In the first of a new series exploring videos that were either banned or censored we look at the video for ‘Low’ which brought you Jack Black and Dave Grohl as two rednecks having an increasingly bizarre private party.
And whilst we’ll certainly be looking at more outrageous and extreme videos in this series we might not look at another one that’s as plain funny. Besides, we wanted to ease you (and ourselves) in a little.
Taken from the Foo Fighters third album One By One, and released in 2002, ‘Low’ is reportedly one of the few tracks on the album that Dave Grohl actually liked eventually saying of the album in a Rolling Stone interview that “four of the songs were good, and the other seven I never played again in my life.” It’s an unsatisfying album for sure but that it should produce this song and, by turns, this video for me kind of justifies the whole thing.
It’s directed by former Lemonheads bass-player Jesse Peretz, who had already worked with the band on videos for ‘Big Me’ and ‘Learn To Fly’, the initial suggestion for the video was to have Jack Black (with whom Grohl had also already worked as drummer on the Tenacious D album) dancing around in drag for the entire video. However, Peretz apparently talked him out of the idea and after discussions between the three men the idea evolved in to something altogether more strange.
Set in a motel room in the middle of nowhere, the video starts with Black (‘Cole’) and Grohl (‘Lester’) arriving separately in their pick-up trucks before grabbing suitcases (of which more in a moment), greeting each other and making their way in. What follows is the redneck buddies filming each other drinking beer and Jack Daniels, goofing and dancing around, and generally getting crazy.
Things start getting weird around the 2.15 mark when Cole puts on a video and the camera cuts to Lester on the bed masturbating whilst eating Cheetos. Seconds later we’re watching Cole crawl in to the toilet and proceeding to take a dump. So far, so strange.
It’s after this that things take a turn in to altogether more odd territory. After Lester opens his suitcase to reveal that it’s full of women’s clothes Cole opens his to reveal the same. After cross-dressing they end up cavorting on the bed, with Cole at one point spanking Lester as he gets on all fours, before a clip of them cavorting with legs flying everywhere suggests they’ve, umm, taken their freaky night to the next level. Oh yes. Not long after Cole ends up with his head down the toilet bowl…
As the video ends we see them the next morning, back in their normal clothes, leaving the motel room, giving each other a fist-pump as if to suggest a successful night was had and jumping back in to their pick-ups.
Upon it’s release MTV took the unusual move of banning the video in it’s entirety, objecting to the masturbatory scene as well as the spanking and implied sex later on. It was unusual because often, and as we shall see later in this series, MTV would ask bands to re-edit videos to make them suitable, or even impose a curfew stating that a video shouldn’t be played before a certain time.
As for the Foo Fighters, they pretty quickly released a DVD so that fans could see the video. Looking at it now the ban certainly seems a little harsh, particularly when you think of some videos in recent times that channels like MTV have been happy to play. It is, for the main part, harmless fun and in fact never crosses over from that in to anything genuinely outrageous. Just a couple of cross-dressing rednecks having some slightly strange fun. Grohl himself certainly loved it, saying of it at the time “It’s great. Video of the year, that’s what I’m thinking”. Hmm. maybe not Dave, but it’s a blast all the same.