Musings of an Adam Lambert Enthusiast


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"Better Than I Know Myself" Music Video - A Response to JuneauXena

I'm late with this, I know. The music video for Adam's new single "Better Than I Know Myself" has been out for almost a week now, and every blogger has written their review about the spectacular creation gracing our eyes and ears. Why didn't I write about it sooner? To be honest, I don't know. I suppose it boils down to the fact that the video moved me so much, literally to tears, and words were so insufficient to describe what it made me feel. By the time I felt like I could try, there were so many reviews flying around that I felt I couldn't add anything to the discussion.

I just finished reading Juneau's entry regarding the video. (If you haven't read it yet, click here to read her spectacular words.) Her words triggered something deep within me, a creative process backlogged too long by emotion. As I began writing a comment in response, I realized that my words would probably be too many for a small comment box.

So here are some of my takes and responses on what Juneau had to say about the video:

1. "Adam’s first three videos were eye candy more than brain candy, literal interpretations of the lyrics. And while the aesthetic pleasures of watching Adam cavort and wail are considerable, it’s his ability to engage my brain that underlies his peculiar appeal."

"For Your Entertainment" was, until now, my absolute favorite of all Adam's music videos. I have a huge passion for dark, predatory, sexy Adam (big surprise there). The "WWFM" and "IIHY" videos were very basic and literal and while I love them, there wasn't much to really think about. But to me, "FYE" was visually stunning. There were so many things to pick up on, little not-so-hidden messages and symbols and actions that underscored the song. Always, each time, our eyes were drawn back to Adam, letting him pull us into the world he created, the one he made for our enjoyment, for our pleasure, over which he's the master.

So when I heard Adam was reuniting with the director of FYE, I was thrilled. I immediately knew we were in for a treat. The little glimpses, the behind-the-scenes looks we got, were like tastes no where near enough to satisfy our cravings. We only saw one side of the video, and I was dying to see the other.

2. "We see on one side our golden hero, romantic, sipping tea while scribbling in his notebook, anxiously peering through the blinds as he awaits his love, meditating and breathing oxygen.... On the other we see stormy Adam, pacing like a caged wolf, hair disheveled and bristling, tossing vodka and furniture, setting fires. He crushes a pomegranate with his hands.... His eyes blaze furiously at “good Adam” on the other side of the mirror."

When the video began, I was truly surprised that it opened with Adam's dark side. We'd seen the light side in those little pre-video glimpses, Adam looking so young and clean and peaceful and happy. It's jarring to see Adam so differently, tormented and anguished, clawing for some kind of release that he simply can't find. Jarring, and saddening. Immediately my heart goes out to him, wanting to hug and console, but at the same time I fear him a little, his mania and violence deterring any kind of comfort that might be given to him. He goes between bouts of fury and misery, both connected and feeding into one another, but eliciting different reactions from those who observe the rapid cycles of emotions. Adding to the manic, disjointed feel of the scene is the filming itself. The edges are fuzzy, lines blurred and obscured, frames running over each other, fast then slow, flashing white and looking tired and old, like the film's been watched too many times for who knows how long. This inner agony has gone on far too long to measure, and the world he's living in is about to tear apart at the worn edges. He's near the breaking point.

It's sad to see Adam tearing himself apart like that. Light Adam seems to pity him as well, shaking his head and brows furrowing as he tries to understand just how someone could be so angry at everything. For the most part, however, he lets Dark Adam have his tantrum, and I get the impression that he's used to this. He seems used to the taunting, the heated glares thrown his way, and watching Dark Adam drink himself into raving madness. He occasionally reaches out to try to help or connect, but ultimately, he knows there isn't much he can do to help.

3. "I was unprepared for the shocking sight of golden Adam collapsing as the blaze set by his dark side sucked the oxygen out of the room. Excruciating. And though Adam, ever terrible at keeping surprises, had told us there would be a twist in the ending, I was still startled by the wonderful denouement. Entranced, and yes, moved."

This part of the video shocked me as well. In an act clearly driven by a need for release, Dark Adam sets fire to his world. He takes a dark, twisted pleasure in seeing the flames rise, while Light Adam presses himself against the glass, trying in vain to bring him to his senses. The dark side simply turns away, and Light Adam realizes that there's nothing he can do to prevent himself from suffocating. He watches helplessly as the oxygen meter hits a critical low, and collapses in defeat.

Meanwhile, Dark Adam stares into the mirror, makeup running down his face from dragging his fingers from his eyes down, and he seems to have some kind of revelation. It suddenly hits him just how far he's gone, just what he's done and exactly how high the price will be. Turning back, he kicks in the glass separating the two worlds, then reaches out for Light Adam, finally taking the connection he's been shunning for too long.

To our relief, it's not too late. The final moments of the video reveal a healthy, well balanced Adam, his eyes showing that there's an equalizing that has occured within him. The dark is still there, but so is the light. It makes him who he is.

4. "As Adam remarked in his interview with SugarScope, the dark and the light need each other. “It’s made me who I am.” Without the two, we are not complete. What is more, “dark” and “light” are not so clearly differentiated. Both are comprised of swirling shades of gray. We humans are engaged in a timeless battle between the quest for authenticity and an equally human addiction to simplification and division. It’s so much easier to split the world into good vs evil, heroes vs demons. Therein lies our downfall, whether we apply this false dichotomy onto how we see ourselves or how we see others. When I see Adam described as “perfect”, I cringe. Perfect is the opposite of human. Perfect leaves no room for complexity, for truth, for evolution, for the self-discovery and growth that should consume us for as long as we have breath in our bodies."

To think that Adam feels he has such a polarizing inner war with himself is unnerving. We've come to think of him as being consistently in control of himself, knowing the right words to say and exactly how to say them at all times. We tend to forget that he is human, that he makes mistakes and loses his temper, that he's not so perfect. Really though, he's only showing what each and every one of us has occuring within ourselves. It's a chess game, light versus dark, a nice touch in the video. Dark Adam has chess pieces in his room, showing that it's a constant high stakes game, and we all can certainly relate to that. Who of us hasn't felt the pull into darkness, some of us falling deeper into it than we want to admit, feeling it clawing at the edges of our mind and threatening that with one wrong move, we're caught in a Checkmate and sanity will be driven from our minds forever?

There are times when we feel like the dark side has won. In the video, Adam shows how at times, the dark side becomes so strong, so desperate and so reckless, that for a terrifying moment it completely takes over, drowning out any good we might have within ourselves. There are times when we throw up our hands in defeat. We decide to give in to the darkness, decide to let it run its course and destroy us. It's too much effort to care anymore. But something, some little spark, whether internal or external, realizes that to give in is wrong. That spark gives us the strength to fight back and claw our way out of the darkness.

I did consider the allusions to mental illnesses in this video, disorders like bipolar and depression, based on my own experiences and those of people I know and love. While this was probably not Adam's intention, I'm sure he would appreciate the interpretation. There are so many times when people who suffer from such debilitating illnesses feel like giving up on themselves, feel like they have no way out of the mess they believe themselves to be in. For them, there are too many times when the darkness feels like it's going to win. For them, the battle is a whole lot harder and a whole lot scarier. In a way, this video probably hits a lot closer to home and is frightening in its implications. But for them, success is certainly possible. As I mentioned, sometimes the spark is external, like being surrounded by those who love and care about them. Relying on the help that's provided, just as the dark side of Adam realized that he needed the light side to survive, is crucial. And really, isn't that what the song is about anyway? That we need someone so much even though we don't act like it sometimes?

5. "What Adam reveals in this brilliant video is a more agonizing personal struggle to reconcile his dark and light energies. It feels real."

Learning to balance the two sides is a lesson that takes a lifetime to learn, and no one ever truly masters it. We sway to one side or the other at times for the duration of our lives. What makes us succeed is when we realize that there is no black or white, good or bad, when it comes to identifying ourselves. We're far too complicated for that. Good is always tempered with dark to protect us. It keeps us from trusting too freely, from being too open about ourselves, from being overconfident, and makes us walk with caution in our steps. But light keeps us from letting our eyes dart from shadow to shadow, from hiding ourselves from everyone, from letting our imperfections get the better of us.

No one is perfect, for as Juneau says, it's boring and uninspiring. Adam is a prime example of how imperfection makes us perfectly human. As fans, we've seen his light and dark sides. We've seen him lash out, so to speak, nearly destroying what he's worked so hard for, and we've seen him smile and take everything in stride, cleaning up the messes that he finds himself in. We've seen him angry and we've seen him happy. We've seen how he's been shaped by his experiences for the last three years. We've seen and learned and reflected, and we've grown with him. And like him, we'll continue to grow and balance.

Juneau had hoped for an engaging video for such a deep, meaningful song, something to make her think and mull over. We all wanted something beautiful and striking, something to stay with us long after we watched it.

I'd say we all got what we wanted.

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I absolutely love this mv.. My favourite by far because instead of it being like a music videon, it seems like it's a tiny movie.. The story itself I feel like I can decide myself yet there is a progressed story.. I actually thought he looked like a sexy vampire..obviously thats my first thought of Dark Adam.. But your review fitts perfectly what I felt when I saw it.. All I wanted to do was hug him myself, and the struggle we have within us truly shows in this story.. I find this song beautiful and the meaning behind the story is quite beautiul.. It makes me believe you can find true love..

I'd write more but I'm on my ipod.. Your review is amazing and very insightful:) I'm very happy you like the director of FYI because he's actually from my country:) which is fun for me to know.. Sort off.. Not going to bother you anymore.. Just wanted to say I really loved your insight of it..

Edited at 2012-02-08 09:27 pm (UTC)

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