Critical Response: Sober – P!nk

Posted: September 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


What is effective about the video?

There are lots of things in this video that are really effective. First of all the song is about internal conflict, about going into the unknown, about not understanding yourself, about changing and leaving something she is so dependent on,  so to convey these inner feelings through a visible narrative is a difficult task, but the meaning is translated clearly in parts throughout the video. The parts that particularly stick out as depicting this effectively is the sequence where p!nk is in a completely white room, her hair, out-fit, make-up and even her nails are all white, with black tailored accessories on her dress and black contact lenses. She is filmed inside the room which due to viewer foreknowledge they associate with white rooms for people who are diagnosed as harmful to themselves and others. The colour white also brings connotations of purity, innocence and freedom; however the added effects of the black items in her costume and make-up suggest an underlying darkness which represents that inner conflict the song relates to being addicted. Also, there is overlay of p!nk’s face on top of a stormy/cloudy sky, and one nearer the end where her face is overlaid onto choppy water, which can be seen to represent uneasiness and confusion of the mind and of the self, due to the connotations that storms and rainclouds bring and how her face being in the shot relates them to her state of mind. This clearly shows the audience the deeper meaning in the lyrics as the idea behind the song is amplified. Finally upon watching the video a second time, the sequence in which p!nk is in the white room, is actually played on the television in the ‘bedroom’ setting of the video. This is interesting because this could show the presence of conscious and knowing what’s right, in the midst’s of doing all the wrong things and being self-destructive, as most of the scenes that represent the lifestyle p!nk as a character in the video, is trying to escape, are shot or filmed in that household setting. The video is also effective in the way that it’s set up to show the character p!nk plays as in need of getting back on the straight and narrow, at the point where the lyrics ‘I don’t want to be the girl who laughs the loudest’ the actor playing one of her friends gives her a look that other people do when they know their friend is far too drunk or inebriated. The reoccurrence of shots of the cathedral within the video I think is again really effective as its connotations of redemption make the video powerful when it illustrates the songs meaning.

What doesn’t work?

In the sequence in the white room, there are shots of what appears to the audience to be two people in there at separate times. One is distinctly p!nk, however you never see the other actress’ face properly. The audience can’t tell whether its p!nk as another character or just another actor. I feel this is confusing, even if the way the actor holds themselves in the shot is effective at portraying the mood of the song.

Later on nearer the end of the video, p!nk is filmed in the woods. As the camera focuses on the trees and setting, as well as panning round the forest, p!nk’s face appears on the trees. I don’t quite understand how this relates to the song’s message or how it ties in with the messages being portrayed in the video. This issue with clarity, I feel makes it something that lets the video down a little.  As a whole I feel the sequence in the woods seemed irrelevant to the songs narrative, other than an extra setting that looked good. I think it confused things because the audience didn’t understand how the character got in the woods or why she was there. It’s possible that it is illustrating the confusion of drugs, and not knowing or caring where you end up, but I feel that interpretation is forced and abstract.

Throughout the video there’s reference to p!nk’s performance character interacting with the character of herself from the not too distant past, this is effective because through costume you can see a sort of difference in a way that both characters are dressed, making this divide clear. I think this is effective because it creates a barrier between her past perception of her addiction and her current perception of addiction, however, at the end her performance character and her character from the past end up kissing and groping one another. I thought this was really confusing because again, like with the trees, I couldn’t quite understand how that fit in with the song’s message or the video’s message. Maybe it could represent the convergence and acceptance of both perspectives, but again I’m unsure, which is why I think this part of the video doesn’t work.

Does it appeal to the audience?

I feel that it would appeal to p!nk’s target audience, because her music usually is accompanied by videos that are interesting and keep the audience interested in the song, as well as illustrate the song’s subject matter appropriately. I feel that the video caters to this criterion completely. With p!nk’s more meaningful songs like sober, there is also an air of seriousness to them, which I feel this video also does, because on the whole as an artist p!nk is very playful and fun. Her video’s such as ‘Stupid Girls’ and ‘So What?’ illustrate this trait perfectly. I also feel the way she dresses and the different ways she explores the subject matter of the song in the video would appeal to the audience because p!nk always has a reputation for being able to make her more meaningful videos impact powerfully on her audience, like in ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’. I also feel her dress sense in this video holds an appeal to her audience, as she’s very much in her iconic look, her short bright blonde hair, her nose ring and more current character is dressed stylishly and in clothes she usually wears. Also, her other character who was wearing more scanty clothes, was also noticeably p!nk because in other videos like ‘U +Ur Hand’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’ (which p!nk features in) she wears things that are similar, like a type of intertextuality to her other videos.

What would you have done differently if you had produced the video?

I don’t think I would have changed anything major within the video, however I would replace the setting in the woods, or if the setting in the woods was to be kept I would make it almost like p!nk was a contemporary princess, but keep her star image by keeping her in black at the time with her nose ring, and bring in some intertextuality with Disney princesses as they hold the connotation of being in need of help and assistance, as well as bringing in the idea of the villain in the fairy-tales that is threatening her, being the addiction she’s talking about – ‘Why does it feel this good sober’.

I’d also make it a lot clearer in the video whether or not it was p!nk playing the second character trapped in the room by showing her head in some of the shots where the character in the white room isn’t wearing the same attire as when p!nk is filmed in the white room.

Lastly, to correct the last fault in the video, because of the confusion with the last sequence of p!nk ‘making out’ with herself, I’d take this out. If the point of this part of the video was to show a convergence of the two characters as they reach an understanding and acceptance, I’d maybe have them either hug, or cuddle comfortingly on the bed.  Either way, since I don’t really understand the point of this, I can’t say how I’d do it better, other than take it out completely.


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