After a very emotional music video focusing on rape on college campus, Lady Gaga’s music video for Til it Happens to You notes the statistic that 1 in 5 college women are sexually assaulted yearly. This music video is well thought out. From being a black and white music video, to the sudden camera movements that go along with the actions of the people involved. For example, when the victim is the bathroom is getting raped, the camera shifts in and out of focus. With this technique, there is an contribution to the victims feelings. Apart from the trauma and distress, the scene is able to convey the feeling of haziness. In this moment, to the victim nothing is clear or make sense and everything is just a blur. In a respectful manner, the video shows rape as it is without romanticizing it. The importance is the fact that rape was actually shown. This can be triggering to those who are a victim of rape, but if the music video sugarcoats the truth, then the means are insignificant. The song itself calls point to the feelings of the victim: Till your world burns and crashes Till you’re at the end, the end of your rope Till you’re standing in my shoes, I don’t wanna hear nothing from you From you, from you, cause you don’t know The pain and ugliness of the song and music video is to show the realness of the experience. This music video is important to show people the realities. To understand the issue you need to see it at its worst. Through the victim’s perspective and a recreation of specific types of rape scenarios, these people hopefully get a sense of what is happening. This is a issue that cannot be fixed with positive words or input from someone who has no clue on how the victim is feeling. This is an issue that cannot be fixed with a music video that does not fully display what happens in rape. The music video is trying to get the point across: rape happens and they come in other ways that are not necessary enacted by force. By law, at least in California, the definition of rape includes the inability to get conscious consent, meaning if someone is under the influence, the consent is not valid and it is rape. If a person is drugged unconscious, it is rape. Yet with all the messages the music video proclaims, why is a problem like this only recognized when put in art form? Why isn’t victims experiences enough? I am not trying to discredit the music video but consider this, the song is actually for a documentary called The Hunting Ground. The central focus of the documentary is obviously is about college campus and silencing the victims of sexual assault. Colleges are more in favor in protecting the assailant rather than help bring justice to the victim. Just as if someone were trying to make a music video about rape but sugarcoat the truth, colleges are trying to protect something. Even with the trailer a quote that gives explanation to the silence, “universities are protecting a brand.” What college would want to openly admit that rapes happens on their campus? Rather than helping, they render the victim silent. Take a look at Emma Sulkowicz, a former student of Columbia University (graduated Spring of 2015) who created a endurance performance in which she carried a mattress similar to the one she was raped on until her assailant is expelled. Unfortunately for Sulkowicz, he was never expelled and she carried the mattress even when receiving her diploma. What inspired this performance was on the first day of Sulkowicz second year of college, she was anally raped in her dorm room. She proceeds to file a compliant, and discovers two other students have been assaulted by the same individual who raped her. After Sulkowicz complaint, the other two students filed as well. In the end, the three complaints were disregarded and the assailant was cleared of any problems. Following in May 2014, she filed a complaint with NYD, but no charges were pressed because there was lack of reasonable suspicion. The title of her work is called Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight). She purchased a XL twin size bed, similar to the ones found in Columbia’s dorms, and carried it whenever she was on campus. Then began a nine month long performance, gaining national attention. Through art, Sulkowicz is creating an awareness, just as Lady Gaga does with her music video for Til it Happens to You. On reflection of her work, knowing that she would probably carry the mattress to graduation, she says, “To me, the piece has very much represented [the fact that] a guy did a horrible thing to me and I tried to make something beautiful out of it.” 95 institutions in the United States are under the investigations of violating Title IX. The victims file complaints, go to the police, even sue their own school, and none of it is working. The problem is still there. Rape is prevalent to campus colleges and victims are being ignored. Thankfully with artworks from Sulkowicz and Lady Gaga, art is creating a voice. You can silent a college student, but you cannot stop the process of art. That is why Lady Gaga’s film must be represented as real as possible. These video interacts with the emotions of whoever is watching and tries to get those to understand the pain. Even with Sulkowicz, outsider views get a understanding the weight, she as a victim has to carry. To have the college protect the assailant, leaves the victim to carry the weight all on her own. This is an on going problem where the victim is ignored and the only way to make awareness is through means of art that catches people attention.
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