Kanye West & Spike Jonze Present: We Were Once a Fairytale

“…the video takes what people like and hate about Ye’s persona and pushes it to the limit, the video also ‘walks the fine line between self aggrandizement and self mockery.’ “

That was a quote that accompanied a small description of the film that you see above you. Immediately upon watching I found myself confused and intrigued. I found myself asking “what is this?”, “what is he trying to do or say with this film?”, and “when am I going to get to see the Girl® Skate team?”(haha). However, after watching I got a better understanding and called upon the skills I’ve amassed as a student of art history to further decipher the meaning of everything going on within the film.

I won’t go into a scene by scene description, but I will identify a number of key things:

1. Slated for a release around the time that his 808′s and Heartbreak album debuted, this is a reflection of him at that time. Like the album this film is an instance where we see raw emotion from someone, who according to the unwritten rules of rap, is not allowed to show vulnerability. Although alcohol has come into play and has amplified these emotions it allows for an unabashed side of Kanye that everyone around him seems to find discomfort in.

2. The expulsion of Rose petals or flower petals of some sort. Considering the historical context of this film, and the action that takes place to illustrate this “discharge of sentiment”, it can easily be read as not a forceful but an imminent or necessary action considering the coldness that Kanye experienced in the club…(in life?)

3. The little guy at the end and Freud’s “Id, Ego and Super Ego” As we reach the end of the film, we witness what we witness(watch THAT SHIT). The “Id” is described by Freud as “…the dark, inaccessible part of our personality…we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations… It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organisation, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.” Now when you take that into consideration Kanye’s actions over the course of the film make more sense; jubilation at hearing his new song in the club, his interaction with party goers, the leopard print dress… by removing the small creature he is intent on separating this part of himself from himself. Thus we have the Ego(something we all know we associate with Kanye); “…The ego is that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world … The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions … in its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse.” As the two interact an ultimate decision is made and one must go while the other remains. Now a bit of back tracking must occur; when he realizes what he has done we come face to face with what can be considered the “Super Ego” described by Freud as “a type of conscience that punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt”. This “Super Ego” is often said to contradict the actions of the “Id”. The Super Ego strives to act in a socially appropriate manner conversely the “Id” is focused or set out on gaining nothing more than self gratification.

Here we have a film that serves as self reflection and biography of an artist and a troubled soul.

Now doesn’t that make it all clear as day, and you thought Kanye was just being weird…

About gregston

I blog, stare, analyze and surprise.
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4 Responses to Kanye West & Spike Jonze Present: We Were Once a Fairytale

  1. Minister Po says:

    Yo good job with this post right here man…dope analysis of an otherwise very strange/weird/interesting film piece. Kanye sure is an interesting character.

  2. bunnz says:

    I guess if you really admire someone, you can find anything and everything to justify its brilliance. Which i commend you for, but if this film is truly a self reflection and almost a ritualistic sacrifice of one’s lower self (ego, sexuality, earthly desires, etc) then in reality, the character (Kanye West) must be changed as well for the better. And if you’ve seen recent Kanye, he’s always drunk and still on that super ego shit. So, I don’t think this is an accurate analysis, just a very good explanation of the mundane, but it has to be based on reality, and not theory. You took some quotes from Sigmund Freud, and applied it to where you saw fit to manipulate whats true into your own belief of what the film is about. Only Spike and Ye, will be able to iterate on what truly the film meant.
    On a positive:
    It was very avante garde, a really beautiful piece, and it abviously had soemthing to do with self sacrifice, the symbolism was nice and semi self explanitory. The depth of field gave that dream-like, surrealism, which is well associated with an altered state of consciousness. Spike is very dope, and Kanye is very good at what he does musically. I do think that this piece was just a really quickly put together, not too thought out, freestyle fiilm made very cheaply (In my humble opinion). It was decent, but if you have a character go through a spiritual change, we as the audience, have to CARE. In this piece, i wanted him to get where he needed, but the execution was jarring and I really didn’t care. So, it lost me. Visually, dope, but the storytelling showed signs of rush, and lack of thought.

    Good review, Good Vibes
    Bunnz

  3. Lars Blach says:

    I think this is spot on – im amazed with your analysis, not only just by retorical and optical functions, but you brought the “personality” of Kanye West into this, and i think this what is the true meaning of thisi is, – its the mixup between “the superstar Kanye West” and “the true human-being Kanye West”. He’s human!?!?

  4. frederico says:

    You’ve made same interesting points. I think that the id/super-ego issue plays an important part in this short film.

    My interpretation was a little different. For me he’s on a post break-up bout of drunkeness and irresponsability. The girl he imagines in the room (which is also imagined and looks like a homely bedroom) is the girl he’s broken up with. She says to him “it’s ok” in a maternal way. He’s imagining he’s back with her and everything is ok. Of course they end up making love.

    For me, the creature that he later cuts out, savaged and frail, simultaneously young and old, is the embodiment of this relationship, is his love for her. And Kanye realises it’s time. The creature doesn’t want to go. Kanye doesn’t want to let him go. But feels he must. Something beautiful, wrecked and hagard but still beautiful, must go.

    Of course, it might be the case that spike’s idea is more visual than conceptual: perhaps his idea was to make a film that might mean many things, was that each viewer should make their own meaning. For some the creature might be addiction, for others, ego and for others a past love. He gives us enough ingredients for any one of the these to make sense.

    But for me, the frail creature, that’s love.

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