Pink’s New Video :: Hope or Harm?
With tunes as catchy as they are compelling, P!nk has always brought an smart and powerful female presence to the airways. Her songs often send a message of strength and empowerment, particularly to the young fans that can identify with her history of being an undervalued outcast.
Since her latest music video, “F**kin’ Perfect”, was released last week, Pink has faced some scrutiny for the graphic depictions of bullying, implied eating disorders, and self-harm. [You can view the video here, but please be aware that the imagery may be triggering for some.]
In the video, Napoleon Dynamite star Tina Marjorino plays a young woman reflecting on years of torment and abuse, perpetrated both by others and herself. The piece depicts the woman using behaviors such as extreme dieting and cutting in an apparent attempt to manage the intense feelings of hurt. sadness, and anger that she is experiencing.
I imagine that many among us can relate to the intense pain conveyed in this video. In the eating disorder community, many individuals have already expressed how profoundly they are able to connect with the experiences portrayed. And even among those who have never engaged in self-harm or other behaviors, the video elicits a sense of relatedness based on the anguish that can be caused by being rejected.
But could the imagery in the video hit too close to home for some?
Some members of the mental health community, as well as concerned parents and advocates, have expressed feeling that Pink’s video goes too far. They report concern that the images could be triggering and upsetting for individuals who struggle with these behaviors or could even glamorize them. Indeed, the character in the video experiences an ending that does not suggest the difficult of the potential repercussions of behaviors like cutting and eating disorders, which include serious injury and even death.
Many who have seen the video, however, report feeling a sense of hope. And in fact, Pink reports that a sense of connectedness was her goal in creating the video. She says on her website, “I don’t support or encourage suicide or cutting. I support the kids out there that feel so desperate/numb/powerless, that feel unseen and unheard, and can’t see another way. I want them to know I’m aware. I have been there. I see them. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”
So does creating awareness and potentially connection among those struggling outweigh the potential risk of upsetting and triggering others who are also struggling? Is all publicity good publicity?
These are the tough questions that must be asked when media images are created. There are no easy answers and we are bound to have opinions as varied as each of us. We face this issues much more often than we might think.
Consider the recently deceased Isabella Caro’s anti-anorexia campaign. While the young model was attempting to send a message about the dangerousness of an eating disorder – and may have been effective in steering some vulnerable individuals away from this life – the campaign may also have been extremely triggering to those in the throws of the disorder.
Or what about body image and eating disorder blogs that present stories of individuals at their most ill? Anecdotally, I know that many of the individuals I work with will tell me later in their recovery that during their most vulnerable, these stories did nothing but fuel their disorder, despite a happy ending for the writer. But still others report that these stories offer them a sense of hope – that no matter how severe the problem, recovery is possible.
To me, the important point is that we consider the questions – that we take time to examine the potential implications of what we write, do, say, and create. There is nothing more powerful than a critical mind and a thoughtful consumer.
What are your reactions to Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” video? Does the power of the message override images that could upset some people?