Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where's the Love in "My Immortal"?

Dear Muse,

Maybe I'm missing something. Or maybe I'm making mountains out of molehills. Either way, the video for Evanescence's "My Immortal" frustrates me.

This was another component of the music mix Band3 sent me. Ironically, I've heard this song many times before, and always liked it. But I'd never seen the video for it before. And when I did, I found much to immediately dislike about it.

One problem with the video is how the imagery connects to the lyrics. The song is about a woman (played by Amy Lee) whose former lover left her, and now she can't get him out of her head. How does she show it?

  • By hardly expressing any emotions. 
To be fair, some people who go through depression reach a point where they can't emote, because their emotions become numbed or deadened. (No one better expresses this emotionless-ness than Allie Brosh of hyperboleandahalf - just read her "Depression Part Two" post.) If this seemed like the case for Lee's character, then I could let the issue go. But her emotionless-ness doesn't seem like a depression issue - it's more like she's acting emotionless to make the video darker and edgier, and add more emo undertones to her character. Which is partly why the video doesn't work. Instead of making her character sympathetic, Lee's emotionless acting results in a performance that's both robotic and melodramatic.

In any case, whether a character overacts or underacts (and Lee seems to be doing both), they have to convey some sort of feeling I can identify with. If Lee was depressed and I could clearly sense that, the video might communicate its message of loss and lingering over the past successfully. But she doesn't communicate it clearly enough to me. Lee's failure to really emote here thus impairs the message she wants to get across.
  • By NOT daydreaming about him, following him, glimpsing him in a cafe in passing, portraying montages of their past romance together, or doing anything that would better indicate Lee and her lover actually had any connection before this video. 
Throughout the video, the man and woman are in two different places, doing completely different things. Neither one looks particularly put out about being alone and doing his/her own thing. For that matter, since the two are so alienated, you could replace the man with any other guy and the lack of connection wouldn't be any different. Face it: there is no palpable connection between these two. (Which begs the question, how plausible is it that this guy is "your immortal" if you two are so distant?)
  • By talking about how she wiped away his tears, fought all his fears, and held his hand over the years. 
I don't see any evidence in the video to suggest that the man was ever prone to crying, or that the woman was capable of providing such support. To provide that kind of support, you'd need to be a tough type or a matronly type; and either way, you'd need to be a strong woman. Given how Lee dresses, moves and acts, she doesn't communicate "strong woman." More like a fragile femme on the verge of collapse - that is, when she's not acting all emo.

I guess the bright side of this is that, even if I find Evanescence's music video egregious, there are plenty of good AMVs of "My Immortal" on Youtube to keep me liking the song.


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