So a while back, NPR ran a short story about Girl Band’s track, “Paul” and the video that accompanied it. My girlfriend sent it to me and I sat and watched it after a rather hectic day at work.
Aside from my job at a bakery, I’ve been a mascot for fourteen years (so far), starting way back in 2001. My idea was that eventually, I’d get an office job at a sports team, doing PR/marketing/promotions work aside from costuming. And while that’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the last ten years, I never got the office job due to budget cuts and life lately has been a financial nightmare. The hunt for better employment has been brutal, despite a college degree, years of experience and blah blah blah, you’ve heard all that crap before.
Anyway, my life for the past fourteen years has been spent in the stifling heat of various animal costumes working for teams, filling random suits for organizations, commercials and whatnot. The limited vision, limited ventilation, the stink of sweat and unwashed outfits and the agony of injuries, unrelenting stress and frantic leaping for anything that pays have been the norm for a very long time. And while most of the time I enjoy what I do (I certainly don’t hate mascoting, otherwise I’d not have continued doing it), it gets difficult sometimes when I know despite how many jobs I’m juggling and how many costumed gigs I’ve got lined up, it won’t pay enough for rent.
The video deals with the claustrophobic view of life and the crushing disapproval of family and coworkers until Paul finally snaps while clad in his pig costume (whilst on the set of a kids TV show, no less) and beats up the rooster (the star), and only then does the rooster give him a shred of approval.
I relate. Not that I am looking for family approval. But I often feel like I’m just a hawk/dog/fox/armadillo looking for something more, something better to finally put an end to the stress, desperation and dread of not being able to drum up enough cash or pushing myself too hard to make ends meet.
The video is also wonderfully ironic. Behind the permanently smiling face of the dancing pig is someone who isn’t smiling and is going through a deep personal crisis. While my world isn’t exactly crumbling apart over here, there are some days where the last things I want to do is entertain people while I’m clad in a stinky costume. I guess the same could be said by anyone having a job where they’re smack in the public’s eye, having to be friendly, polite and chipper despite perhaps having the worst day ever, feeling miserable or being berated by an irate customer (like my job at the bakery because it’s the literal end of the world if someone can’t get their bread sliced).
Foe me, my “Paul” is me trying to do as much as I can to earn cash for rent, food bills, gas, car repairs and falling short every time while I mascot everywhere and haul early shifts at the bakery and I’m constantly hunting for something that will get me better pay and hoping that perhaps, just maybe, one of the teams I work for will make room for that job I was promised before the budget got slashed.
The music itself fits the tone of this video incredibly well. This sort of noise infused pop track is jarring and engaging, like perhaps what might occur if you blended Nurse With Wound and the Arctic Monkeys together… this sort of harsh, intense, noisy poppy monstrosity that is so damn brilliant all the way through. I eagerly await the release of the 12”single (you can preorder it here).