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All the Exits Are Underground, Unless You Decide to Change Them.

God bless the youtube gods manipulating the algorithm to land this video in my lap. Ever since I saw it, I find this place in my daydreams, I wander back to it in dull classes, and when the train of thought slows, it pulls into this station. It has rotted my brain and in that sweet rot has grown the most aromatic flower I can not bear to even prune. After I saw this video, several times mind you, it’s not the kind of video you only watch once, it inspired me and I wrote a short story very much unrelated to the music video at all. But nevertheless, it inspired me to be creative, so I thought it would be a good story to examine, to see how it ticks. 

What I find the most intriguing about this music video, is the mystery. There is no easily understandable plot or actions that build in any linear or followable way. The clips are split up and inter-spliced so that no scene is completed in one shot. The scenes do not have an obvious order or relevance besides reappearing characters and visual themes. 

And yet, there is clearly some sort of story. All of the images and shots have a certain relatedness. Some of the same characters can be seen throughout, there is the main character and a sort of climax that can be seen. And thought it is not clear exactly what the conflict is, you can tell it is there. There is an aesthetic cohesiveness to it all. It is clearly one story, just the bits and pieces are fractured and/or out of order or so layered in symbolism and meaning that you don’t know what is physically real and what is a metaphor. It looks as if all of the scenes were taken from the same movie and reordered for a different effect.

I think it is the mix of these two aspects, the mystery and the almost comprehensible plot that make this music video so alluring to me. I want to re-watch it again and again to figure out the story that I can see beautifully intriguing snatches of. What’s got me hooked is the mystery of co-creation, like Alexander Bryan discussed in Storytelling for the 21st Century. And, like Szumer’s I Link Therefore I Am, It has the same sort of nonsensical story just out of your reach as hypertext fiction, though put in a completely visual medium. 

It is hard to see the exact shape of this story because it is not fully given, and the parts that you do get are not necessarily in order. The viewer is invited to connect the dots to the few parts in the video that clearly depict struggle or obstacles. Kurt Vonnegut would have to work to put together a shape for it, and even then, it would probably look different from the shape I would give it.

And it is just enough. Too much conectivity and a standard plot reveals itself. Too little and the audience does not even try to figure it out because there seems to be no answer. This is just perfectly in the middle. 

There is beauty in interpretation. I don’t think two people would reconcile all of the parts of the music video in the same way, and I think that’s what is so amazing about it. It’s the most personal kind of story because you yourself made it.    

And all of this aforementioned does not even account for the music played over the sequence of images. The music is sublime and enhances the visuals while giving no excessive context or any context at all. And yet, you can use the lyrics to figure out and/or tie into the story if you want to, if it helps you.

If not, you can ignore the music, or that one scene. You can leave it out or make it a metaphor or dream sequence or a misremembering of the character. You are the co-author after all. This is your world. Paint little rocks if you want. In your world, you get the final say.

One reply on “All the Exits Are Underground, Unless You Decide to Change Them.”

I absolutely LOVE this song. I found it a couple of years ago when it was new and very unknown and have always been extremely intrigued by the lyrics and video.

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