By Simon Heywood
On October 26, 2018, Gabbie Hanna released her new singles Monster and Monster (Reborn), and just when I thought there wasn’t a song I couldn’t relate to more than Honestly, Gabbie surprises me once again.
Monster and Monster (Reborn) is a song that, at its surface, reveals the pain of self-doubt and how that can lead to a life of isolation. Through a lifetime of loss, all of it can bring in a flood of insecurities, and sometimes, all of those insecurities can break us down. All of the pain that results from loss and insecurities can sometimes cause us to lash out on those we love and care for, and can even push away new people in our lives that we wanted to have a lasting relationship with.
Eventually, because of all the loss, we start to only see the worst in ourselves, cue the insecurities. All of our inner darkness can scare people away, and we are led down an even darker path. We become the monster we start to see ourselves as, and so do the people around us. Our inner darkness surfaces and transforms us into the monster we were afraid of, and there’s “nothing left inside” to be scared of because it’s all on the outside now.
Now, because I have had two weeks to write this, I also had time to watch the music video. The music video is its own work of art, as are these two singles. The entirety of the music video, Gabbie is seen chasing this little girl. The girl is scared of Gabbie because, like the lyrics say “Maybe I’m the monster that’s been here all along”, the girl sees Gabbie as a monster. Some people speculate that the little girl is the child version of Gabbie, but I saw it as a step further. The child is not Gabbie, but her innocence. Gabbie spent the entire video chasing her innocence, the innocence she lost due to loss, the pain that followed, and the insecurities that followed the pain and the loss. Loss and pain changes us, and can cause us to lose the innocence we’re born with. It’s quite poetic.
At the bridge of the song, where she is trying to soothe the girl, it’s as if she is trying to talk to herself, saying (paraphrased) “don’t worry, you’re safe now. You can stop running,” or basically just “don’t worry. It’s not what you think.” It’s almost as if she’s trying to convince herself and others she isn’t the monster she sees/saw herself as. However, right when she sings “Don’t be scared there’s nothing left inside/Since you ate my heart out,” the little girl transforms into that monster, and then Gabbie starts to run. In my perspective, it went from Gabbie trying to reclaim her innocence by chasing after it, to running away after realizing how much she let the pain she experienced distort that innocence. It’s that feeling of wanting to run away from a place or situation after realizing that you’ve made a huge and horrible mistake. At the end, Gabbie is so used to everyone leaving that she’s numb to it, and part of her realizes that maybe it’s all on her, and not the people who leave.
When the music video fades into Monster (Reborn), it shows Gabbie standing in front of a burning house. To me, that symbolizes where she lit the house on fire, she wants to destroy her past and all the pain it contained. She’s watching as the house is burning, but her expression is blank. I can’t go inside the mind of Gabbie, but if I were to burn down my old and abandoned house, if I had one, and I had the exact same blank expression she had, I would be thinking “Now that you’ve done this, what next? So what? Look what you did. Just more destruction that you caused.” I am all for giving and receiving fresh starts, but the only way, from what I’ve learned, to do that is to embrace your past and all the mistakes you made. Sure, you’ve made horrible mistakes, but if you can forgive yourself, you can give yourself that fresh start.
(Reborn) adds another layer to becoming the monster that pain can shape you into. From her perspective, the song becomes more personal. She starts off pleading that someone shows she is not like her mother (I guess in this song parental figures are sort of villainized as the people who showed her the darkness, thereby leading her to lose her innocence). Gabbie doesn’t want to be that, where she takes away innocence and only brings in darkness. But as this short song goes on, she says that she and her personality “changes with the moon” (metaphorical of a werewolf), which shows how unpredictable she is, therefore showing her destructive potential. “Give me time I’ll bring out the worst in you too” is her accepting the fact that she is the monster she sees herself as and she brings darkness to others, my guess just like her mother (in the song) did. And to wrap up the song, she also accepts that no matter what, the people who come into her life don’t even have intentions of staying, and that before they can even sit down, she’s already scared them off. To close the video, she lights one final match and it is implied she lights herself on fire.
The theme of destruction is very dominant in this song, and comes with the physical symbol of fire. Gabbie lights a match in the beginning of the song, throws a stuffed teddy bear into the fireplace, watches a house burn down, and then lights herself on fire. Fire is often seen as a tool of destruction, and Gabbie took advantage of that to show how she can be like fire, where she can be unpredictable, dangerous, and destructive, and that’s her monster.
This is by far Gabbie’s best singles. It hit so close to home for me because I’ve dealt with a life of loss and pain, and at one point in my life I let all that turn me into the monster that I feared. To this day I live with knowing that I have a potential for great evil, and regret that I made terrible mistakes that cost me friendships, all because I was always uncertain if the love I had would stay. In the end of those darker days where I realized I was such a monster, my dark side was right; those people who I didn’t want to leave did leave, and that loss that added onto my life just drove me down an even more isolated path. I’ve grown so much since then, but there isn’t a day that I go by struggling to keep my inner darkness, well, inside. Once you realize the evil you can be capable of, it starts one of the most difficult spiritual (if you will) battles of your life. I’m at war with my impulses, and some days the battle is harder to fight than others. Those harder days, motivation is significantly harder to come by.
Gabbie continues to inspire me with everything she puts out there. Everything that she told, I connect to and it made me realize that I’m not alone in what I went through, and that makes the pain a bit more bearable. I’ve come to neutral terms with where I’m at now; I may be no saint, but I also am not the monster I once was, not anymore. Monster and Monster (Reborn) allowed me to look back at my past and also showed me how far I’ve come. I do have regret over some things I’ve done in the past, but I am not my past, and each day, I’m working to become the best version of myself.
As always, thank you Gabbie for being the person and creator that you are. I always feel a bit of sadness seeing that this is your life story, and how it includes so much pain, but it also shaped you into the person you are today. An artist, a creator, an inspirer of courage, hope, and love.