Tuesday, October 27, 2020

HAIM - Man from the Magazine video review

Earlier this year, the famed sibling trio band HAIM released their newest album Women in Music Pt. III which debuted at Number 1 in the UK charts. The album is the most emotionally charged album we’ve had from the trio with a seemingly much more personal connection to the band and their experiences. 

The band released their music video for the song Man from the Magazine on 7/10/20 and from the get go we can see it’s connection to the overall album theme with the videos setting being the same one used for the album cover artwork which features the 3 sisters in a delicatessen. The song itself is based around the misogyny and sexism within the music industry and the music video was designed to reflect this and has been a resounding success because the video is able to convey the message of the song whilst also keeping an element of subtlety and decorum in putting the point across.

Watch the video at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NqIiYJX1Xw8

The video opens with a man - the customer, walking into frame and leaning his arms onto a counter; the shot then pans round to Danielle - the server, who approaches the counter with a sigh before opening the conversation to take the customers order. As the customer begins to list of his order the song begins to kick in and Danielle begins to sing. 

However, for this video rather than having a backing track, Haim is singing ‘live’ which is an uncommon choice for music videos. This choice also allows for artistic choices to be made such as the decision to change between singing and more of a spoken word style which Danielle intersperses with various exasperated sighs and stop starting of the singing as a means of adding to the point the song is trying to make. 

As Danielle goes on with her singing it’s quite clear that the customer is completely oblivious to this as he is just ignoring her whilst waiting for his order, something that she is aware of as she continues going about her work whilst she sings, but as she is doing her work we see the customer watching her and analysing her body and behaviour in an almost lecherous manner. The act of the customer is a reference to the behaviour and attitudes of the types of men the song is talking about in that men are oblivious to women and see them as nothing more than a means of fulfilling their needs, but while also only paying attention to them when it suits them and usually giving them attention in a sexually observant manner. We then see Danielle finishing up the order and flashing the customer a clearly fake smile almost as a means of satiating him before he comments on her not smiling enough and as she hands him his order she does so in a clearly superficially chirpy manner. 

We then see the second customer arrive to the counter and just as before he begins to immediately place his order with no regard to Haim behind the counter as if she weren’t there. Danielle then goes into the second verse of the song and again we see the second man ignoring her singing just as the first man had done his only focus is on himself and his order and what he wants. The video again making reference to the selfish behaviour of males and their complete disregard for females who are below them and only their to fulfill the wants and needs of a man. 

As Danielle is working to get the order of the second man ready she continues her singing and we see a male coworker briefly appear and move past her but again we see that the male coworker pauses as he waits for her to move to allow him past and he also ignores her singing and shows a certain ignorance to her existence and behaviour. 

The video whilst technically centred around Haim is still heavily male centric in that whilst there are only 4 people in the video Danielle is the only female and she is outnumbered by the featuring of 3 men, another reference to the misogyny and sexism of the heavily male centric industry and the fact that the one female present is in a menial role and is hierarchically below the men. We also see that the whilst the men do pay attention to her, they don’t give her their full attention and they only acknowledge her because it impacts them; as she is either in the way as she was with her boss and he had to acknowledge her for his own needs of getting past or that the customers had to acknowledge her because she was the staff member who was there to serve them and cater/fulfil their wants/needs by giving them their food. 

The use of the delicatessen setting for the video helps to immediately set the scene for the videos message because having Danielle in the role of waitress/staff member serving the males their food harps back to the old fashioned stereotype of how a woman’s role is to cook for a man and feed him and to be there to serve him. There is also the humorous backdrop behind Haim in that hanging behind her are a variety of cured meats all in the ‘sausage’ style shape which could be a subtle phallic reference to the male anatomy and the fact that women are surrounded by males at every turn.

The song ends with Danielle splitting the final lines of the song into being sung and spoken word. She sings ‘You don’t know how it feels’ before speaking or rather stating in a matter of fact manner ‘To be the cunt’ and while doing this the camera is focus clearly on her but the back of the customers head is still in shot and still obliviously talking away. The shot is almost metaphorical in that the oblivious customer is just like any other man who pay no attention to anything because they never see themselves as being the ‘bad guy’ so they think nothing of it and are oblivious. However, the fact that the camera is still focused on Danielle whilst having the male still in shot could have a element of double meaning because it could be a means of taking the context in a more literal manner with ‘cunt’ being reference to a part of the female anatomy and that males don’t know what it feels like to be a female or a women and they don’t understand. But it could also be taken in the other context in that the misogynistic and sexist influence on the ego of man has lead to an inflated perception of themselves which leads them to believe they’re never the ‘bad guy’ and never wrong they don’t know what it’s like to be the problem because usually if someone is to blame or is in the wrong that blame is usually placed on the woman. 

The video setting remains the same throughout with there being no change from the delicatessen to fit with the content of the song in that there is a certain ‘monotony’ in the video because there are no cutaways or changes it’s just the same thing no different;  and it’s reference to the monotony and lack of change faced by women within the music industry in that their is nothing different, there is no change and it’s the constant monotony of the same thing. This coupled with Danielle’s live vocals in which she changes the tone to make a point and intersperses exasperated sighs to show her distaste for the monotony she is exposed to, all combines to drive home the point of the video and the song and produces an interesting and well executed social commentary on the misogyny and sexism discussed within the song.

Georgina Shine 


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