Sunday, January 06, 2019

Weekend Diversion: Videos I don't love

My Weekend Diversion posts about music have (mostly) been about sharing music that I run across and that struck a chord with me. This post is about that, though somewhat different. This post is about two videos I cannot watch.

The video above isn’t a new song, but one from 2014. It’s Irish musician Hozier’s big hit, “Take Me to Church”, and I love that song—but I can’t watch the video. The song is a metaphor, with Hozier comparing his lover to religion. He was frustrated with and critical of the Catholic church’s influence over his country, particularly in areas of love and sexuality.

The music video is best summed up in the Wikipedia entry on the song:
The concept for the "Take Me to Church" music video was the result of a collaboration between Hozier, Brendan Canty and his writing partner Emmet O'Brien. It was directed by Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson of Feel Good Lost and was released on 25 September 2013. The video, shot in grayscale on location at Inniscarra Dam in Cork, Ireland, follows a same-sex relationship in Russia and the violently homophobic backlash that ensues when the community learns of one of the men's sexuality. The video had a budget of 500 Euros. The song went viral following its release. "I remember someone texting me to say it was getting 10,000 views an hour", he recalled. The song achieved 230,000 YouTube views within two weeks.

Hozier stated, "The song was always about humanity at its most natural, and how that is undermined ceaselessly by religious organizations and those who would have us believe they act in its interests. What has been seen growing in Russia is no less than nightmarish. I proposed bringing these themes into the story and Brendan liked the idea." [For sources, see the original]
The reason I can’t watch it is because it’s too damn real. We all know that Russian fascists kill gay people all the time, and that violence against them is epidemic, inspired, fuelled and encouraged personally by the Russian dictator. But that sort of thing can happen in any country, including the USA, and I can feel the crime, the pain and the loss it causes and the love—and because of that I cannot watch the video at all. Ever. When it comes on our music video channel, I always look away and just listen, because I do love the song.

For the record, the song was Number 2 in Australia (6x Platinum), Canada (8x Platinum), New Zealand (3x Platinum), the UK (3x Platinum), and on the Billboard Hot 100 (6x Platinum). As I prepared this post, the video has had 250,395,746 views on YouTube.

Next is a video that’s very different, but I still can’t watch it:

The song is “Happier” by Marshmello, an American electronic music producer and DJ, and featuring British band, Bastille. The song is basically about when one person in a love affair says it’s over before one of the two wants to admit it.

I think the song is okay, as such songs go, and kind of summery popness. But the video is quite different (and neither Marshmello nor Bastille appear in it). It tells a story about a different sort of love, its transformative power, and of loss. There’s one scene in the video I simply can’t handle, very much so, in fact, even though I know it’s coming. It’s because—spoiler alert—I’ve loved and lost so many wonderful dogs in my life, and know I will again, so the pain is real and personal for me. So, I always look away when the video, or that scene, are on.

For the record, the song was Number 3 in Australia (2x Platinum), 2 in Canada (3x Platinum), 3 in New Zealand (Platinum), 2 in the UK (Gold), and 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (Platinum). As I prepared this post, the video has had 128,710,827 views on YouTube.

What’s interesting to me is that at the moment these are the only two videos that affect me this way. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and am more easily affected (heck, TV commercials can make me weepy under the right circumstances), or if these videos are unusual in being able to affect me so intensely. Certainly there are other videos or songs I really like that can make me feel something or other, but only these two videos (at the moment) trigger such intense reactions.

I was having second thoughts about publishing this post. In fact, I’d decided against it (because I’d already published two posts today). But as I got ready to iron some shirts a little while ago, the music video channel I had on in the background played “Happier”, and I decided to go ahead and publish this. As I finished the post, "Take Me to Church" came on. I didn’t watch either video. Still, the coincidence was interesting. Were they demanding to be shared? (Answer: No. Tonight the music channel also played several other songs I’ve already shared. Coincidence is just coincidence).

In any case, this is a different way to begin Weekend Diversion posts for 2019. I kind of like that.

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