Album art for Bjork's debut album, aptly titled Debut.

I Doubt Your Christmas Was as Cool as Björk’s in 1988

Merry Christmas, queen.

How was your Christmas, babe? Did you rest? Eat well? Get zooted? I’m so happy to hear it, genuinely, I am. We all deserved a restful holiday season after such a long year. Unfortunately, I’ve got some bad news…

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Björk had a cooler Christmas. And this was back in 1988, so you never even had a chance.

Before I explain why, I need to be very, very clear about something: I absolutely hate televisions. I hate them, I think they’re the droning banes of any household and it’s entirely because of personal baggages I have surrounding various people I’ve lived with. When I’m really, really pissed off, and I walk into a room with a television, I have to fight the impulse to beat that thing with a bat, à la Office Space‘s infamous printer scene.

So the fact that Björk, in under five minutes, has managed to charm me into seeing televisions in a different light, is nothing short of a (Christmas) miracle.

Behold, the infamous “Björk Explains TV” video:

(From the Sugarcubes: Live Zabor film, uploaded by user igorbuenocorrea)

I only just got into my Björk era this past year, so I never the knew the context of this video; I’d seen the quote, “You shouldn’t let poets lie to you,” get passed around, but I liked the quote so much, I never thought to look into its origins. The origins, as it would turn out, far surpass any expectations I could ever have.

Apparently, an Icelandic poet once told young Björk that televisions effectively hypnotize people by sedating them with lightwaves and then sending them direct messages about this or that. A fairly common superstition back in the day! But then, Björk read a Danish book that educated her on the realities of television, and she became convinced that it’s really quite something.

She made this video because it was the holidays, and while she says Icelandic people love Christmas, she often found herself watching a lot of TV during that time of year. So to dissuade fellow skeptics, she took apart her TV and explained all of its little contraptions, comparing them to “a little model of a city.” All of this was done with her typical poetic way of speaking, and her soft, relaxing voice.

And then, of course, she ends the video on the most unintentionally metal line possible: “You shouldn’t let poets lie to you.” This wasn’t even a formal interview, it was for a road doc for her former band, The Sugarcubes. The fact that it’s blown up this much speaks volumes about her natural charisma, and how gravitating she is as an artist.

Can’t get any cooler than that. Happy Holidays readers, enjoy your filthy, beautiful televisions.

(Featured Image: Elektra Records)

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Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).