Jennifer Grassman: The Doors A Slashed Wrist Will Open

Jennifer Grassman has a voice like an angel. This is not meant as a compliment. "Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell," someone said. It might've been Shakespeare, or it might have been Kain.

The point is that the voice of an angel is an agent of the Word, and though sometimes the Word is Salvation, Love, or Comfort, other times it is Death, Pain and Loss. The video for Grassman's song "Bedroom Door," directed her sister Kaitlin, speaks in a voice of incomprehensible sorrow echoing infinitely in all linearities from her sepia-toned point of origin.


The song itself deals with a girl contemplating suicide, though from out perspective it certainly seems that the time for contemplation has long since passed. Jennifer's highly symbolic lyrics draw parallels to the dew dripping from the windowsill and what is likely the blood of a slashed wrist running down her heroine's arm.

Clutched in her subject Michaella Grassman's hand throughout the course of the video is an old-fashioned iron key. Keys are one of the most powerful symbolisms in dream interpretation, most obviously as a means of escape.

However, the loss of a key, as Michaella does in the closing minutes of her sister's song, is one of the worst possible omens. It implies a loss of hope, and certainly indicates that no escape is possible. All that is left is whether or not this means that Michaella has locked herself in the still cold of death, or in the harsh world that has beaten her down.

"For me personally, the key represents a means of escape," says Jennifer. "Keys open gateways, unclasp handcuffs, and unlock cage doors. In this way, the girl views her weapon of choice - whatever it is in her hand - as a means of escaping what she perceives to be an unbearable life.

"The weapon becomes her key to freedom - freedom from life being, of course, death," she continues. "And yet the girl worries, 'What will freedom leave behind me?' How will my actions impact my family, my friends, and this world? Death may be the easy way out, but is it right?"

Jennifer hovers ghost-like over Michaella throughout the video, pausing occasionally for brief performance pieces. Kaitlin's cinematography baptizes the scene in a rush of rusted colors invoking the desperation of the Dust Bowl.

Just as the song opens with the line "The rain has come to Texas again," so does Kaitlin take careful count of each shot making sure to bring the oppressiveness of an angry sky to glare down on her sisters, both the singing and the suffering. There's a futility about the scene that captures the inevitably of pain and death, themes that echo throughout the song.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner