The Silent Comedy are suddenly the subject of a heated controversy.
On Dec. 16, they released their video for the song "Always Two," directed by Krista Liney. It focuses on a young girl who wakes up in an apartment, gets dressed, goes out to a bar, gets drunk and makes a scene. By the end of the video, she ends up back in the same apartment where she began, with a man who hits her and forces her onto the bed as she gives in and directs her gaze toward the camera, with the implicit suggestion that she's being raped.
Fans of the band expressed divided opinions on social media, some saying it was "amazing" or "intense" and others demanding its removal for being distasteful or misogynistic or, worse, that it suggests the female protagonist in the video is being punished for her actions.
Chris Maroulakos condemned the video on the blog Owl and Bear, arguing that "positioning the rape as the climax of the video makes it feel like the natural consequence for the girl's behavior. Are you an attractive female who wants to sleep around, drink, or do drugs?... Fine, but prepare to be sexually violated."
In an email to CityBeat, Silent Comedy bassist / vocalist Josh Zimmerman defends the clip, noting that "all artistic works are open to interpretation" and that "when you release a creative work into the world, it will undoubtedly be misinterpreted.
"The intention of the piece was to observe a moment in the life of someone caught in a physically abusive relationship, and the difficult choices they face," he explains. "When we address these types of issues, our intention is always to inspire a constructive conversation."
Justine Marzoni, who describes herself as an "active supporter of the local music scene," posted an open letter to the band on The Radical Notion blog, expressing her disappointment in what she describes as the video's "misogynistic nature" and asking for the video to be removed.
"Perhaps the shocking content of the video was intended to be socially conscious, to raise awareness, to not sweep things under the rug," Marzoni writes. "But to be a socially conscious artist, one must be willing to take responsibility for the ramifications of one's art."
Yet while Zimmerman says he welcomes an open discussion about the video and sexual abuse, he says that the band "would urge people to channel their passion about this issue into positive action.
"Making a donation to organizations like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence," he says, "is a great way to start doing that."