Tales from MVT: Kenzo World

Tales from MVT is a regularly-occurring series of blog posts where I choose one of the videos from our Music Video Theatre sessions and write about it. Music Video Theatre has become one of the most fun and enriching experiences of my current life, and for a multitude of reasons, has sparked abundant creativity. It serves as the inspiration for this series of silly little blog posts.

Song: “Mutant Brain”
Artist: Music by DJ Sam & DJ Ape Drums, Vocals by Assassin
Director: Spike Jonze
Appeared in: MVT Vol. 4
Chosen by: Jason
Special note: I had to look up all this shit above, and I put it here because form demands it, but I don’t especially care about any of it because, as you’ll read below, this video is all about the actor’s performance and the great direction, not the song itself. Also, because I don’t have room for it, it bears mention that Spike Jonze directed “Weapon of Choice” by Fatboy Slim, and you can feel echoes of that video in this one. And really, this video is just called Kenzo World.


When we drew names for the MVT Vol. 11: All-Star Remix Edition, we all anonymously picked one of our names out of a box. Once we had all drawn, I asked if anyone drew their own name. No one had. The game was on, and Jeff was fucking STOKED.

Because with 10 Volumes of Music Video Theatre behind us, Jason had the brilliant idea of doing an All-Star Game version of MVT where we each pick 10 videos, one from each list, from one of the other participants. This is way better than my idea of picking one from each of our own videos because my way is both less fun, and more self-congratulatory.

Picking someone else’s videos is an expression of love, and a possible unique entry point into my favorite quadrant of The Johari Window – “the blind spot” or “blind self.” The Johari Window is a brilliant framework to enhance the individual’s perception on others. Basically, how do you see yourself vs how do others see you, and how do you choose to reveal information about yourself? I don’t want to bog this down with my abundant feelings about The Johari Window, so click that link for more. I’m sure I’ll get into this another time.

The relevance here is: Which name did Jeff draw that made him so excited? And which one of the remaining three of us should now be flattered to inspire that immediate reaction from him? The ultimate answer was Jason, and the pre-eminent reason for that excitement was the gonzo fucking video known only as “Kenzo World.”

What is Kenzo World? It’s a fragrance available through Sephora Brasil, but you don’t know that until the very last frame. All you know is what’s presented in front of you, and even then, the video is wildly disorienting. It begins with a comely women in a green dress sitting at some sort of awards banquet when she excuses herself to the lobby. She stares directly into the camera intensely. A single tear falls from her eye. Then her eyes start darting to a tongue cluck beat that wasn’t there before, but she’s perfectly in sync.

Then she freaks the fuck out.

Bugfuck crazy shouting on the music track builds and builds as the beat gets more and more intense and frantic (think of the assaultive energy of “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake & Lil Jon), all the while, the woman in the green dress (played by actor/dancer Margaret Qualley) absolutely loses her goddamn mind seemingly possessed by this batshit music.

Her performance is hypnotic, terrifying, hilarious, absurd, breathtaking, gorgeous, technically astonishing and ultimately transcendent. It is literally impossible to predict what will happen on a moment-to-moment basis in this video. On my first pass with it, you could have paused it at any given moment and told me what was going to happen next, and I would have believed you no matter how outlandish it was or if you were straight making shit up.

Will she turn her hand into a makeshift puppet, get mad at it, and bite its head off? Will birds descend on her and hold up the bottom of her dress like in Cinderella while she does ballroom dance moves? Will she shoot lasers out of her pointer fingers? Will the mirror version of herself gain sentience and run off in another direction from her? Will she just straight up murder someone? Will she take flight? Will she find herself in the depths of the sea twirling like a music box figurine? Will she launch through a giant sculpture of an eye made of flowers and then beat her chest like Tarzan?

The answer to some of the questions posed in the previous paragraph is yes, but I’m not going to tell you which ones because you deserve to discover this video for yourself and be surprised about which ones I’m faithfully describing to you and which ones I just flat out made up. And I promise that you will be surprised.

This video is un-fucking-hinged. And best of all? It’s a goddamn perfume ad. There’s really no reason for a perfume ad to go this hard, yet here this insane piece of business is, existing in defiance of everything I thought I knew about anything. That’s my favorite type of shit, all night and all day.  

Jeff told us during the All-Star Remix airing that when we proposed this idea of picking from each other’s libraries, the very first thing he thought was, “Someone better goddamn pick Kenzo World.” And then he drew Jason, and he knew he was safe and that Kenzo World would get a second airing. I put it 4th out of 40 videos because I know my audience and I didn’t want to keep everyone waiting too long. Normally I’d be a bit more weird about an assertion like this, but…

This is the best video we’ve ever shown on Music Video Theatre.

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