When I first started doing the Dreaming of the Show posts, I said that I would not only design for characters from traditional plays like Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, but that I would also design for characters from popular culture such as TV shows and music videos for relatively recent songs. I've always had a thing for literary analysis but after my first class in media literacy and analysis I've been hooked. For those who are unfamiliar with the field, media literacy is a field that analyzes, evaluates and creates messages in a variety of form- from print to video. I like to think of it as a way of understanding society and people by unearthing the hidden meanings in modern media, movies, music and entertainment. The understanding gained from this analysis is the first step to accurately portraying a character through the costume.
Ever since I heard the song Love the Way You Lie performed by Eminem and Rihanna, I have loved it for its depth and meaning. It has a very strong and clear message about domestic abuse and the shock effect of the song's presentation actually forces people to listen to the message. Before the real video came out I had some ideas of how I would have liked the video to be. The way in which I would have liked to portray the character of the abuser in particular was important to me and this is what I will share with you in this post.
Character: The Abuser from Love the Way You lie- Eminem ft Rihanna
Time and Place I would set it in: Modern day Western World
The story tells the complicated and often misunderstood relationship of the abuser and the abused in domestic violence cases. It talks about how both parties are aware of the toxic nature of their relationship but are still unable to leave. On some level they both know that their relationship is incredibly dangerous, but they love the drama and the intensity too much to walk away. The abuser claims that he hates what he does but that he is so dependent on their relationship that he cannot leave it and when he gets mad at her, the intensity of his rage clouds his judgment so much that it turns him into someone he cannot recognize. He claims that he will change and that he will never hurt the abused again, but both of them realize that it's all a lie and that he won't change. In the third verse the abuser goes through a state of denial with the abused by saying that its possible their relationship really isn't so bad, and that maybe its so intense because of their intense personalities but at the end of everything he admits that he knows that he is lying and that if she ever tries to escape from him he will kill her. Throughout the song the abused supports his statements by repeating that it’s alright if he watches her suffer because she loves the way he lies.
To me, the abuser seems like someone who truly seems to have two widely different personalities: a public and a private one. I imagine that his public personality makes him seem like a normal guy. He'd probably be very charismatic and even personable. He'd seem very put together and self aware with a clear goal and ambition in life and all of these amazing qualities would make him very appealing to women. He'd probably be a charmer and romance them into his life, lulling them into a false sense of security. Then once they feel like they have found the perfect man, he would slowly start to change. I don't think he would brutally hurt them at first. I imagine he would probably start with by verbally assaulting them/ pushing them around, but before you know it would escalate until she's become too scared to run away.
Keywords to Describe Him
Public persona- charismatic, well dressed, put together, cheerful, friendly, kind and stable
Private persona- menacing, frigtening, domineering, unstable, overcome with rage, monsterous.
Key Elements to His Style
Key Elements to His Style
Classic Blue Jeans
Classic Mens button down shirt in neutrals and light blue
Tailored Suits worn with close collared shirts and ties
Italian style leather shoes
Quality timeless watch
Large but simple silver ring
Inconspicuous piercings that can be hidden under most clothes.
The Abuser to me:
Note: The pictures below are not of people who I think could be abusers. I do not intend to offend anyone. The sole purpose of the pictures is to give you an idea of the contrast between the abusers two personalities. It is to show that the abuser may seem normal and even successful, enviable and charming to most people but that this persona is shed behind closed doors and this is symbolically shown through the unbuttoning of the shirt and the shedding of the jacket, tie and belt to reveal his once hidden piercings and formerly contained muscles that are now emphasized with the aid of the neutral vest.
Love you all and Stay inspired,
P.S. So let me know what you think. How do you think the abuser should have been portrayed in the music video of Love the Way You Lie ? Have you watched the video? What do you think about it? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
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