Jhené Aiko’s self-directed new clip, “Maniac,” has a lot to unpack.
Taken at first viewing, we see Aiko donning all the apparel and props commonly associated with the mentally ill in media. Hannibal mask, straitjacket, mouth gags, all the hallmarks are there. Aiko also does the twitching-motions reminiscent of “Beautiful People”-era Marilyn Manson. We soon, however, get Aiko fully embracing the motif, owning it through her own sexuality. Early viewings make it the most puzzling mental-health-themed music video since *NSYNC’s “I Drive Myself Crazy.”
But having read Brittany Spanos’ Rolling Stone interview with Aiko, the clip has a deeper meaning. “I learned that lots of women were admitted for absurd reasons, including being ‘nymphomaniacs,'” Aiko said. “The ‘Maniac’ visual is the story of a mental patient who finds her own cure.”
Aiko has been public about her own bipolar diagnosis leading her to the research that inspired the video, but it’s still a puzzling watch.