I Never Knew What This Song Meant Until Now…
In John Berger’s video Ways of Seeing, he explains that how we react to everything we see around us depends on a number of factors. Environment, for example, is key to how one may experience a particular situation. For example, as for “Stay Together for the Kids,” if one were to listen to this song in their car, after learning their parents are divorcing, it would hit home a lot more. Imagine a 16 year old kid driving around late at night. In an attempt to keep their mind off the separation, they’d focus on nothing but driving. But in that moment, when this particular song starts playing on the radio, the lyrics start drilling into their head, like never before. And suddenly “Stay Together for the Kids” became more than just another Blink-182 song. Given the circumstances and the perspective from which this song was being listened to, it became much more than that because they are able to relate to and understand this song in “the context of your own life” (John Berger). That’s what John Berger explains in his video. The environment and the given situation change everything. When one is able to actually apply a certain song into their own life experiences, it becomes so much more significant. For example, when one is able to relate Bible passages into the context of their own present life, their faith in God becomes stronger. In other words, their faith in God becomes much more significant. Songs play the same role in our lives as well.
The Music Video Shows What the Song Doesn’t
While listening to the song plays a large role in understanding its meaning, the music video actually helps as well. The video has subliminal messages that it hopes to carry out to its viewers. It starts out with a quote stating “50% of all American households are destroyed by divorce.” Then while the music begins playing, you see a clearly already damaged home, boarded up, vandalized, abandoned. Inside is the band, and many punk rock-ish teenagers surrounding them. The fact that the house is in bad condition is to show that, although the divorce hasn’t even happened yet, it’s already broken. Then a wrecking ball comes flying in during the chorus, which starts to destroy the house. This is the most important. The wrecking ball stands for divorce, and it’s knocking down the house because they (the parents) are breaking the whole house apart by doing this, which is also affecting the people inside (the kids). Then the kids in the home, when the wrecking ball is coming through, are jumping around, kicking and pushing the walls. At this point, it’s showing that the kids are so mad at everything that they’re trying to knock the house down too because they feel like it’s their fault that this is happening.
Watching the video has a greater effect than just listening to the song. It showcases the subliminal messages of the already powerful lyrics. If one were to watch this video before listening to the song itself, it would only create a different layer of meaning than if one were to just download the song and listen to it. Being able to watch a video of the lead singer, who actually wrote this entire song himself, and really hear it and see the pain in his eyes and face is what makes this video that much more significant. The fact that one can watch this and be able to say “he went through what I’m going through right now. If he can make it, so can I.” Also, the wrecking ball that comes crashing through the home is such a strong message being sent in this video. The band members want their fans to know that they themselves know what it’s like to feel like your world is crashing down. They understand what it feels like when your home is breaking apart and you can’t do anything about it but watch. Watching the video, although it’s mostly of a house being torn apart by a wrecking ball, actually gives a sense of comfort in the end, and that’s something that one cannot actually receive from listening to just the song.
Nothing Compares To Being Sweated on by Your Favorite Band
On the other hand, if one were to go see Blink-182 in actual live concert, the experience would be so much more different: a lot more intense, as well as a lot more inspirational, given the fact that it’s live. The focus at that moment would not only be on the music and lyrics, but also on the band members themselves, their performance, the adrenaline, the emotions, etc. When one finally gets to see and hear this emotional song get performed by the actual band, after listening and having cried to it over a million times in solace, it’s a feeling one cannot obtain from listening through earphones or watching the video on a computer screen. It’s unexplainable. The stimulating environment, at this point, plays such a large role in creating an emotional effect on every individual watching them.
Ultimately, the various modes of reproduction of “Stay Together for the Kids”—listening to it in the car, watching the music video, or attending a live concert and actually seeing them perform—all produce different reactions. The emotions and mindsets in all the circumstances vary. And while it may be the same song, by the same band, the manner in which it is being displayed is what sets it apart from everything else. The influence it has on the individual and the emotions they get all depend on who they are and what they are going through at that moment in time. It is all very circumstantial because we all so beautifully unique, like snowflakes in the winter. What we have experienced in our entire lives, no one else can completely and perfectly relate. That’s why it’s important to know we are more significant than we think.
Kristen Santos is a freshman at CSUN and loves spending time with her family.