Celebrities guest-starring in music videos are a dime a dozen; we get press releases every week to the tune of “Aubrey Plaza stars in Father John Misty video!” and we generally ignore them. (Okay, we wrote about that one.) But the below video, by unknown electronic-rock outfit Future User, features tennis superstar John McEnroe being waterboarded, supposedly for real. It’s not exactly a subtle piece of art: In the video for “Clockwork,” a compendium of ghastly real-life videos—most depicting police brutality and war—plays over a pretty crappy electro-metal ballad. Then, like an angry ghost from the ’80s, McEnroe appears, first in a tennis match against a hooded creep (is that Future User?), and later as the victim of a kidnapping. He’s then brutally waterboarded—his face covered with a towel while water is poured into his mouth and nose to simulate drowning. It is clear that this is uncomfortable for him, though the person doing the torturing seems to relish it.
What this all has to do with a tennis player famous for yelling at judges and throwing temper tantrums is anybody’s guess, though McEnroe was quoted thusly in the press release: “It’s a pretty powerful clip,” says McEnroe. “A friend involved with the project asked if I wanted to participate, saying he was making a video about living in a police state where people are punished for the smallest of infractions – sort of a ‘this could happen to you’ scenario. It seemed like a sci-fi concept at the time, but given everything that’s been happening around us lately, this video could easily be mistaken for an evening newscast. As for what it was like to shoot my scenes, let’s just say it was an experience I’ll never forget. I read about waterboarding and all the debates, and let me tell you from firsthand experience, it’s a brutal and terrifying form of torture. No one—American or otherwise—should ever have to endure that.” So now you know. If you didn’t believe Christopher Hitchens, now you’ve got a Wimbledon champ’s word for it, too: Waterboarding sucks.