“Brown Rice” is the latest music video from Natti Vogel’s debut EP, Serving Body. The visual highlights the desperation and alienation queer people face due to growing up in heteronormative society, but through the lens of one specific individual (Matt Wilkas, actor and bf to Olympian Gus Kenworthy).
He’s handsome, fit, Instagram famous, and a name in the local gay scene, and yet he’s completely empty inside- trading his image for money and body for drugs to cope. Directed by Eamon Foley, produced by Greg Stevens, starring Matt Wilkas and also featuring adult actor Tegan Zayne.
The video brings mental health, sexual health, toxic masculinity, and critique of vain social media culture to the forefront of the national conversation. In juxtaposition with Wilkas and Kenworthy’s historic Olympic kiss, “Brown Rice” breaks down the myth of an equal society and illuminates the issues still plaguing modern gay culture. Issues largely caused by forced assimilation to heteronormative society, and further exacerbated by Instagram society’s pressure to adhere to certain beauty standards. Heterosexual people aren’t fully immune to these damaging trends and need for validation either. This is the truth of a society wanting to prove we’re having the time of our lives, but struggling with more mental health issues than generations before us. What goes on behind the scenes with those beautiful people who seem to have it all, exalted for #relationshipgoals and #blessed lifestyles?
Many queer men may feel an innate connection with the main character, or they may feel it furthers a dangerous stereotype about our community. For liberals, this film may resonate as a call for more accessible mental health care for all people, yet ultra-conservatives may use it as evidence that the LGBT community are an abomination who don’t deserve basic rights. Regardless, “Brown Rice” is a firecracker for a discussion that people need to be having.
Natti Vogel says, “If you feel triggered watching this, good: we cannot heal without a trigger. I love us enough to believe that we deserve that healing, that we deserve love of a greater magnitude.”
NYC art pop composer Natti Vogel is known for his politically subversive, theatrical performances, mixed with a deft mastery of the traditional pop formula. His talent has led him to tour 18 provinces of China, headline and sell out venues including 54 Below, le Poisson Rouge, and National Sawdust, and attract heavyweight press stories from OUT, Billboard, Huffington Post, MTV and more.