Pornographic artwork: Brendan Maclean’s “House Of Air”

“An anthropological study of gay semiotics, taxonomies, and sexual behaviours.”

This somewhat-candid description accompanies singer-songwriter Brendan Maclean’s latest music video – and the video itself is even more “straight”-forward. House Of Air is the first track on Maclean’s June 2016 album release, entitled funbang1, but the documentary-style visuals only hit the video-sphere on the 3oth January 2017 at midnight UTC. Despite its explicit content, YouTube has – as of yet – not removed it.

However, “explicit” has a become a term with varying degrees of definition. Directors Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston have once again teamed-up with Maclean (after having directed two of Maclean’s previous videos) to bring Hal Fischer’s gay semiotics study to life. I’ll bet you never knew what a blue handkerchief in the right hip pocket says about your sexual desires, hey?

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The video itself has been viewer-requested as age-restricted, although Maclean did not originally post it as such. Scenes within the music video go from innocent wide-angle shots, to full-blown (bad choice of words?) sex, fisting, and bondage. The scene swapping happens without much warning, and seems to go on in a weird, casual way – similar to those uncomfortable kissing scenes during movie-nights with your parents. Maclean seems to have rebirthed the era of the fearless queer, with an air of indifference.

In a way, the cinematography pays homage to National Geographic documentaries from the 90s. The reference to animal kingdom behaviours is comical at first, but the message behind the similarity could in fact be a pretty well-hidden, artistic stab at society. These “animals” that society sees as “non-human,” purely because of what it has deemed OK and normal, are now depicted as society wants them to be known. Maclean’s bold depiction of man-on-man sexual encounters is almost a challenge he throws at YouTube, but also at the broader online audience. It’s as if he’s poking at the lion’s den, waiting for a reaction.

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Nevertheless, the video is likely to be – and probably has already been – reported. But heck, why should the video be reported, right? I mean, firstly this is what everyone always keeps saying, and now you’ve got what you wanted… or? And secondly, pornography isn’t illegal when it’s art, right? Painters can paint orgies, musicians can turn rape into rap, so why can’t a film-maker make art sexy? And it isn’t for your arousal or your pleasure. anyway; it’s purely educational. Here we are, a society so fascinated and concerned about whether you’re gay, straight, or bisexual, and whether you have a defined gender identity or not, yet when someone actually makes a video to educate people about “gay semiotics” and “homosexual sexual behaviours,” all we show is disgust, and flag it for removal.

Maclean has put societal norms at a lose-lose: if YouTube decides to take-down the video, it only proves how hetero-normative such a self-proclaimed “forward-thinking” enterprise YouTube really is, and if YouTube decides to leave it up, they not only contradict what they say in their self-publicity, but they piss-off all the hetero-normative activists, all the misogynists, all the ignorant heterosexuals, and all the intolerant assholes that live under their rocks and behind their Facebook statuses. Either way, they upset a large portion of their audience, and will need to some hectic damage control and email-complaint sifting.

As I see it, Maclean put society in a “check-mate,” and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Kudos, dude. You’ve done something many of us have been trying to do for ages.

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