Marc Webb, director of the upcoming Spiderman relaunch, The Amazing Spiderman and the romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer, featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, is also a prolific music video director. He has directed music videos in a wide array of musical genres, with groups and artists such as, A.F.I., Pussycat Dolls, Weezer, Ashley Simpson and Switchfoot. In at least three of his music videos he has incorporated a signature stamp, an image of a lamb. The lamb functions not only as an identifier that Marc Webb directed the music video but acts as a symbol, which only appears at pivotal moments in the storyline in each of the three videos. In this three part series we will explore what the lamb symbolizes in each of the music videos and if there any kernels of truth that can be seen in this presentation of the lamb symbol as it relates to the true lamb, Jesus.
The Transforming Lamb: Yellowcard’s Ocean Ave
Yellowcard is a pop-punk band (with a violinist), who first gained mainstream radio airplay in the early 2000s. Unlike the band we discussed last week, Brand New, Yellowcard’s lyrics are not littered with Christian imagery and most of their songs deal with navigating relationships they have had with women. Their first mainstream hit Ocean Avenue fits nicely into this mold as the singer regrets dumping his girlfriend.
Interestingly, this music video is an homage to the 1998 German movie Run, Lola Run. In the film the main character is stuck in a time loop (a la Groundhog Day) repeating the same events over and over again until the correct outcome occurs. Particular events in the music video are very similar to the movie such as, the singer jumping out of a window, running through a group of nuns, passing by or knocking over a homeless man and then an interaction with a car. This string of events occurs three times, however, each time the singer encounters a different ending. In the first occurrence of the events, the singer runs after the car and then is dragged away by two men. In the second occurrence he is hit by the car but in the third occurrence the singer enters the car and is taken safely away from the two men chasing after him.
It is not until this third instance of the events that the viewers have an understanding of why he is running. The singer is asleep in a graffiti-filled room and on his nightstand is a briefcase with an image of a lamb embroidered on the front of it. A moment later the briefcase is gone, taken by a woman, who drives away in the same car that the singer was hit by in the last repetition of the events. When the singer wakes up, he realizes that the briefcase is gone and he rushes out of the room. However, the path down the stairs is blocked by two men so he chooses to jump out of the window instead. As he reaches the end of the cycle of events, he remembers from the second occurrence that the car is behind him. He turns around, the car suddenly stops, barely missing him and he exchanges glances with the woman. The woman sees the two men from the staircase running after the singer, she signals him with nod of her head to get in the car and they drive away.
The word perseverance comes to mind as we watch the singer encounter the same obstacles and yet with passion and urgency he chases after the lamb, despite the obstacles in his way. This is why he sings the following lines the first two times he encounters the car.
If I could find you now things would get better
We could leave this town and run forever
I know somewhere somehow we’ll be together
Let your waves crash down on me
And take me away, yea, yea, yea
In these words and the repeating events of the video we can see a picture of what it means to pursue Jesus. Day in and day out our lives follow mostly the same paths and the same obstacles, whether they are external or within. Some days might be victories, where we met with Jesus and others may be complete failures, as we let the obstacles overcome us and direct our path. The important thing though is that we continue to run each day and run towards Jesus. Like the singer in the video, who as he woke up in the morning chose to pursue the lamb even though he kept on failing, we also must start each day pursuing Jesus even if we failed yesterday and millions times before. The transformation the singer experiences (breaking out of the time loop) can be the same kind that we experience (breaking out of destructive cycles) as we strive to encounter Jesus on a daily basis.
In the bible, persevering in the pursuit of Jesus is often compared to running a race. For instance, in the book of Hebrews it states:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)
Paul also uses this illustration in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, that we must “run in such a way as to get the prize (Jesus)”:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Then as Paul was nearing the end of his life he wrote:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:6-8)
So run. Run each day despite your past, despite who you may have been. Persevere as Jesus slowly transforms you from your former failings. All in all, pursue Jesus with reckless abandon and a never ceasing passion. He will pursue you and you will not only be running towards him but you will also be running away from sin, which we will see next week in Part III of the series as we exploring the convicting lamb in Yellowcard’s Rough Landing Holly.