Shorts That Don't Suck, Vol IV: Music Video Edition

For our fourth installment of "shorts that don't suck," we turn to an art form which many have declared dead or dying: the music video. It seems that the age of the internet has done something drastic not only to the business of music, whose coffers have been drained by file-sharing and music-pirating, but to the business of the music video, which goes through every crisis that its parent business goes through. The main result of this has been that music video budgets have shrunk -- from the millions to the hundreds of thousands, to in many case the just-thousands -- and the way most people see them has changed. As you're probably aware, there aren't a whole lot of music videos on MTV anymore; YouTube is now one of the industry's main distribution platforms, and she is a fickle beast, indeed. It's not the million-dollar Paris Hilton music videos that get the most views these days; it's those silly OK Go people jumping around on their treadmills (34 million views) -- a video that probably cost a few hundred dollars to shoot.

Weezer: "Pork and Beans"
Capitalizing brilliantly on this new model of success, ever-popular Weezer made their new video not only for the internet, but starring the internet. (Didn't I just blog about internet memes?) Keep an eye out for the Numa Numa guy, Chris Crocker, some Mentos-'n'-Coke experiements, and countless more nerdy net in-jokes:

Emily Haines: "Dr. Blind"
This simple but haunting video for Emily Haines (of the band Metric) uses a bit of special effects, but not in a way that seems overtly music video-ish. There are no black hole suns expanding over cartoonish skies, no crazy lights, no guitar-wielding rock stars floating through digital universes. Just a girl who goes to pick up her prescription at a Wal-Mart pharmacy, and has a little bit of a freak-out.

The Arcade Fire: "Black Mirror"
If F. W. Murnau had ever directed music videos, they would've looked like this. It uses more digital tricks than you can shake a keyboard at, but makes every one of them look like an old-school silent era technique. Unlike the other videos in this post, it certainly wasn't cheap to make -- but when you're a band at the top of the (indie rock) pops, you can spend a little coin on your videos. Strange and beautiful, not to mention one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, I couldn't help but include it.

Eric Avery: "All Remote and No Control"
I don't know much about Eric Avery (formerly of Jane's Addiction) but the director, Andy Huang, is a friend of mine, and I think the visuals he created for this video are stunning. Not to mention he basically made this in his bedroom, on a computer less powerful than the one I blog with. Hats off, Andy -- those people growing roots out of their faces are going to give me nightmares for years to come.

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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