This Biased Music Video Interpretation Blew Me Away!


Our creative writing-related word of the week is “bias” this time around. And for once, our free-for-all Monday and Wednesday blog posts fit in perfectly with our education-based Tuesday, Thursday and Friday articles.

Today’s starts out with a fascinating song I heard on the radio last week. The beat alone was intriguing enough to prompt me into looking it up, which is why I now know it’s called “Cringe” by Matt Maeson.

I also now know that the music video is just as intriguingly disconcerting as the beat itself.

The opening shot is of an abandoned and dried-up community pool out in the middle of some equally deserted and deteriorated site. And in the far corner of that once water-filled gathering ground, a mattress lies with a single, white, male body lying atop it.

Is he dead?

Viewers find out quickly enough that he isn’t. Just unconsciousness, bruised and bloodied.

Coming to, this misplaced hero is obviously bewildered and distraught. Yet he gets up anyway to start limping out of the pool and through a field of ruined structures. Sadly for him, he doesn’t get far before he comes across a band of three men he instantly recognizes as the ones who beat him up.

Apparently, our hero was trying to stand up to injustice and got punished for it. And now he’s forced into Round 2.

How the fight ends exactly is uncertain. Viewers only know that he survives to limp away again. This time, it’s into a church, where he watches an adolescent boy put money into the tithe plate and a 20-something proceed to steal it.

Next thing we know, a black-suited clergy member is coming over to put his hand on the hero’s shoulder, a kindly move that doesn’t go over well. For whatever reason, our protagonist freaks out and starts throwing punches. Also for whatever reason, he’s then ganged up again by another band of three men, the clergy member included.

Watching this artistic enactment got me seriously wondering what the intended message was. Was it entirely anti-God?

I didn’t think it was that simple, though there was definitely a potential element of anti-church to it. As I watched it repeatedly, analyzing every angle I could, I started formulating the conclusion that it was a larger message of abandonment… an artistic arrangement to capture the feeling of having nowhere left to turn.

The hero is all alone and incapable of handling the situation he finds himself in. Moreover, it might be a problem of his own making, or at least one he’s encouraged, judging by the music video’s last frame.

Still fascinated, I showed it to my older sister, who’s a logical, rational normal person, not a creative writer despite her many creative talents. An elementary school music teacher and my unbelievably sharp novel editor, she willingly watched the whole thing, saying nothing until that scene in the church.

The hero is sitting there, distraught at the blatant act of theft he just witnessed yet unsure about what to do. Then the clergyman comes over to rest his hand on the hero’s shoulder, prompting the unpredictable punch.

That’s when, in the driest, most factual tone of voice possible, my sister said, “Well, he clearly has spatial issues.”

The interpretation blew me away!

She had summed it up so succinctly on the first run-through, while I was on my sixth or seventh round by then, still sans a firm conclusion. Her normal-person biases went right for an obvious interpretation versus my creative-writer biases, which were busy reading into every scene possible for a deeper meaning.

So which one of our biased interpretations is right?

In all honesty, I’m genuinely not sure if there is a correct answer to be found here without asking the people who created the music video. But it is an interesting show of how differently two people who were raised by the same parents with the same values can watch the same exact chain of events and come up with such varying interpretations.

I suppose it’s also a show of how much richer our lives can be when we compare our biases, even over something as trivial as a music video.

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