Updated: Jul 11, 2022
So in case you didn't notice. This music video is in one take, and for the most part, it truly is. With only 2 hidden cuts. One of the main themes of this film is deception, since its a one-shot, many of the actors appear and disappear and seem to teleport across the room in just a split-second when the camera's not looking; this points to the way that abuse happens out of sight, or off camera, when nobody's looking.
Then there are the references to the different lifestyles people lead and the different forms of abuse. After seeing the artist for the first time, we see a girl laying in bed asphyxiating on her own vomit, most likely from drug overdose. This symbolizes the concept of excess, living an overly fast paced and vice ridden lifestyle, and obviously we witness the result of it.
The artist lays down and literally takes the place of the previous woman who overdosed, just after smoking, foreshadowing his fate before passing the joint to another woman, who sits up and smokes. Not only is this another reference to the concept of some form of abuse being passed on but she symbolizes a passive lifestyle with no conviction. This lifestyle means seeing multiple people, but never becoming emotionally invested in anything or anyone, since she is shown turning away from Kris. Eliminating any chance of finding something serious or meaningful, in many ways she is in direct contrast to the first girl who overdoses and lays down, this second girl sits up. While the first girl has light shining in her face and her background is dark, the second girl is backlit by the blinding light, and she herself goes dark. Using over exposure and under exposure as an allusion to the contrast between excessiveness and apathy.
The camera circles around the bed symbolizing the cycle of the domestic issues illustrated throughout. Substance and physical abuse has a way of coming around repeatedly and being passed on from generation to generation.
As the camera sweeps around the bed we see a young girl who appears to be dressed for a semi-casual date. She weeps perhaps because she's just been used or broken up with. She symbolizes purity, or someone seeking a long-term relationship, but only finds people looking for the opposite.
The camera continues to rotate around the bed and passes by the artist as he sings "I heard you've been dealing with jealousy' vaguely referencing what many of the characters are likely going though as well as himself. Since he is 'in the same boat' or literally on the same bed, he is likely a victim of abuse as well. I think at this point many people may assume he is the abuser of all these characters, setting up for a twist, but the sub text is consistent for this character who has never been shown to be the antagonist and has twice been subtly suggested to be another victim himself.
As we land at the foot of the bed, we see a woman bound in rope and duct tape who symbolizes being trapped in an abusive relationship. She's dressed for intimacy, referencing how she may be in a loveless relationship based solely on sex. Again, in contrast to the girl dressed modestly who finds herself alone because she probably refused that to her partner. A theme that's also repeated is the stark contrast in lighting, the modestly dressed girl finds herself shrouded in absolute darkness, having been left alone and miserable. While the rape victim is saturated with harsh light, since she has been exploited.
Each of these women are actually sitting on a bed somewhere, but its meant to be insights into different locations and scenarios. She's likely at home on the bed she shares with her abusive spouse, the girl overdosing is probably at a party and has escaped to the bedroom, the girl smoking with the artist may be at his house, the girl crying could be at her date's house and perhaps she's crying because after refusing to do something sexual she was scolded and shamed before being left there. But this is my own conjecture.
As the artist performs in the shadows away from the bed, we see a girl in the background holding a gun to her head. This visualizes the idea of loneliness, no relationship. The shot is very wide and she is surrounded by nothing but vast darkness. This is also clearly the result of prolonged and extreme unwanted loneliness.
The artist performs before a background made up of several instruments used for livestock pulling a carriage, including a yoke, which tethers two horses or oxen together to a cart that they pull. This actually wasn't written into the script but I think its a happy accident since this could serve as a continuing symbol for bondage, or having a great weight holding you back, especially in the duality of a relationship. I go off of the final result and not necessarily exactly what was intended and it would be fair to interpret this since it does envelope the backdrop of the frame for a significant portion of the video.
The camera then tilts down and all the way back up, inverted, pointed in the opposite direction with Kris now sitting on the bed. The camera positioned upside down symbolizes the discussion of abuse being flipped on its head, since the suggestion is that men can also be victims of abuse. And next thing you know, another woman enters the edge of the frame and fires a round from a handgun, striking Kris and killing him as he desperately tries to escape.
As the camera pushes in and tilts down looking over Kris, mirroring the opening shot and ending the way it began, further pushing the narrative of cycles and the repetitive nature of addictions and abuse.
I took a lot of reference from horror films, using unsettling and horrific imagery to allegorize serious domestic issues such as drug addiction, loneliness, sexual assault, domestic violence and murder. I saw Jordan Peele doing this with the concept of racism and thought it was brilliant so I ripped it off from him. I used the one-shot format and the single bed to conflate each of these individual concepts, since I didn't want to rank any one form of abuse over another and risk giving the impression of downplaying any one of them, since any one of these concepts can garner personal feelings of terror and dread. To eliminate any lingering ambiguity we included contact info to the Domestic violence, drug overdose and suicide prevention hotlines, while it takes away from the subtly I wanted to be absolutely sure no one would interpret a glorification of any of these issues.