In this series, writers share their favorite music videos.
Pelle at 2:38
“Hate To Say I Told You So” by The Hives came out the same year I stopped parking myself in front of the TV to flip endlessly between Vh1 and MTV and MuchMusic for music videos, and started parking myself in front of the internet to do pretty much the same thing. With the internet, though, I could obsessively watch my favorite videos over and over.
Many times, I tried to pause “Hate To Say I Told You So” at 2:38, but because YouTube wasn’t a thing yet and whatever sad music video platform I was using didn’t have great pausing capability, stopping at 2:38 was very difficult, and the few times I was able to do it I saw nothing more than a blurry smear of face. There was something about Pelle’s scream, which comes right after his bratty mid-song speech about rejecting authority and which climaxes at 2:38, that made me hornier and more fundamentally desperate than I even knew was possible.
If you told me at that time that I could be anyone in the world, I would have said Pelle, because this was also the year that I began conflating sexual desire with wanting to leave my own body and crawl into someone else’s skin with them. It didn’t even occur to me to desire to be the type of woman that Pelle might be attracted to. I made jokes about being a gay man trapped in a girl’s body, but I knew that wasn’t quite right. Despite my horniness, I didn’t feel particularly sexual. My horniness didn’t equate to wanting to have sex, gay or straight, with Pelle or anyone else. More than sex, I wanted to become that which I lusted for. I wanted to leave the trappings of my physicality and personality for something else, something better, something… I mean, I don’t know… maybe something sweaty and Swedish, who would stomp around like a hyperactive child, and who could scream like the exact guttural translation of the lust my body felt for the very object doing the screaming.
Despite exhaustive attempts to stop the video at just the right moment, 2:38 only ever yielded a fuzzy, unsatisfying image that didn’t match my feelings for what it should be. Pelle was always clouded over by some kind of beautiful but annoying lighting effect, the edge of his profile vanishing into the background.
Maybe this was an important metaphor for my wildly incorrect projections about what romantic relationships would be like, or what my place within them would entail. Or maybe I knew, somehow, that 2:38, and all that it represented, was forever unattainable, and that the act of trying to catch that feeling was symbolic of the sexual desire itself, as good or better than any end result.
–Chelsea Martin is the author of Everything Was Fine Until Whatever (Future Tense, 2009), The Really Funny Thing About Apathy (Sunnyoutside, 2010), and Even Though I Don’t Miss You (Short Flight/Long Drive, 2013). She lives in Michigan.