Saturday, November 19, 2005

Vanessa Williams - Colors of the Wind (1995)

zero (of four)

I forgot all about this horrid Vanessa Williams end-credits theme from Pocahontas until I took a day job as restaurant waiter. If you're not a minion of the service industry - or perhaps a grocery store checker or a secretary in a dentist's office - you may not realize the 1995 ballad "Colors of the Wind" still pops up as innocuous background Muzak on the Michael Bolton channel once per work day.

I, on the other hand, worked in a college dining hall when this song was at the top of the adult-contemporary charts. All totaled, I've probably been on the clock at a menial job while "Colors of the Wind" was playing well over 400 times. Think about that the next time you complain about having to leave home at 4:30 a.m. and sit in three hours of traffic to work in the sewage treatment plant. I've endured the goddamn Pocahontas theme song 33.3 dozen times at my job. Who's the workplace martyr now?

The video? Well, you tell me - when you're watching the video for the main single from an overly marketed movie, what do you expect to see? There are a frickin' lot of clips from Pocahontas, which was one of the most heavy-handed, bland Disney movies in the vault. The most uber-politically correct, too.

Guys, look, I know the white folks massacred the Indian people, but look at it this way - they were also lucky fuckers. They never had to sit through this movie. Although... I bet the less humanly decent among the dead Native Americans may have seen it after they died. I'm not talking about bad karma during reincarnation. No, Pocahontas is playing on closed-circuit television in an eternal, 82-minute loop in hell, dubbed in Portuguese and subtitled in Arabic.

If you're paying close attention, I suppose, the movie clips from "Colors of the Wind" progress in chronological order, but when a song and video is this bad, you probably won't be able to let yourself pay attention. Even the mocha-creamy, dead-gorgeous features of one of my lifelong crushes, Vanessa Williams, can't make the video bearable. She's just too wholesome here. Give me that 8-page black-and-white spread of Grace Jones Afro'd era Vanessa sixty-nining with a white girl in that legendary 1984 issue of Penthouse.

The shots of Williams, by the way, all take place either on an unconvincing The Native American Woods At Night set - where Vanessa twists and turns her fan-blown sheer wrap-shawl while pretending to emote - or in a pastel What Dreams May Come meadow. The whole thing seems blandly New Age, but like the movie, it also cops this Earth Mother feel to induce corporate capitalist guilt. And I know corporate capitalism is some evil, evil shit, but music like this makes me want to cut down trees and eat a juicy bald eagle patty melt.


"Colors of the Wind" is a song about injustice to humanity.

Injustice comes in all forms,
whether it be stealing a native people's land
and marching them a thousand miles
across rough terrain in the dead of winter
and then raping, slaying and burying them.

Or whether it be disqualifying a perfectly beautiful
and talented Miss America candidate and forcing her
to abdicate her throne because some photographs surfaced
of a white girl sitting on that beauty queen's
Grace Jones Afro'd face.

I have a dream that one day all will truly be equal.
That's why I've continued my crusade
for Native Americans and porn
in my new movie Pokeahotass II:
Weapons of Ass Destruction