Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, WhatsApp … and the list is as long as the digits of Pi. Generating a world of our own and confusing realities, we completely misunderstand our relationships, whether it is love or friendship.
Paul Van Haver, better known by his stage name, Stromae, has always shocked and opened minds with his incredible songwriting skills, but this time is different. The Belgian singer has combined his distinct electronic rhythms with an animated clip in order to warn us about, as BuzzFeed Music put it, the ‘tweetpocalypse’. In an interview with TimeOut New York, Stromae revealed that his inspiration was Georges Bizet’s Carmen, in which it is said ‘Love is a rebellious bird’. The singer used this idea and also added a bit of contemporary social media horror. To top it all off, the music video for Carmen was released on the 1st of April 2015, so that it coincides with April Fool’s Day to emphasize how modern love is starting to become more and more like a joke.
In under four minutes, we get alarming messages regarding love, power and reality, all while being captivated by the catchy beat. The video focuses on the blue bird logo from Twitter, which from a little birdie turns into a monster by the end, due to the number of followers growing. The lyrics presume that we meet someone, follow each other, but then fall apart, simply because we cannot have long and meaningful conversations, given that the Twitter limit is 140 characters. Even if the bird seems harmless at first sight, it soon takes over the main character’s entire life: it eats with him (whilst he tweets a picture of his meal, with the obvious hash tags ‘lunch’ and ‘resto’), goes to the cinema with him and it’s always got his back, literally. This until the bird is so big, that it begins carrying him – the metaphors are recognizable. What is more horrifying, is when the individual is being controlled by his ‘pet’, he aligns with the rest of the people who ride the same animals: we even see Justin Bieber, Kanye West with Kim Kardashian West, Lady Gaga, Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II, with Obama having the largest bird, meaning that even the most wealthy and powerful can be the victims.
Twitter, as the epitome of social media, is depicted as no longer an app, but a lifestyle. Although in the video, the guy finds himself in bed with a girl, he chooses Twitter, neglecting reality and opting to live in a world in which he can be popular. Whether an economic commodity or not, this is the age of social media consumerism, with us preferring digital bonds over real-life interactions. As Stromae mentions in the song, ‘Love is the child of consumerism/ It will always always always want more’; companies demand more of the consumer – the social media user, meaning more time spent on Twitter, Facebook etc.
Everyone is aware of these networks and their drawbacks, and yet no one anticipates the upcoming war between the digital and the real. Moreover, if we were to judge by the ending of the video, it looks like the digital would be the winner, since the characters are all swallowed by the Twitter devil, while the song goes on: ‘We will all perish like rats’. However, the history repeats itself, as another petite bird starts to sing at its next martyr’s window, a girl that was previously scared by it.
Music is truly a language in itself and of course, the point of art is to allow interpretation. Nonetheless, Stromae’s symbols speak so loud and clear, that they cannot be ignored any further.
Are you the next victim?