[Please be advised of the graphic content of this video, which is meant to address the reality of gun violence in the United States. Viewer discretion is advised].
Louisville’s GRLwood (Karen Ledford and Rej Forester) released the music video to Get Shot, and they did so in a clever way. Not on youtube, or their website, or a major online publication but on Instagram–an app which presents content to viewers as an endless, loosely-filtered scroll. In the case of GRLwood, this means that fans were confronted with an image of violence, a piece of political commentary that was hard to escape.
Get Shot is the barreling, righteous first track off GRLwood’s 2019 album I Sold My Soul to the Devil When I Was 12. The song is a biting critique of America’s problem with gun violence, drawing insightful connections between victim blaming, the archetype of the Troubled Young White Man, and state-sanctioned police brutality. This message doesn’t exist in a vacuum, GRLwood are part of a Post-Parkland Shooting generation of young people far too aware of the cycle of gun violence in American schools. Earlier this year Ben Lerner’s novel The Topeka School stirred the literary world with a connection between this generation and a 90s post-Columbine moment. In 2020, GRLwood represent a conversation that sees structural violence. Their outrage is an antidote to paranoia and the feeling of helplessness.
The music video reckons with the grave danger and simultaneous absurdity of second amendment discourse in our times. In a statement on the music video Ledford and Forester, said “We reject the ‘good guy with gun’ argument. Here is a ‘good guy with a good gun’ shooting people alive. Which is absolutely ridiculous! The end eviscerates this with everyone dropping back down to the ground, dead. This American delusion is brought to an abrupt end; guns destroy life.” The video is hard to watch. The ironic premise of “shooting people alive” may be a clever way to handle the portrayal of graphic violence, but the flowers falling from the victims’ mouths can come off as a Tumblr-inspired aestheticizing treatment. However, as the musicians themselves say, the delusion is brought to an abrupt end. And it works.
GRLwood are on tour for the rest of March and April, check them out if you can (look at the bottom right on the linked page to their Bandcamp for gigs and dates).