On the path from teenager to adult, many pop stars and celebrities go through a rebellious phase, embracing shocking and provocative imagery and exhibiting crass, self-indulgent behavior that symbolizes them breaking the bonds of youth and mainstream society – or something like that. Other performers take a little longer to lash out and provoke controversy.
In her new video for "Rock N Roll," Avril Lavigne, 28, has recruited actress Danica McKellar, 38, best known for her role as innocent Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years," which ran from 1988 to 1993.
McKellar isn't so innocent in "Rock N Roll." She's part of Avril's bad girl heroine squad and even shares a kiss with the "Sk8er Boi" singer.
After Lavigne and McKellar's characters survive a car crash, McKellar leans over, softly places her hands on Lavigne's cheeks and says, "It’s going to be okay." Then, in a move that makes Madonna's 2003 MTV Video Music Awards kiss with Britney Spears look like Michael Jackson's wedding smooch with Lisa Marie Presley, Lavigne puts both of her own hands on McKellar’s and the two share a passionate lip-lock. The scene is accompanied by a voiceover reminiscent of Kevin Arnold’s dialogues from "The Wonder Years."
"It was the first kiss for both of us," Lavigne says. "We never really talked about it afterward, but I think about the events of that day again and again and somehow I know Winnie does, too," referring to McKellar's character with the same name as her "Wonder Years" role.
It's a wild leap for McKellar, who also uses some language and engages in some activity that may seem surprising for those who have followed her successful, but relatively controversy-free career.
But the actress makes light of her role in a Twitter post. "Never had so many people say they are jealous of me! All I can say is 'I kissed a girl and I liked it' :)"
Never had so many people say they're jealous of me! All I can say is... ♫ "I kissed a girl and I liked it..." ;) #RockNRoll
— Danica McKellar (@danicamckellar) August 20, 2013
But there's even more excitement in the video as director Chris Marrs Piliero has pulled all the stops to create a surreal, irreverent clip that opens as an actual commercial for a Sony Xpiria cell phone.
Lavigne, who starts the ad strumming away on a black acoustic guitar and wearing black raccoon eye makeup, puts down the instrument to answer her phone and field questions from someone asking about the lyrics to her 2002 breakout hit "Sk8er Boi."
"Okay, well how much more obvious can I make it," Lavigne says, then continues, "He was a boy, she was a girl. Mmmm-hmmm. Okay, well I'm sorry, but if you don't get it by now I’m going to have to save goodbye, sir."
Thirty-five seconds later, what began as a weird commercial blasts into overdrive, unspooling into an action-packed profanity-laden, surprise-filled spoof of pop culture that blends live-action with comic book imagery to tell the story of a villain out to kill rock and roll and Lavigne and McKellar's determination to stop him.
It's an example of Lavigne's edgier approach to music as of late.
The scene sure to ignite both outcry and adoration features Lavigne and McKellar chasing the antagonist in a car being driven by a dog. The vehicle accelerates to keep up with the bad guy's motorcycle, and then crashes into a tree, killing the driver.
At that point, the music stops and a bizarre acting segment begins. "I told you we shouldn’t have let him drive!" says McKellar, dressed like part gypsy, part superhero sidekick. "He said he didn’t have that much to drink," replies Lavigne, decked out in full battle gear with helmet and goggles.
A couple lines later, McKellar pulls the first zinger, tenderly saying, "No one could lick his own balls quite like he could." After Lavigne and McKellar share their kiss, Lavigne prepares for revenge. Lavigne buries her beloved dog in a coffin, then inserts a key into a gear-shaped handle on the lid. She turns it, the lid slides open and out pops a metal-plated guitar that resembles a Flying V, but features a power saw blade sticking out of one side of the body.
Clearly, it's ass-kicking time. Following a quick scene, in which Lavigne plays her killer guitar in front of a church, she confronts the mask-wearing villain, who rips off his jacket, revealing that he's actually a hybrid of a bear and a shark. Lavigne teased this scene in a message on Twitter. "It's almost time to kick some BearShark ass! Just one more hour until the premiere of #RockNRoll!!" she wrote.
The showdown kicks off with Lavigne screaming, "Motherf***ing bearshark!" and the creature replies, "Motherf***ing Avril Lavigne!" In the climax, the two charge one another, and the bearshark swipes Lavigne with a clawed paw, knocking her and her instrument across the desert sand. Annoyed, she revs up her guitar again and swings at the monster, severing its shark head from its bear body. Then, for no particular reason, Billy Zane shoots up into the sky riding a Segway.
In other scenes, Lavigne battles a knife-brandishing lobster, flips off the camera with both middle fingers and throws a double heavy metal devils horns into the air. It's a wild, exhilarating and rebelious ride, but then again, what is rock and roll about if not sheer, mindless defiance?
"Rock and Roll" was co-written by Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, who Lavigne married July 1 in Madelieu, France. The song will be featured on Lavigne's new self-titled album, which comes out September 24.