Marsha Ambrosius‘ video for “Far Away” portrays the ill-fated romance between two passionate lovers — a well-worn arc that has powered narratives from Shakespearean literature to sunny rom-coms. Yet Ambrosius’ visual is distinctly of the moment because it touches on an array of hot-button topics, including bullying, suicide and gay rights.
In the clip, which premiered in January, Ambrosius hangs out with a handsome guy who can charm kids and grown men alike. But when the same guy openly holds hands in the park with his male lover, the kids’ mom won’t let her children go near him, and the once jovial fellas in the park advance on him. Ambrosius’ formerly carefree and happy pal ends up swallowing a bottle of pills after the deluge of taunts.
While Ambrosius readily puts the spotlight on headline-making issues, for her, the clip wasn’t just about adding her voice to the public conversation, but also sharing the consequences of anti-gay bullying that she’s witnessed firsthand.
“The concept for ‘Far Away’ definitely wasn’t unexpected for me as it was a personal experience that I’d had in writing the song. It came from a personal experience I was going through ’round about the time I wrote it, which is 2008, [when] a friend of mine attempted to commit suicide,” she recently told MTV News. “Being a friend of someone that is in such a dark place, you can’t be there for them as a friend because it’s one of the most heart-wrenching things you can go through, not being able to help someone.”
For the former Floetry songstress, crafting “Far Away,” from her forthcoming solo debut, Late Nights & Early Mornings, was a chance to empower people like her friend who are struggling with abusive situations related to their sexuality.
“So a couple years later I get to do ‘Far Away’ for my album, and it felt only right to portray the story as it was in such an honest form. And I think many people that go through the same circumstance don’t get to tell their story. And I think that’s where, I guess, people are getting with the shock value; that I’m attacking a subject matter that’s often shunned upon and overlooked. But it’s happening to real people — it happened to a friend of mine — and I wanted to give that to those that don’t have that voice,” she said.
Ambrosius’ video also unambiguously features an affectionate, healthy same-sex relationship — including a loving lip-lock — which isn’t a typical music-video story line. The songstress conceded that she’s received a range of feedback (mostly positive) about the visual, but was more amped that her work has sparked a dialogue instead of just landing a blanket stamp of approval.
“Overall, I’m glad it’s got people talking, and the overwhelming positive response definitely outweighs anything negative that had been said. Anything negative is always summed up with, ‘I still understand where you’re coming from, but it’s just not my thing.’ But the overall message isn’t overlooked, so overall … it’s opened a floor for people that weren’t speaking before. It’s getting people talking to one another that wouldn’t have said ‘Hello’ in the street. So it’s getting true feelings out there on the table as honest and open as you can be,” she said. “So I’m kind of glad that regardless if you disagree or agree, I’m not here to change your mind, I’m here to show what’s happening to real people.”
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