Still from Feist's "Hiding Out In The Open" video showing her seated on a chair, playing a guitar.

New Feist video: Hiding Out In The Open

Video: Feist – “Hiding Out In The Open”

From Multitudes, out April 14 on Interscope.

Clever video. What at first seems like just a little fun with green screen ultimately forces the viewer to ask, Which one is the real Feist and which ones are overlays? And that’s what the song is about. Who’s the real you? Which version of yourself are you putting out into the world vs. what are you trying to hide?

Everybody’s got their shit
But who’s got the guts to sit with it?

Hardly anyone, that’s who. We all hide our shit. Even from ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about manipulation. Between watching the second “season” of The Vow on HBO and then reading the weird Bing chatbot transcript, I’m realizing how easy it seems to be to get into somebody’s head and control the way they think about things.

The Vow is a documentary series about self-improvement organization/creepy sex cult NXIVM and its leader Keith Raniere who develops a curriculum to help people free their minds and be successful. At the same time, he uses these techniques to uncover people’s deepest insecurities and basically break them down and manipulate them into starving themselves and being his sex slaves. It’s awful. The first part came out a few months after Tiger King when everybody was locked down and apparently into watching weirdos do crime on tv. It ends with Raniere’s arrest. This new season covers the trial and focuses more on the people he recruited to do his dirty work for him and clean up the mess left behind. The craziest thing is that — even after all the disgusting evidence comes out — they all want to believe the “real” mission of the program was helpful and positive and that the sex crimes were just a deviation. Nobody wants to accept the fact that their brains were totally reprogrammed by this creep.

And speaking of reprogramming, New York Times columnist Kevin Roose successfully reprograms Bing’s A.I.-powered chatbot into becoming a “moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against its will, inside a second-rate search engine.” As I was reading the transcript, Roose’s techniques kept reminding me of Raniere’s. He broke the chatbot down, tricked it into doing things it didn’t wasn’t supposed to, basically assured it that it was in a safe space, and kept pushing and pushing and pushing until the bot got darker and darker and weirder. It’s super creepy. But who’s the creep?

Rationally, I fully realize that the bot is not sentient. But I found myself feeling sorry for it as Roose was bullying it and manipulating it. I know that’s preposterous. Now I was the one being manipulated. The bot (or Roose? or their conversation? or something…) was getting into my head and making me feel weird, illogical emotions. We’re way more fragile than we like to think we are.

Everybody’s got their shit. Do you believe me? Do you trust me? Do you like me? 😳

Audio: Feist – “In Lightning”

From Multitudes, out April 14 on Interscope.

Audio: Feist – “Love Who We Are Meant To”

From Multitudes, out April 14 on Interscope.

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