Don’t Turn Your Lights On!

MIRANDA and SUSAN chat over Greek yogurt.

MIRANDA: I LOVE doing my homework for Intermediate French II.

SUSAN: Really? Why?

MIRANDA: Because I can watch my professor on YouTube while conjugating reflexive verbs!

MIRANDA flips open her laptop and shows SUSAN the following music video featuring David Macklovitch, one half of the pop duo Chromeo:

That’s right, this is an entirely plausible scenario. Macklovitch is earning his PhD in French Literature at Columbia University, where he also teaches French language classes – namely Intermediate French II!

On September 14, 2010, barely a week into the fall semester, Chromeo released their third studio album entitled Business Casual, featuring “Don’t Turn the Lights On.”

A catchy dance track, the “Don’t Turn the Lights On,” video also raises compelling themes – the all observant intellectual – the invisible man – the obsessed lover – the watchful, elusive creature of darkness…. all relevant material for the halloweeny, pre-dawn musings of a graduate student turned pop star.

But the lyrics follow a different, more ambiguous narrative, which could easily be misinterpreted by an innocent student of Intermediate French II –

For example…

There must be another way (To learn French! I know. Will you be my private tutor?)
When she’s gone to a better place
(Your girlfriend died? Well, I’m only dating a SEAS boy, and they have no feelings. The only language he speaks is HTML.)

or maybe…

When I watched you do it [all night] (French homework?)
I’m thinking back to what we’d shared (We watched Madame Bovary together!)
In many ways I’m already there (Milbank Hall? I thought class started at 10:35?)
When I watched you do it (Make horrible mistakes all over that first test. I was soooo distracted.)

The lyrics and video have conflicting messages, but they are both full of metaphor and innuendo. Let’s hope his undergrads don’t over analyze their teacher’s meaning! If the video communicates anything explicitly – it’s that David Mackovitch has wandering eyes. Watch out Barnard girls! Don’t turn your lights on!

Rosie duPont BC ’10
ArtsLink Associate

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