Friday, December 04, 2020

Phoebe Bridgers - Saviour Complex

Phoebe Bridgers, in her own words, was fired as the leading lady of her latest music video, Savior Complex, and replaced with a chihuahua (starring opposite Paul Mescal of Normal People fame).  The person doing the firing?  Phoebe Waller-Bridge, otherwise known as Fleabag; Bridgers’s quarantine pen pal and (almost) namesake.  A controversial decision perhaps - depriving the world of more Phoebe Bridgers - but the end result is a beautiful and thought provoking music video.  

Savior Complex is a simple song with no chorus, and this is reflected in a sense through the video that could almost better be described as a short film, as Waller-Bridge applies her story-telling capabilities to the score of Bridgers’s gloomy Savior Complex.  

In the behind-the-scenes video, Bridgers mentions that Waller-Bridge insisted on Savior Complex in particular as the song for them to work on a video for, and the inspiration she presumably gleaned from the song is apparent in the cohesiveness and meaning of the final product.

In short, the video depicts Paul Mescal being followed around by a relentless chihuahua.  However, there’s a bit more to it than that.  

Initially, Mescal’s character is positioned as a bereft victim to whom the dog gets attached.  However, it soon becomes clear that he merely poses as a victim in order to gain the upper hand over others and exploit them, as we see when he cons a man and takes his car despite the man’s kindness.  Despite this the dog continues to follow him.  

He finally warms to the dog, as we see in a quick montage of the man seeming genuinely content for the first time in the video.  However, the happiness as fleeting, as when he wakes up it turn out he has now been conned and exploited, with his belongings gone with the dog.  The video closes with the dog and Bridgers, who haunts Mescal’s character throughout the video, sitting side by side with the man’s belongings and, given the size of the pile, the belongings of others, too, suggesting this is a pattern.  

The video is a metaphorical rendering of Bridgers’s lyrics, in which the first verse seems to present Bridgers’s “overly sincere” partner with “crocodile tears” and their tumultuous relationship.  But in the second verse, it appears that as emotionally manipulative as the “vampire” partner may be, she is just as bad with her “saviour complex”.

- Zayna Mansuri


Image: Music Video Screenshot

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