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Gotye Redux
July 22, 2012 11:12 AM   Subscribe

An ASL, queer version of "Somebody That I Used To Know". Possibly the one refreshing Gotye cover on the interwebs.
posted by Devika (56 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat. I'd be interested to see captions of what their signs literally mean though, since I suspect some liberties were taken in adapting the lyrics.

Also, I actually squeed at BART! I miss NorCal so much.
posted by psoas at 11:23 AM on July 22, 2012


Neat.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:25 AM on July 22, 2012


I hadn't heard this song, until the past week... Any song that results in three FPP's in less than a week obviously deserves my attention! Guess I'll go listen to it, or watch it, in this case.
posted by HuronBob at 11:30 AM on July 22, 2012


Not to be the "get off my lawn" guy, but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it. No remix, no mash-up. Just the song.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:32 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Neat. I'd be interested to see captions of what their signs literally mean though, since I suspect some liberties were taken in adapting the lyrics.


Likewise - for example, Captain Valor includes a lyrics-to-signing appendix on his cover versions (example: Re: Your Brains by JoCo), which is both useful and interesting...
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:32 AM on July 22, 2012


Not to be the "get off my lawn" guy, but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it. No remix, no mash-up. Just the song.


You mean like Peggy Lee's cover of Little Willie John's Fever?

(note I like both versions, but I like Peggy's better)
posted by edgeways at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2012


Wow. This just about redeems the song from the last year of it being absolutely everywhere.

but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it.

So, the time before music itself existed?
posted by dw at 11:51 AM on July 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


yet another one of those times i wish i knew sign. i have this feeling there's a shitload of nuance to what's being signed here.

anybody?
posted by lodurr at 11:54 AM on July 22, 2012


Wow. Pretty intense!
posted by ruelle at 12:00 PM on July 22, 2012


That was great. Really great.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:03 PM on July 22, 2012


... I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it.

Then... sign language... for that very reason?
posted by jinjo at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many years ago when I was in an indie rock band, I would get tired of explaining what we sounded like to random people, so I occasionally I would say "well, we're big in the deaf music scene." Oddly enough, only one in five would actually notice anything even slightly unusual about that statement.

(note that the statement was made in reference to nobody hearing our music, not a joke at the expense of the deaf community. A lady once took offense at that once, as her brother was deaf, but she said later that her brother thought it was funny and wanted a shirt if we had any to sell.)
posted by chambers at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


yet another one of those times i wish i knew sign. i have this feeling there's a shitload of nuance to what's being signed here.

I ran into this once with this amazing ASL interpretation of "No Handlebars" by the Flobots. I sent the link to a cousin of mine who is Deaf, and asked her for a gloss. What I got back was:
Can't be done. ASL is in a space, a shape, like a sphere; everything he does sends message upon message upon message. To put it in a line, with words, I can't do it. TY so much for the song, it is amazing :-) I will share with my wife and our friends.
There is often literally no linear-language translation. I mean, merely the fact that the first actor is mouthing the words as she speaks (in the Gotye song) while the second isn't -- that sends a message that you can't put into linear language.
posted by KathrynT at 12:31 PM on July 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Not to be the "get off my lawn" guy, but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it. No remix, no mash-up. Just the song.

You know, that's a relatively new phenomenon in the history of music. Before you could record something once and distribute it, people would pull out guitars and share their own takes on things with friends and family. I bet it was nice.
posted by floam at 12:55 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The ASL seems a pretty straight translation (though I'm not fluent); it's translation, so yeah, it's not word for word, but the meaning is pretty much the same.

Chambers-- I would have just assumed you had good drums and turned the bass up loud.
posted by Margalo Epps at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2012


I'm sorry, but without a chorus all signing in unison during the chorusy bits I can't give it full marks.
posted by mightygodking at 1:36 PM on July 22, 2012


I would say "well, we're big in the deaf music scene."

You mean like the Deaf Club?

When I found this record, I was pleased to find myself in the inner sleeve photo. (Dark face in the crowd, just to the left of the bright girl in the back row.)
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:45 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to be the "get off my lawn" guy, but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it.

Why, when I was young, we just had to buy the sheet music and learn to play the damned thing ourselves. Then, you would go to the next town over, and someone would be doing it differently! Of course, back when I was a boy, we had to get the Lord's permission to go to the next village, and none of us could read, but what the heck.

Ahem. I liked this a lot. Sign Language is expressive in some really interesting ways, and it kind of looks like it is a great language to tell someone to go to hell in, too. In Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, there are a bunch of scenes with arguments between signers, ad there is some really cool nuance (turning your back, for example, is a way more fraught action) that Park puts into it.

Anyway, thanks for the post.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:03 PM on July 22, 2012


Why was this necessary? Words cannot express how sick of this song I am.
posted by weezy at 2:07 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, weezy, it is necessary. Because it features a cute butch woman! (I was going to post the same thing on Friday but held off because that Pomplamoose mashup of Somebody That I Used to Know and Call Me Maybe was still on the front page.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:14 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why was this necessary?
This video is an ASL interpretation of Gotye's "Somebody I Used To Know." An expression of ASL music composed by a team of Deaf and CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) members, including the crew and cast members.

The inspiration of this concept was to allow communities largely under served by music to experience the passion and emotion it conveys, most take for granted. It also serves to expose ASL culture to the world. It demonstrates how music cannot only be heard, but seen as well
I'm not an expert on the Deaf community, but ASL music videos (from simple translations over the original video to quite pro-looking stagings like this one) have a long history. It seems to me like the hearing community is only now catching up with lip-sync videos.
posted by muddgirl at 2:19 PM on July 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I think more cute butch women are always necessary.
posted by fancyoats at 2:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also that.
posted by muddgirl at 2:22 PM on July 22, 2012


The Goatye is filling a musical niche left by the endangered P. gabrielesis. L. gaga is similarly exploitiing a niche left by E. johnii and M. addonii.
posted by benzenedream at 2:30 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why was this necessary? Words cannot express how sick of this song I am.

But... but... you clicked on the link! Then you commented in the post! How sick of it can you be if you keep seeking exposure? Are you looking to get Monday off work?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:54 PM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I really enjoyed that, and I'm not even a big fan of the song (although I don't hate it either). Thanks for sharing it.
posted by Errant at 3:07 PM on July 22, 2012


There is often literally no linear-language translation.

This. Plus the fact that the original lyrics are not highly metaphorical to begin with -- it's mainly prosaic statements. "Now and then I think of when we were together" is not exactly "You used to be so amused / At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used", after all.
posted by dhartung at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2012


Not to be the "get off my lawn" guy, but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it. No remix, no mash-up. Just the song.

The entire history of human species has been about the sharing and retelling of stories - often via forms of music. The Aboriginal Song lines are an example of this, as are traditional folk songs. These were/are all about retelling, reinterpreting... I think it would be very sad if a song was just a song and it could not be retold or re-imagined by others. I can see this happening mainly because corporations are winning the "intellectual property" battle and copyright will determine every aspect of our lives, including the ability to replay and reinterpret music.
posted by greenhornet at 3:36 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not to be the "get off my lawn" guy, but I kind of miss the days when there could be a song, and people could listen to it and enjoy it, and that was it. No remix, no mash-up. Just the song.

Why was this necessary? Words cannot express how sick of this song I am

Well I guess I'm going to have be that Metafilter person who brings up social privilege. The video was produced by a group of deaf people and children of deaf people, to allow people who are deaf to appreciate a song that they otherwise would not be able to. If you're sick of this song and of "remixes" or whatever, this is not for you. You have the awesome ability to listen to all the music being made today, some of which you like and some of which you don't like, and there's no reason to begrudge other people the chance to have access to music, too.
posted by bookish at 4:14 PM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


The ASL seems a pretty straight translation (though I'm not fluent); it's translation, so yeah, it's not word for word, but the meaning is pretty much the same.

Basically this. There seem to be two extremes of music videos in ASL: ones that are very close to the English, sometimes to the point of feeling like they're not really ASL (these are often done by ASL students. I think Captain Valor's fall somewhat in this category). The other end of the spectrum is videos where it's less a translation and more an interpretation, if that makes sense. Lots of reimagining, lots of reworking. The recent ASL/VRS cover of "Call Me Maybe" would be an example of that. Arguably, perhaps the This Is the New Shit cover posted on Mefi a few years ago.

Props to people who make videos in the former category; doing that is not easy, especially for newer or less fluent signers, and sometimes it comes out really well. (There are some stinkers, though. Just like the million crappy guitar covers of Imagine and Hey Jude and so forth.) They're fun to make, and they definitely do reflect something that our community does, they're not solely the province of outsiders. But the latter category feels more artistic to me, more like an expression of the things that make our culture unique.

Just in terms of language, I feel like this video is somewhere in between those two. The first woman (Deaf!Gotye) is obviously a fluent signer, and her interpretation feels right. It's not "strong ASL", but it is definitely not English. Non-signers can definitely follow along, although of course you're going to miss nuances. The second woman, Deaf!Kimbra, *is* signing more idiomatically, and not following the English. Line-for-line the meaning matches, but it's harder for a non-signer to follow each sign's meaning. "Letting me believe that it was always something that I'd done" becomes something more like "believe I (did/was) something wrong, my responsibility. No, no [as in, I don't accept that]". Or "Live same going-forward, analyze-analyze word-word real meaning/intent behind-that? No." Deaf!Gotye also does a bit of that later in the song, when it's more of a duet - you see the lips saying one thing and the hands saying something slightly different. At one point Deaf!Kimbra signs FINISH-FINISH, meaning (in this context) "hey, stop talking, let it go". So it's definitely a very culturally appropriate work.

All of these phenomena are something you find in actual daily discourse. Some people strongly prefer one style or the other of expression, many can switch between the two with relative ease. I wonder, although I hadn't really considered this before, if there's a subtle connection here to communication issues within relationships between hearing and Deaf partners? Another cultural thing that stood out for me that may or may not have been intentional - the facial expressions are very intense. That does mirror the original music video; but it's also a cultural thing for Deaf people. It's one way we express tone and emotion, with the result that sometimes outside observers (as on public transit) are kind of taken aback, or assume that the emotional load of a conversation is more than it actually is. I, er, might be reading more into the video than was intended, though.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


Also, a few songs done originally in ASL and in English both, by a Deaf rapper:
Smells Like Victory
Against the Wall
Speakerbox

(I think he speaks briefly in Smells Like Victory and some of his other songs, but I'm really not sure. Most of the English is performed by a hearing musician.)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:32 PM on July 22, 2012


spaceman_spiff, kathrynt et al, thanks for your input. watching, thinking about the differences in mode of expression, got me thinking about a lot of things in ways that I haven't in a while.
posted by lodurr at 4:43 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is relevant to many of my interests. Thanks for posting!
posted by sonika at 5:43 PM on July 22, 2012


Can't be done. ASL is in a space, a shape, like a sphere; everything he does sends message upon message upon message. To put it in a line, with words, I can't do it. ...

There is often literally no linear-language translation. I mean, merely the fact that the first actor is mouthing the words as she speaks (in the Gotye song) while the second isn't -- that sends a message that you can't put into linear language.


I don't believe that. What people usually mean when they say stuff like that is that it would take a long time to explain, and certain nuances would be lost.

But (and for example): one could explain what it means for someone to mouth the words while signing, and what it means for someone not to, and what, if anything, it means if one person does it and another doesn't. If it's real, it should be articulable in, say, English.

No matter how many messages there are intertwined in ASL, they should be explicable, given enough time and patience.


Super-cool video though.

And: FWIW, though I'm a straight dude, I thought the protagonist in the video had an awesome look. (Disclaimer: I mention that I'm a straight guy only b/c it seems incongruous that a straight guy would think that.)
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:02 PM on July 22, 2012


The inspiration of this concept was to allow communities largely under served by music to experience the passion and emotion it conveys, most take for granted.

I'm deeply confused. I thought deaf people couldn't hear music?
posted by magstheaxe at 6:55 PM on July 22, 2012


Gotye may be the next one-hit wonder, but this song has done an interesting job of transcending boundaries - age, gender, you name it. Catchy little tune. I am neither queer nor deaf, but I enjoyed this particular video immensely.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:09 PM on July 22, 2012


I'm deeply confused. I thought deaf people couldn't hear music?
Not only do they feel the vibrations of the music, there is a body of evidence that they sense music in the auditory cortex which would mean that they may well perceive music in a very similar way to those of us who can hear.

The lead is indeed adorable. I'm also not sure why it would seem odd that straight guys would think that. I also think some dudes are handsome, some puppies are cute and some flowers are beautiful. I'm not intending to sleep with any of them.
posted by Lame_username at 7:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


In addition to what Lame_username (really? Okay then.) said, a lot of deaf people can hear enough to appreciate music in one way or another. Some of us can't understand speech, or can understand it but with significant effort; others of us communicate well with spoken English but without the ease and effortlessness of a hearing person. So, even ignoring things like just feeling vibrations, of course deaf people can appreciate music. (I can't speak for anyone who is completely deaf, that's not my experience, but I suspect this video is pretty neat as a performance even without sound.)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:36 PM on July 22, 2012


Deaf people can somewhat(?) hear music. More like feeling loud booming beats, but it can be enjoyed on some level.

I read a book called Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, featuring a deaf manager of a rock band. It's a good one and interesting to hear her POV as to how much of their sound she picks up.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:15 PM on July 22, 2012


Haven't heard this song before. Haven't seen sign-language in a song situation before. Must say it's quite mesmerizing to watch ASL being done quasi-rhythmically; there's a certain quiet elegance in watching the gestures being repeated for the chorus, for one, the hand-signs being done to a tempo for another. It's a bit like mudra's in Natya-Sastra-linked ballets such as Bharatanatyam or the Cambodian Robaim Apsara in a way.
posted by the cydonian at 6:55 AM on July 23, 2012


I like this video so much better than the official video, which comes across to me disconnected, overly conceptual, literally a piece of art rather than an act of storytelling.

This, in contrast--so visceral, and powerfully acted. I enjoyed watching it a second time with the sound off. That got me to thinking how I would love to see these two actresses do a longer film together. Which got me to wondering about films with Deaf characters in central roles, which got me to Googling and left me surprised at how very, very little there is.
posted by drlith at 8:40 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Deaf people can somewhat(?) hear music. More like feeling loud booming beats, but it can be enjoyed on some level.

Not to mention that I'm assuming there may be varying degrees of deafness, so a given person may be able to hear to an extent.

I'm making an uneducated assumption, though, based on a) some kind of puff news piece about Marlee Matlin where they had an audio approximation of what she apparently is capable of hearing - there was sound, it just sounded like it was way the hell underwater; and on b) a stint in college where I was working with a troupe of blind and visually impaired actors, and there was only one person who really was full-on, can't-see-anything-at-all blind the way we think of it while everyone else had varying degrees of sightedness (one guy had only peripheral vision, another woman could only see in bright light, etc.). I'm just assuming that if there are "degrees" of visual restrictrion, there must also be "degrees" of auditory restriction as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify my rant, not that anyone gives a flying fig, I'm not against cover songs. And I'm not really against this video. I just am tired of each new song going through an endless string of remix/mashup/regurgitation. Just my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.
posted by Outlawyr at 10:00 AM on July 23, 2012


So basically you are sick of all music, ever. Gotcha.
posted by muddgirl at 10:04 AM on July 23, 2012


Dude, search Spotify for "Wolverton Mountain". I'm just saying.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:36 AM on July 23, 2012


Muddgirl: I'd cut Outlawyr some slack. I've also noticed a recent trend in doing a lot of "remixes" of existing pop songs while they're still on the charts, and it may be this that Outlawyr is responding to. I'm not upset about it, but I do think it is a puzzling thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on July 23, 2012


I guess I'm confused because this particular video isn't a remix, and of course it's not going to be made after the song isn't popular any more - the song's popularity is the whole point of making a an ASL translation.
posted by muddgirl at 10:57 AM on July 23, 2012


Yeah, but it's come after a lot of other recent "Somebody that I used to know" FPP's recently, and it may have just been the last straw. It strikes me that Outlawyr's last post ("I'm not really against this video. I just am tired of each new song going through an endless string of remix/mashup/regurgitation...") speaks more to this general recent trend than this video in the specific.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:01 AM on July 23, 2012


Oultawyer said "I'm not against cover songs." This isn't a cover song, either.

I guess I just think it's mean to post that, specifically, about a music video translating a song into ASL for people who are Deaf to enjoy. If anything, that seems like a worthwhile use of time and bandwidth to me. Maybe I should give Outlawyer the benefit of the doubt and assume he/she didn't watch the video or understand that ASL means "American Sign Language" aka "A language developed by deaf people to communicate with each other and their hearing friends and family."
posted by muddgirl at 11:07 AM on July 23, 2012


Fair enough, but accusing Outlyr of being "opposed to all music ever" seems beside the point of that particular argument is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on July 23, 2012


Yeah, you're probably right, but I still think that regurgitation is the foundation of 99.99% of music. Sorry, not regurgitation. "Inspiration." Maybe the meaning was supposed to be more narrow.
posted by muddgirl at 11:13 AM on July 23, 2012


Hey guys, thanks for the excellent commentary and insights! I watched this without the sound first, and the raw power of the lead just blew me away. I'm really glad to get some ASL-fluent input on it. I was going to apologize for pushing the buttons of those who are sick of the song, because I am too - but in truth I am unrepentant. I just hope this reaches people who see something of themselves in it and it brightens their day. As a queer kid myself, I definitely fizzed with excitement upon seeing a strong, beautiful butch be the star. And as an ally/fellow member of a marginalized group, I'm delighted that inclusive interpretations like this exist.
posted by Devika at 4:36 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that I'm assuming there may be varying degrees of deafness, so a given person may be able to hear to an extent.

I'm making an uneducated assumption, though, based on a) some kind of puff news piece about Marlee Matlin where they had an audio approximation of what she apparently is capable of hearing - there was sound, it just sounded like it was way the hell underwater


Yes! I'm Deaf (culturally so) despite having pretty good speech abilities (with a cochlear implant), mostly because I prefer to sign. (And despite having pretty good abilities to understand speech, and zero difficulty producing speech, I still have very significant limits in how I communicate in spoken English - background noise, accents, my mood and energy, etc etc etc.) Even among people for whom that's not the case - people you might naively assume to be completely without sound - there's a wide range of hearing. Very few people have absolutely no sound. And you can't predict how much someone hears based solely on their accent or how well they seem to understand speech or how effectively they communicate.

I do find those sorts of simulations kind of irritating, though. I've never found a CI simulation, for example, that I think comes anywhere close to actually representing what (I think) I perceive. And for those simulations intended to demonstrate what you can perceive or how speech is more difficult ... I dunno, perhaps there's some value to that. To demonstrate that there can be speech perception without *easy* speech perception, for instance. But it's so simplistic; it doesn't do much to show how those abilities can very from one speaker to the next or one moment to the next, nor what the effect is of communicating in a mode that takes a non-trivial amount of effort. (Me, for example, I do fine at work in spoken English. And then my day ends, and some days I'm fine continuing to communicate that way, socializing with non-signers. But to do that every day? Pfft. I don't have the patience for that. "I've used up my English at work, thanks.")
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:30 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oultawyer said "I'm not against cover songs." This isn't a cover song, either.

I guess I just think it's mean to post that, specifically, about a music video translating a song into ASL for people who are Deaf to enjoy.


I think in some sense it is a cover. Not in the sense of "I'm going to perform this piece the same way the original artist did", but more like, say, how an a capella group does covers. It's an expression of someone else's interpretation of the music (in the musical-interpretation sense, not the language-interpretation sense).
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:32 PM on July 23, 2012


NSFW!!!

Uh, for some of us.

*fans self*
posted by rosa at 12:54 PM on July 24, 2012


She's definitely going on my "if I were a lesbian" list...
posted by drlith at 1:47 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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