TobyMac has long branded himself as CCM's voice of racial reconciliation and inclusion. The creative visual interpretations in best of his music video oeuvre, collected on Moving Pictures, bolster that impression.
No matter how many people of different levels of melanin share the concert stage or studio set with him, however, let's hope his metal fixation is over for good. It has either led to unclear metaphor, as in "The Slam" (a concert-based clip prefaced with a curious remark about how the song was inspired by Mac's viewing of The Passion of the Christ ) or science fiction strangeness, as the Terminator biomechanics for "Extreme Days." The latter was recorded as the theme song for the Christian movie infamous for its scene of male bonding over fart lighting. Thankfully, no scenes from that questionable use of celluloid are excerpted in the vid' accompanying Mac's contribution to its soundtrack.
In the beefy machismo of the the rockier songs' treatments, a common dilemma of Christian pop becomes apparent:how much emphasis to put on the singer-or rapper, as is Mac's wont roughly half the time here-and how much to put on the Subject of the songs? And how to visually translate that subject? "Tonight" balances out the equation, in a way, by giving a glimpse of life on the tour trail and meeting with fans,. Another innovative way around that aforementioned conundrum comes in "Lose My Soul," where Mac portrays a pawn shop clerk who sees others trade in earthly treasures to illustrate the song's biblical principle of storing up heavenly goodies. The stunning finale with a gang banger trading in a tool of his trade is enough to make one forget how the analogy breaks down; pawn shops have to make money, too, yes?
Elsewhere, he employs a fish eye camera lens to capture bandmates, friends and, seemingly, staff in the hotel where they all were staying one night, for the simple treatment of "Feelin' So Fly.â€? It contrasts well with the plot-based shoots for "Gone" (fun use of split-screen and other tricks) and "Irene" (a little odd that Mac looks a bit chummy with the song's babydaddy, but still narratively effective). Both display a wide variety of different, as Mac sang about with DC Talk, colored people, and especially gals.
Winners of a search for aspiring indie film makers to interpret a couple of songs from Mac's latest album yield odd results. "City On Our Knees" sports some beautiful mixed media animation, but strains at actually translating the song's meaning. The super-soaker fight between a gang of kids wearing bandanas over their faces and another group donning Mexican wrestler masks makes for compelling imagery to accompany "Showstopper," even as it tips the tune's context on its side.
One might wish, as I have, that Mac would better demonstrate his vision of a Diverse City by not only having folks of different pigmentational richness in his group, but by also hitting the road with more acts outside the Euro'merican contempo' Christian mainstream. He's a popular enough draw to sell the tickets, even if the venue size might shrink a mite. Even so, when he's singing or rapping something especially heartfelt, especially when it has a narrative element, Mac's apt to make a rewatchable vid' out of it. Reason enough for those who would to buy Moving Pictures, that.
Jamie Lee Rake