Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why I Love This Video

Ever since John Mayer's "Half of My Heart" video debuted, I've watched it more times than I care to admit. Why do I like it so much? It's just a simple music video--no fancy effects, no over-the-top costumes, and it doesn't even feature the song's guest musician, Taylor Swift. At first, even I couldn't put my finger on what drew me to the video, but when I started to think about it (in the shower no less--the deep thinking always occurs there, am I right?) I was finally able to come up with two reasons:

1. It's a narrative. It's not an overly complicated one, but it does tell a story: a groom leaves his bride at the altar because he can only love her with half of his heart. I like that. It's a refreshing change of pace from the countless videos out there that only feature one of three elements:

a) the musician staring pensively out into space or into the camera
b) booty-poppin' hos
c) whatever the hell this is

Videos that tell a story are infinitely more interesting and engaging than videos that do not.

2. It doesn't have a happy ending. I'm a happy person, generally. I try to look on the bright side of things, see the positive in everything, blah blah blah. But you know what? Sometimes life just sucks. People get left at the altar. People get divorced. People get laid off. People get diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. Sometimes life just kicks you in the balls, and you may not feel like looking on the bright side. I think that's okay. This is based on nothing but my own observation, but I get the feeling that our society is kind of overdoing it on the whole, "Don't worry, be happy" message it sends out. We're marketed books like Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. Movies sneak in dialog about being happy ("Why can't you just decide to be happy and be happy?" Lloyd Dobler asks his sister in Say Anything). We're so consumed with being happy and content with our lives that we gloss over all the uncomfortable feelings, like discontent, unhappiness, bitterness, and anger, and when we do experience those emotions, we think something is wrong with us (Why can't I be happy? What's wrong with me?).

Look, do I think we should all go around being Debbie Downers all the time? Of course not. But I also think it's unrealistic to strive for Debbie's polar opposite, Suzie Sunshine Out My Ass. Life can be downright shitty sometimes, and I think it's okay if we acknowledge when we're unhappy. Or pissed off. Or feeling sorry for ourselves. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can move on and actually be happy. That doesn't make us a society full of Debbies; it makes us human. And that's why I like this video so much: it recognizes the shittier aspect of life.

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