You better be ready to get confused

The single “Human Behavior” off the album “Debut” (1992) by Icelandic pop star Bjork, is a favorite among anthropologists of my generation who, like myself, came of age in the ’90s. Many of her most memorable music videos, including this one, were done by Michel Gondry known for his aggressively weird imagery and camera techniques.

When I was in college I helped to run the campus electronic music studio and my music professor, Rob Constable, had seen Bjork onstage with the Sugar Cubes when he was studying in Koln, Germany back in the ’80s. He confided in me, “I couldn’t decide if she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, or if maybe she was missing a chromosome or something.”

“There’s definitely, definitely no logic to human behavior” she sings. It’s a claim that still provokes and excites because humans are mysterious creatures. All of us have experienced the sensation of not fitting in, of being a stranger. Perhaps why this music resonated with me so strongly when I was an adolescent.

In a sense anthropologists intentionally seek out this unbelonging and reflect upon it. We want to get close to a human. This is, indeed, very confusing! We make observations in the world things happen to us and wonder, “What’s the devil is going on here?” Human behavior. Its irresistible!


About Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is a project cataloger at The Mariners' Museum library. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and was formerly a professor at ODU. You can find him on Twitter @m4ttTh0mps0n.
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One Response to You better be ready to get confused

  1. Aside from her sophisticated and weird pop music, Bjork is probably best remembered in the U.S. for wearing a swan to the 2001 Oscars ceremony.

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