Miranda Lambert’s much anticipated “Vice” music video was released today, and this is one video that has the fans and media talking. Perhaps many people awaited the video with certain expectations of a literal treatment that follows the lyrics laden with honesty, which could be why eyebrows are raised today and many aren’t quite sure how to respond.
To be honest, “Vice” is very much open to interpretation, even as it pertains to the song itself. Before I heard the song, I received several different messages from friends, none of which was alike. One thought the song was deep and dark; one thought it was about sleeping around; one thought it was about being an alcoholic, but no two ideas directly overlapped. It can be said that the music video followed suit, making interpretation a key factor while viewing.
As subjective as this video might be, we thought a dissection of the treatment might open some eyes and start turning wheels that might have been flat at first. To begin pumping some air for you, let me paint a picture. Remember the beginning of Wizard of Oz when it is black and white before Dorothy ends up walking us through her dream in color? If you are only looking for sex and alcohol in the “Vice” video, you are waiting for a tornado to lift you off your feet and drop you into a world of colors and layers.
Prepare to be involuntarily swept away.
Rather than a record player opening the video, as one would expect, “Vice” begins with a tire spinning to the scratching of the needle on vinyl. We find Lambert in a wrecked vehicle, climbing her way out on to a deserted road. Immediately, I saw the car and thought, “This is symbolic of her life. It has spun out of control and she has crashed.” As the camera pans over the leaking fluids and the broken glass, we see her entire life shattered while she lays in the middle of the wreckage. You know that saying “you have to hit rock bottom” in order to get better? Lambert snaps out of her “unconsciousness” with the opening beat of the music, symbolizing the fact that she is finally starting to see herself for who and what she is — but is she really ready to climb out of the mess she’s made?
It doesn’t seem so.
Attempting to regroup, Lambert finds herself alone in a desolate world of emptiness, looking around for something or someone familiar, but she has built a life that lacks those things. To fill the voids that her vice has helped her create, she begins to travel down a road of past and future regrets, looking for the next quick fix. However, she doesn’t get far before she turns around and takes a quick glimpse at the destruction, ultimately deciding to appear unaffected, symbolizing that the necessary rock bottom is yet to be achieved.
Though somewhat literal in its setting, Lambert is next seen walking through a ghost town, only coming across a few signs of life: a woman who not-so-coincidentally holds a newspaper with the word “CHAOS” boldly printed on the front as Lambert croons about her addiction to goodbyes; two children blowing bubbles, representing the innocence that once was; a bird that mimics her behavior — flying away as fast as it came into the picture; and the bartender who serves up the poison that brought her to this point.
As soon as Lambert makes herself comfortable in the bar and succumbs to her demons, she is seen, once again, traveling alone down a road on foot, paying close attention to crosses on the side of the road; something that could hit a little too close to home sooner than later if she continues on the destructive path. The bridge is upon us and as Lambert delicately sings “standing at the sink, not looking in the mirror, don’t know where I am or how I got here,” she is seen in the middle of a crossroads, looking every which way and not knowing which direction is right.
As she comes to terms with the fact she is still not ready to turn over a new leaf and start her life over, she admits the only thing she knows how to find “is another vice.” Just like that, a car with nobody driving comes down the road toward her and she climbs in the backseat. Lambert blindly relinquishes self control and heads off, crying out that she is another vice.
Hopefully that helps open some eyes to the intricacies of the video. It is pure genius and worthy of every award for which it is eligible. Kudos to all involved and the magical direction of Trey Fanjoy.
What did you take away from the video when you watched it? What symbolism did you notice? We can’t wait to hear your individual interpretations!