For the last year and a half, Grammy award-winning artist Adele has broken records and has gained global fame, all due to a boyfriend breaking her heart. Rapper Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, has been making headlines for years for being his careless, judgmental self. He is known for writing hateful lyrics and not being embarrassed by publicly bashing other celebrities. It is no mystery that the song “Love The Way You Lie” was inspired by his on-and-off wife, Kim Mathers. Journalist Gil Kaufman explains that the video is “the story of [Kim and Marshall] getting to know each other, … their tumultuous relationship, and … the breakdown of their relationship” (4). Although being in a relationship can bring positive feelings to any couple, in Adele’s video “Rolling In The Deep” and Eminem’s video “Love The Way You Lie” it is shown that relationships can also bring frustration, hurt and loneliness.
Journalist Robert Veninga explains that there are five stages of grief: numbness, illusion of normalcy, anger/vulnerability, “hope that things will improve” and finally acceptance (1). After ending a relationship everybody goes through some or all stages of grief. Throughout the video for “Love The Way You Lie,” fire seems to be a recurring theme. The very first stage of grief is numbness; one does not want to accept or believe that things went or are going sour. When actress Megan Fox holds the tire in her hands it can be perceived as her way of numbing. The third stage of grief is anger and vulnerability. While going through disappointment and heartache, Megan becomes more vulnerable, which leads to her becoming abused. During the third stage “people in this phase feel it will never end and that they are somehow responsible for the tragedy” (Veninga 1). “Love The Way You Lie” constantly shows Megan going through the hardships of a relationship to demonstrate that being in a relationship doesn’t just bring happiness.
The video “Rolling In The Deep” also shows the different stages of grief after ending a relationship. From reading Adele’s lyrics alone, one can understand the anger she is feeling, ”I’m gonna make your head burn, think of me in the depths of your despair” (1:25). The third stage, anger, is effectively portrayed. While explaining the horrible things that she wants to do to her ex and how much he has hurt her, the beating of the drummer gets louder and faster, and in the video, a light bulb turns on and off to the beat of the drums. Putting all those elements together helps understand the anger that Adele is feeling. The fourth stage is the feeling of hope, that everything will get better. In Adele’s video there is a random pinkish-reddish light on a doorway which is the only bright color in the video. The audience never sees what is on the other side of that door but I argue that the light and the doorway symbolize her hope or the exit where she will leave all her anger and the relationship behind. Even though the video may seem very simple, almost every single shot shows the stages of grief in different ways, and the feeling of loneliness and isolation than can be triggered.
Loneliness and isolation can be either physical or emotional, even a combination of both. During this period a person may feel that the obstacles and the end of the relationship was their own fault. Mette Aaanes, Maurice Mittelmark, and John Hetland define loneliness as the “… psychological state experienced when a [mismatch] exists between the relationship a person wishes to have, and those that [a person] perceives [they] currently [have]” (6). Both “Rolling In The Deep” and “Love The Way You Lie” convey the feeling of loneliness and isolation in different ways. Throughout “Rolling In The Deep,” Adele sits in the same room by herself. This represents the loneliness she feels throughout her relationship. Another example of loneliness and isolation is when the drummer is in a comer facing the wall. It resembles the state of depression due to the fact that isolation can lead to depression (Heartbreak 4:02). Facing the wall connotes the feeling of loneliness, separation, and sadness. I argue that both of these tactics are used to show one of the many outcomes of being in a relationship. All throughout the video for “Love The Way You Lie,” it was obvious that the relationship between the couple wasn’t the ideal relationship. When Megan sits outside the room on her own, crying, thinking things through, she may be feeling lonely and probably thinking that everything that she is going through is her fault. “Love The Way You Lie” not only shows the milestones that someone can deal with throughout a relationship, but also the different emotions that can build up.
It has been tested that overcoming a heartbreak might be the same as overcoming an addiction. David Buss, PhD; says that “a heart broken from love rates among the most stressful life events a person can experience” (Thornton 114). According to Alice Park, when one is going through heartbreak “the most active areas of the brain were those involved in motivation, craving, addiction, and pain” (1). One of the differences between “Rolling In The Deep” and “Love The Way You Lie” is that Adele was able to get out of her relationship, and as seen in “Love The Way You Lie” Megan’s character seems to be stuck in her relationship. Knowing that being in a relationship can be related to having an addiction, and getting out of one isn ‘t as easy as it seems, it is now understandable why Megan always comes back to her on-screen boyfriend after all the abuse and pain she goes through. She just can’t let go.
As I have explained before, relationships can produce frustration, hurt and loneliness, but on the contrary it can also bring positive feelings. Constantine Sedikides, Mary Beth Oliver and Keith Campbell explained that there are many benefits of being in a relationship such as: “coping with stressful life events …crucial psychological needs such as intimacy, power, social integration and alliance … and reassurance of one’s self-worth” (7). But, Dr. John Marsden from the short film, Heartbreak explains that heartbreak “can lead to isolation … depression, even to violence” and can also “effect … the brain, the body, and human behavior” (8:17). Even though Adele and Megan’s characters may have been through happy moments with their partner, they still had to go through the negatives of being in a relationship.
There are many outcomes that couples go through due to a rocky relationship as seen in the music videos “Rolling In The Deep” and “Love The Way You Lie.” In Adele’s video, the director explains that the house symbolizes Adele’s mind and every single room in it was a different emotion she was feeling. Also explained by the director, the reason Adele sits down throughout the duration of the video is because if she did anything else it would feel “unnecessary to what [they] were trying to say” (Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’: A VMA Cheat Sheet 10). They wanted the audience to see and feel the anger that Adele had. On the contrary, Eminem’s video was really different. Whereas Adele’s video was dark and mysterious with little props or movement, “Love The Way You Lie” had a lot of different movements and scenes. Both Adele and Megan Fox show the obstacles that are faced in a relationship such as being affected mentally, emotionally, and physically. Even though they both express themselves differently, they evidently went through a lot of the same obstacles and emotions.
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Kaufman, Gil. “Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’: A VMA Cheat Sheet” Mtv.com . MTV, 26 Aug. 2011 . Web . 18 Oct 2012.
— “Eminem And Kim’s Rocky Past Inspired ‘Love The Way You Lie’ Video”Mtv.com. MTY, 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 17 Oct 2012.
Park, Alice. “Addicted to Love.” Time, 1763 (20 10) 13.
Rolling In The Deep. Dir Sam Brown. Perf Adele. VEVO. N.p, n.d. Web. 13 Oct 2012.
Sedikides, Constantine, Mary Beth Oliver, and Keith Campbell. “Perceived Benefits and Costs of Romantic Relationships for Women and Men: Implications for Exchange Theory.” Personal Relationships. N.p. Cambridge UP, 1994. 5-21 . Web.
Thornton, Jim. “THE SCIENCE of HEART BREAK.” Men’s Health (10544836), 24.2 (2009): 114-1 21.
Veninga, Robert “How to Cope with Heartbreak” Ladies’ Home Journal, 102 (1985): 74.