Musical artist and former Youtuber writes about the downsides of Hollywood culture
By Matthew Hillier, Contributor
George Miller, also known as “Joji” is an R&B singer and writer signed with 88Rising. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he is also well known for his YouTube channel “Filthy Frank’’ which despite not being active is still seeing growth to its already impressive 7.6 million subscriber count.
With three studio albums under his belt, Miller’s music has kept an introspective and personal tone. For example, his breakout hit “Slow Dancing in the Dark’’ deals with the crushing reality of your partner becoming a stranger to you. These heartbreaking lyrics are enhanced by the slow almost dream-like music that conveys a tone of sadness and apathetic acceptance.
In addition to his take on love and heartbreak, Miller’s music and its accompanying videos often deal with the complicated relationship between an artist and the out-of-control toxic culture of fame.
A good introduction to this concept is Miller’s music video for the song “Run.” The video depicts an eerie endless limo party with all the wonderful additions of toxic celebrity culture. For example, people of colour are in the back of the limo, partygoers sip champagne while people die of overdoses around them. People also grab and claw at anyone trying to move up or escape the limo. It isn’t hard to see what Miller is trying to show.
Miller illustrates a disconnect in society between the idealized vision of fame and the crushing reality of it; his music video for “Gimme Love’’ deals with this idea. The video is composed of frames quickly appearing to the beat of the song. It shows the advancement of the lead character in his career in space exploration. However, when you look closer the frames show a dream of space travel becoming an out-of -control reality.
The character begins with being rude and short-tempered towards his co-workers, his own health starts to fade and he risks the lives of his co-workers in dangerous experiments. All while he achieves more and more accolades. Finally, in the only normal speed segment of the video, after all the characters sacrifice and compromise, he steals a launching rocket before it takes off. While the video normally might look like a rising star going off the rails, a closer look shows a story of struggle and compromises for a dream going out of control.
Miller loves using the imagery of space travel in his music videos as a metaphor for fame. He shows that fame, like space travel, is exciting and dangerous, but most of all it’s very empty and lonely once you finally get there.
“Sanctuary’’ is one of Miller’s most popular songs, which uses space imagery as an allegory for fame. The music video shows a depressed and apathetic space captain aimless after achieving the goal of defeating his nemesis. Under the fun, cheesy space visuals reminiscent of old Star Trek, Miller shows that often actually “making it” leaves a person feeling hollow and apathetic. After all, one of the best ways to ruin a person is to give them every single thing they want.
“Pretty Boy” is a song from Miller’s third studio album Nectar that deals with the often fake front of confidence that famous people exude that comes into conflict with the real internal suffering that comes with being unable to show weakness or emotional vulnerability. The video that accompanies the song depicts the “industry” as three older men who have had some work done as they live out what looks like the ideal Hollywood experience driving in fast cars, walking on scenic beaches and constantly checking themselves out in a mirror.
The use of these characters in Miller’s videos (i.e the videos for “Pretty Boy,” “Daylight” and “FTC”) depicts these three men as uncaring, violently self-centred and always trying to recapture their idealized bygone days of fame. These men show a sad reality where an uncaring industry molds people into something that lives and breathes for the rush that only the spotlight can provide and are always chasing that feeling.
Miller’s frequent time in the spotlight of both YouTube and the music world must have taught him that often fame and happiness can’t go hand-in-hand especially in an industry that is interested in keeping its pockets full. Regardless, when listening to his music, one thing is very clear. Millier contributes to an industry where he seems to be at best critical of and at worst terrified to be a part of.