As Katie Stelmanis of Austra has so eloquently stated of one of the major problems with current politics–America or otherwise–“There’s a major disconnect between what we need to thrive as humans and what we put a monetary value to.” That being said, one of the major issues underlying how the “common man” is ignored by their government is the sweeping under the rug of mental illness, most often depression.
With Austra’s latest single and video from Future Politics, the affecting “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself,” the band tackles the frequently still-cast-aspersions-on topic of medical-grade melancholy through the lens of Lisa Nowak, the illustrious astronaut arrested for kidnapping Colleen Shipman back in 2007. Propelled by motives of jealousy (Shipman had recently become involved with Nowak’s former flame, William Oefelein), Nowak famously drove nine hours from Houston to Orlando to apprehend Shipman at the Orlando International Airport–it’s always Orlando, isn’t it?
At the outset of the video, Stelmanis–in the role of Nowak–stares out the window in a contemplative daze as she prepares the materials she’ll need for her endeavor, donning her space suit for the task of hitting up various shopping malls for her required supplies (leather gloves and wig included). As she lets a salesman put a long black wig on her, a look of extreme serenity washes over her, as though taking on a new persona has at last healed her of her mental disquietude. Accordingly, the following scene shows Nowak happily bounding down the steps, her hands at capacity with shopping bags. She is a liberated woman through succumbing to her darkest desires. The fitting lyrics, “There is nothing in your soul tonight, I only see darkness,” correspond poetically with that which drives Nowak to her actions.
All the while, a man lingering in the distance watching her acts as a sort of William Oefelein-esque guardian angel, perhaps silently urging her not to go through with it all. The conclusion of the video reimagines a somewhat better metaphorical outcome for Nowak, visiting the same nightclub as a reinterpreted Colleen Shipman dances on the floor, Nowak at last joining her just as the aforementioned Oefelein character appears too.
Rather than treating a person who behaves in the manner of Nowak as cut-and-dried crazy, Austra proffers the notion of actually looking behind the root cause of such comportment. There is more to the woman depressed than her simply being “insane.” And perhaps in the future politics envisioned by this album and song, there can be a world where mental health awareness and treatment is more adequately addressed by our government–as opposed to spurned or ignored.