Recently I decided to check out the music video for the current Dua Lipa single “We’re Good,” and it struck me in watching the video that there is a lobster in this music video that is very sympathetically framed. I am not inclined to think much about lobsters. I do not eat them and do not interact with them and so I seldom think about them. Given this, I consider myself no particular expert on lobster psychology, but seeing the way that the lobster acted in this particular music video I was struck by the fact that the lobster seemed to react in the same sort of timid and fearful way that I have seen fish act around me, and it struck me as obvious that the camera was framing the lobster as a sympathetic being whose survival of the disaster of the Titanic was something that the audience was intended to celebrate.
Whether or not lobsters do indeed have feelings and a psychology, the camera of this music video clearly portrayed such a thing, and it struck me as a lesson in the way that the camera lies, or at the very least seeks to manipulate our feelings. I have noticed this tendency before, and commented on it as being a problematic aspect of our contemporary age, most notably when talking about the framing of Megan Fox in the Transformer movies . The contrast is most instructive, as the music video to “We’re Good” frames a lobster as an intelligent and deep-feeling being, while the Transformer movies took an intelligent and well-spoken woman and turned her into an inconsequentially babbling but attractive sex object. Megan Fox is considerably more intelligent than a lobster, but the feelings we are meant to have about both Megan Fox and Dua Lipa’s lobster friend are mediated through framing that seeks to control how it is that we think and feel about the two subjects by the way that they are portrayed.
How is it that we can come to see the deceptive and manipulative aspects of framing that surround us in our contemporary world? The camera, like the eye, is an agent of a mind that seeks to arrange and frame reality in such a way as to present a particular subjective view of something as if it was absolute truth. Some things are viewed sympathetically, like the music video lobster, and some things are viewed unsympathetically. Some people, and the causes that they represent, are viewed in such a way that our heartstrings are tugged, while others are viewed with hatred and contempt, and with the encouragement that we should view things the way that the camera does. And unless we see ourselves or at least part of ourselves in what is being viewed with contempt, we seldom stop to think about the camera lying or the framing being deceptive and untruthful. It is when we know different and know better than the framing that we recognize the deception being involved in painting us and others like us as something that we are not, for the nefarious purposes of those doing the framing.
It is well to reflect upon the fact that the Bible is uniformly hostile against idols and against graven images whose existence is a lie. The lie is a fundamental one, and that lie is the forming of an image of things in heaven or on the earth as if it was a mere object that could be controlled by human beings. To the extent that we seek to control other people as if they were mere objects whose meaning and whose worth is dependent on the way that we frame them and the way that we view them through the lying eyes of a camera, we are engaged in the sin of creating graven images. It is not without meaning that we call celebrities in the contemporary age idols, for they are graven images made to possess a sense of glamour and a sense of worth that they do not in fact possess. To make idols of mere mortals is to do violence against them in at least two ways, by honoring the creation instead of the creator and putting people on a pedestal where they do not belong given the disorderly and immoral aspects that are nearly universal in their lives, but also violence in that such people are often raised to heights only to tear them down through scandalmongering and the provocation of hostility and envy towards such people from others. Stars do not merit our adulation nor our hatred. Perhaps they deserve our pity for having been caught up in the lying eyes that mediate their existence for us in the dishonest media of films, music videos, journalistic portrayals, and the like. Hopefully such pity, like the pity we are meant to feel for the lobster, is not misguided.
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