When I wrote about Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend two months ago, I commented that this was a marketing maneuver gone wrong, where Avril Lavigne (or her producer) lost her core and niche market in hopes of appealing to the masses.
I was in error. In fact I almost committed blasphemy. Only now do I realise that Girlfriend – especially the video – is not about marketing or popularity or music audiences. It is in fact a modern exploration of the great themes of Hindu mythology. Avril Lavigne deserves to be praised for bringing the concepts of our glorious culture to the western world.
In the video (which, tragically, is not embeddable), we observe Avril Lavigne in a triple role – the musician with blonde hair (with multicoloured highlights), the saintly girlfriend with red hair and glasses, and the black haired interloper who attempts to capture malesexobject1. On superficial analysis, this appears to be yet another example of decadent Western culture. Yet when we examine deeply we discover that the video is in fact a discourse on one of the fundamental pillars of Hindu culture: the trinity of feminine energies, or त्रिशक्ती. Analysing further, we will see that the video also points out the obligation of man to seek out the balance between the competing forces of purity (सत्त्व), dynamism (रजस्) and destruction (तमस). This shall be explained in detail below.
Clearly, blonde Avril is a modern-day representation of Saraswati. As we see at 00:23, the guitar has substituted the Veena, yet the symbolism remains clear as ever. The blonde hair simulates Saraswati’s yellow skin, while the multicoloured highlights in the hair represent the subjects under her domain. The rainbow colours stand for the seven notes of music, the multiple strands of learning that form education, and the seven chakras of Ayurveda. Furthermore, the ‘A’ visible on her shirt sleeve at 00:25 drives in the connection with education and learning even further. The climactic scene of the video, where blonde Avril and her attendants are depicted dancing in a toilet emphasise her stature as a goddess of the waters and rivers.
Simultaneously, redhead Avril represents Lakshmi. The inference is drawn more subtly here, but it is still evident. The bread eating scene beginning at 1:24 establishes her as the giver of bounty and prosperity, while the pink sweater she wears throughout the video demonstrates her connection with material things and wealth. The thick rimmed glasses she wears can be interpreted in a multitude of ways: as symbolising the owl, the vehicle of Lakshmi, or the intense scrutiny that wealth must undergo. The recursive nature of these interpretations is a subject best left to more qualified professionals in the field, such as Dr. Acharya Somuchidononanda Pandey.
Finally, we turn our attention to brunette Avril, who signifies Kali. This is perhaps the most startlingly explicit of the parallels drawn. Just as blonde Avril wears an ‘A’ on her sleeve, brunette Avril wears a skull and crossbones (most clearly visible at 3:47). It is not a garland of fifty one heads, yet it makes the point simply and starkly. Her black hair and clothing are startlingly literal – yet even these are not as direct as the protruding tongue seen at 1:14. After a reference as explicit as this, the metaphor of gold club as sword beginning at 2:02 seems obscure and contrived in comparison.
And what of malesexobject? We obtain insight into his role at the very beginning of the video, when we see him entering Golf and Stuff – Family Fun Courts (emphasis mine). Clearly, he represents the householding (ग्रहस्थ्य ) stage of evolution, where he must move through life amassing wealth, protecting his dependents and shattering his obstacles.
Yet, as the video shows, ग्रहस्थ्य is not without its risks and temptations. Righteous as he may be, the man may fall into the temptation of amassing wealth for its own sake – shown in the video as redhead Avril being the original girlfriend. Yet, Lakshmi is illusion and maya, and Lakshmi for her own sake will lead to man straying off the path of dharma and being swayed over by tamasic forces. At this point we see the entrance of Kali, who through violence, destruction and misfortune, shows man the ephemeral and illusory nature of wealth. It is only when wealth has been completely and utterly subjugated by destruction and renewal – depicted in the video as brunette Avril despatching redhead Avril with a golf ball (the underlying metaphor of success choking on its own trappings is obvious) – that man can renounce the material world and move to spiritual awareness.
Yet, at the end of the video it is not brunette Avril who walks away with malesexobject, but blonde Avril. It is the triumph of Saraswati, not Kali. Showing us that Kali is only an intermediate step on the journey of man – for only once the illusory trappings of wealth are destroyed can man attain the enlightenment that comes from true knowledge of the workings of the Universe- and thus he attains the feet of Saraswati.
How foolish I was to mock this song! ‘She’s like so whatever‘ – only now do I understand the inherent wisdom in this line – that whatever one may look at, it is merely an aspect or manifestation of the three-feminine-energies-in-one. ‘I think we should get together now‘ – what is this but a call to achieve a higher spiritual plane and union with the Divine?
This music video must go out far and wide. The spiritual awakening of the nation’s youth depends upon it.
1: I am indebted to Aishwarya for introducing me to the descriptor malesexobject. No other term fits the male lead quite as well.