The Drums’ music video for ‘There is Nothing Left’ not only portrays a first it’s revolutionary. The video features the up and coming trans-actress Hari Nef as the video’s star lady. Strolling through the suburban streets of America, Nef and her on-screen love interest / all-round model hunk Damian partake on a romantic date with less than conventional romantic endings. A video which inspires freedom and equality, it is also one that is aware of its own symbolism.
The video is as important for its symbolic reasons as it is for its contents. It offers hope and inspiration for not only trans-teenagers, but for anyone of a minority whose discrimination leaves them feeling as if there is, quite literally, ‘nothing left’. The couple are stalked throughout by a crazed monster, who enjoys nothing more than gouging on old homeless men and interpretative dance. You can’t help but feel that, in a symbolic sense, this monster reflects the demons that stalk us in society. Yet the monster’s eventual death at the end highlights how: it’s ok. The monsters will die eventually. It’s just a matter of getting through the dark days first.
Indeed, Johnny Pierce, The Drums’ vocalist, revealed in recent years his struggles of realising his homosexuality while living with strictly religious parents. Initially, they didn’t accept him. They ‘disagreed’ with his ‘decision’ – the typical homophobic ignorance. The monster in the video therefore can been seen as symbolic of the monstrous side of society. While the video begins in an idyllic national park, this juxtaposes with the gruesome nature of the monster. Indeed, it doesn’t matter who you are: we all have our own demons we wish to flee. Our own inner anxieties we wish to liberate ourselves of. Our own external struggles for acceptance. Pierce’s cry of ‘and I hope I had for the first time in my life / I let it die’ could be seen as representing the difficulties in letting these anxieties ‘die’, and the fears of these anxieties returning.
Yet first and foremost, the song is one about love. Or, the disintegration of love. While Nef and Giles appear to make the air around them alive with lust, the monster looks longingly on. Concluding with surprisingly touching and delicate dance routine from the monster before being shot by the old man he had previously tried to gouge on, we are taught to perhaps not judge a monster by its monsterly appearance.
Ultimately, the beauty of the video comes through its figurative nature. The beautiful and talented Hari Nef is treated for what she is, proving that society, no matter how slowly, is moving in the right direction. It might be many centuries before the trans-community – or any minority group for that matter – can free themselves of the monsters of society, but her casting acts as a defiant sign of liberation in the search for equality.
Words by Juliette Rowsell