Sound And Vision: Kristoffer Borgli

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Sound And Vision: Kristoffer Borgli

In the article series Sound and Vision we take a look at music videos from notable directors. This week we look at Softcore Untd.'s promotional video Softcore, directed by Kristoffer Borgli.

Kristoffer Borgli is wary about advertising and self promotion. That is the main recurring theme throughout all his films thus far, including the documentary/fiction hybrid DRIB about the marketing for a new energy drink going haywire. The theme follows suit in his cult hit Sick of Myself, which is a dark scathing satire about self promotion in the age of the influencer. That the central premise of his most recent film,Dream Scenario in which the lead character (played by Nicolas Cage) finds himself the center of dreams of other people all over the world, eventually turns into an indictment of influencers and advertising culture is not much of a surprise.

The funny thing is that Borgli made an excellent music video that itself begs the question, metatextually, what even a music video is, by deconstructing the notion of advertising. After a more conventional music video for Todd Terje's Inspector Norse, Borgli really found an new and novel way to make a music video with Softcore, a music video for the music of the band Softcore Untd.

The central premise is that a mismatch between two people at a blind date gets increasingly worse, when the woman of the pairing starts hyping up the band Softcore Untd. It spirals from there into a very cringy, yet masterfull escalation of tension between the two characters. Part of the tension also comes from the delay of gratification that is part and center of the premise: hyping up Softcore Untd. without giving us the pleasure of any music for the longest time, makes this similar to a lot of counter cultural comedy where is all about the building of tension and the delay of the release.

It is significant that DRIB stars counter culture comedian Amir Asgharnejad, whose work is all about this delay. The confusion that is part and parcel for Asgharnejad, where lines between fact and fiction are blurred, and genres and medium are put in a blender, is something that Kristoffer Borgli does himself too.

With Softcore part of the confusion is that it is uncategorizable. It is a music video that focuses mostly on the video part, and not much on the music. That made me wonder: can you even call this a music video? What even IS a music video? If a music video is a promotional advert for the music of a band, Softcore succeeds, even if the music itself is barely present. Kristoffer Borgli might hate me for calling this short movie merely advertising though, given his trepidations of the medium.

If a music video is an art form, which I think it is, even if it doubles as a promotional tool, Softcore succeeds too. By making a short film out of the central premise of hyping up a band, and taking a metatextual cringe comedy approach to that same hyping up, Borgli made something that defies genre. He made a promotional film that isn't. He made a music video without much music. He made a short movie whose key to success is the fact that it is not really able to stand on its own as a short movie, but instead doubles as a promotional tool. It is a mind-bogglingly weird approach to the medium. It is by far my favorite thing Borgli has done.

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