Gut reaction

Signifying demonic possession, pregnancy or food/alcohol poisoning, vomiting is usually banished to the confines of toilets, sinks and in the worst cases, our friends. But lately I’ve noticed vomit making its way into music videos. Absurd? Maybe … bear with me.

About a month ago I watched Tyler, The Creator’s stark video for his single “Yonkers.” The west-coaster had me captivated, spitting his trademark aggravated baritone while delicately balancing a cockroach as it crawled through his fingers. Then he appears to bite the cockroach’s head off.

Before I could be sick, he beat me to it—at this point in the video, the camera shifts back and out of focus as he turns to give viewers a perfect profile of his projectile.

The video’s reception on the web shocked me. Rather than an outpouring of comments peppered with disgust and horror, “Yonkers” was immediately dubbed artistically groundbreaking and poignant.

This dude must be next level if his vomit is charismatic.

It’s not a new concept. The act of on-screen vomiting is familiar to fans of Family Guy and in the humor of films like Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life, Jackass and Team America: World Police. The Prodigy shocked audiences with their MTV-banned “Smack My Bitch Up,” in which the central character takes a break from debauchery for a quick puke-and-rally.

The social constructions surrounding what is considered foul and what is considered funny or artistic have evolved. Wait, aren’t we supposed to be embarrassed and ashamed of our bodily functions? Perhaps not when an artistic purpose may be served.

Some camps stick to viewing vomit as a sign of weakness and vulnerability, a lack of control—while others claim it as a hardcore sign or even goal of the ultimate bad-ass night out.

PS I Love You jumped on the bandwagon too with their new release “Get Over,” filmed at Kingston’s own Grad Club. The track’s grinding riffs provide the soundtrack for an out-of-control house party, complete with karaoke and herbal refreshments.

The band’s hyper-reality culminates into a group vomit session. It might elicit an “it-was-cool-until-the-throw-up” response from some, but it’s pretty rock and roll if you can stomach it.

After all, what’s a music video if not a place to pick a defined visual aesthetic in the service of your tunes—whatever that may be to the artist?

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