Austra's New Video Paints a Truthful Portrayal of What Depression Looks Like
  • THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2017

  • Posted by: Matt Guyotte



Depression isn't just a thing that is talked about in Austa's new video for "I Love You More Than You Love Yourself," it's an actual person that follows her around...

Or rather, it's Lisa Nowak - the NASA astronaut who ended going on a streak of crime a year after her launch into space, because of her undiagnosed depression. In this video, she's going around shopping at various places, trying to stave off her depression, if even for a moment. Represented as a sullen-looking middle-aged white man, this depression spends most of the video following Nowak, and it creates a strongly uncomfortable contrast with the more subtly traumatizing event to be presented over the airy, poppy synth textures. There is a particular scene in the video, though, where she looks her depression right in the face; it's right at that point where the music itself transitions to something that is a bit more brooding in essence. Then all of the previous scenes are repeated, showing how depression muddied those memories. The music eventually goes back to happier textures, and Nowak even looks happy. Even though depression is not seen, it's there.

The last scene in the video is particularly telling. Taking all of her bags from her shopping spree that day, she goes to a club that has no other people in it - except for a confident blonde woman dancing free-spiritedly on the dance floor, which might represent the character's ideal self that's removed from depression. A comedian performing to nobody (just like how depression makes you feel), and of course, the depression itself.

When Nowak moves to the dancefloor with this blonde woman, we see the lights flicker on and off, and after a few shots of them dancing together, we see Depression, and the image of a trash bag taking the place of this lively blonde woman. And after a few moments, she's taken away. Depression took the happy part of Nowak, even in this lively place. Even in the dim, flickering lighting, we can see Nowak start to run away again, never quite able to stand still.

And extending outside of the scheme of this video, this idea also plays into her new album Future Politics. Describing the name, she says in an interview with Dazed, "Future Politics is speaking of your own personal politics, rather than politics in general. It's really about breaking down barriers in the way that people think. I think that if we can really get into the minds of people, then that's the only way we can experience greater change in society."

This means developing a greater understanding of mental illnesses like depression, which this video does beautifully. It doesn't present depression as something that is clear, in-your-face sadness, because often times it's not that clear - especially with the music that the dark lyrics are provided with. It would be hard to tell that this video is about depression.

And that's the point.

Unfortunately that is the only way it can be accurately represented, because sadness isn't the same as depression; while it's easy to show someone who's sad and say they're depressed, it is not a realistic portrayal of the illness. But to show how happiness can be taken away in even the brightest of spaces, no matter how hard the person tries, is true understanding.

Thank you for understanding that and raising awareness, Austra.
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