Does @TheWeeknd Seek Mortality?


A year or so ago, Yoh of DJBooth delivered a piece that gave an in-depth look into his theory about The Weeknd being a vampire. From "The Hills" to "Can't Feel My Face," there was an analysis that The Weeknd is now an immortal being who embraced his power by killing off his elders. This immortality seems to have interlocked itself with the fact that Beauty Behind The Madness was an album that went platinum several times over and won many awards. But, something happened between this year and last, something a bit more humane. I'd like to expand on/offer a counterpoint to Yoh's theory (and recent his follow-up on the overarching conspiracy theories in The Weeknd's music). I actually feel that that The Weeknd now craves mortality and a release from his chains, even more so than just killing the "Devil"-like guy in "Tell Your Friends" or running away from his own fiery (soon-to-be) corpse in "Can't Feel My Face."


In looking at the most-recent videos he's released, there is a running motif within them: the destruction of self, crosses, religion, and the rejection of the past while still embracing its impact on the self today. Let's start with "Starboy."


Within the "Starboy" video, we see The Weeknd in black killing the BBTM version of himself and embracing Christian imagery. This is seen through his cross necklace, the cross made by lights in the opening of the video, and the cross-saber he uses to cleave through BBTM-related material. While religion, as Yoh pointed out, has never really played much of a role in The Weeknd's music, we've got to take notice of it here.


Throughout mythical history, we've seen examples of vampires being aversive to Christianity. From Blood: The Last Vampire to elements of Blade, religion--specifically Christianity--is a big no-no. They are servants of darkness while Christianity tends to represent the "light" of the world. If a devout Christian wields a cross at a vampire, it’s all but assured that said vampire is going to become dust in the wind. You can probably think of, off the top of your head, a time where a vampire was killed because The Power of Christ compelled someone to stab them with a cross or a piece of wood (wood's important as well, since, you know...Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross to die for our sins).


Bringing this back to "Starboy," by The Weeknd possessing these items, he can be seen as rejecting his past, therefore rejecting his potential vampirism or deal with the Devil. He’s had a taste of immortality and the like, but would rather be regular old blow-blowing, heartbreaking Weeknd. We already know that The Weeknd is a guy who prefers to stay to himself, as indicated in several interviews over the years.

Additionally, this potentially self-righteous suicide can be seen as a desire to be mortal again. While the video is dark and filled with violent, volatile imagery down to The Weeknd stealing a car and driving off with a panther, there’s a plethora of light within the piece. Everywhere we look, we see lit-up hallways, chandeliers, and, of course, the glowy cross-saber sword. The video itself seems to take place in the hours before dawn, as the city slowly creeps back to life.

Now, suicide isn't Christian, in the traditional sense. But, dying/repenting for your sins in a hope to be reborn in Heaven absolved is. It's a convoluted mess that ultimately shows The Weeknd desiring freedom, a freedom that only giving up the darkness (while still acknowledging it) can bring. This is exactly why it's hard to say that The Weeknd is going back to his "old style." Both his old style and his newer one are both pretty dark. "Starboy," however, even with its dark video isn't exactly something we'd expect from The Weeknd.


In "False Alarm," there are similar motifs.


There’s an incredibly dark situation, this time a robbery gone wrong, in light-filled environments. In the end of the video, we see The Weeknd killing himself after embracing his cross necklace. But, before that, The Weeknd saves a young woman from certain death, even though he abducted her in the first place.

There’s something different to the energy in this Hardcore Henry-inspired piece. In videos such as "The Hills," we see The Weeknd reject his female counterparts, using their energy just to fulfill his own desires, his own sexual bloodlust. Here, he plays Bill Compton to his captured Sookie Stackhouse, opting to let her live and run off with a sack of bills while he dies a quick, painful death. Add on the contradicting aesthetics of dark situations playing out in the light, and you've got The Weeknd asking for some sort of salvation from his sins and his "deal." At the end of the video, in addition to the "death of darkness" motif, we also see the Woman in White run away, as if to suggest no matter how close The Weeknd is to breaking his curse, he's still got a way to go. 

Will the next batch of videos continue this theme of The Weeknd embracing his inner Run Lola Run, dying and dying again until he finds a way out of his hell? Or will they go in another direction entirely? That's up to The Weeknd. But, one thing is for sure. This ain't nothing to relate to, and this is something we’re not used to from him. Even when he's embracing the darkness of his earlier work, there's still a faint scream that calls out for a change.

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