Jason's Video Essay

English Video Assignment
Jason Dempsey
Mental Strain

How does one cope with the loss of a loved one? the process isn't easy for anyone involved, no matter what country you live in or social standing you have. In the video “Mental Strain”, you see Chinese parents talking about living on after their child has passed on. If you are unaware of the Chinese laws regarding children, The government has what is called the One-Child Policy. In essence, the policy is that in order to limit rapid population growth, the Chinese government only allows families to have one child. With that being said, you could imagine how devastating the loss of that only child could actually be. In the People chapter of Yu Hua’s book “China In Ten Words”, one thought stuck out that could relate to such grief. “From that day on, just as Zhao Ziyang disappeared from view, so too Tiananmen vanished from the Chinese media. I never saw the slightest mention of it afterward as though it never happened. And memories seemed to fade even among those who took part in the protests of spring 1989; the pressures of life, perhaps allowed little room to revisit the past” (pg 12). looking at the Mental Strain video, i noticed the way they edited the video, the music, and locations and props helped to effectively show what the parents were/ are going through. Therefore giving us an more in depth look at exactly how mental strain affects a Chinese family after the loss of their only allowed child.

When a videographer sets his/her shot, he/she will tend to take into consideration the subject of which he/she is shooting. in the case of the video Mental Strain, the videographer set certain shot that helped broadcast the feeling of loss. Or in the case of Li Adi, the videographer shot the interview with the subject out of focus or blurry to emulate the emotional haze that the mother of the lost child was talking about during the shot. In another interview, the camera panned to the dead sons work space, which was full of unfinished school work and his laptop. The shot allowed viewers to see the untouched clutter of work as the mother described how she was fearful of touching his stuff or going through his laptop in case she accidentally deleted something that he would need. This shot paired together with her dialogue show how in the mothers grief, she was still not fully able to accept the fact that her son will never return to finish his work and in a much deeper and more traumatic thought, that he is actually gone forever. Another sequence shows the viewer a shot of a mother burning incense and burning money during a spring festival, a usually joyous occasion. The burning of the money shows us that although their child is gone, they are not forgotten and are still as much a part of the parents lives as ever, as the child would usually receive this money for the festivities.

Music has a way of explaining certain emotions and/ or guiding us to feel certain things. the somber tones of a piano in the beginning and end of the short film help drill in the emotion of sadness or grief that the interviewed parents are experiencing. We can also gather such sadness and solitude from where the interviews themselves actually took place. In the video, a blank wall was the backdrop for the interviews; which can most certainly represent the blank void that every parent mentions about how they felt emotionally after their loss. Another major point in imagery was when a mother was seen on a cell phone in a very busy plaza with a McDonalds sign in the background. The plaza, brimming with activity around her most likely held families enjoying a quick meal or out shopping. Then in a moment of realization, the mother puts the phone down and appears to be lost with a look of loneliness after the phone call apparently did not go through, leading us to believe she was trying to call the phone of her late child.

so how does someone cope with the mental strain of losing a child? Well, it certainly isn't a question that can be answered easily, for anyone in any social situation. But with the format of the video being examined, one could easily empathize with the parent of a lost child. for no matter the country or politics residing around the family, the wound is still just as deep. coping mechanisms are certainly case sensitive and vary therefore from case to case.But one thing remains the same, and that is the emotional tear that is such a strong force. that force sometimes pushes us as an individual to push forward and change things for the better or sometimes cripples us to the point of despair and resulting in a lack of emotion. In China, as it is in a lot of countries, the children are the priority. They are in, in fact, the future. So when the future is lost, the mental strain remains far after the initial memories are lost. without a future, what is the point of carrying on? the emotional haze remains and becomes a comfortable hell so to speak. Sometimes the best way to cope is a change of scenery and move on past that part of your life, and to build a new future. But even with a band aid, the scar will remain forever.