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My Interpretation of Hozier’s New “Eat Your Young” Music Video

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Singer-songwriter Hozier has just put out the music video for “Eat Your Young,” the title track of his newest EP. As an artist who relies heavily on poetic features, his writing often requires interpretation. This music video is no exception. Therefore, I am going to divulge my understanding of what the “Eat Your Young” music video was about.

At the beginning of the video, viewers are introduced to two separate performances, a stage, and a children’s puppet show. The stage has an audience of only adults and the puppet show has an audience of only children. Before the release of the video, Hozier posted a statement in which he described the reasoning for these separated groups: “One stage viewed by adults on which the characters lose something as they engage with their world, and another stage watched by children that which has been lost becomes visible.”

On the adult stage, an unsmiling man and woman each reveal a clothing rack. The given clothing represents an antiquated and rigid societal expectation of the roles a man and woman should fulfill. The woman’s clothing options focus on her appearance likely because this is where society derives her worth. The man’s clothing options are uniforms for stereotypically masculine, violent roles (policeman and soldier). In a broader sense, the outfits depict the expectations that are thrust upon these individuals. The only outfit options that both the man and the woman have that do not fit this theme are that of a chef and a butcher. The reasoning as to why will become clear later in the video.

The scene shifts and the woman is pictured gazing upon the famed statue of Venus, the goddess of love and most importantly, beauty. The woman paints her face to the same gray as the statue and places black sleeves over her arms to make them appear as if they have been ‘cut off’ against the black backdrop. This conveys how the woman is so desperate to conform to what is expected of her that she chooses to mutilate herself in the process.

The man (dressed as a soldier) returns to the stage with a black sleeve over his arm, implying that he lost it in the violence. This further depicts how the couple will chop off and sacrifice vital parts of themselves to better meet what they perceive to be ideal standards. However, as the man and the woman lose limbs, they begin to appear in the children’s puppet show.

The couple unveils their son and presents him with a variety of toys. When he chooses to play with the doll, they become angry and place a black sleeve over his arm. The parents ‘chopping off’ their son’s arm conveys an attempt to get the boy to conform to expectations just as they were forced to conform to their roles.

Back on the stage, the son is given his own clothing rack by his father. The last time we see the son, he is wearing the same clothing that his father was given at the beginning of the video. This reinforces the message of pressure from older generations to meet their values.

Back on the stage, the black backdrop is pulled away and the couple’s limbs which had disappeared against the background now reappear. Remembering what Hozier had said about the separate stages granted me the insight that fueled my interpretation of this portion. Thus, what I understood to be the point of this was to portray how the older generation may not see the consequences of forcing their values on younger generations. While they are willing to ‘cut off’ parts of themselves to meet the standards of the time, the true weight of what is lost is visible and will be felt by the younger generation.

All that said, the children’s play has not yet ended. The only thing that remains in the puppet show is a meat locker, similar to one you would see in a butcher’s shop. We do not see what is inside but rather, the audience of children’s reactions to it. They run away screaming.

The scene quickly cuts back to the couple who are still being applauded by the other adults. Behind them is a bloody hook from which you would hang meat.

Therefore, we can infer that what the children saw in the fridge was the completely ‘chopped up’ version of the couple’s son after he was continuously forced by his parents into the role that was expected of him.

While no doubt a brutal concept, this imagery serves as a warning to younger generations to recognize and make a conscious effort to ameliorate the misgivings of older generations or be, for all intents and purposes, consumed by the same fate older generations suffered. Further, it calls out the selfish tendencies of older generations to impose outdated standards on the young, ignoring the failures within their generation. Essentially, Hozier compares this ill-fated guidance from the older to metaphorically, eating your young.

Of course, this music video was filled with so many details that I likely missed a few. Due to this, it is also entirely possible to have multiple interpretations of the video’s meaning. This article was just my understanding. I hope you have enjoyed!

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