered if it was for Horlicks or Daz, then it's not done its job. Note the order of the credits for Hype videos that I listed above: First Hype; then the artist; then maybe the name of the product he's been paid to sell.
I couldn't tell you if Hype is a good video director. Maybe songs he's done promos for sell ten times what they would if someone else was behind the camera, I don't know. But since he's doing vids for people like Beyonce, they probably wouldn't entirely bomb anyway. The impression I get is that a lot of his promos are pretty similar to each other, and the only thing I really remember about them is his name. And that's my problem with them really. His chosen nickname seems all too apt.