As you may remember, earlier this year I was quite obsessed with a string of videos that iamamiwhoami released one by one, which I dubbed the mop monster saga and was later revealed to be the contents of her debut album, ‘kin’. What you might not remember is that I actually never posted the final video of the series, “goods”, mainly because I really didn’t know what to make of it when I saw it. Every video that preceded it seems to have some sort of narrative thread or visual queue linking it to the video that came before, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what that was when I watched “goods” at that time. I think what threw me off the most was the complete tonal shift in the music. “kill” is such an amazingly sad, tragic song while “goods” is surprisingly upbeat, probably the most upbeat of the series, complete with disco lights and disco dancing at the end of the video. At that point I think I just over-thought everything since nothing seemed to match the earlier videos, and thus I didn’t really look at what was there, instead focusing on what wasn’t.
That feeling of confusion has stuck with me like a thorn in my side ever since I saw that video, constantly nagging at me that I never posted the video and thus I never completed my thesis on what I thought the whole thing meant. This week I finally tracked down a copy of ‘kin’ on CD (which still isn’t commercially available in the US, for some reason) and I was surprised to discover that it also contained a DVD of all of the music videos that played in one continuous mix. I came to two realizations when watching the DVD, one, that you should really watch these videos on a big screen, because they are beautiful. “good worker” in particular looked gorgeous on my flat screen tv. But second, and more importantly, I finally realized how “goods” fit into the whole thing.
The thing that confused me the most when I watched the video back when it was originally released was the outfit. What is up with that outfit? It doesn’t match anything she wears in any of the other videos. It didn’t dawn on me until I watched the video again that it looks a lot like a tile floor, which would make a lot of sense considering how many times I’ve referred to the mop monsters when talking about this series. I also completely missed the fact that in “kill” she’s closing a door to the white room seen in several of the videos and that the video ends on the other side of that door in blackness, a blackness that is omnipresent in “goods”. While oblivious to this before they both seem like pretty obvious and clear metaphors to me now. Call this my “duh” moment.
A lot of the mystery of the video comes from the fact that it takes place almost exclusively in a solid black room filled with haze without any other frame of reference. It isn’t even clear until about halfway through the video that she is in a room. It almost comes as a shock when she suddenly touches a wall you didn’t even know was there at the 2:20 mark. Where the hell did that come from? When we zoom out from a black box at the very end of the video it becomes obvious that she’s now trapped inside the box. Instead of fighting with the mop monsters or becoming one of them like she does in the other videos, she’s now become the tile floor designed for that mop, trapped in a life she does not want.
These are the first two verses of the song:
I come bearing legacy, that we caused jointly in our dawning land
I come with delivery, and I have left it in my mourning band
I bring you my history that I expect your tender arms around it
Give it love and think of me
These are the letters from a compound
If “kill” was about wanting to abort a pregnancy to avoid being trapped in a life of domestic servitude that she did not want, “goods” is the epilogue to the story where we find out she had the child and is now telling her child the story of how all of this came to be. It sounds like a cautionary tale to her daughter, that the daughter be careful not follow in the mother’s footsteps.
That’s just what I think, though. I highly recommend you click on the “mop monster” tag below and watch all the videos in sequence for yourself, and if you’ve got any different theories, I’d love to hear them.