Depicting verbal and physical harassment on camera is already a delicate proposition – and creating a monster movie-styled music video that addresses unwanted sexual advances without slighting the topic might seem near impossible. But Speedy Ortiz and director Elle Schneider pulled off the miraculous trick of tackling this timely topic within the frame of a ’60s B-movie (Enter: handsy, creepy Fish Head man) in the “Villain” music video, which premieres today on Billboard.
“It was important for us to record this song and put it out, and it’s interesting that so many other people have felt the imperative to share these stories now,” Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis tells Billboard. “I think Camp Cope had a song on their record that’s similar, and obviously there’s the #MeToo movement right now.
“It’s sad so many people are conditioned from childhood to ignore people’s answers but it’s great that so many people are sharing stories and finding community with one another [lately] and looking in a real ways to address these issues. Not only among the adults who have disregarded people’s wants for too long, but also for kids growing up and learning about consent in Sex Ed.”
Dupuis wrote the song back in 2014 and eventually retooled it for Speedy Ortiz’s upcoming third album, Twerp Verse (April 27). After completing the studio recording, she went to childhood friend and longtime collaborator Elle Schneider for an out-of-the-box video treatment.
“I approached her and said, ‘Here’s a song, here’s what it’s about, but I don’t want to be super literal or heavy-handed.’ She knows that we love doing genre stuff and monster stuff, and we came up with this idea,” explains Dupuis. “We wound up doing this Fish Head [monster] and we liked that because it’s gender ambiguous and can show that this stuff — although a vast majority is from cisgender men – it really can be anyone who is ignoring your personal space and needs.”
This is hardly new territory for Dupuis. Her solo side project Sad13 tackled a similar topic with 2016’s “Get a Yes,” which was a more sonically lighthearted take on the importance of consent.
“‘Get a Yes’ was like, ‘Let’s do a fun song about how important consent is.’ But [with ‘Villain’] it’s also important to talk about the bad stuff, too, I think.”