CFT Member Mary Ann Vorasky shared a music video she made in response to American racism. Here’s what she had to say about the background and inspiration for the video.
“Blue on Blue” (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) was a Billboard Top 100 hit for Bobby Vinton in 1963. My parents played the song in our house when I was growing up. I got the idea for this music video during the pandemic after the news of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer.
To stay sane during the shutdown of the world, I started classes at Berklee Online to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. Soon after starting classes George Floyd was killed. In shock over the brutal truth of racism I was seeing and hearing in the news, I worked on the song in class, and continued working on it after classes ended.
I did not quite realize the historical context of the song until I started making the video. Many watershed events happened during the year this song was popular.
President Kennedy announced on June 11, 1963, that he would be proposing Civil Rights legislation to end segregation in the south. That night, Medgar Evers, the head of the NAACP in Mississippi, was shot outside his home in Decatur, Georgia. He died the next day. Two months after his death, August 19, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
Referenced in the Video
The video starts with a clip of a rocket launch from the US space program. L. Gordon Cooper spent nearly three days circling Earth aboard the Mercury capsule Faith 7.
The next image is my statement made by combining a clip from Madonna’s video, “Don’t Tell Me,” (a song in which she tells her lover not to control her), substituting an animated portrayal of the “Venus of Willendorf” artifact for Madonna who, in the video, was portrayed walking on the green screen highway.
Scientists date the “Willendorf” artifact as approximately 25,000 years old. Feminist historians propose that patriarchy did not exist at that time and that artifacts like this one and others are indicative of that. Gerda Lerner wrote in “The Creation of Patriarchy” that the subjugation of women by men at home grew outward to include race-based slavery and institutionalized prostitution, and since the patriarchal system is not biologically preordained we have the power to end it.
I commissioned two animations to appear the vibraphone instrument sounds: a US flag keyboard being struck by red, white and blue mallets; and a US map showing the red and blue (Republican- and Democrat-leaning) states.
All other photos and news clips appearing in the video were found on the internet and include or reference:
- Heather Heyer, the protester run down and killed by a white nationalist during a protest in Charlotte, NC in 2017, and a photo of her mother speaking to a crowd of supporters
- George Floyd, who died in May of 2020 after a police officer knelt on his neck for over 9 minutes despite Floyd’s repeated statements that he could not breathe.
- Daunte Wright, who was shot in 2021 by a training officer during a traffic stop. The officer claimed to have mistakenly grabbed her firearm instead of her taser.
- Breonna Taylor, a medical worker who was asleep at home in March of 2020 when the police mistakenly raided her house and killed her in a flurry of gunfire.
- Tyre Nichols, who was beaten to death by five police officers in January of 2023, and a photo of his mother among supporters at a candlelight vigil.
If an embedded video doesn’t appear directly above this line of text on your device, please follow this link to watch on YouTube: “Blue on Blue by Mary Ann Vorasky.”
Mary Ann, this is a genius music video! You take us to 1963 with the death of Medgar Evers and JFK, astronauts in space, and Bobby Vinton singing “Blue on Blue, heartache on heartache….” But then you bring us to 2020-2023 with the murders of George Floyd, Tyre Nichols and others by officers in blue as we still face heartache. Your cover of the song’s chorus is so moving. The election and flag images provide commentary–as does the groovin’ Venus of Willendorf. Thank you!