Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gotye, Addiction, and Love

So I can't resist picking this Gotye video apart. Go ahead and watch it again--maybe twice even--and then we'll dive in.

"Somebody that I Use To Know" --Gotye

(I'm blogging away from my computer. My apologizes if the link doesn't work correctly.)

I think that the key line is "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness." He only says it once. You'd think the oft repeated, "Now you're just somebody that I use to know," would be key. However, that is his addiction.

For instance, the first time I watched the video, I thought he was talking about the woman in the video. That she was that somebody. But after watching the video a couple times in a row, it's a very circular song. The end leads into the beginning.

Her last straw with him was that, in spite of him assuring her to the contrary, she did catch him getting hung up on somebody that he use to know. When she sings this, they are still relating. This is the moment that she is parting from him. This is evidence that he will have at least two some bodies that he use to know.

What is also interesting is that he doesn't even look at her until after she is done singing. He's too busy feeding off of past hurts to notice her.

The thing about addiction is that you feel compelled to feed it, repeating the experience, over and over and over. When he says, "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness," this is the closest he comes to a confession. But even in that, he distances himself, using an impersonal "you". He also places all the blame for he hurt he feels on this somebody's actions.

He is a shattered, broken man--visually supported by the background that envelops him, including his face. He sees everything through that brokenness. She is almost equally enveloped. However, her face is not yet covered. She can still see, and chooses freedom. As the background washes off, she becomes free. She is no longer a pawn feeding his addiction. Or, perhaps, this is the choice he's been pushing her towards, in order to feed his addiction.

Why would he be addicted to a certain kind of sadness? He equates that "ache" of longing with love. He is so broken that he can't receive love when offered, but instead only dwells on the loss, "the end". When you can't feel emotions, or can't let yourself feel them, then even feeling negative emotions is a rush. An evidence you are alive. He is deadpan, except when recounting and reliving the loss. "It feels so rough" and that is all he can feel.

So at least she finds freedom. What would it take for him? Can he find redemption? Would he be able to hear it if, instead of a f-you kind of breakup, she reached out and removed some if the paint from his face? Hold the shattered pieces back, at bay, if only for a moment, so that he could see and get a taste of something else, a whiff of freedom. Because, she hadn't been healthy in the relationship either. She internalized everything and felt it was her fault. When she realized this wasn't the case, she snapped. If she broke it off, not in anger, but I'm more healthy way, could he have found freedom, too?

So what could we take away from this, apart from a hauntingly beautiful song? What I see is the absolute necessity to know who you are, and be secure in that. When I am secure in who I am in Christ and who He made me, I'm not going to take someone's faults as my own. (Though I will own up to my faults.) I'm not going to be as easily susceptible to manipulation. The paint of the shattered background wouldn't stick in the first place.

This also means that all elements of relationships are more likely to be healthy, including breakups. If I know who I am in Christ, resting in His love and forgiveness, I am more likely to extend that to others. The woman was right to breakup in this video, it was an unhealthy relationship. But had she known who she was from the beginning, she could have broken it off well, offering a piece of freedom, instead of feeding his addiction and giving him what he was after all along.

So, preaching to myself here, know who you are in Christ, stand firm and secure in that, and do all things in love.

What's your take on this video? Do you agree or see something completely different? Leave a comment and let's discuss!


  1. appreciate your observations about the video...
    When I am secure in who I am in Christ and who He made me, I'm not going to take someone's faults as my own.
    This has me pondering of "bear one another's burdens/heavies, and thus fulfill the law of Christ."
    [Galatians 6:2]
    How may I take on the heavier things (like my brother's addiction) as if my own, and yet really not my own?
    How can we survive empathy?

  2. How can we survive empahty?
    Great question! There is a line, often a thin line, between bearing one another's burdens and taking those burdens as one's own. I am going to have to ponder that question. Thanks!