Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Wallace" and the transformation of man

Musician Azealia Banks has a song titled “Wallace” on her debut album “Broke With Expensive Taste” in which she includes details of an abusive relationship. She does not get into the specifics of the relationship but delves into how her vibrant, adventurous self is being held back by her previous partner (the abuser). Wallace is a man with a Rottweiler’s head. She describes her free-spirited nature and the places she’s visited, which intimidates Wallace. Her rise to fame has made her partner become envious of her, and he does not believe he can keep up with her. As their relationship continues, she only sees the rabidness within him as he tries to control and stifle her:

“You’re a giant, I saw all your teeth. Rottweiler, let’s barter, let’s see…”
"Touring the world crazy make Rottweiler gray / Dead doggy-dog belong in the grave"

She describes his rage as embodying Wallace. The animal (Rottweiler) becomes associated with the savagery that Banks sees present in her relationship. Violence is an unfortunate pattern in most domestic relationships. The abuser usually acts out violently due to trauma experienced in childhood/adolescence which breeds insecurity, and festers if not dealt with. It is within this source of insecurity, that the abuser transforms into an animal. They can become blind with rage and hone in and attack anyone who allows this insecurity to resurface.

Accompanying the single, Banks released an interactive music video made accessible via Google Chrome. She is shown from her shoulders up, with the background consisting of kaleidoscopic movements of her body. As the viewer moves their head, Banks follows the movements. The director of the video used this technique to allow the user to be placed in Banks's previous predicament as the victim. Banks is confronting the viewer just as her abuser did. She follows their movement. It’s interesting to note how a lot of the way we perceive men, transforms them into animals; men are compared to dogs (other animals, as well) for their gluttony, inclination towards violence in stressful situations, and physical strength.

We associate savagery with animals, and when found in humans, we view it as a type of regression in one's mental capabilities. However, it is possible that savagery is another way in which we are still linked to animals, just not in the most obvious manner. Humans still have the capability to be cruel and enact abuse; what differentiates animals and humans is the type of abuse we can enact. The abuse we encounter can be verbal, emotional, or psychological, not just physical. Wallace appropriately highlights an example of a (hu)man who "transforms" once he does not feel safe; one who takes it upon himself to put down that (re: Banks) which threatens him.

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