First Impressions: DJ Ozma’s “Spiderman”

Filed in American Wota 2.0

As a spinoff group from Kishidan, DJ Ozma seemed to refine the mix of postmodern wit and sentimentality that defined the rock group’s image and applied it to dance music. While DJ Ozma is the alter-ego of Kishidan lead singer Ayonokoji Shou, the collective around him is certainly a part of the image and ethos embodied by that person. So to me, at least, DJ Ozma is as much a group as it is the metonymic person that fronts it.

“One Night” was one of the more memorable PVs and singles from last year. “Age Age Every Night” was almost as good. (Kishidan’s “The Aishiteru” was no slouch, either.)

Further, the Kouhaku performance of “Age Age Every Knight” was an impressively oblique combination of magic and striptease, playing with the notion of misdirection in a manner that complemented each aspect. The so-called scandal it generated was unfortunate, but not in the way people think: it did DJ Ozma a favor by making them the hot topic of the night, but the notoriety may have also made them favor shock value and Mardi Gras theatrics over true cleverness.

Unfortunately, “Spiderman” disappoints. Which is funny, since I like both DJ Ozma and comic books, so this should be two great tastes that go great together. (But why no dash in the title? Perhaps it’s not a reference to Peter Parker’s alter-ego but to some Jewish last name, like Leon Spiderman from Jamaica, Queens?)

The song is itself completely forgettable. As a matter of fact, they haven’t had any truly memorable songs since the release of the I Love Party People album. I don’t think DJ Ozma himself sings at all, it’s just about all King Junichi vocally. And I have no idea where MC Pancho is, he’s just another guy in a mask here.

The video itself is a delight initially, mostly because it’s as if Peter Parker met Tom of Finland in a Shibuya caged-match disco. (Wait a minute – wasn’t that a Marvel Team-Up issue in the late 1970s?)

The main set is a huge room filled with men wearing Spider-Man-ish masks and black briefs with a huge red-and-white spider figure clutched over their genital area. They’re hopping and dancing.

Everything else in the video is just window trimming by comparison. There’s a guy in a white suit and a white version of the Spider-Man mask – I guess he’s a Bizarro Venom meets the dude from Blondie’s “Rapture” video. He dances some, but that’s about it.

There’s also an image of a spider crawling up a man’s body. Which I guess is creepy, but not compared to the room full of dancing half-naked men in masks. Make this a choice and I think I’d rather just have the spider crawl on me and get it over with.

And there’s also a scant few shots of females trying to look hot and horny and spider-y. I guess they’re really webheaded fag-hags, given the rest of the proceedings.

Having spent many years seriously studying superhero comics (as in almost earning a doctorate on the topic), I’m fully aware of the homoerotic overtones when you have muscular men in tights punching other muscular men in tights. (That I often applied Janice Radway’s structural model of the romance novel to superhero comics made that notion even stronger.)

The fact that the men aren’t wearing much in this PV isn’t all that different from the show-everything nature of unstable molecules on a superhero physique. The high-aggro chanting and writhing and the muscular beat of the song is all in keeping with this mood, as well.

One gets a sense of pro wrestling with some of the posturings, and the outfits make me think of some of the riper AV videos I’ve avoided on JAVtalk. I wouldn’t be surprised it the wardrobe was recycled for some future Mozawa production.

Believe me, I’m quite open to this interpretation of Spider-Man iconography. Actually, I relish the idea of Stan Lee and people who take their superheroes way-too-seriously being freaked out by this crotch-happy bump-and-grind revue.

What gets me, though, is that little imagination is shown beyond this initial premise. If anything, I get the feeling that this video wasn’t even intended as a commentary on superhero iconography but just another excuse for the DJ Ozma crew to get away with as much near-nudity as they can possibly muster.

Which isn’t a bad thing in itself, by any means. But it seems like a wasted opportunity, a one-note joke from a group that is capable of considerably more. Setting aside my fanboy desire to have them wreak further semiotic havoc on this superhero icon, where is the joy and goofy fun that made DJ Ozma so memorable last year?

There really isn’t much in the way of the playfulness which was DJ Ozma’s and Kishidan’s strong suits. The only time I really get that is with DJ Ozma the person, when he’s pogo-ing solo across the screen or there’s a line-up of these spider-guys doing para-para dancing in silhouette.

The PV ends with a shot of Earth from space…

… and then it explodes, a la Doctor Strangelove. Which is a sort of comic-book-y image in its overblown sense of proportion – but again, I just didn’t feel like DJ Ozma earned it this time. (Was the convocation of half-naked men wearing spiders on their nuts really enough for the world to explode? Is Al Qaeda aware of this awesome secret?)

I’ve just about given up on DJ Ozma, truth be known. It’s time to put them to rest for a while and have Kishidan re-unite to do their own thing. Maybe their own version of the Batman theme song…? That’d make for a nice, fearful symmetry, now wouldn’t it?

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One Response to “First Impressions: DJ Ozma’s “Spiderman””
  1. Rob says:

    It reminds me of the fight seen between Uma Thurman and the Crazy88’s if Miike Takashi had directed it.

    Although I was initially disappointed, (I would have liked to have seen more of DJ Ozma and the girls), I can’t stop watching it. Probably because I just don’t get it. It is weird beyond just the homo erotica. The Andrew Lloyd Webber-esqe Phantom of the Opera masks painted in the Marvel red blue black spiderman colors are especially creepy.