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The Hanson boys and Spice Girls on home video

Spice Girls outshine Hanson in delicious pop imagery

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Hanson

The Hanson boys and Spice Girls on home video

Although Hanson — that Fraternal trio of Aryan boy waif — possess a genuine talent for songcraft, and the Spice Girls couldn’t sing their way out of a latex dress, when it comes to concocting delicious pop imagery, Ginger (Geri), Baby (Emma), Scary (Mel B), Sporty (Mel C), and Posh (Victoria) have the upper hand. The Hanson boys may be videogenic, but the Spice Girls — cheeky, cheesy, charmingly assaultive — are music video itself.

Exhibit A is Hanson’s Tulsa, Tokyo and the Middle of Nowhere, an 80-minute compilation of music clips, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage that shows how the pretty smiles turn into cocky smirks, the frantic capering into annoying pleas for attention whenever Isaac, Taylor, and Zac exit the stage. Stars who trade on their cuteness can’t afford to get bratty, and fans who want to keep their illusions intact should stick to reading Teen Beat.

The Spice Girls, however, emerge from Spice Girls: One Hour of Girl Power! with their image still perfectly polished — a trick they manage by erasing the line between stage persona and actual person. Their shtick is their selves — sassy, brassy ingenues — and they only ask that we take them at face value. Watch Ginger (formerly Sexy) mouth off at hecklers. Watch Baby’s eyes widen as she boards a private jet. Watch the pillow fight. Call me a sucker, but I can’t get enough.

That same sass steers the band clear of the ghastly self-aggrandizement that pervades rockumentaries. (Consider U2’s deification in Rattle and Hum, Mick Jagger’s diabolification in Sympathy for the Devil.) Where Hanson offer earnest peewee musings, the Spice Girls sail straight into self-mockery. While a ”film diary” plays on one half of the screen, on the other we see them crowded onto couches, giggling and jeering at their home movies. And in the best of the tape’s five music clips, ”Who Do You Think You Are,” the Spices — attired, as usual, like cartoon call girls — are shadowed by dumpy doppelgangers who mimic every jiggling step. Spice works because the girls treat pop stardom like a farcical, full-time slumber party. As long as you can remember that your cynicism is no less crass than their marketing, you’re welcome to come on over.

Hanson: D; Spice Girls: B+

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