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Directed by Petra Collins, like "Good 4 U," it's a surreal depiction of teen angst and female rage.
There are several Easter eggs with lyrics from "Sour" and nods to artists like Taylor Swift.
The opening scene features ballerinas dancing around Rodrigo, much like Taylor Swift's video for "Shake It Off."
The "Brutal" video opens with Rodrigo in a blue wig, surrounded by ballerinas, and posing against an animated cityscape backdrop. When the song's beat kicks in, Rodrigo's ankle snaps and she falls to the floor in what looks like a dance studio. She looks up at the other women, visibly uncomfortable.
The shot recalls Taylor Swift's more lighthearted video for "Shake It Off," the lead single from her 2014 album "1989." Swift is shown trying to fit in — and looking obviously out of place — with a variety of dance groups.
Rodrigo has repeatedly cited Swift as her idol. The "Folklore" singer even has two songwriting credits on "Sour" ("1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" and "Deja Vu") for writing songs that Rodrigo sampled or took inspiration from ("New Year's Day" and "Cruel Summer," respectively).
Rodrigo's fellow newscaster is actor Lukas Gage.
Lukas Gage's face is partially obscured by an animated filter, designed to look like plastic surgery markings, but you may know the actor from HBO series like "Euphoria" and "The White Lotus."
Rodrigo portrays a reluctant star trying to sell a product, recalling Rina Sawayama's "XS."
This scene embodies the anti-capitalist sentiment in the song's first verse: "And I'm so tired that I might / Quit my job, start a new life / And they'd all be so disappointed / 'Cause who am I if not exploited?"
Rodrigo wears an orange wig and silver two-piece outfit, hawking a vague blue drink. She looks miserable. The filter on her face looks like cracks or fresh cuts.
Rina Sawayama, who has praised Rodrigo in the past, takes on a similar role in her video for "XS." Her character sells a beverage on the shopping channel that's apparently 99% gold and 1% plasma. In the end, Sawayama's character is revealed to be a robot, and the beverage is siphoned from the neck of a creature in chains.
The effects used throughout the video recall Instagram story filters.
Many influencers have been criticized for overusing filters on Instagram, which often include face-smoothing and thinning effects. Some believe they help promote unrealistic beauty standards, including Halsey, who counts Rodrigo as a fan.
"I'm exhausted with this industry of Instagram filters," the "Manic" singer told Byrdie in February. "It's gotta be damaging to your brain to constantly be looking at yourself through an altered lens and being disappointed with what your face actually looks like."
This sentiment is echoed in "Jealousy, Jealousy," the ninth track on "Sour." Rodrigo sings of social media-induced envy and feeling insecure while scrolling through Instagram.
The boy in Rodrigo's bedroom is actor Nico Hiraga.
Nico Hiraga is best known for playing Tanner in the 2019 comedy "Booksmart" and Seth in the 2021 Netflix original "Moxie."
Rodrigo's influencer character uses the Instagram username @spicypiscesnyc, a nod to her astrological sign.
Rodrigo was born on February 20, 2003, which makes her a Pisces. Her Instagram bio even says "spicy pisces." The sign is typically characterized as sensitive and intuitive.
Several people involved with the video leave comments on her Instagram Live.
Hiraga (@nicotheduffer) writes, "Learn to parallel park," which is a reference to a lyric in "Brutal" ("I'm not cool and I'm not smart / And I can't even parallel park").
Gage (@lukasgage) writes, "god it's brutal out here."
Petra Collins (@petrafcollins), who directed the video, comments with three emojis: an eye, a red heart, and the No. 1.
Model and businesswoman Devon Carlson (@devonleecarlson), who doesn't appear to be involved directly with the video, also leaves a comment: "is ur ankle alright?" It's a callback to the video's opening scene.
The comments also contain lyrical Easter eggs.
Several of the comments in Rodrigo's fake livestream are references to other songs on "Sour," including "Good 4 U," "Traitor," and "Hope Ur OK."
The next scene includes posters with "Brutal" lyrics on them.
Rodrigo finds herself in an empty mall, staring at two posters. One is advertising the blue drink from the earlier scene, which is apparently called Golden Years. The slightly ominous slogan reads, "Do you have the guts to enjoy it?"
This is a reference to the "Brutal" lyric, "They say these are the golden years / But I wish I could disappear."
The other poster appears to advertise a lipstick called "Enjoy Your Youth." This is a reference to another "Brutal" lyric: "If someone tells me one more time / 'Enjoy your youth,' I'm gonna cry."
In the lipstick ad, Rodrigo is wearing the same blue wig from the video's opening scene.
The symbol at the bottom is similar to the logo for Yves Saint-Laurent, a luxury French fashion label.
Rodrigo's "two real friends" are portrayed by models.
In the second verse of "Brutal," Rodrigo sings, "I only have two real friends." In the video, two girls grab her by the arms and march her through the mall. They also sit in the front seats of her car.
One is played by Salem Mitchell, who has also appeared in music videos and fashion campaigns for artists like SZA, Cardi B, Rihanna, and Beyoncé. The other is identified on Instagram with the username @alientits. Her page does not include her real name, but her followers include Mitchell and Collins.
The final scene bears a resemblance to Kanye West's "Runaway" visuals.
In the final scene of "Brutal," Rodrigo stands resolutely in a traffic jam while ballerinas dance around her, each on top of her own car.
Their eerie, carefully synchronized movements recall visuals by Kanye West, who famously used ballet in his performances of "Runaway," the second single from his 2010 album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." The cover art also features an illustrated ballerina.
However, Rodrigo has never mentioned West as an inspiration, and his fraught history with her idol draws the intention of this parallel into question.
Read the original article on Insider