Ashlee Simpson doesn’t have to worry much longer about living in her big sister’s shadow, though that’s the subject of her next single and video — how feeling like an outcast helped her come into her own.
The finishing touches were put on the video for “Shadow” late last week, and a minute of it was previewed in the last episode of “The Ashlee Simpson Show” on Wednesday. The Liz Friedlander-directed clip follows the two Simpsons, or rather the two Ashlees — the real Ashlee, signified by her brunette hair, and a blond Ashlee, who acts as a substitute for Jessica.
“The ’Shadow’ video is like me against myself,” Simpson explained, “kind of a facing-your-inner-demons kind of thing and things you battle with day-to-day. So one Ashlee has blond hair and the other has brown hair. The blond Ashlee lives in this perfect world, and the brown Ashlee is this other kid that doesn’t belong.”
The brunette Ashlee lives in a darker world, full of shadows moving across the walls and ceiling, according to the treatment, which accentuate her mood. Separated by one wall, which the camera dollies back and forth between, the two Ashlees co-exist, with each seemingly unaware of the other. The brunette Ashlee, in her monochromatic room, sits and stares at the floor, while the blond Ashlee, in a room full of bright color, is brushing her long hair while watching her reflection in the mirror. The two teenage girls’ bedrooms reveal not just how they live, but how they feel. The blond Ashlee isn’t just different because of her hair color, she has a different energy, a different sense of style. She is everything the other Ashlee is not.
Along with scurrying between the two bedrooms, the camera also passes the real Ashlee performing with her band in the living room of the house, where she’s jumping on the couch as she rocks out. Other rooms are revealed as well, such as when the two Ashlees meet in the kitchen to eat breakfast. While the brunette version sits and sings, the blond keeps moving — pouring herself a bowl of cereal, talking excitedly on the phone. She’s also the only one to get any acknowledgement from the two parental figures, who enter, put their arms around her, and take her with them when they leave — leaving the brunette Ashlee ignored and alone. In a rage, she tosses the cereal bowl at the camera.
By the time the bridge of the song comes — “Mother, sister, father, sister, mother” — both girls are singing, each in their own room, each looking at their own reflection, but alternating lines, with the camera cutting fast and furious between the two girls. As the bridge progresses, the brunette Ashlee calms down, while the blond Ashlee seems to be feeding off the rage and anxiety that the other one had felt earlier. The brunette Ashlee starts to let go and walks away from the mirror, smiling as she sings, “And the past is in the past.”
Back in her bedroom, the blond Ashlee breaks down, pounding her hands against the mirror until it shatters. The brunette Ashlee’s mirror breaks too, even though she was nowhere near it. She walks to the wall to listen and is shocked that all is not perfect in the blond’s world. She puts her hand on the wall as the blond Ashlee does the same, then lowers her hand in a goodbye gesture and leaves. The shadows that permeated the video leave the brunette Ashlee’s room, as her world goes bright.