Not too long ago, a video arrived in my inbox. It's above, for "Time to Be Clear, " from Bonnie "Prince" Billy's 2011 album Wolfroy Goes to Town. You should watch, particularly if you like to have your whole paradigm shifted by unending, overwhelming sadness. See, it's about some bunnies, but really it's about considerably more substantial things.
The first time I watched it, I assumed I hated it. But then the next day I watched it again and again and again. For a very brief period of time, it became all that I could think about. It made me think about my grandmother, who passed several years ago because cancer ate her alive. It made me think about my sons, currently pictures of health and vigor, and the Rockets, and turnips -- it made me think about everything. And I think that might be the point of every creative endeavor ever. So it's great, then.
When I showed it to my wife, the very first thing she said when it was over was, "Why would you do that to me?"
All of that is why we reached over to the video's creators, writer/editor/world-beater Mike Ayers and ace illustrator Dustin Glick, to ask them a few questions about. [Ayers is now an editor at MTVHive and a former music writer for the Village Voice -- ed.] Fwd.
Rocks Off: The most pressing question: Why? Why dying bunnies? Why? WHY, YOU ROTTEN Bs, WHY?
Dustin Glick: Well, let's just say that if he called himself Beebra Prince Billy, the main character would have been a zebra.
HP: How'd this project come to be?
Mike Ayers: Last last year, I told Dustin that we should do a music video together. He didn't exactly say yes, but didn't say no either. I took that as a small victory. I asked Drag City if Will needed any new videos, and showed them this that Dustin did -- an illustrated guide to Tyler, the Creator's "Tron Cat," and they loved the aesthetic.
Will told us to pick a song, so I picked "Time to Be Clear," as the story sort of came to me -- it's a very sad song, about loss and possibly deviant acts in getting to the point of loss.
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I pitched the full story of a rabbit named Bunnie 'Prince' Billy and his deal with death -- I think I wrote it one night after visualizing it over a few days -- to Will [Oldham, a.k.a. Billy] and Drag City, and a few days later, the label e-mailed us a scan of a handwritten note.
On the top of the note, there was a logo -- "Rabbit Supper Club," with a rabbit as the logo. The note said, "tell the boys its a go -- BPB," or something to that effect. At the bottom of the note, there was a typed-out "From the desk of Bunnie Prince Billy."
RO: At the beginning of the video, the main bunny hands something to the black wolf demons (I'm assuming they're black wolf demons). What is it that he hands him?
DG: I think that's one of the most interesting parts of the video. You really don't know. It's sort of like that Pulp Fiction moment, when they open up the briefcase, and you see that glow, but you never find out what it is.
And people have debated the hell out of that. In this case, you can really interpret this story in so many different ways. Was Bunnie paying off the wolves? If so, why? Did he owe them? Were they his accomplices? Why do they kill him at the end?
I think it's more fun letting people try to figure out what it means to them -- and I know that can be a really shitty, frustrating answer, but finally being on the other side of it, I get why many artists like to leave certain things to the audience.
RO: Is bunny cancer something we should all be more aware of?
DG: A friend of mine dropped $5,000 on her bunny when it got sick. I'm pretty sure it was cancer. And, you know, it was a cute bunny and all, but... man, you could buy a bunny farm for that much money.
RO: Is this rooted in any sort of truth?
DG: Any resemblance to real bunnies, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
RO: The video has 16,254 views on YouTube. How many suicides would you guess came immediately after?
RO: I watched this video with my sons (five-year-olds). They had some questions also.
DG: Oh, man, I may have to call social services on you for that.
RO: "Why is he sad?" (This came at the very beginning of the video, when he was watching that first bunny -- his dad?-- in the hospital bed.)
DG: People are usually sad when other people die. Unless that other person is bad, like Hitler. Sometimes people are secretly happy when other people die, but usually only Republicans.
RO: "Is that his dad? Is he dead? Are you going to die?" (Thanks for that, by the way.)
DG: That's his wife. Jeez, kid. Let's see you draw a dying female bunny. And yes, your dad is going to die and so am I, unless they come up with some pretty awesome technology in the next 50 years and turn us into robots.
RO: "It's too funny. Why is that koala wearing sunglasses." (From the wedding scene.)
DG: That's a Kanye Koala. They're known for eating shoots and leaves, interrupting people and having enormous egos.
RO: "Why did he slam his face on the table." (While he was drinking at the bunny bar.)
DG: He drank too much grown-up juice. You know how kid juice makes you have a lot of energy? Grown-up juice does the opposite.
RO: "Is that [the gang of black wolf demons] what his dad got ate by?"
RO: "DID HE BITE HER?!" (Black wolf demons vs. bunny in bed.)
DG: Big time.
RO: "GO BACK DOWN!" (Not a question, but a good sense of how he was feeling watching girl bunny float to the heavens.)
DG: That's deep, kid. Sometimes that happens in movies when they pull out the shocker things and yell CLEAR, but usually not in real life.
RO: "WHY WON'T SHE EVER GO BACK DOWN!?" (I mean, c'mon.)
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DG: Because they're married.