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Where Madness Gives A Bit

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It must have been a crazy summer, because, somehow, I just got around to watching the new "Rooftop" video. All I can say after seeing it is: it's very Dave.

Actually, the vignette features two Daves. One is a mental patient in an inpatient hospital, who takes pills from a cup, and wears, not only a backless robe, but the coolest bunny slippers I've ever seen. Seriously, how did he find ones with straps on the back? The other Dave is a slick-haired, clean-shaven entertainer, donning Robin Thick-esque black and white pants. The first Dave watches eagerly as the second Dave sings, "I want you to, tell me that you want me," from behind the screen of an old-school television set. The scenes are all shot in black and white until the end where color settings are integrated.

So what makes this piece so Dave?

First, there's the "crazy" theme. Dave seems to like portraying people with various kinds of psychological issues. On the hit television show, "House," Dave once played a piano-playing autistic savant, and in his own production for the song, "Eh-Hee," he eerily displays some odd behaviors including rigid movements and strange facial expressions, which can be characteristic of people with various kinds of mood or brain disorders.

Then there is the blatant self-deprecation that we've come to know and love. As if portraying oneself as a patient in a mental institution isn't enough, Dave goes on to make his other self seem as cheesy as possible. (No offense, Robin Thicke.) It's as if he's making fun of the fact that he is a rock-star, and that people actually listen to his lyrics. But, at the same time, he's also making fun of his inpatient-self, for taking his rock-star self so seriously. This was a risky move, because if we didn't "know" Dave, we might interpret this as him making fun of the fans who hang on his every word. But since it's Dave, we know, that all the fun-making is entirely aimed at himself.

In the end, of course, both Daves in the video represent an aspect of his personality. There is the patient, who represents the part of him that is frail, vulnerable, and needing of approval, and there is the entertainer, the one who is expected to perform and give us his all, night after night, year after year. Understandably, this entertainer could become full of himself, but the interesting thing is that when we act from a place of ego, we are always going to be insecure, even if we appear to have it all. Perhaps, this is the real message that Dave was portraying; that there is no way to completely stay outside of the craziness of the music business. And that being placed on such a high pedestal means that there is only one way to go from there. And it's a long way down.

Still, after all these years, I would say that Dave is handling his fame wonderfully. And perhaps it is these self-caricatures that make it possible for him to remember that not taking ourselves too seriously is sometimes the best medicine.

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.