Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Feminspire | April 24, 2014

Scroll to top

Top

7 Comments

Slut Shaming Gets Vicious in the Terrifyingly Relevant New Yeah Yeah Yeahs Video

Slut Shaming Gets Vicious in the Terrifyingly Relevant New Yeah Yeah Yeahs Video

After what’s seemed like a millennia (but really only 4 years), Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans finally got what they’ve been aching for –– Mosquito, the group’s soon-to-be-released-album, a batch of upcoming tour dates, and everyone’s favorite on-stage performer/rocker/screamer/goddess Karen O back in the spotlight. “Sacrilege,” the first single off the album appeared on virtually every music blog after its premiere on February 25th, and the dark and fiery track was met with great acclaim.

This week, the [possibly NSFW] video for “Sacrilege” was released, and the Megaforce-directed creep show significantly heightens the already-brooding elements of the song. The eerie video stars a frail and innocent-looking Lily Cole as she’s prepared to be burned at the stake by a group of carnivorous townspeople. It soon becomes apparent that the video’s narrative structure is backwards, and also that she and her lover had become targets of a barbaric mob-style witch-hunt that left him shot and her in a sea of flames.

The fictional setting makes use of many small-town stereotypes –– the crooked cop, the unscrupulous priest, the unfaithful yet happy-looking couple, etc. –– and shows Cole having affairs with each of them. We soon realize that these were the same people that burned her alive at the video’s beginning. And at the end when she is shown at her wedding, we see the same folks, yet again, eyeing her in an unsettling and seemingly perverse way as she walks down the aisle.

lily cole sacrilege video wedding

For a 4-minute piece, the video is packed with enough haunting visuals and disturbing subject matter to leave lasting effects. The close-up shots of the twisted townspeople are incredibly creepy and almost reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s trademark POV-style shots, while the whole “underbelly of small town America” theme seems like something from a David Lynch film. Not to mention Karen O’s visceral singing voice and the addition of a gospel choir –– how much eerier can you get, right?

Well, much eerier actually, since the entire story presented in the video parallels a major, and seemingly relentless, issue in our society: rape culture. Lily Cole’s character in the video is literally burned alive because of slut shaming. As we can see from their weird gazes at the wedding, and also while she dies in the fire, those in town viewed her solely as a sexual object. But at some point in the midst of her affairs, the angry group of locals decided that she should be punished for her behavior, and collectively murdered her witch-style (which, one can assume is meant to be symbolic of her death being based on gender rather than wrongdoings).

tumblr_mkauapEc4e1qkjfz1o1_500

The video takes the ideas of slut shaming and female objectification to a horrifying level by adding angry mobs, voyeurism and murder, but its high amounts of barbarity also point out how absurd it is that a female would be bullied and killed for doing the same things that just about everyone else was doing. If she was labeled a “whore” then wasn’t everyone else a “whore” as well?

It’s interesting to see a well-known group include such content in a music video. In just 2 days, “Sacrilege” has received over 700,000 hits on YouTube, and although a large percentage of the people are probably paying more attention to the song (or perhaps, to Lily Cole) than the issues presented in the narrative, we can wonder if it might help start a conversation among people who haven’t considered aspects of rape culture previously. And we can’t be sure if the band or the crew behind the video intentionally set out to illustrate a blatant picture of rape culture (as opposed to just a sinister scenario), but we can be sure that its misogynistic and victim-blaming, slut-shaming implications are the main reasons as to why it’s so disturbing; it’s not only scary, it’s relevant too.

Written by Nicole Woszczyna 

Watch the video for yourself and let us know what you think:

  • http://www.facebook.com/etienne.dufour.33 Etienne Dufour

    i heard movies are serious bussniess

  • http://twitter.com/Crillca Colleen Slayer

    This video is actually terrifying, It seems like when one of the men are looking through the door he mouths “how could you”. As if to say then she was just cheating on her husband with them it was okay. But when they found out it was more than just them, they burned her.

  • Shelterer of Cats

    Interesting the roles painted out via the narrative in the video. What came to my mind was the old phrase “temple prostitutes” from the old testament in the Bible.

    There are theories that in the fertile crescent (today Syria, Israel and Palestine and neighbors) before Judaism “spread” the “pagans” from those tales worshipped Goddesses, or Inanna, the great mother. Which was around far longer than the tribes of Israel.

    The origin of the idea that God was a woman came from the fact that women were the bearers of life. Sex was celebrated and a rite of passage or calling would be for women to serve in the temple where people would go to worship literally taking drugs and having sex. This was a celebration and worship. Not sin, not repentance and punishment.

    Fast forward about 8,000 years to today. A young women is shown sleeping with multiple people in the town who then hunt her and her new husband down and execute them.

    What is the real imagerie in this video? What do the symbols mean? What defines our sexuality in modern culture and is it or is it not flawed?

    Read some Merlin Stone of the still controversial book “When God was a Woman” for a very very interesting take on something no one talks about. Good good read, sheds huge light on things people either believe as infallible or reject as completely made up. The answer it seems, is quite different from either.

    And maybe interpret this video in a different way. Those pagans had it pretty good. I think what we have no is generally miserable but that is subjective. This then explains rape culture, oppression of women, and perhaps even violence and war. Frustrated men and flawed patriarchy.

    My .02

  • Pingback: administration benignly control

  • Pingback: Sacrilege | Hollaback! Baltimore

  • kikididi

    It’s the priest that is killed with her, not her husband

  • Pingback: Pumped, stumped and dumped: A week on OkCupid (Part 2) | Just bare with me.