• Between 1998 and 2003, Fred Durst directed 15 videos for his band, Limp Bizkit. The concepts varied, but the central theme was always Durst’s fascination with Fred Durst. Durst was always front and center in his videos, and when one Durst wasn’t enough, he found ways to multiply himself. In Rollin’, he’s accompanied by a group of female dancers dressed in his signature red hat and khaki pants. In Break Stuff, a rotating cast of extras and celebrities act as Durst surrogates while Durst mugs in the background. In N 2 Gether Now, Durst commits blasphemy by dressing guest rapper Method Man as a Durst. Nookie is a touchstone video, because like Woody Allen casting Diane Keaton in Sleeper, it was Durst discovering his muse for the first time.
• Durst’s directing style is aesthetically messy and it’s hard to tell how much of that is intentional. He films his street performance in direct sunlight, which throws harsh shadows across his face and gives him raccoon eyes. You can spot the 2nd unit camera operator in a lot of shots and Durst seems unable to decide whether he wants to tell a story or create a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of a music video. Even the color grade feels sloppy, with inky blue shadows and clay red midtones giving the video a muddy, radioactive hue. You could chalk it all up to Durst’s inexperience (his later videos look far better), but it could also have been a calculated move to subvert the commercial slickness typical of TRL videos.
• Nookie’s edit matches the aggressive rhythm of the song, but some of the shots feel like they were randomly selected from a bight red Yankees hat. At :20, a sequence that introduces the band's guerrilla performance is interrupted by a bizarre upside-down shot of the bass player’s wispy soul patch. In the song’s pre-chorus, the dramatic tension is broken by this eerie close-up of guitarist Wes Borland’s bobbing head, an image that’s been permanently seared into my memory.
• As a performer, Durst uses Nookie to audition every possible affectation. He tries out aggro-rapper at :38, then paranoid rock star at :44, then cocky ladies man at 1:04. Durst even dusts off the robot at 1:07.
• On the other end of the spectrum, the rest of Limp Bizkit is wholly committed to a single style of performance- playing their instruments like they’re being attacked by an invisible swarm of bees. The guitarist punctuates each note with a 360 degree spin, the bass player headbangs backwards by arching his spine at an impossible angle, and even the DJ slaps his drum machine like a whac-a-mole (it’s worth mentioning that DJ Lethal makes the most redeemable contribution to the track by sampling the opening drum break from a classic Detroit Emeralds song).
• The video ends with a staged scene where Durst gets arrested by the NYPD. As the police car drives off, Durst look legitimately sad, which is reasonable considering it’s really his producer’s fault for not getting a simple shooting permit. Instead of rallying to his defense, Durst’s crew looks on with concerned faces that seem to say, “are we getting overtime for this?”
• Earlier this year I sat across the table at a sushi restaurant from a young pop star. We were there to discuss ideas for his music video, but he mostly poked silently at a plate of spicy tuna rolls while his management team discussed shoot dates and locations. When the conversation turned to casting, the pop star perked up. “I want all hot girls. Nothing under a C-cup.” He thought about it for a moment and then added, “No black girls either. That’s not really my thing.” He went back to his sushi and his management team offered the sort of sad, polite laugh that you make when you decide you’d rather cry inside then risk upsetting a 17 year old. Fortunately, I double-booked myself out of having to shoot that job, but I’m reminded of that night every time I see a video where a male artist surrounds himself with sexy women. It’s telling that the most specifically directed-looking detail of Nookie is the casting of the women who trail Durst (Silver lining: At least he included some women of color). Who knows, maybe he was a total gentlemen, but I’m glad I wasn’t at that casting session.
10) Eminem f/ Dr. Dre “Guilty Conscience” 09) Joey McIntyre “I Love You Came To Late” 08) Smash Mouth “All Star” 03) Britney Spears “Sometimes” 06) TLC “Unpretty” 05) Christina Aguilera “Genie in a Bottle” 04) 98 Degrees “I Do (Cherish You)” 03) Britney Spears “Sometimes” 02) Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” 01) Limp Bizkit “Nookie”
One of the reasons I love late night hosts so much is because after every horrific, disturbing, disgusting and awful thing that happens in the world, they can make it seem bearable. They make it seem like there’s hope. They have to report about it that night and they share in our disbelief. If it is too soon or just too terrible to make jokes about, they can at least make it feel okay, they make it seem like we can get through it. It reminds me of in Titanic when the strings players kept going after the ship started to sink, they were bringing a little comfort and a little distraction to people during the worst part of their life. Our hosts are that for us. The fear will unite us and they will be able to bring light to us when we don’t think we can see it. They will make us feel safer and less scared, Colbert said it best with “You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time”.