Punk band Ceremony are getting ready to embark on their North American Spring 2022 tour and are celebrating the upcoming adventure by releasing a thought-provoking music video for their first standalone single “Vanity Spawned by Fear.” The video is directed by Ceremony frontman Ross Farrar and photographer and creative director of Muted Widows Nedda Afsari. It is Farrar’s directorial debut.
The video follows a collaborative collaging project. We cannot see the pair of artists in their entirety; rather, we see two sets of hands put together the display.
You can watch the music video here:
The project begins with a fuzzy image of a person’s face; one of the eyes is hole-punched out. The hands, detached from any identities, cover up the picture of the face with a white sheet of paper and begin a more traditional collage. Before long, that image is covered up as well; each stage of the project covers up the last in its entirety.
The first stage of the collage, the foundations of which are described above, uses imagery and words evoking the concept of sight. Farrar and Afsari showcase eyes and images of people peering through things such as gates or fences. This treats eyes and sight as something incredibly significant, perhaps referencing the idea of eyes being the mirror to one’s soul.
Approximately a third of the way through the song, the video transitions, moving the first project off camera and beginning a new collage. The second part is started by displaying a newspaper clipping whose title reads “What Makes People QUEER?” The first image laid over the clipping is over a seemingly cisheterosexual couple holding hands and watching TV; the wife’s hand is adorned with a thick wedding ring and bracelet.
The remainder of the video includes more sexual images, largely of women’s bodies but excluding their faces; police or authority figures; and models. The motif of subjects looking through something persists here as well.
Being looked at, sexual imagery and vanity are intrinsically linked; it is through a somewhat primitive sense — sight — that individuals often judge themselves most harshly, and the judgement is often related to sexual value. Acts of sexual freedom have been policed for ages, so the authority figures may be referencing this, or perhaps they reference the everyday policing that average people conduct themselves.
In discussing the two most recently released songs (“Vanity Spawned by Fear” and “California Poppy”), Ceremony guitarist Anthony Anzaldo Jr. said, “We do our best to keep futility a secret, a cognitive exercise with feeble reward. The Poppy field reminds us that not all things are meant to be altered. In California, Vanity is spawned by fear.”