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Thursday, April 24, 2008 

A tale of two videos

So there's a new video out there for Robyn's immortal "Be Mine!":

It's very good, I enjoy the way the guy is presented, and particularly the treatment of the brief, spoken middle eight, but it still doesn't quite give me chills the way the original did and still does (I just checked):

I'm not sure why; the multiplicity of Robyns? The way the one that I am guessing came chronologically 'first' (the one with blonde hair, who is cutting it off), seems as if she's just managed to stop crying. The eerie and powerful spectacle of the bald Robyn and her creepy, occasionally glowing eyes (it's kind of subtle, or at least I missed the way her eyes shift the first time I saw the video)? I think ultimately it's because, I much as I enjoy the acting and directing in the new video (Robyn and the guy both say an awful lot with very little, the dead eyed stares of everyone else is pretty much exactly what it feels like to have romantic trauma played out in front of others, the way they have the same group of people occur again and again feels like the kind of small town where you can't help but run into people, even when the wound is still raw), the original video for "Be Mine!" acknowledges that the song isn't really about him, or even about them; it's about herself.

On the one hand, it's a careful admonition to the self to stop pretending something's not dead (when really, it was no longer alive), an attempt to cease a particular kind of emotional self-harm and to stop beating oneself up for missing or misreading an opportunity. This is, incidentally, why "Be Mine!" sticks with me far more than most "we aren't together and I'm sad" songs. But it's also, at least implicitly, about the time and effort that have clearly been wasted (are we even sure this guy is so awesome? People throw away time over men and women who are bad for them every day) and also about the fear that this sort of debacle leaves with you, at least a little: that this was Not A Fluke. There's a reason why we tell ourselves and our heartbroken friends that there's plenty of fish in the sea; when you're in the midst of the maelstrom, and at the beginning of recovering from it, it's not so much that you don't know there are others out there but that you fear (just a little) that they, too, will find fault with you the way the last one did. Lurking in the outlines of "Be Mine!" is not just the despair of "You never were and you never will be mine" but the terror of "will anybody?" And if you think that's too dire a reading, or too generous to the artist, you clearly haven't seen what she can do with it.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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