Liberating Venus: Mariah’s sensuality awakens with “My All” and “The Roof”

“My All”
Picking up from last week’s post about “Honey” and “Butterfly,” another Butterfly video with clear symbolism is “My All.” Some of the images were modeled after Botticelli’s The Birth Of Venus. In mythology Venus was the god of love and beauty, and some say she sprang from the sea as an adult and floated to the shore in a shell. Mariah is shown lying in a shell in the video, and in general the 1997-1998 time period is viewed as Mariah’s sexual awakening. Venus also represents the feminine, and she shines brightly as a star sometimes, but also diminishes (like feminine power). Mariah is seen as the most feminine celebrity we have, which works both for her and against her. Venus’ husband Vulcan worked to make objects that pleased Venus, but she was unable to meet his need for monogamy. Venus was torn between her husband (perhaps a parallel to Mariah’s husband Tommy), the god of destructive fire, and her true love Mars (a parallel to Derek Jeter), the god of spring/fertility. Venus has been waiting to speak, and perhaps the man in the lighthouse represents Mars/Derek. Lyrically “My All” is about Mariah wanting to have a relationship with Derek despite her marriage to Tommy. The video could also relate to the Sirens of mythology, who were seductive and pulled mariners to their islands with their singing and eventually killed them.
 “The Roof”
The video for “The Roof” found Mariah reflecting back on a rooftop party from 1983 (the Sergio Valente jeans are a nice touch). She rides around in the back of a limo reminiscing on a night from her past, perhaps remembering the last time she felt really free as a person. Mariah has talked about being eternally stuck in 8th grade, and 1983 wouldn’t have been too far removed from that time. The most symbolic moment of the video comes toward the end when Mariah rises up through the sunroof in the limo. As Slant magazine details, “When Mariah rises through the limo’s sunroof to relish the warm November rain, she’s not drunk on the bubbly but on the memory of a fleeting moment of liberation.” The video ends with Mariah alone in the limo, liberated but still vulnerable. That’s a perfect encapsulation of her emotional state toward the end of the 1990s.

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