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Self-proclaimed post-punk rapper RRA’s existential, alienating single ‘Fuck Up,’ from his second album ‘Dog Days,’ finds its ultimate form in its music video, a meta-cinematic exploration of isolation, depression, and anxiety.
The beginning of the song breaks any hope of optimism as the 60s-esque acoustic guitar backed line “If I fuck up” is cut off by the forceful rapped verse “When not if/I’m not good at this shit.” This goes on throughout the song, as RRA spits fire at any hope present. With discomfort as his backing track RRA cuts the air with inner-conflict and apathy.
20th century playwright Bertolt Brecht introduced the idea of alienation in his work, a means of giving the audience an objective, critical distance. That same concept is expertly executed in the video as it opens with a shot of a lone turtle determinedly moving forward on the ocean floor before panning out to a profile shot of RRA sitting on a chair watching a projection of his lyrics, as if he’s worried that he’s going to forget what he’s written.
The camera then moves behind him, as if chasing him and trying to get a shot of his face as he seems to turn away. At the edge of the curtained-off stage that serves as the location, there are dimly-lit objects including a man in a massive bird-cage and a jumping castle, his isolation and his childhood memories side by side.
The last bit of alienation comes as the song suddenly shifts to a Sonic Youth-esque instrumental and the stage lights come on. The man steps out of the birdcage as the castle is deflated. RRA walks backstage and has a shot of whiskey before leaving the theatre. The illusion is shattered and we are reminded that this was just a show.
I would love to write an essay about this magnificent ode to Brecht, but I’ve exceeded my word count so I’ll wrap it up with this: the video for ‘Fuck Up’ is perfect on every level. From its one-shot take to the set design, nothing is out of place and everything embodies the isolation of the song.
Watch the video below.
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