9mm, Love Ghost
Written by Rituparno Maity and Finnegan Bell | Review by Prarthana Mitra
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the spring of 2018, when the Parkland students took to the streets demanding gun control laws, a garage band from Los Angeles was mourning in their own way.
Love Ghost, an alternative rock band from the foothills of Hollywood, is full of youth and rage. The recent spate of mass shootings at schools in and around their town has left an indelible impact on their lives, and their art has not been spared either. They busied themselves with creating an artistic space to probe into the roots of a social menace claiming so many lives. Earlier this year, they released a grungy dirge, but 9mm goes beyond that.
The band recently launched a brand new music video that goes with the song, hoping to heal and initiate a much-needed dialogue by addressing the question: What is it like in the mind of the shooter? Frontman Finnegan Bell, in association with Indian animator Rituparno Maity, channelled their steampunk roots and social angst into an animated music video for the song.
Stepping into the shoes of the shooter, the video employs dark animation to trace the roots of this fatal epidemic that has American schools paralyzed with fear and trauma. Pages have been written on the socio-economic and political conditions that shape the proclivity for gun violence, but 9mm focuses on the communication gap that develops between potential shooters and the community, owing to depression, social anxiety, isolation, loneliness, bullying and toxic masculinity.
The video paints a poignant picture of the liminal space of indecision—to destroy the self or the other—that potential shooters often find themselves in. The protagonist in the music video is clearly a disturbed young man, who is subject to ridicule in school corridors and therefore, chooses to drown himself in a pit of loneliness. The internal conflict becomes apparent when he hesitates to pick up the gun for the first time, but makes the fateful decision a moment towards the beginning, while the shards present to him vignettes into a better life that could have been.
By offering an alternative perspective into the grizzly affair, from the eyes of the shooter, Love Ghost’s work creates a deeper understanding of all that is wrong and frankly hard to fix with stringent gun laws alone. The animation hits harder because of its boldness, complemented by the jarring and distorted score. The style is reminiscent of alt-animation cult classics like Waltz with the Bashir and April and the Extraordinary World. Capping at three minutes, the video also alternates between monochrome and colour to depict the grim reality, delusions and dreams of the shooter, who stands on the cusp of throwing his entire life away, and ending those of so many. For those scarred by the horrific memories and the rising recurrence of such incidents, the music video makes for a cathartic watch.
Prarthana is presently in between odd jobs and obtaining her master’s degree in literature. She loves modern poetry and meditative cinema. Based out of Calcutta, Prarthana observes people, football, films and enjoys writing about all three. Of late, she relates to Frank Ocean’s music. Her writing experience consists of writing for various sites such as Try Cinema, The Indian Economist, Doing The Rondo, Saintbrush and various academic journals.