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Ov Gender and the Narrative

April 19, 2011

There’s quite a lot going on in Behemoth’s video for “Ov Fire and the Void“.

First, it’s quite the production. The band invested a lot of time, energy, and thought into this video. I’m still not clear on the funding source.

Second, it’s intended to be religiously charged and/or “offensive”. The presence of all these religious themes was not lost on me. We’ll get back to that. Religion is not my focus presently.

Before I describe the narrative, I’m going to point out a few easily recognizable tropes:
1. Women as sexually desirable
2. Women as reproductive vessels
3. Women as food

The “story” of the video goes like this:

There’s this lady in a white gown on some building. Yes, there’s the standard camera shot of her cleavage as the frame slowly pans her body. Woman as sexually desirable, check.

Ill spare you the boob close up.

Next, she jumps off her perch and has a comfy landing on the concrete. Alas, her eyes have gone all black! DEMON WOMAN! YARGH!

Then, Nergal lays out some tarot cards and our sexy demon lady staggers into a room. A ROOM WITH FREAKY DEEKY CAGED THINGS!! Notice how these beings that go against accepted beauty standards are in circus-cage like displays? Hmmmm. We have the fat woman and the emaciated dude. I have my theories about why they’re caged (not meant to be seen as fully human). These folks have bodies we don’t like.

This creature is not gender conforming! EWWW! Cage it!

So now Nergal appears with his band-mates, all decked out in paint and theatrical costumes ala The Matrix meets Gladiator. What’s he carrying? Is it… a nekkid angel? I think so!

Meanwhile, sexy demon lady is having some issues. She’s clutching at her stomach… was it something to do with those burritos she had off-set? Ahh, no. It’s another one of those quickly progressing immaculate demon conceptions! Woman as reproductive vessel, check!

"Next time I dine with the devil, Im packing some Pepto!"

She’s getting through it ok… I mean, she’s climbing over those catatonic dust-zombie-people. Who are they? Why are they there? Oy… so many questions!

Then, Nergal and Co start groping their nekkid angel woman for whatever reason. I mean, she is just kind of chilling out there on a table. Why else would she be there than to have a Polish metal dude put his hands on her naughty bits? Woman as sexy play thing? Double check.

I hope that paint is water based!

And then, THE NOMING!!

"Om nom nom nom! *cough* Maybe these wings are a bit raw... too many feathers?"

I honestly thing Behemoth are trying to sell me some sort sacrilegious fast food buffet. Maybe they should pursue a deal with KFC? (It has been done. Seriously.) Woman as food. Check.

I think they’re going for the offensive-as-possible-to-Christians route. Yeah, we get it, you are Behemoth, NOMer of Angels! Spookiness!

As if the angel consumption wasn’t enough for our tender eyes, sexy demon lady hands over a demon baby! She just walks up to Nergal and offers it up.

"I made this for you! You like?"

So, spontaneous demon pregnancy ends in a strangely sanitized, bloodless birth. You know who else got spontaneously pregnant and gave birth in a story that omitted all the gore? The Virgin Mary. I guess that’s their commentary on religion. However, women occupy the same space here as in the Bible: empty vessels for reproductive labor.These women are devoid of all meaning or agency.

This scene kept reminding me of another familiar one:

Its the Circle of Life! And it moves us all!

Ok, enough bad jokes.

Other bands have turned reproduction and birth into something disgusting, scary, and repulsive (Cannibal Corpse album cover, anyone?) It’s funny that Behemoth chose another interpretation. If you’re trying to offend, why not go all the way and appeal to peoples’ base aversion to blood and gore?

I have another reading of this video.

The Good Girl (Angel) is passive, not resisting Nergal’s advances. She appeals sexually but is not doing anything overtly sexual (besides appearing naked). Yet, she’s still literally consumed by forces more powerful than herself.

The Bad Girl (Demon Lady) does nothing overtly sexual, and certainly does not engage in sex that we can see. Yet, she becomes pregnant and does the labor of reproduction – apparently for someone else.

Strange. I’m pretty sure Behemoth were not attempting to make any statements on abortion rights or female sexuality, yet that’s what they’re channeling. You can’t watch this video without wondering: If you should become spontaneously pregnant with Demon-child, which clinic should you visit for that kind of thing? Would the 3 day waiting period in South Dakota apply if your pregnancy is over in under an hour and you’re already offering up your newborn to a hungry Polish death metal singer? That’s a raw deal. How would the anti-abortion picketers spin that one?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. lady doom permalink
    April 20, 2011 8:21 pm

    Hey there, great blog! (more, more!)
    Nice deconstruction of this video, I have not watched it yet, but I have to say the first thing that came to mind was Warrant’s Cherry Pie video! I guess this is sort of a trend in metal videos- or media subjugation of women in general- the idea of consuming them. In Cherry Pie it was more of a metaphor, here in the Behemoth video it’s literal. That is the theme I found most interesting. Obviously there is also the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. I love how you tied reproductive rights into this.

  2. ezl permalink
    April 20, 2011 10:34 pm

    Behemoth are clowns without any musical ambition. Keep up the “bad” jokes, I like them.

  3. November 6, 2011 9:08 pm

    Great article! It is very helpful, I thank you

    Best Regards

  4. Not a Behemoth fan permalink
    November 20, 2011 6:20 am

    I was hoping -someone- in teh internets made a comment on this issue.

    Their other videos are just as consistently woman-destroying. I’ve seen:

    1. Two rapes (“Alas, Lord Is Upon Me” and “Ov Fire And The Void”). Well, three, if you count the virgin birth. And I do.
    2. A woman with wings (presumably forcibly) ripped off her. (Can’t remember the video; won’t bother looking for it.) She’s leaning on a column (stripper pole?) as if someone trained her to stare at it until he came to fuck her or whatever. She acts the role of tamed beast, hearkening back to cultures in which honor was obtained by stripping someone else of theirs, by enslaving or killing them.
    3. Two women slaves (“Slaves Shall Serve”).
    4. Nergal seducing and defiling yet another helpless poor little innocent Eve figure (“At The Left Hand Ov God”).

    Clearly his idea of “freedom” is the tired old “libertas” of late Roman jurisprudence, the concept of a land-owning man doing whatever he wanted to his children and slaves, or other possessions, including whatever sexual act forced on the female slaves, even execution, without need for excuse.

    Boring. Try escaping Christianity down some other path, and maybe I’ll pay attention to your generic “blackened death” half-assedly trying to be Nile.

  5. January 1, 2012 9:41 pm

    I don’t personally find this offensive, but I do see how you can find views on women in their videos. Maybe they actually are commenting on different expectations on women. Or more likely they were just doing the typical thing and how the women were represented has nothing to do with their personal opinion.
    I’m am curious about the cages though. It could be symbolic of how they fill. Or again, the typical thing.
    Sorry this was so long hah

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