It may be a good idea to watch the video before reading my review, if you haven’t already seen it. I must warn you, it is 34 minutes long. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7W0DMAx8FY
Kanye West has already opened up about what the video is about. It’s a story about the phoenix, which is a mythical bird that lives for hundreds of years, then burns down to ashes. After the bird has turned to ashes, a new and revived phoenix emerges and lives for another few hundred years. We saw some phoenix symbolism in Beyonce’s Crazy in Love. If you recall, Beyonce got into a car, then Jay-Z set the car on fire while she was still in it. The car became engulfed in fire, then Beyonce emerged from the fire unharmed.
The story of the phoenix is so popular amongst musical artists because it symbolizes a spiritual renewal, and a way to acquire success in the physical world. In Beyonce’s video, the scene that followed the phoenix scene was her standing in the streets with cameras flashing around her. The cameras flashing symbolized the spotlight-or fame. But before she could have the fame, she had to be ignited-or some may say “illuminated”.
In the beginning of Kanye’s video, it shows Kanye running down an empty street. (The video also ends with this scene.) Soon after, we see him driving a black car down what appears to be that same street. A ball of fire falls from the sky, and crashes into his car. On the ground lie a girl (Selita Ebanks) dressed as a bird or angel.
Although Kanye said this video is about the phoenix, I do believe it is about a combination things. As a matter of fact, I believe the story of the phoenix came from the story of the fallen angel. The phoenix and “the fallen angel” are both bird like creatures, both are destined to burn–and from what some people believe, what happened to the fallen angel was an injustice and he will one day rise and live forever. They also believe that following him will bring them to a heaven where they will be “forever young”.
Basically, they’ve been told that Satan will do the same thing Jesus does for his followers-he will rise from death, live forever, and give his followers everlasting life. Same rewards, different spirits.
So this scene is possibly a reference to “the fallen angel”. Kanye walks away from the scene carrying the bird, as there is an explosion in the background. (Much of the video contains fire and explosions–very similar to what you would imagine hell to look like.) Bringing her to safety has some symbolism behind it, too. Many of Satan’s followers believe that he was done an injustice, and in order for him to live again, they have to do “her” favors or help “her”. (They call Satan “her” and “she” for some reason.)
In another scene, the bird is in Kanye’s home lying on the couch and begins watching the news. She gets interested in what the news anchor is saying, then Kanye tells her never believe anything she hears on t.v. This reminds me of Lady Gaga’s Telephone (ft. Beyonce). There was a scene where she played a television chef, and the channel she was on was called “Poison T.V.”
She and Beyonce later poisoned a bunch of people in the end of the video. Are they telling us something? Are they saying that they are going to poison our minds through television or entertainment? You be the judge.
Back to Kanye’s video. The bird later ends up in the yard, as she is somehow intrigued or curious about a lamb that’s next to her. This is definitely a symbol of the “Lamb of God” a.k.a. Jesus. Later on in the video, she and the lamb are near each other again, but they seem to get along just fine.
Copy and paste Kanye West “Runaway” Music Video & Review: Spiritual Symbolism Pt. 2 to read the rest.