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Kanye West’s Short Film: Work Of Art Or Cry For Help?

Submitted by on October 31, 2009 – 1:23 am9 Comments


Kanye West and Spike Jonze

Kanye West begins the song “See You In My Nightmares” – arguably the eeriest and most edgy track from his 2008 album, 808s and Heartbreak - with two words: “I’m cold.” After watching the mini-movie which started out as the music video to this track, it seems that he should have said “I’m cold, sick, dark, and twisted.” This film, a little over 11 minutes long, was directed by Spike Jonze (director of Where The Wild Things Are) and features unforgettably gut-wrenching imagery. No, seriously. It is literally gut-wrenching, and you’ll see what I mean soon. Check it out after the jump.

First of all, I do not believe that this video had anything to do with seeking sympathy for the Taylor Swift acceptance speech interruption. The simple fact is that production on this video had begun long before Taylorgate (or Swiftgate?).

Okay, so there’s one thing that is quite obvious about this film. Kanye needs to stop drinking!

Besides that, any true artist’s work is up for interpretation and can have many different meanings to many different people. My interpretation is as follows.

Kanye’s ego and pride have gotten so big (a la Beyonce – the song, not her personality) that he is distant from everyone and is therefore misunderstood as well. He hears his song in the club, but can’t really enjoy the moment because he cannot connect with people. For this reason, no one reaches out to him and tries to save him from himself or his drunken stupor. He’s surrounded by people who know who he is and are fans of what he does, but he is still empty and alone.

Things seem to look up for Mr. West when a woman approaches him and comforts him before the two get it on and he passes out. He wakes up with his pants down and she is nowhere to be found – sounds like a criticism of the two-faced people in the industry who seem to be in your corner, but really only want to use you in the end (I see the sex scene as a physical manifestation of getting “screwed” by someone you trust).

Kanye heads to the restroom to blow a few chunks. This symbolizes purging, or the cleansing that he needs due to his alcohol use. Once he has finished, he sees things clearly. Then comes the startling and dramatic conclusion. Kanye cuts his own torso with a knife, revealing a small rodent-like creature who has lived within his body. He cuts the creature loose and hands him a small knife that the rodent reluctantly uses to commit suicide.

I think the rodent symbolizes Kanye’s innocence (due to the meek and peaceful nature of the creature). The overall message, then, would be that Kanye has caused the destruction of his own innocence due to the fact that he has sought for so long to be accepted by people who only want to exploit him. The innocent, happy, and trusting Kanye has been replaced with a cold and heartless individual who trusts no one and ends up alone and disgusted/disappointed with himself.

It would seem that this is, to a certain degree, a cry for help from Mr. West. Between the status, prestige, liquor, admiration, and lack of trustworthy peers, Kanye has lost himself.

Another interpretation is that he needs to stand up and have the courage to be an independent leader who refuses to get caught up in vices. In order to do this, he must get over his “mousey” mentality and stand up to his own demons.

At any rate, this clip bears a striking resemblance to another one: Gnarls Barkley‘s “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?”

Knives to the abdomen are intense on any video or song, and certain suicidal nuances seem to be appearing more and more in our culture. It’s pretty vivid and amazing stuff that always begs the question: “What is the artist trying to say?”

What’s your interpretation of Kanye’s short film? Why do you think we are beginning to see more self-inflicted wounds in popular culture? Let us know in the comments section.

Main Image: Beatcrave

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