While the trend of using home movies in music videos isn't new, it's definitely one that has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. Most of the time, they're simply used to cultivate an air of vague nostalgia without much concern for the actual content. But in HNRY FLWR's latest video for their heartbreaking ballad "Little Brother," the old, fuzzy VHS tells a much more compelling story.
"Little Brother" is a treatise on bullying, and, more broadly, on the conditions that create cycles of male violence. In the band's description of the video, they explain that "Our friend, David, was a sweet boy—we see him in this music video celebrating his first Halloween as an RC-wielding Superman in 1990, somewhere in the Midwest. A couple years later ... he'd get bullied for being earnest and quiet, and then he'd bully his little brother as they grew up. It is a feedback loop that spirals outward until you find a way to channel it."
With that context, what initially seems like a cute (if somewhat banal) home movie becomes something more tragic: one of the last recordings of a child's innocence before the world turned him cruel. As HNRY FLWR croons "We're all made from an act of love," we see the first glimpse of the titular little brother—someone who would soon be yet another victim in the chain.
That said, "Little Brother" is not entirely without hope. This vignette, a single day in the life of a child, captures a gentleness that's present in all of us. As much as our experiences may bury it beneath anger and regret, there's always the possibility that we rediscover it and find absolution.
Catch HNRY FLWR opening for Uni and Blame Candy on Friday, 1/19 at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn.